Treating Addiction to Methamphetamine
If you’re struggling with a meth addiction or you’re trying to figure out how to tell if someone is on meth (perhaps you suspect a loved one), chances are you’re overwhelmed and feel like there is no way out. You might even be wondering if it’s time to seek professional help. If you need help or have questions, 12 Keys Rehab has qualified, compassionate staff available 24/7 to talk to you. Call today to get your questions answered or take the next step towards recovery. We offer a safe waterfront location in Florida where you can detox the right way and begin your recovery as you go through our 12 step program.
Meth is one of those drugs where just one dose can get you hooked. The high you get can be very appealing, making you physically crave more. The fact is, meth is not only addictive, but it can wreak havoc on your body. Therefore, it’s imperative that you learn all you can about the drug so you understand your or loved one’s addiction and get help fast.
What are the Signs of a Meth Addiction?
Although meth is not the most abused drug out there, it’s one of the most destructive and addictive. It’s crucial that you know the signs of meth abuse if you have a loved one using this drug.
As one sign of methamphetamine use, you might notice crumpled aluminum foil pieces or small bags of crystals, syringes or white powder lying around. In addition, there might be ballpoint pens or soda cans with holes in them, which is a telltale sign of meth abuse. There might even be signs of a meth lab in the home.
Other signs of meth addiction include that your loved one:
- Doesn’t sleep for long periods of time
- Has lost a lot of weight
- Seems anxious or nervous
- Seems very active
- Doesn’t have an appetite
There are specific signs of meth use at home that you can look for in your loved one. First is their physical appearance. Most meth abusers look undernourished and thin from losing so much weight. Besides the noticeable weight loss, they’ll begin to have significant tooth decay or loss.
They could also be obsessively picking their skin or complain about bugs crawling on them. Your loved one might also have sores on her face or experience hair loss. Sometimes, users will appear anxious and nervous with signs of unusual activity. In some instances, users can appear sweaty from being overheated without any physical exertion, and their pupils might look dilated.
What are the Symptoms of a Meth Addiction?
When using methamphetamines, the side effects and symptoms can be both painful and damaging to your health. Common symptoms of meth addiction include the following:
- Disorganized thoughts
- Repetitive behaviors
- Shaking and trembling
- Violent behaviors
- Hair loss
- Open sores
- ‘Meth mouth’
- Loss of skin elasticity
- Sensation of ‘meth bugs’
Why You Should Enter a Meth Recovery Treatment Center
An addiction to meth can be extremely powerful and withdrawal from the drug can be just as intense. Users will experience both physical and psychological symptoms of withdrawal. These symptoms are typically moderate to severe and can be life threatening in some cases, which is why our 12 Keys Rehab meth recovery treatment center is a crucial step to recovery.
You have the best chance of a successful recovery by entering a meth recovery treatment center. Your specific needs are addressed with your own personalized treatment program. If you’re ready to finally quit your meth addiction and realize you’ll need some help combating withdrawal, contact 12 Keys Rehab today.
How Can I Help My Loved One Recover from a Meth Addiction
If you have a loved one who is addicted to meth, you likely feel as though you’ve been walking on eggshells. You’re afraid to say anything for fear that it might overwhelm them or cause them to go on another binge. These are completely normal thoughts and feelings.
It’s important, however, that you reach out and show your loved one that you’re there for them. You want to be loving and supportive, but still attempt to get them into treatment. The last thing you want to do is enable them. Instead, show them proven ways that they can deal with their addiction without having to turn to meth.
Of course, it doesn’t stop here and the only way you’re really going to help your loved one is to convince them it’s time for treatment. Once in recovery, you can begin to introduce your loved one to different activities they can do in place of using meth.
For instance, you can:
- Reward abstinent behavior (engage in activities your loved one enjoys when they are clean and make it a point to tell them you’re doing this because of the progress they are making).
- Avoid interfering with the natural negative consequences of their actions.
- Create interpersonal exchanges between the two of you that are positive.
Don’t approach your loved one while they are using meth or under its influence. Always try to catch them at a time when they are not using, so that you can reason with them while their mind is clear of the influence of drugs.
How Addictive is Meth?
Methamphetamine is a strong central nervous system stimulant, and is very addictive. Many users take meth repeatedly once their desired effects start to disappear. This is known as the ‘binge-and-crash’ method.
