Meth Addiction Treatment and Drug Rehab
People around the world suffer from addictions to many different prescription and illicit drugs. One illegal drug that is commonly abused in America is methamphetamine or meth. The stimulant effects of meth and its relative affordability have made it a commonly used addictive drug in America. Methamphetamine users come from different walks of life. College students use meth to stay awake and study for exams. People in certain occupations, such as medical residents and truck drivers, also report using meth to stay awake. Some people turn to the euphoric high of meth to deal with boredom, anger, or depression. Others use meth for appetite suppression and weight loss. Meth addiction rehab programs can help people who are abusing methamphetamine and have become addicted to this powerful stimulant drug.
What is methamphetamine?
Methamphetamine is a highly addictive stimulant. Meth creates extreme euphoria and confidence but it is associated with a harsh come-down. Some users can become addicted to meth after a single use. Methamphetamine produces its euphoric effects through a chemical in the brain called dopamine. Dopamine is responsible for feelings of pleasure, reward, motivation, memory, and learning.
What is meth addiction?
When a person uses meth, it produces a euphoric high that is far stronger than the natural dopamine rush that occurs in the brain. Common effects of meth include elation, alertness, and talkativeness. Heightened pleasurable feelings cause meth addicts to continue using the drug. Many people use methamphetamine for several days at a time to maintain a perpetual high. This leads to the development of drug tolerance where the person must take more frequent and larger amounts of meth to obtain the same effects. Ultimately, long-term use progresses to methamphetamine addiction with cravings for the drug. People who become dependent on meth experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop using. The fear of debilitating withdrawal symptoms and cravings for meth take over an addict’s life.
How severe is the meth abuse problem in America?
The 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found 1.6 million Americans used methamphetamine in the past year. Nearly 775,000 people had used it within the past month. An estimated 964,000 Americans qualified as having a meth use disorder with health problems and a failure to fulfill work and home responsibilities as a result of drug use. In 2018, Monitoring the Future survey on adolescent drug use found that 0.5 percent of teenagers had used meth in the past year. Despite the significant prevalence of methamphetamine abuse in America, treatment admissions had dropped in 2015 compared to 2005. The highest availability of methamphetamine in America is in the west and mid-west where law enforcement agencies report meth as the greatest drug threat. About 15 percent of all drug overdose deaths involve methamphetamine. Meth costs the United States roughly $550 million in treatment costs.
Understanding meth abuse
Part of the problem with methamphetamine abuse is the easy availability of this drug. Methamphetamine was originally prescribed as a weight loss aid and decongestant. It was once widely available in tablet and injection formulations. However, due to the rising abuse of methamphetamine products for their stimulant effects, in 1970 the FDA categorized it as a schedule II controlled substance (highly addictive with a dangerous potential for abuse). The only approved methamphetamine drug on the market at present is Desoxyn which is used to treat severe ADHD and obesity. On the street, meth is available by various names such as glass, chalk, ice, tweak, crank, crystal, and redneck cocaine. Illegal meth is produced in super-labs run by drug cartels but it is also made in small amounts in home labs.
Most people are addicted to crystal meth which is the commonly available form of illicit methamphetamine. Crystal meth is a white crystalline powder (it can also be pink, brown, or yellow). It is available as shiny blue-white chunks or rocks or a bitter-tasting, odorless powder that dissolves in liquids.
Meth is abused by smoking, injecting, and snorting the drug. Sometimes it is compressed into a pill. Drug dealers often “cut” meth with other less expensive substances to increase profits. Sometimes meth is mixed with medications like antidepressants or opioids. Additives can be extremely dangerous and increase the risk of overdose and death.
Signs of meth abuse
Meth abusers display several physical and psychological signs and symptoms that can alert their loved ones of a potential drug problem. Some of the common signs of meth use include:
- Meth mouth (rotting teeth)
- Weight loss
- Droopy facial skin
- Intensely scratchy skin
- Acne, sores, or scabs on the skin
- Mood swings
Dangers of meth abuse
Meth creates increased energy and a false sense of wellbeing. However, it is a dangerous drug that can have several short- and long-term health effects. Meth abusers may experience extreme weight loss, insomnia or disturbed sleep patterns, nausea, and other physical symptoms. Hyperactivity, irritability, and increased aggression are also common effects of meth abuse. Methamphetamine can cause hallucinations and paranoia. In some cases, meth can lead to liver, kidney, and lung damage, stroke, convulsions, and death. People who abuse meth are also more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior. Many meth abusers inject the drug, putting themselves at risk of HIV and other infections.
Combining meth and other substances
Sometimes dealers cut meth with other substances. Other times, meth users mix it with other drugs to obtain a stronger high. Some of the common combinations of meth and other substances include:
Meth and alcohol: The stimulant effects of methamphetamine can mask the depressant effects of alcohol, causing a person to drink more than intended. The combination of meth and alcohol can cause high blood pressure, hallucinations, liver damage, cancer, and sudden death.
Meth and opioids: Speedball is a common polydrug combination of methamphetamine and opioids. The high produced by speedball is much greater than either drug alone. Users are at risk of injuring or harming themselves and others. The combination is associated with a high risk of fatal overdose.
Meth and antidepressants: Meth users often suffer from anxiety and may use anti-anxiety medications like Xanax to deal with these feelings. This combination is extremely addictive and can lead to heart arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat) and potentially fatal heart failure.
Getting help for meth addiction
Meth is one of the hardest addictions to overcome. Many meth abusers are in denial and can become violent when confronted about their addiction. In such a situation, it may be necessary to stage an intervention to get help. Recovery from methamphetamine abuse and addiction requires a comprehensive treatment plan consisting of detoxification, counseling, and behavioral therapy. The detox in a meth rehab program purges the drug from the body to start the process of healing. Once meth is out of the system, the real work of recovery begins. Counseling helps recovering addicts deal with the psychological damages of drug abuse. Behavioral therapies guide recovering addicts on strategies to resist temptation and cravings.
Top meth addiction treatment centers in America provide supportive guidance and lead addicts towards complete recovery. A multidisciplinary treatment approach is necessary to overcome longstanding, serious addiction to meth. Inpatient meth rehab programs usually last between 30 and 90 days and offer intensive addiction treatment. Outpatient rehab for drug abuse is effective for people with less severe meth addiction and home or work obligations that do not permit residential drug rehab. Once the formal meth rehab program is completed, aftercare and support groups are essential to staying clean.