Methamphetamine Addiction And Treatment Options

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Meth abuse can quickly cause addiction. Abuse of this potent drug can cause serious mental and physical health problems, including birth defects, organ damage, psychosis, and fatal overdose.

Methamphetamine Addiction And Treatment Options

Seeking comprehensive addiction treatment for meth can help to protect a person from meth-related health risks. A meth drug rehab program can give a person the tools they need to find and maintain long-term sobriety.

Understanding Meth

Methamphetamine, or meth for short, is a highly addictive stimulant drug or upper. Like other drugs in the stimulant class, meth creates its effect by stimulating the brain and body, specifically the central nervous system.

Two forms of the drug exist, a stronger illicit version, and a weaker pharmaceutical form. Prescription methamphetamine, or Desoxyn, is prescribed for ADHD and weight loss, though quite infrequently. Due to its high potential for abuse, meth is classified as a Schedule II drug.

The illegal form of meth is found as a white, crystalline powder, a white pill, glass-like shards, or as bluish-white rocks. The latter two forms are frequently referred to as crystal meth or ice.

At equivalent doses, methamphetamine is more potent than its parent drug amphetamine. This is because it can more easily cross the blood-brain barrier. Meth is more damaging to the central nervous system than amphetamine and also has a longer effect.

Meth can be abused a number of ways. It is injected, smoked, snorted, or taken orally. Further, misusing a personal prescription or someone else’s medication qualifies as abuse. This can also place a person at risk of addiction and, potentially, overdose.

Meth Abuse Signs And Symptoms

When meth abuse becomes compulsive, thoughts of finding and using the drug can take over most everything else in a person’s life. As this occurs, a person may begin to ignore important tasks or responsibilities that relate to their family, job, or education.

A person’s relationships may also suffer. Instead of spending time with friends and family, a person may push close loved ones away. At this point, an individual may begin spending time with people who use or sell meth.

A person may act secretive and behave in uncharacteristic ways. When questioned about drug use, they may lie and become very defensive. Individuals who inject meth may wear long-sleeved shirts even in warm weather to cover up scars or track marks from injecting the drug.

Other signs and symptoms of methamphetamine abuse include a person:

  • being unable to reduce or quit meth use even though they want to
  • using meth instead of taking part in hobbies or activities that were once important to them
  • engaging in risk-taking behaviors, such as unsafe sex, while under the influence
  • continuing to take meth even after it’s causing mental health problems
  • losing large chunks of time to using meth or feeling ill from it
  • spending large amounts of money on the drug

Using meth requires certain equipment or paraphernalia. One of the most major signs of meth abuse is finding pipes, syringes, or other types of meth paraphernalia in a person’s car, bedroom, or other personal space.

Meth Abuse Short-Term Effects

Meth works very quickly and can create powerful effects even at small doses. At the onset, this drug creates euphoria, an intense rush, and surges of energy that last from five to 30 minutes.

In this more physically active state, a person may carry out meaningless tasks over and over again. Meth can also cause jaw clenching that a person cannot control.

Additional short-term effects of methamphetamine abuse include:

  • dilated pupils
  • dry mouth
  • excessive sweating
  • faster breathing
  • headache
  • increased heart rate
  • irritability
  • no appetite
  • rising body temperature
  • sleeplessness
  • wakefulness

Meth may also cause a person to become paranoid and act unpredictably.

Meth Abuse Long-Term Effects

The more a person takes meth, the greater the risk of dependence and addiction.

As a person begins to use meth more often, they may begin to develop a tolerance. This means they need to take larger and/or more frequent doses of meth to create the pleasurable effects they once felt on a smaller dose.

At this time, regular users of the drug may not be able to experience pleasure in their life, except for what the drug produces. This, along with tolerance, can drive a person to take the drug far more frequently, behaviors that can push a person into addiction.

In addition to having acne, pale skin, and poor complexions, individuals who chronically use meth may have sores throughout their body. These sores occur when a person picks and digs at their skin because they believe there are insects, or “crank bugs,” crawling beneath it.

Other long-term effects of methamphetamine abuse are:

  • anxiety
  • confusion
  • insomnia
  • mood disturbances
  • weight loss

Many of the long term effects of meth abuse can become quite dangerous, with some even being life-threatening.

Meth Abuse Risks And Dangers

Chronic methamphetamine abuse can cause serious physical, mental, and behavioral health problems.

Many people who abuse methamphetamine develop severe dental problems. This condition, often referred to as “meth mouth,” can cause cracked teeth, massive tooth decay, and tooth loss.

An individual’s immune system may also become compromised by long-term methamphetamine abuse, resulting in recurrent infections.