In some overweight people and in ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) cases, Desoxyn (pharmaceutical-grade methamphetamine) is prescribed, but only in an extremely limited clinical relevance. When used for medical purposes, meth is a controlled Schedule II drug, since it can be addictive and lead to abuse. This is why most users obtain it illegally on the streets.
It doesn’t matter how you administer it. Meth is extremely addictive, and you can build up a tolerance to it almost immediately with regular use. What’s more, the meth available today is far more potent than it was years ago. In the early days of meth production, addicts would go on 3 to 5 day meth binges. Today, there are users going on a binge for two weeks or more.
What is Meth Addiction Like?
Meth is one of the easiest drugs to become addicted to and one of the hardest to overcome. Methamphetamine abuse affects every aspect of your life, as well as your family’s. It’s very dangerous and can change your brain and body significantly.
Meth addiction causes obvious emotional distress, as well as periods of excitement. It can then descend quickly into depressive and angry behaviors. You could engage in obsessively repetitive behavior, or experience paranoia and fear. Over time, it can cause a drug-induced psychosis that can lead to criminal or violent behavior, anxiety and even suicide.
Meth isolates you from the people and activities you love. If you try to quit, chances are you’ll only end up using again because your life becomes too stressful without the drug. You may have become addicted immediately after your first few uses.
To finally beat meth addiction, you need the aid of a professional treatment facility like 12 Keys Rehab to help you manage your withdrawal symptoms, cravings and psychological problems the drug induces. In fact, 12 Keys Rehab is an essential component of full recovery.
Who Typically Abuses Meth?
Younger adults who like to go to parties and dance clubs typically use crystal meth because it causes a feeling of euphoria that lasts for up to 12 hours. Some users prefer meth over cocaine because of its longer lasting effects. Other people turn to meth to lose weight because it is notorious for decreasing appetite. However, the moment users stop taking meth, the weight returns, so the effect is short-lived.
Because meth produces an uplifting effect, people who suffer with depression often turn to it. Others enjoy it because it increases their sexual pleasure and libido.
There are some specific characteristics of users of methamphetamine that distinguish them from users of cocaine. These characteristics include:
- Abusing drugs at a young age
- Seeking treatment at a young age
- Indulging in other drugs or combining meth with other drugs (particularly marijuana)
- Minimal alcohol abuse
- Using meth throughout the day in evenly spaced time intervals (cocaine users typically use in the evenings)
- Using meth less frequently than cocaine users abuse cocaine
- Many tend to be Caucasian female
In 2003, 45 percent of all people who sought treatment for meth were women. It’s difficult for health authorities to get an exact number of crystal meth users since the drug is illegal.
How is Meth Typically Used
Meth can be abused in several different ways, including the following:
To smoke meth, you have to heat up the crystalline substance and inhale the smoke through a pipe. If you continue to smoke meth, however, it can increase your tolerance to the drug and cause an addiction on top of psychological dependency. You can negatively affect the structure and functioning of your brain with continuous exposure to this drug, causing chronic emotional and cognitive effects.
Some users choose to snort meth to avoid contracting HIV/AIDS. It’s true that non-sterile needles can pose a risk to your health, and snorting lowers the potential for exposure to that risk. But you can also contract and transmit the hepatitis virus while snorting the drug if you’re using the same paraphernalia as other people. You substantially increase your risk if there are any cuts inside your nose or blood on the paraphernalia.
Although you get the same euphoric high that you do when you smoke or inject the drug, you get less of a rush when you snort it. This is why many people increase the amounts they snort. This, however, is very risky since it can lead to overdose and cause problems like nosebleeds, sinus and nose cavity issues, and damage to the cartilage and lining of your nose.
It’s never safe to take meth no matter how you administer it, but injecting it poses the most risk of all. When you shoot up, you increase your chances of it becoming fatal both suddenly and over a long period. Since you experience a higher intensity and immediate buzz from shooting up, you may be quicker to develop an addiction to the drug.
You can ingest meth either through powder form or in pill form. People who use the powder form add it to an empty capsule. Pills are usually green or reddish-orange in color, and some carry a logo. For instance, the logo ‘WY’ on a pill signifies ‘Yaba’, which is the most common meth pill. If they cannot access pill capsules, some meth users have even gone so far as to make their own pill by adding the powder form inside a small tissue or toilet paper and swallowing it.
