What is Meth?
Meth or methamphetamine is a stimulant drug that causes meth addiction in many cases of regular use.
Meth is restricted in medical settings, being classified as a Schedule II stimulant by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). It is prescribed to help treat ADHD however, methamphetamine is rarely prescribed and prescribed in low doses, due in large part to the chance of meth addiction occurring.
The effects of meth are very similar to the effects of amphetamines in the sense of providing raised levels of activity and feelings of well-being, but where it differs greatly is its ability to enter the brain.
Keep reading to find out all about meth addiction, and learn about effective forms of recovery if meth has become a problem in your life!
Is Meth Addictive?
Yes, methamphetamine is highly addictive. Methamphetamines affect the neurotransmitter dopamine within the brain, essentially making the brain tell the body that it needs more of this substance.
This affects the pleasure centers of the brain and reinforces drug-taking behaviors. Altered reward processing makes it much more difficult to stop drug use.
Similar to other drugs, meth users can build a tolerance to the drug and with continued use, require higher doses for the same effects. Continuing to intake higher levels of meth can put a person’s life at risk.
What Is Meth Abuse, Misuse, And Drug Abuse?
Drug abuse can be seen as any use of illegal drugs or using prescription or over-the-counter drugs outside of their intended purpose or at uncontrolled levels. Methamphetamines have a very high risk of drug abuse and misuse.
Methamphetamine use can be consumed orally or ingested through smoking, snorting, or injecting. The feelings of euphoria appear in all ingestion of substance use however, smoking or injecting meth allows it to quickly enter the brain and produce a rush of euphoria.
This rush only lasts for a few minutes and the stimulant effects remain in an individual’s system for extended use throughout the body. This fleeting rush leads to the misuse and abuse of methamphetamine.
Due to how quickly this euphoric feeling disappears while the drug is still within an individual’s system, methamphetamine addicts often take more of the drug to maintain the rush.
Maintaining these high levels of meth within an individual’s body can cause irreversible damage to be done within the brain or throughout regular bodily functions.
What Are The Health Risks Of Meth Abuse?
Long-term methamphetamine use typically leads to declining heart and respiratory health. Blood vessels are a core part of the body’s health and allow the body to properly function. Extended and overuse of this drug can harm those functions.
As an amphetamine, Methamphetamines increase the blood pressure and adjust the body’s natural regulations. In some cases, this can be a desired symptom of use, however, continued use can negatively influence blood pressure within the body.
Crystal meth, a form of methamphetamine, is more pure and potent which puts the body at an increased risk of declining health. Crystal meth can lead to meth mouth, a term used to define the poor dental state caused by crystal meth use.
The symptoms of meth mouth can be seen as major oral health damage, dry mouth, and tooth decay. Meth mouth is very stigmatizing and leads to the shunning and avoidance of these individuals in need of medical attention.
The stigma around meth abuse can lead to the declining mental health of these individuals. As they struggle with conditions such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, or irritability, they often face rejection and fall further into these mental conditions as well as continued meth abuse.
How is Meth Different From Other Stimulant Medications?
Stimulant medications are used to mainly treat narcolepsy and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder(ADHD). Stimulants help to raise levels of attention and energy which these two conditions strongly affect.
Meth is often compared to cocaine despite having important differing qualities. While the two drugs have the same effect of inhibiting the reuptake of dopamine by blocking dopamine from being broken down, the effects of meth last much longer and also increase dopamine production.
So when meth and cocaine are both stopping the body from naturally breaking down and reabsorbing dopamine, meth is also forcing the body to make more dopamine.
Meth Side Effects
Chronic meth use will harm the social, physical, and psychological experiences of an individual through its addictive qualities and effects on the brain. Chronic methamphetamine users can quickly become addicted to the drug.
Meth addiction can lead to altered states of mind such as anxiety, violent behaviors, paranoia, hallucinations, and meth-induced psychosis. These symptoms can affect the behaviors and actions of these individuals that place pressure on their relationships.
This drug addiction harms the individual’s life through the loss of connection with family members and possible legal consequences of criminal behavior. The changed brain functions and behaviors put an individual’s health at risk.
Their actions can have major consequences, some of which are potentially dangerous such as infections in skin sores from scratching and contracting sexually transmitted diseases from unprotected sex.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the short-term and long-term effects of meth use differ. The short-term effects of methamphetamine abuse are:
- Increased attention, activity, and wakefulness
- Decreased appetite and fatigue
- Euphoria and rush
- Increased respiration and blood pressure
- Rapid/irregular heartbeat
These effects typically last between 6-12 hours, depending on the amount ingested. The long-term effects of methamphetamine abuse are mainly seen in chronic use and appear as:
- Psychosis, including:
- – Paranoia
- – Hallucinations
- – Repetitive motor activity
- Changes in brain structure and function
- Deficits in thinking and motor skills
- Increased distractibility
- Memory loss
- Aggressive or violent behavior
- Mood disturbances
- Severe dental problems
- Weight loss
- High blood pressure
Is There Any Hope For Meth Addiction?
