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Meth Addiction Treatment

Meth addiction treatment consists of both detox and a comprehensive drug rehab program in order to address the psychological and physical aspects of addiction. The drug is a highly potent stimulant that has dangerous and toxic effects on the body. Manufactured in underground laboratories, crystal meth often contains toxic substances that pose dangers in addition to addiction. As a result, it’s important to find help from a meth addiction treatment center near you if you’re addicted to this drug.

Meth abuse wreaks havoc on the mind and body of the afflicted individual, so treatment requires both medical and clinical guidance. Overcoming substance use disorder is difficult without professional help, but there are several rehabilitation options for people who need help with meth addiction.

What is Methamphetamine?

Methamphetamine, commonly known as meth, crystal meth, crank, speed, or ice, acts on the brain by forcing it to produce excess amounts of dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that stimulates the reward system in the brain, which is what makes meth so addictive. If a person abuses meth over an extended period of time, they develop a tolerance to the drug. As a result, the brain no longer produces dopamine at a normal rate. Instead, users either have to take larger amounts of the drug and they experience withdrawal symptoms if they don’t get high.[1]

Methamphetamine was first produced by a Japanese chemist in 1893. Early on, the drug was used as a medical treatment for conditions like asthma, obesity, and narcolepsy. However, people began abusing the drug during World War II when troops used meth to stay awake for long hours. Meth abuse and addiction then began escalating across the United States and was eventually ruled an illicit substance in 1970 due to widespread abuse of the drug.[2]

The stimulant can be smoked, snorted, or injected and comes as a white crystal or powder. While most users begin by smoking the drug, many end up injecting it after their tolerance goes up because intravenous meth use produces a more intense, instantaneous high. Pure methamphetamine is dangerous enough, but when it comes to crystal meth, users never really know what they are getting. The drug is manufactured in clandestine laboratories using over-the-counter ingredients like pseudoephedrine, an ingredient in cold medicines. However, the drug often contains harmful and toxic substances, such as:[3]

  • Anhydrous ammonia (fertilizer)
  • Acetone
  • Ether
  • Lithium
  • Red phosphorus

As a result of these dangers, the United States has made an active effort to shut down meth labs across the nation to prevent the crisis from getting worse.

Signs and Symptoms of Meth Addiction

Upon taking meth, a person might stay awake for several days at a time. The drug produces long-lasting stimulant effects, so people will exhibit increasing energy, confidence, and talkativeness while under the influence. However, this intense high is usually followed by a crash. When users come down from meth and “crash” they might sleep for a long time, be fatigued, and feel anxious or depressed. In order to combat these uncomfortable feelings, people who are addicted to meth seek out more and more of the drug in order to sustain their high.

Other common side effects of meth abuse include loss of appetite and increased wakefulness, so it’s normal for someone who is abusing meth to lose weight rapidly. Their cheeks may appear sunken in and their eyes might begin to darken. Furthermore, meth abuse deceives some people into hallucinations of bugs crawling on the skin, resulting in excessive itching and picking at the skin. This leaves open wounds that can get infected and lead to abscesses.[1]

Signs that someone is addicted to meth include:

  • Staying awake for hours or days on end
  • Physical and mental symptoms of meth abuse
  • Lying to friends and family about one’s drug use
  • Inability to quit using or control how much you use
  • Difficulty staying awake and functioning normally without the drug
  • Experiencing withdrawals when not taking the drug
  • Continuing to use the drug despite negative consequences
  • Dry mouth, stained teeth, or “meth mouth”
  • Dilated pupils and rapid eye movement
  • Jerky and erratic or twitching movements
  • Mood swings, paranoia, or psychotic behavior

If you or someone you love is abusing meth or addicted to it, it’s important that you seek help for meth addiction as soon as possible.

