What We Know
Methamphetamine, or meth, is a common stimulant that is highly addictive. In fact, 500 metric tons of meth are produced a year, and 42 metric tons are being consumed in the US alone. Meth is such a common drug because it’s relatively easy to make and sell on the street. It’s often packaged as a powder or in crystal form and is usually smoked using a meth pipe.
The meth epidemic in our country is a serious one because this widespread drug is highly addictive and extremely dangerous. Some users can get addicted to meth after only one or two uses. Meth withdrawal symptoms are some of the worst and can even be fatal, which makes it hard for those addicted to meth to get help. Going through a professional detox can help clients take the first important step in their recovery journey.
Meth Addiction Symptoms
Meth is a stimulant, meaning that it can cause hyperactivity, followed by a crash. It’s also one of the most deadly drugs because users can easily overdose on meth and the result can be fatal. Meth addiction symptoms can fall into two categories, short-term, and long-term symptoms.
Short-Term Meth Symptoms:
Increased energy and alertness
Being talkative and distracted
Increased breathing rate
Increased heart rate
Long-Term Meth Symptoms:
Extreme weight loss
Depression and/or suicidal thoughts
Decayed teeth and gums (meth mouth)
Damage to blood vessels
As you can see, meth is a powerfully dangerous drug that can impact a user’s life and the lives of those around them.
Meth Withdrawal Symptoms
Meth withdrawal symptoms can be extremely uncomfortable, painful, and even deadly, which is why detox in a medical facility is required. Those going through meth withdrawal will experience both physical and mental symptoms.
Physical Meth Withdrawal Symptoms
As compared with other drugs, such as heroin, the physical withdrawal symptoms of meth are not as intense. Users may experience extreme lethargy, headaches, increased appetite (because the meth had suppressed the user’s appetite), and fatigue.
Mental Meth Withdrawal Symptoms
Sadly, it’s the mental withdrawal symptoms that are the hardest for users addicted to meth. Meth tells the brain to produce more dopamine, a feel-good hormone, so when there is an absence of this drug, these feel-good hormones aren’t produced as much. In addition, meth can even decrease the number of dopamine receptors in a user’s brain. This can cause extreme feelings of depression, anxiety, and even suicidal thoughts.
Without the care of medical professionals, these mental symptoms are what lead to relapse because a user wants to escape the depression they’re in and they turn to their meth craving. Working through a detox program can help end this vicious cycle and monitor a user’s symptoms.
Effects of Meth Use
As mentioned, meth impacts a user’s mind, body, and social relationships. When looking at the drug’s long-term effects, American Addiction Centers explains it well:
The consumption of meth results in “massive releases of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine (along with other neurotransmitters) that lead to a number of extremely powerful euphoric effects.” These include increases in energy, feelings of invulnerability, and other psychoactive effects. But this increase in dopamine is what makes it hard for people to stop using meth because when they come down from their high, they feel extremely irritable, anxious, and depressed.
In addition to affecting the brain, meth also affects users’ central nervous system, which is the system that runs through our body and is responsible for many of our basic functions. The continued use of meth is associated with a decrease in neurons in the central nervous system, including:
- The hippocampus, responsible for remembering things and learning new information
- The striatum, a structure crucial in movement and directed attention
- The frontal and prefrontal cortex, areas of the brain that are crucial in human cognition, reasoning, problem-solving, and self-preservation
There are more, but it’s impossible to outline all of the long-term effects of meth use. If you or something you love is struggling with this dangerous drug, get help today.
Many people who struggle with meth addiction also struggle with a mental health disorder and these two conditions combined are what recovery professionals call co-occurring disorders. Some of the most common co-occurring disorders involve mood and anxiety disorders, such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, or schizoaffective disorder. Nearly 8 million adults in the United States had co-occurring disorders in 2014.
As you can see with meth, co-occurring disorders change the type of treatment a client needs because a pre-existing mental health condition can make the effects and withdrawal symptoms of meth even worse. Therefore, they may require both substance abuse disorder therapy and mental health treatment plans. At Manifest Recovery Centers, we understand the importance of dual disorder diagnoses and work with our clients’ individual needs. With the proper treatment, we can address the mental, behavioral, and physical components of opiate addiction.
Inpatient vs. Outpatient Treatment
There are multiple options when it comes to meth addiction treatment, including inpatient and outpatient care. Often, a client may start in an inpatient facility because they require a more hands-on approach, especially during their withdrawal period, but then they might move to an outpatient facility for continued treatment. Let’s look at the differences between these programs:
Inpatient care is intensive residential care where a client stays in the facility for 30, 60, or even 90 days, depending on their needs. During this time, clients undergo medical care, group therapy, individual therapy, and any other scheduled treatment they need. Treatments usually take up the majority of the day, and the client has some time throughout their stay to relax and readjust to sober living.
Outpatient treatment is a part-time program where clients attend ongoing treatment programs.These programs can be attended in the evening or on weekends to fit in with the client’s school or work schedule. They cover the important therapies needed for long-term success and are usually less structured. Outpatient treatment can be the next step in a client’s journey because they can transition back to normal life or live at a sober living facility while still receiving extended treatment.
Another flexible meth addiction treatment for clients is a telehealth program, which helps clients continue to build on the peer support they gained during their inpatient or outpatient programs. It also allows them to share their experience and support via technology, 24/7. It has been utilized in many other fields of medicine, including some general practices, and is beginning to break through in substance abuse disorder treatment.
No matter if this is the first time you’re seeking treatment or have relapse and want to try again, we’re here for you. Contact us today.