The high from oral ingestion is less intense than the high felt when injecting, smoking or snorting meth. Nevertheless, the dangerous side effects and risk of potentially fatal overdose are no less.
No matter how meth users take meth, they all still claim to have abundant, limitless energy. But, keep in mind, what goes up, must come down, and the coming down phase of meth is no picnic. It can leave you completely exhausted, mentally deteriorated and even cause severe depression in some cases. Basically, each time you use meth, you’re draining your body of its vital energy that organs and other body systems require in order to function properly.
What Does Meth Do to the Brain?
The neurotransmitter dopamine in your brain is increased substantially each time you take meth. Dopamine is associated with motor function, motivation, and experience of pleasure and reward. When meth releases this dopamine rapidly in your brain’s reward regions, you experience that rush or euphoric feeling. Basically, it goes something like this:
- You take the meth and it releases a rapid surge of dopamine causing an immediate and intense rush and hours of euphoric sensation.
- As you continue using the drug, it damages your dopamine receptors which makes it so you don’t feel pleasure anymore without the drug. While these pleasure centers can be gradually healed over time, you will likely still have some permanent cognitive impairment.
- As you continue abusing meth, it can result in paranoia, anxiety, meth insomnia, delusions, psychotic behavior, hallucinations, aggression and even death.
But, knowing this doesn’t stop many users from abusing meth. In fact, according to UCLA’s Integrated Substance Abuse Program’s associate director, Dr. Richard Rawson, there are a number of reasons why people try the drug, but the minute they do, most people’s reasons are the same. They enjoy the effect the drug has on their brain. The immediate rush and 6 to 12 hours worth of euphoric high keeps them coming back.
What is the High from Meth Like?
A meth high is similar to any other substance, where you first get feelings of confidence, pleasure and energy. However, what creeps up next are the harmful and unpleasant short and long-term effects. As the drug reaches your brain, it ignites a chemical reaction, stimulating the part of your brain that regulates primitive functions like:
- Energy level
- Fight or flight adrenaline reaction
As mentioned earlier, when you first take meth, you experience that immediate dopamine rush, which hits you like a ton of bricks. This lasts for up to five minutes, but what comes next is just as pleasurable – the euphoria feel-good feeling. Depending on how big your dose is, this high can lasts one hour to six hours. Then you go through a period of indecisiveness. This is where you’ll question if you should do more to maintain the incredible feeling.
But this incredible feeling doesn’t happen every time. In fact, the more you take meth, the more of it you have to take to achieve this euphoric feeling since you build up a tolerance to the drug. This is where the so-called fun ends.
Why Do So Many People Turn to Meth
There are a number of reasons why so many people turn to meth. Some of the most common are:
Use Meth as a Party Drug
As a party drug, meth allows users to go on an extended binge (sometimes up to two weeks) and party without sleep.
Use Meth for Weight Loss
Many people (especially women) believe meth can help them lose that extra weight since it suppresses appetite, which leads to weight loss.
Increased Energy and Euphoria
The first thing you notice when taking methamphetamine is the immediate rush of energy and euphoria it causes. This high can last up to 12 hours. You’re likely to experience:
- Increased alertness and concentration
- Increased libido
- Decreased fatigue
- Reduced desire to sleep
Some use meth to increase their productivity, since it enables people to go days (even weeks) without sleep. Many people have used this drug for this purpose, including business professionals, students and even mothers who are looking to avoid fatigue and increase their time and ability to get more of their daily tasks done.
If you already have a mental or emotional disorder, you may turn to meth to mask its symptoms. The drug provides a feeling of powerfulness, which you might seek in order to mask other feelings like self-image challenges, feelings of inadequacy, feelings of weakness and depression. The drug, however, only provides you with a temporary distraction from these feelings, which will eventually return.
You might take this drug because you like the fact that meth increases your sex drive and lowers your inhibitions. While you might feel hypersexualized, you’re also more likely to participate in harmful and unsafe sexual practices like engaging in sexual behaviors that increase your chances of contracting STD’s or HIV, having more than one sexual partner, or behaving compulsively.
The Physical and Psychological Effects of Methamphetamine Abuse
Addiction professionals count methamphetamine among the most dangerous drugs in the world. Some users report becoming addicted from the very first use. As a central nervous system stimulant, meth speeds up functions such as heart rate and breathing.
There are a broad array of symptoms associated with methamphetamine abuse and addiction. Not only does using meth cause serious and life-threatening physical problems, the resulting emotional issues require professional treatment. The health of a person struggling with meth addiction will diminish rapidly in a short period of time.
Refusing to eat, excessive physical activity, twitching frequently and clenching the jaw are common physical symptoms. Flushed skin and profuse sweating, dilated pupils and changes in blood pressure and heartbeat also occur. Dizziness, blurry vision, numbness, skin problems, gastric problems, meth mouth, insomnia — the list of symptoms is nearly endless.
Emotionally, meth addiction causes obvious problems. Periods of excitement after using descend into angry and depressive behaviors. Changes in libido, obsessively repetitive behavior, grandiose moods, fear and paranoia all define meth addiction. With time, methamphetamine is associated with drug-induced psychosis as well as violent or criminal behavior, suicide, depression and anxiety.
In addition to these extremely serious problems, individuals who are addicted to methamphetamine are at high risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease. Many users take meth because it increases feelings of sexual desire — taking the drug can lead to engaging in unprotected sex. There is a strong correlation between methamphetamine abuse and life-threatening sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS.
Finally, taking too much methamphetamine can be fatal. The symptoms of meth overdose include:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Tremors and severe agitation
- High body temperature
- Difficulty urinating
- Kidney failure
- Cerebral hemorrhage
If you suspect a loved one is using methamphetamine, get help now.
Does a Meth Addiction Cause any Permanent Damage?
On top of the anxiety, violent behavior, insomnia, confusion and paranoia chronic meth users experience, meth addiction can also lead to occupational and social deterioration. This drug changes how your brain operates. It increases your blood pressure and heart rate, and can cause cardiovascular damage and strokes. It can even cause kidney, lung and liver damage, and even death.
Meth can also damage your brain and make you unable to grasp abstract thoughts or lose your memory. If you are able to recover from some of this brain damage, you’re still subject to intense mood swings and gaps in your memory.
The problem, however, is that the toxic effect meth has on your brain can last even if you’ve stopped taking the drug. There can be signs of judgment, memory and motor coordination impairment caused by the long-lasting damage to different areas of your brain. You might even have lasting intelligence and personality changes from heavy meth use. If you abuse crystal meth for a long period (particularly if you smoke it), it can leave your brain with holes the size of golf balls. This is significant and irreparable brain damage that can affect your ability to be happy, since so many areas of your brain are impacted.
Even after you stop using methamphetamine, some of the crystal meth signs of use like the paranoia, depression and anxiety might not cease. You may even lose your ability to experience pleasure. This alone is such a horrible feeling that many people simply go back to using the drug.
Dangers of Meth Tolerance
Methamphetamine is a neurotoxin that severely damages the brain. As abuse continues and the amounts taken increase, the brain learns to rely on the drug. The longer the abuse continues, the more of a tolerance the brain will build up against meth — taking more and more is necessary to achieve the same high.
Physical dependency develops when the person struggling with addiction can no longer function without meth and must take the drug simply to avoid withdrawal. Meth withdrawal is difficult and requires professional help, especially for those who are chronic heavy abusers.
Liver and Other Organ Damage from Meth
Meth can lead to increased body temperature and heart rate. Over time, this can impact your blood pressure, increase blockages in your carotid artery and cause artery tears. Additionally, it may compromise your immune system and leave your body with no way to fight off infections.
Also common with use of this drug is liver damage, leading to liver disease, cirrhosis and hepatitis. Meth can even lead to dental disease, which is why so many users suffer with what some call “meth mouth.”
How Long Does it Take to Withdraw from Meth
Withdrawing from meth is different for everyone. Before you decide to stop, you have to ensure you’re in a supportive environment that is equipped to help you. It can be very hard to withdraw from meth, as it produces some very nasty physical sensations and feelings. Meth withdrawal can last up to four weeks. The good news is that the symptoms don’t last forever, and you can get through them safely when you go through professionally supervised detox.