Long Term Effects of Meth Abuse

Long term drug abuse of any kind commonly leads to addiction. Drug addiction, or substance use disorder, is a chronic, relapsing disease that is characterized by risky and drug-seeking behaviors. After long term meth abuse, chemical and structural changes take place in the brain. While most of these changes heal after some time of abstinence, they can cause serious disruptions in an individual’s day to day life.

For example, the dopamine system becomes handicapped and doesn’t work correctly, leading to problems with emotion regulation, decision making, and mood stabilization. Furthermore, methamphetamine can affect memories and perceptions. As a result, people who are addicted to meth are prone to developing mental health conditions and mood disturbances, such as depression, anxiety, and psychosis.[4]

Other long term side effects of methamphetamine addiction include:

  • Weight loss
  • Tooth decay
  • Memory problems
  • Skin sores
  • Poor nutrition
  • Repetitive motor activity
  • Loss of motor skills
  • Paranoia or psychosis
  • Aggressive and violent behavior
  • Decreased fertility
  • Increased susceptibility to mental illness
  • Increased risk of HIV and Hepatitis C

Due to the harmful effects of crystal meth, the only way to prevent these long-term consequences is to stop using the drug entirely. First, that means getting help from a professional stimulant detox.

Meth Withdrawal and Detox

Detoxification is the natural process the body goes through to clear substances from the body. Unfortunately, addictive substances lead to painful withdrawal symptoms. Fortunately, when it comes to meth withdrawal, the symptoms are not fatal. In fact, most meth withdrawal symptoms are psychological rather than physical. That doesn’t make the process any easier though, as the mental cravings are challenging to overcome without professional help.

Symptoms to expect during methamphetamine detox include:[5]

  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Psychosis
  • Drug cravings
  • Increased appetite
  • Irritability

Withdrawal symptoms typically set in around 24 hours after a person’s last dose. The severity of symptoms and withdrawal timeline depends on the overall health of the person, how long they have been getting high, and other factors. Over the course of one week, most symptoms subside. However, some minor symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and cravings can last for several weeks.

Since the psychological symptoms of meth withdrawal don’t disappear overnight, addiction specialists encourage people to take advantage of medical detox and a comprehensive addiction treatment program.

Treatment for Meth Addiction

Once patients have detoxed from methamphetamine, therapy is the next phase of rehab. Behavioral therapies serve a number of different purposes in providing help for meth addiction. For example, many people abuse drugs and alcohol to cope with emotions, past trauma, or underlying conditions. Therapy helps patients bring these hardships to the surface and begin healing from them. Then, the clinical team helps each patient develop healthy coping skills to replace past behaviors that weren’t so positive.

Treatment for meth addiction typically consists of inpatient rehab, outpatient programming, and aftercare. While inpatient rehab typically has better success rates due to the intensity of care, people with less severe addictions may benefit from outpatient treatment. The main difference between these two types of care is that residential rehab requires patients to reside at the treatment facility whereas outpatient treatment is a more flexible option. Although there are no medications approved to assist in meth treatment, there are a number of effective therapies.

While getting help for meth addiction, the following treatments can be expected as they are proven effective in treating people who abuse methamphetamines:[6]

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Contingency management interventions
  • Family education
  • Individual counseling
  • Group therapy
  • 12-Step facilitation
  • Regular drug testing
  • Holistic therapy
  • Recreational activities that promote abstinence

Since the dopamine system is severely affected in chronic meth users, many people need long-term treatment in the form of aftercare. Aftercare programs provide ongoing support to individuals in recovery while reinforcing the healthy coping skills that are taught in treatment.

As a result of these chemical changes, meth addicts are particularly known to be involved in reward-seeking behaviors and have impaired decision making. However, recovery from meth addiction is possible with the help of a comprehensive treatment program and an aftercare support group.

Find Help For Meth Addiction Today

The first step towards overcoming stimulant addiction is asking for help. Although meth is one of the hardest addictions to treat, it is possible. If you or a loved one is looking for help for meth addiction, contact us today. We’ll help you get started with drug detox and formulate an individualized treatment plan that meets your needs.