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Meth Addiction and Your Treatment Options

What is Methamphetamine?

Crystal meth is short for crystal methamphetamine, an illegal psychostimulant drug that is highly addictive. Street names for meth include ice, glass, meth, crank, wash, cotton candy, and more.

Meth is made in labs using a mixture of harmful ingredients, such as household cleaners, forms of amphetamine, and cold remedy ingredients. Part of what makes meth so dangerous is that you never really know for sure what is in it. It’s not uncommon for meth “cooks” to add toxic chemicals like antifreeze, drain cleaner, and battery acid. 

A Quick History of Meth

Amphetamine was first synthesized in a German chemical lab in the late 19th century. A few decades later, Japanese scientists developed a process for making methamphetamine, which was much more potent and easy to produce.

During World War II, German soldiers used meth so they could fight longer and stay alert without rest. Some soldiers who used the drug could go without sleep for days at a time. However, the soldiers reported feeling exhausted for days after the drug wore off. In some cases, the soldiers became violent and attacked members of their own units.

By the 1950’s, legal methamphetamine was readily available to everyday Americans as an inhaler and in tablet form. It was widely prescribed for depression and obesity and commonly used by athletes, students, and long-haul truck drivers.

To fight growing meth abuse and addiction, the United States banned the use of injectable meth in 1970 with the Controlled Substances Act. Today, doctors can still legally prescribe methamphetamine for ADHD and severe obesity.

How Meth is Used

Most people smoke meth in a glass pipe, but users can also snort it, inject it, or take it orally. Smoking or injecting methamphetamine speeds up the release of the drug into the body and is also more addictive. 

Because methamphetamine is a stimulant, it immediately gives the user increased energy and alertness. For many people, methamphetamine gives them higher confidence and motivation to accomplish goals, and it makes them feel happy and warm. The effects of meth tend to last about six to eight hours, but they can go as long as 24 hours.

Because it is highly addictive, it doesn’t take long to become dependent on the drug. People recovering from meth addiction often share how they enjoyed the rush of positive feelings in the beginning. As they continued to use meth, however, their lives fell apart fast.

The Long-Term Effects of Meth

Neurological and Behavioral Effects

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that those who chronically abuse meth may suffer complications with motor skills, memory, emotion, and cognitive learning. 

Long-term addiction to meth leads to depression, social isolation, delusions, and altered perceptions of reality. For some people, methamphetamine makes them extremely anxious and paranoid. They can have insomnia for days and may experience suicidal or homicidal thoughts. Depending on how much they use, they may behave erratically or violently.

The cognitive effects of long-term meth use include:

  • Addiction
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Erratic or violent behavior
  • Hallucinations
  • Insomnia
  • Memory loss
  • Obsessive behaviors
  • Paranoia
  • Reduced learning and motor skills

Physical Effects

Meth addicts commonly experience serious physical side effects. These side effects include significant, rapid weight loss and loss of appetite. People may age very rapidly because of tissue and bone loss. They may have body sores from constantly picking at their skin. Meth use can cause damage to the heart, brain, and blood vessels which lead to strokes, heart disease, comas, and cardiac arrest. They can also develop a rapid heart rate and an irregular heartbeat.

The physical effects of long-term meth use include:

  • Brain damage
  • Damage to liver, kidneys, and lungs
  • Damage to blood vessels resulting in stroke, heart disease, coma, and cardiac arrest
  • Extreme weight loss 
  • Skin sores
  • Tissue and bone loss
  • Tooth decay and gum disease (“meth mouth”)

Getting Treatment for Meth Addiction

Meth Detox

Substance abuse professionals state that the best way to come off meth is to enter a detox center. Medical detox supports patients through the worst of the detox process and makes sure they do not relapse. Most detox centers also offer various medications to help reduce the intensity of cravings and other withdrawal symptoms.

You don’t have to go through detox alone. Receiving compassionate support from addiction professionals can make a world of difference when starting the recovery process. Getting help at a detox center also will allow you to receive an assessment of your addiction and a unique, comprehensive treatment plan to increase your chance of long-term sobriety.

While going through detox, you will begin learning about the disease of addiction. You will learn how to create a firm recovery foundation and can begin working on other mental or emotional issues you may have.

Once the detox process is complete, the next step is to commit to a treatment center to continue your recovery. 

Addiction Treatment After Detox

Addiction experts always recommend attending a treatment center after detoxing from meth. If you detox but don’t follow a comprehensive recovery plan, you are more prone to relapse. A full recovery program allows you to receive individual and group counseling which can help address co-occurring issues like anxiety, depression, PTSD, trauma, job issues, coping skills, anger management, and more.

You can also attend classes that will teach you about addiction and recovery. As you dedicate yourself to stop using meth and create the kind of life you truly desire, you’ll have the support and encouragement from treatment center staff. 

If you cannot attend an inpatient drug rehab due to work or family obligations, there are outpatient or intensive outpatient programs that allow you to come in for sessions on your off time. You can also attend a 12 Step program that has meetings designed to support and encourage you in your recovery. Crystal Meth Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are two groups that may help.

Get Help For Meth Addiction Today

If you or a loved one is struggling with meth addiction, it’s time to reach out for help. We have trained clinical professionals standing by ready to assist with detox and continued treatment to free you from meth addiction.

Our experienced admissions coordinators are available 24/7. Give us a call now and take that first step toward recovery. You deserve a life free from addiction. We’d love to help get you there.

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