The Effects, Addiction, and Withdrawal Of Meth Addiction: Methamphetamine (or meth for short) is a stimulant drug that affects users much like prescription amphetamines (i.e., Adderall, Ritalin) which are primarily used to treat Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Therefore, methamphetamine is most commonly used for recreational (non-medical) purposes. It can found as a pill (ie., Desoxyn, the prescription form), powder, or crystalline form (crystal meth.) It can be ingested orally, snorted, smoked, or injected.
Symptoms of Short-Term Meth Use
Like many other drugs, methamphetamine effects are a result of increased levels of neurotransmitters in the brain, such as dopamine and serotonin. This action results in a temporary boost in energy and mood, as well as any or all of the following effects:
An increase in blood pressure and heart rate
Excessive sweating and dangerously high body temperature
Loss of appetite
Insomnia and sleep disturbances
Obsessive repetition of actions
Binging on meth can also lead to “tweaking,” a condition characterized by uncontrollable scratching, paranoia, tremors, and tactile hallucinations such as the sensation of bugs crawling on the skin.
The comedown occurs when the user stops using meth after an extended period. During this time, the user may also experience exceptionally long sleep episodes and lethargy that can last for days.
Effects of Chronic Meth Use
When used for an extended period, meth addiction can result in many adverse mental and physical effects – and in fact, brain damage found in long-term meth abusers is similar to that observed in Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease patients.
The most common effects experienced by chronic methamphetamine users include the following:
Brain cell damage
Paranoia and anxiety
Insomnia and sleep disturbances
Skin infections and sore
Liver, lung, and kidney damage
Hallucinations and psychosis
Meth addicts can also incur risks indirectly related to drug use, such as contracting hepatitis B, C, and HIV.
Moreover, some users inject meth using non-sterile needles, while others frequently engage in unprotected sex while intoxicated. Finally, methamphetamine can accelerate the progression of HIV/AIDS and exacerbate the disease.
In severe cases, life-threatening side effects may occur as a result of use, such as seizures. Sudden death from an overdose is uncommon in meth addicts but certainly possible.
A Word on Combined Drug Intoxication
Among the significant risks of taking a stimulant (i.e., meth or cocaine) in conjunction with a depressant (i.e., opioid or sedative) is that the stimulant has the potential to disguise life-threatening central nervous system (CNS) depression, a possible effect of depressant overuse.
For instance, the depressant may slow breathing, while the stimulant increases it, resulting in a feeling of physical normality. Simply put, it may be difficult to tell when a life-threatening overdose is looming.
Also, the methamphetamine “high” often persist longer than the effects of a depressant, which puts a burden on the heart and respiratory system. As the CNS depression wears off, the stimulant takes over full force and can result in arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), a spike in blood pressure, and ultimately, stroke or cardiac arrest.
Why Meth is Still a Problem
Meth use experienced a decline in the early part of the 21st century due in part to federal restrictions on the sale of cough and cold medications containing pseudoephedrine – the main ingredient to used to make meth. Also, DEA crackdowns on clandestine, local labs helped reduce the availability of the drug.
Mexican cartels, however, began fueling the demand for meth, making a drug that was far more potent, pure, and dangerous than home labs of the past were once capable. Due to mass production, they are able to produce mass quantities of the drug inexpensively and therefore pass savings onto the consumer.
Therefore, in recent years to present, meth use has been increasing again due to its widespread availability and reduced cost.
Meth Addiction Treatment
Currently, there are no medications indicated for the treatment of meth addiction, so most treatment approaches focus on behavioral therapies. These include practices such as contingency management, education, counseling, and group/peer support, which are usually available through either inpatient or intensive outpatient programs.
Inpatient treatment is conducted in a safe, controlled environment while the patient receives around-the-clock supervision.
Patients are advised to participate in programs for at least 30 days and are privy to counseling, therapeutic resources, and activities.
Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) are ideal for those who have a secure external support system and need time to attend to responsibilities such as work, school, and family. IOPs offer most or all of the services available at inpatient programs but are more flexible and allow the patient more freedom and less structure.
Most treatment programs will offer or refer the patient to aftercare services for continued support. These options include additional counseling and ongoing group support such as 12-step meetings.
Also, sober living homes offer a place for people in recovery to transition to independence while residing in a safe and drug-free community of peers.
Getting Help For Meth Addiction
Taking the first steps to overcome your addiction can make a major change in your life from active abuse to sobriety. Though the steps you take may feel small and insignificant at first, realize that they are necessary to reach the final end goal of sobriety. Be patient with yourself and don’t rush through this process.
Choosing where to go for recovery is a critical step in sobriety. At Midwood Addiction Treatment, we give you the tools you need to beat your addiction and an experience you’ll never forget. No one can force you to be ready, but when you are, we will be here for you.
If you’re ready for that day to be today, call us now: