Meth Addiction and Treatment

What is Meth?

Methamphetamine is a powerful, highly addictive stimulant that affects the central nervous system. Also known as meth, chalk, ice, and crystal, among many other terms, it takes the form of a white, odorless, bitter-tasting crystalline powder that easily dissolves in water or alcohol. Methamphetamine has been classified by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration as a Schedule II stimulant, which makes it legally available only through a non-refillable prescription. Medically it may be indicated for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and as a short-term component of weight-loss treatments, but these uses are limited and it is rarely prescribed; also, the prescribed doses are far lower than those typically abused. Abuse can lead to meth addiction.

How does Meth Work?

Meth is a stimulant that affects the brain, spinal cord, and central nervous system. Meth changes the way the body processes certain chemicals that act as communicators between nerve cells and brain cells, which are called “neurotransmitters.” The neurotransmitter most affected by meth use is dopamine. Dopamine, in particular, gets released in large quantities when you use meth. Dopamine is associated with feelings of pleasure and reward, and creates a sense of euphoria in the user known as a “rush.” During this rush, heart rate, blood pressure, and libido increase an intense feeling of well-being.

Meth Tolerance

If you or someone you love is abusing meth daily it is expected that the body will build up both a physical dependence on meth or a high tolerance to the drug. Once this happens that means the doses will need to start being bigger or more often. It is hard to accurately measure if a person develops a tolerance to meth or if meth triggers a physical dependence to higher levels of dopamine in the body.

What is Meth Abuse?

As is the case with many drugs, tolerance to methamphetamine’s pleasurable effects develops when it is taken repeatedly. Abusers often need to take higher doses of the drug, take it more frequently, or change how they take it in an effort to get the desired effect. Chronic methamphetamine abusers may develop difficulty feeling any pleasure other than that provided by the drug, fueling further abuse. Withdrawal from methamphetamine occurs when a chronic abuser stops taking the drug; symptoms of withdrawal include depression, anxiety, fatigue, and an intense craving for the drug.

Is Meth Dangerous?

Methamphetamine is a dangerous and powerful drug. At first it acts as a stimulant to the brain, but destroys the body and is associated with many serious health conditions.

It’s highly addictive and many users report being hooked on meth from the first use. So you might want to seriously consider NEVER using it again. Science shows it’s develops one of the hardest drug addictions, has many psychological and physical side effects, and in many cases, unfortunately, meth use has fatal consequences.

Should I Stop Taking Meth?

Stopping crystal meth suddenly can cause severe withdrawal symptoms and cravings, which can lead you right back to using.

Often, people addicted to crystal meth will continue to use it to hold off the arrival of withdrawal symptoms. This is one reason why it’s important for many to seek crystal meth addiction treatment. Treatment can provide you with medically supervised detox and supportive care to minimize the discomfort experienced during detoxification and withdrawal.

Who Abuses Meth?

Crystal meth is a drug that targets certain people and age groups. In the National Survey on Drug Use and Health in 2009, it was determined 1.2 million American ages 12 and older had tried methamphetamine at least once throughout the year. Crystal meth addictions tend to plague the younger populations with the National Institute on Drug Abuse finding 1.2 percent of eighth graders, 1.6% of tenth graders and 1.0% of twelfth graders abusing methamphetamines.

Quitting Meth

The best way to quit using meth is to detox in the safety of a medical center. Because meth withdrawal is mostly psychological, the detox center can provide a supportive atmosphere and try to keep patients comfortable. Many meth users are also detoxing from other drugs, too, however, so they may need to receive medical treatment for other withdrawal symptoms.

If a person is experiencing severe depression, anxiety, psychosis, suicidal thoughts, or sleep problems that last longer than one or two weeks, they might be treated with medication like antidepressants, anti-anxiety medication (non-benzodiazepine), anti-psychotic medication, or sleep aids.