The good news is, that some of these physical declines in health can return. With abstinence from methamphetamine, the body slowly heals and recovers from some of the damage endured.
This process is a slow one. The central nervous system took on large amounts of harm due to meth abuse and needs time. The best thing to help this recovery is to abstain from any meth use.
Mental Illness and Substance Abuse
Stopping the complete use of a drug can seem impossible. Meth users that are trying to abstain from drug use may find difficulty avoiding the drug or face insatiable or intense cravings.
Mental illnesses, substance use disorders, or co-occurring disorders may be inhibiting these individuals from being able to recover from addiction or receive treatment.
ADHD, formerly known as attention deficit disorder, is one of the many mental disorders that put these individuals at higher risk of addiction. Stimulants help these individuals properly function and manage their conditions however, they may become addicted.
Individuals with family histories of addiction or mental illnesses are risk factors for substance abuse. It is important to be wary of an addictive substance with family histories of addiction and drug use.
Unfortunately, many of these conditions and experiences may be left undiagnosed and unchecked within individuals. It can be difficult for these individuals to understand how to stop without being aware of these conditions.
Allowing individuals to understand their experience gives them a better chance at managing their struggles and better assistance with maintaining abstinence from substance abuse. By understanding their reality, they can better navigate through their environment.
Can Someone Overdose On Meth?
Yes, it is very possible for someone to overdose on methamphetamine. This drug is a very toxic substance that puts the central nervous system at risk through chronic meth use.
The prolonged presence of meth within an individual’s system can lead to dangerous levels of dysfunction within the body. It is important to contact poison control at 1-800-222-1222 or 911 for emergency assistance should you suspect overdose or toxic levels of meth causing even a possibility of overdose.
Signs of Meth Overdose
The signs of a meth overdose are similar across varying forms of meth like crystal meth and powder meth. The body faces dysfunction as an individual overdoses. The signs of an overdose can appear as:
- Intense chest pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Severe stomach pain
- Stroke or heart attack
- Kidney failure can be seen in a struggle to pee
Meth Withdrawal Symptoms
Although the physical symptoms of meth withdrawal are relatively manageable, the physiological withdrawal symptoms often make it increasingly difficult to stop meth use. Methamphetamine withdrawal includes many symptoms such as:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Sweaty or clammy
Meth Addiction Treatment
The good news is meth addiction can be treated. There isn’t a specific medication to help these individuals manage methamphetamine withdrawal however, there are behavioral therapies to better assist these individuals in recovery.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is a treatment used to help manage and recover from addiction. This treatment focuses on the relationship between an individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
Family therapy can also help these individuals in repairing their relationships and also help with relapse prevention. Building a sense of community and being a part of a group can become a pillar of support for remaining clean.
Managing the ingestion of a substance is one of the main struggles of addiction but it is a core step in becoming clean. Some drugs must be slowly reduced as the body becomes reliant upon it. Methamphetamine does not require a specific medical detox.
This also does not mean that this battle of recovering is any easier to manage. Individuals struggling with meth addiction continue to face withdrawals and cravings for the drug. These individuals can find benefits in staying in a treatment center through recovery.
Living on-site at a treatment facility provides support for these individuals. This also helps provide these individuals with proper resources and treatment. Being away from home, individuals can find comfort away from drugs and using activities.
A treatment center typically has mental health professionals to help diagnose underlying mental conditions that may hinder recovery. Individuals can better understand themselves and manage their lives by being aware of their conditions.
This form of treatment allows for more flexibility in terms of time and money. Outpatient treatment provides for the community and socializing while continuing to meet the demands of their lives such as work.
Support groups add to the building of community. There are many support groups such as Crystal Meth Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous that these individuals can participate in. These groups allow for individuals struggling with addiction to not feel alone in their struggle.
Find Treatment and Help for Meth Addiction Here
Some individuals may take the path of attempting recovery alone or even with family members helping them. Individuals taking this route typically face relapse and struggle with abstaining from drug use.
Treatment centers are able to provide help to an individual in their recovery journey. Here at Find Addiction Rehabs, we assist you or your loved ones with finding addiction treatment that best suits you.
Whether finding a treatment center in your location or connecting you with recovery tools and resources, our hotline is available 24/7 to make sure you can get the help you need, anytime you need it.
Meth addiction and addiction, in general, is one of the toughest battles to overcome. Call us now and we will help find the right treatment for you!
Eric R. hails from Maine and does extensive work in the field of behavioral health as both a professional writer and passionate advocate for those suffering. From his own personal encounters with mental illness, he speaks to those seeking healthy relief from depression and anxiety and embraces wellness both personally and professionally. After losing friends and family to the darkness of suicide, Eric aims to educate and inform about the nature of treatment and render it accessible for all those seeking a way out of darkness and despair.