Methamphetamine or meth is considered as one of the most addictive and the most destructive drugs. It affects the central nervous system and is known to increase energy levels and cause feelings of pleasure and elevated mood. Known by other names such as crystal, and ice, methamphetamine can be smoked, snorted, swallowed or injected.
The drug is also found in liquid form and is also used in bronchial inhalers and nasal decongestants. When taken in smaller amounts, meth may cause a sense of euphoria, increase talkativeness and reduce appetite.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies meth as a Schedule II stimulant with a high probability of abuse. Methamphetamine abuse is a serious problem in the United States. As per the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), of an estimated 1.6 million non-medical users of stimulants, 35.7 percent were current users of meth in the U.S.
Abuse, symptoms and effects of methamphetamine
Availability of meth in various forms makes it easy to be abused. Even small amounts of methamphetamine can produce symptoms, such as increased body temperature, rapid heart rate, irregular heartbeat and increased blood pressure. Regular meth use can produce chemical and molecular changes in the brain. It causes severe functional and structural changes in those areas of the brain that are associated with emotions and memory.
Meth is considered as one of the most addictive drugs due to its high euphoric effect. Tolerance to methamphetamine develops quickly. It increases the dopamine level in the brain. Dopamine is involved with pleasure, reward and motivation. Due to meth’s ability to release dopamine rapidly in the reward region of the brain, its users experience euphoric effects. The elevated release of dopamine is also believed to contribute to meth’s harmful effects on the nerve terminals in the brain. Meth abusers are at an increased risk of heart attacks and its addiction can cause irreversible damage to the brain. people addicted to meth may show symptoms like skin crawling, skin picking, hair loss and tooth decay.
Long-term meth use can produce effects like anxiety, mood disturbances and insomnia. Individuals abusing methamphetamine may also experience paranoia, delusions and hallucinations. Chronic meth users may experience some of the following symptoms.
- Memory loss
- Suicidal thoughts
- Mood swings
- Psychotic features
- Cardiovascular problems
The drug is also often abused in a binge and crash pattern. As tolerance to the drug happens very fast and occurs within minutes, the user is tempted to abuse the drug in much larger quantities. In such a scenario, meth produces a strong euphoric effect followed by a drastic crash. In order to preserve the high, a meth user needs to take the drug within shorter levels of intervals. When taken in larger quantities, a meth user experiences an overwhelming feeling and often crashes to sleep which can sometimes last for a day or two.
Treatment for methamphetamine addiction
A successful methamphetamine addiction treatment at a methamphetamine addiction rehab center involves a combination of detoxification and therapy sessions. Detoxification helps flush out the drug from the system and helps individuals gradually withdraw from the drug. However, during abstinence from drugs, an individual may experience withdrawal symptoms. Some of the common withdrawal symptoms are:
- Drug cravings
After detoxification in methamphetamine drug rehab centers, an individual suffering from meth addiction undergoes addiction therapy sessions that help the patient discover the root causes of addiction. Therapy sessions at a methamphetamine addiction treatment center help individuals learn different coping mechanisms, ways to relax and deal with daily life stressors without the assistance of drugs.
Therapy sessions include behavioral therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). After the addiction treatment program, many individuals also undergo recovery management programs that help in preventing relapse through approved medications and additional therapy sessions.
Treatment for methamphetamine addiction can be obtained in both an inpatient treatment center and an outpatient treatment center. Treatment at a residential setting provides an individual treatment in a caring, supportive and sober environment that is free from triggers. Treatment at an inpatient care facility includes detoxification, management of withdrawal symptoms, and counseling sessions. Treatment for methamphetamine addiction can also be obtained at an outpatient center. An outpatient facility offers addiction treatment even as individuals carry on with their daily activities.