What are the Stages of Meth Withdrawal?
Typically, the timeline for withdrawing from meth looks something like this:
Your first 24 to 72 hours: During this period, you’ll feel depressed and completely exhausted. You’ll want to sleep quite a bit. You might experience feelings of panic, anxiety or hallucinations. Medically trained professionals can help you with the right treatments to make these symptoms as bearable as possible.
Week 1: This is the week where you might begin to crave meth. It’s important to get through this part. You’ll likely feel agitated, tired, irritable, angry and hopeless. You’ll have aches and pains, sleep problems and might experience headaches. Your appetite will come back and you’ll begin to regain some of the weight that you lost.
Week 2: After your first two weeks, you might still have some cravings and will experience depression and mood swings.
Week 3 to 4: Finally, it’s been a month and you’re starting to feel better. You’ll experience increased energy (naturally). You’ll find that you’re beginning to sleep better and that your mood settles.
What Types of Co-Occurring Disorders Exist with Meth
Many users often struggle with co-occurring disorders along with their meth addiction. For instance, you might be addicted to meth and have an emotional or psychiatric disorder. Alternatively, you struggle with meth and have an alcohol problem. These are both examples of a co-occurring disorder, and require a special dual diagnosis treatment. In dual diagnosis treatment, professionals will help you treat your meth addiction and mental disorder simultaneously.
Some types of co-occurring disorders that exist with an addiction to meth include:
With this disorder, you struggle with extreme mood swings. You have manic periods and depressive periods. During the manic periods, many bipolar clients say they feel creative, exuberant and undefeatable, which is why it’s not uncommon for them to look for ways to maintain the feelings of their mania. Meth is often a way of doing just that.
Meth (in the beginning) works as a powerful antidepressant. People with depression are often attracted to meth because it can relieve their depressive symptoms. The problem is that regular use of meth can also cause depression, making it hard to determine if you already had the depression disorder or if it was influenced by your chronic meth use.
ADD and ADHD
If you have ADHD, you may respond well to lower doses of amphetamines. Since meth helps you focus and complete tasks, if you are untreated or undiagnosed with ADHD, you might continue to use meth once you start. The more you continue to use meth to enhance your focus, the more of it you need to achieve that desired effect. Ultimately, the higher doses impair your task performance and focus.
If you are dealing with an eating disorder, you might have a poor body image. This might lead you to look for ways to induce weight loss. Since meth suppresses the appetite, it leads to rapid weight loss, which is attractive to people with eating disorders. The more you use meth, the more you become addicted and suffer dangerous consequences. Combining an eating disorder with meth addiction is dangerous, and can lead to death.
Meth relieves the some of the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, which is why many people with this condition turn to it. If you have PTSD, meth might help you to engage in both emotional and social activities that you weren’t able to do before. Unfortunately, with prolonged use, meth will actually begin to magnify your PTSD symptoms, making them worse than they were to begin with.
Dangers of Quitting Meth without Assistance
Withdrawing from meth is different from withdrawing from other substances, since it produces psychological challenges in addition to some physical ones. This is because meth alters your brain chemistry, particularly the area that controls pleasure.
So, when you quit meth, it can make you unable to experience pleasure in life. This means that you won’t be able to stand how you feel once off meth and that will increase your chance of relapse. This state, known as anhedonia, is not permanent. That said, it’s still is a big reason why it is important that you seek professional help and supervision while you go through withdrawal.
To quit meth safely and successfully, you need the support of a professionally trained staff like 12 Keys Rehab that can get you through the process safely. If you go cold turkey off meth without assistance, not only can you increase your chances of a relapse, but you can also suffer other symptoms of serious mood disorders.
Quitting without assistance can cause feelings of:
- Intense drug cravings
- High potential of relapse
- Psychotic symptoms
- Suicidal ideation
Trying to quit meth cold turkey on your own with no emotional support is not likely to be successful.
How Do You Safely Detox from Meth?
Withdrawing from meth isn’t going to be pleasant. You need to detox in a safe and proper treatment facility like 12 Keys Rehab, under the supervision of trained professionals equipped to handle your withdrawal in a safe, supportive and effective manner. At 12 Keys Rehab, you first receive a physical exam so we can determine your immediate needs and come up with a customized treatment plan that will help you during detox and recovery.
How is a Meth Addiction Treated?
At 12 Keys Rehab, you don’t have to go through recovery alone. Our staff is qualified and experienced in helping you beat your addiction. We understand completely each stage of your detox and recovery and offer multidisciplinary treatment for a full spectrum of addiction challenges.
There are certain steps of recovery you’ll follow here at 12 Keys Rehab, beginning with detox and then going through progressive treatments and therapies such as neurofeedback and behavioral therapy.
Through the 12 Step Method, you’ll learn why you started meth, why it became a problem and how you can avoid meth down the road.
We design our therapy and counseling methods to heal your body, mind and spirit while you learn the skills to deal with the stress of getting back out into the world.
What is Meth?
Meth, methamphetamine, is a stimulant that resembles the chemical structure of amphetamine. There are a couple forms, including regular meth (ingestible in powder or pill form) and crystal meth (which looks like shiny blue-white rocks or glass fragments).
The main ingredients in methamphetamine are pseudoephedrine or ephedrine, which are the same ingredients you find in Contac, Sudafed and other OTC decongestants. These types of medications, which have been pulled off over-the-counter shelves, are considered similar to controlled substance like prescriptions.
Other ingredients of meth include rock salt, paint thinner, lithium from batteries, gasoline additive, drain cleaner, iodine, lye, red phosphorus and aluminum foil.
- Common street names for meth include:
- Chicken feed
- Mexican crack
- Tick tick
- Yellow powder
- Redneck cocaine
Common street names for crystal meth include:
- Hot ice
- Crystal glass
People claim that meth is an appealing high because it provides an instant pleasure rush when first taken, followed by a long-lasting sense of euphoria. Users also say they experience increased focus, energy, confidence and feelings of desirability.
But, in order for users to continue receiving this same ‘high’ from the drug, they have to keep taking more of it. As they continue using the drug, it has a very negative effect on their body and mind, deteriorating physical health and good looks. They are unable to experience pleasure, lose cognitive abilities and even lose that desirable libido they experienced when first taking the drug. While its initial reaction to the drug might seem pleasurable, with long-term use, meth is very destructive to your body.
Key Statistics About Abuse and Addiction to Meth
These meth addiction statistics demonstrate just how prevalent and damaging the drug has become.
- Around 1.4 million in 2004 had used meth in the past year and around 318,000 people said it was their first time using meth.
- In 2011, the number of emergency department visits related to meth was over 102,000. This was a substantial increase from the 67,117 in 2007 for both men and women.
- Between the years 2002 through 2012, the average age of people who first used was between 17 and 22 years.
Facts About Methamphetamine
A Japanese chemist named Nagai Nagayoshi first synthesized methamphetamine from ephedrine in 1893. Another chemist refined it further in 1919, and German soldiers took the drug for its stimulant effects during World War II.
Obetrol Pharmaceuticals marketed methamphetamine in the 1950s for weight loss, and it became a popular diet pill for nearly two decades. As problems with addiction developed, however, the federal government declared methamphetamine a controlled substance with limited medical applications. This move strictly limited the production and sale of the drug.
Today’s legal form of methamphetamine is called Desoxyn. The drug carries a black box warning that alerts patients to the hazards of methamphetamine abuse and addiction. Desoxyn, when taken for a prolonged period of time, can cause tolerance and dependence. It can also cause overdose, adverse heart events and death. That is why people who struggle with attention or weight issues are often ordered to try other drugs or remedies first.
Recreationally, methamphetamine gained popularity with users who sought its powerful stimulant, aphrodisiac and euphoric effects. While users can snort, smoke and inject the drug, injecting meth is the fastest and most dangerous way to use it.
Crystal meth is a form of methamphetamine that produces the same effects but looks like a white quartz crystal. Meth is sometimes referred to as crack, speed or chalk. Users call crystal meth ice or glass.
Find Your Path to Freedom at 12 Keys Rehab
If you are tired of watching yourself or your loved one sink further into addiction, it’s time to get help. Call us now for a free and confidential assessment of your situation. Why wait any longer when you can walk the path to sobriety starting right now?
Call 12 Keys Rehab for more information and find your path to freedom, starting today.