Even more, women who abuse meth while pregnant could be exposing their baby to serious birth defects from meth, including brain and heart effects, cleft palate, and premature birth.

Long-term meth abuse can lead to other serious medical problems, such as:

When a person is compulsively taking meth they may not sleep for up to 15 days. At this time, they could begin to tweak out from meth and become irritable, paranoid, and violent. When tweaking on meth, a person can become unstable and be a danger to themselves and others.

Meth abuse can also cause aggression and psychotic episodes. Methamphetamine psychosis may create delusions, paranoia, and auditory and visual hallucinations. Psychosis from chronic methamphetamine intoxication can resemble schizophrenia.

In certain cases, a person may have psychotic symptoms months or years after they quit using this drug.

Serious neurological problems can result from long-term meth abuse. This may include nerve and brain damage, with effects that appear like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s diseases.
People who abuse meth may also struggle with major emotional and cognitive problems, including memory loss. Chronic anxiety can also result.

Some of the greatest risks of methamphetamine abuse and addiction occur during overdose or methamphetamine poisoning.

Meth Overdose Signs And Symptoms

Methamphetamine overdose can be a medical emergency, and without the proper treatments, a person could lose their life. Knowing the signs and symptoms of a methamphetamine overdose could help to get potentially life-saving care at this time.

When a person begins to overdose on meth they may have tremors or shaking throughout their body that they can’t control. They could also develop gastrointestinal distress, including diarrhea, nausea, stomach ache, and vomiting.

As meth pushes a person’s central nervous system into overdrive, they could develop high blood pressure, an irregular heartbeat, rapid breathing, and a very high fever.

Other signs and symptoms of methamphetamine overdose are:

  • aggression
  • assaultiveness
  • confusion
  • depression
  • fever
  • hallucinations
  • overactive reflexes
  • panic
  • restlessness
  • tiredness

Methamphetamine overdose can also cause the body’s temperature to rise to dangerously high levels.

As this occurs, a person may have a heart attack or stroke. Other cardiovascular complications that can happen include arrhythmias and circulatory collapse. Severe organ problems, including kidney failure, can also result. These complications may be fatal.

In the most serious cases of a methamphetamine overdose, a person may have seizures. The DailyMed cautions that convulsions and coma often occur before fatal methamphetamine poisoning.

Contacting emergency medical services right away during an overdose could help to save a person’s life.

Meth Withdrawal Signs And Symptoms

When a person is dependent on meth their body relies on the drug to feel normal.

In the drug’s absence, a person may develop discomfort and experience withdrawal symptoms, including:

  • anxiety
  • fatigue
  • increased appetite
  • insomnia
  • intense depression
  • itchy, red eyes
  • low motivation
  • poor concentration
  • psychosis
  • strong cravings
  • unpleasant and vivid dreams

People who use large amounts of meth may even develop symptoms of meth withdrawal when they significantly reduce their dose.

Meth Detoxification Treatment

Meth withdrawal symptoms are commonly treated in an outpatient detox program, however, certain individuals may receive inpatient detoxification treatment. A meth detox program may not be required in every circumstance.

There are currently no FDA-approved medications for methamphetamine dependence. Certain medications may be used to reduce mental health symptoms associated with withdrawal, such as anxiety and depression, however.

Individuals who are severely depressed due to methamphetamine withdrawal may need to be monitored for suicidal thoughts while they detox from meth.

Finding A Meth Drug Rehab Program

Methamphetamine addiction may be treated in either an outpatient or inpatient addiction treatment program.

People who have a dual diagnosis or mental health problem that occurs with addiction, such as anxiety, depression, or psychosis, may be better treated in an inpatient drug rehab program for meth.

Residential treatment for meth may be a good option for people who are addicted to more than one drug as well.

Though there aren’t medications for methamphetamine abuse and addiction, research has shown that certain behavioral therapies can help a person reduce drug use and find sobriety from meth.

Drug rehab programs for meth may use evidence-based treatments, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and contingency management interventions or motivational incentives. The Matrix Model can also be used during treatment for methamphetamine abuse and addiction.

With the right substance abuse treatment program for meth, a person can obtain freedom from this highly addictive drug.

Contact today for more information on meth abuse, addiction, and treatment options.

Center for Substance Abuse Research - Methamphetamine

DailyMed - LABEL: DESOXYN- methamphetamine hydrochloride tablet

MedlinePlus - Methamphetamine, Methamphetamine overdose

National Institute on Drug Abuse - Methamphetamine: Research Report Series, What is Methamphetamine?

US National Library of Medicine - Withdrawal symptoms in abstinent methamphetamine-dependent subjects