Meth Addiction Treatment

Meth Addiction, Effects, Signs, Symptoms, Overdose, Withdrawal, & Treatment

What is Meth?

Meth or Methamphetamine, also known as crystal meth, is a powerful and highly addictive stimulant that may affect your central nervous system. Meth addiction has devastating effects. It can cause lung disorders, kidney damage, hyperthermia, stroke, and cardiac arrest. Oral or dental disease, including meth mouth, was one of the most prevalent medical comorbidities in meth users.

Faces of meth refer to decline & negative health consequences & facial appearances such as induced skin issues leading to facial fat and muscle loss. Probably the most common drug that causes skin picking disorder is meth. The skin picking often leads to very noticeable open sores, often referred to as “meth sores” and are due to a combination of physical and psychological side effects related to repeated abuse of meth. Meth sores look like ulcers and open wounds.

How long does meth stay in your system and how to effectively treat meth addiction? Evidently, the most effective meth addiction treatment at this point is behavioral therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral and contingency management interventions [1]. The first step in confronting meth addiction is through medically-assisted meth detox, which is the process of ridding the body of an addictive substance. Meth detox might not be easy, but the benefits of overcoming meth addiction far outweigh the negative side effects of detox.

Meth has been classified by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as a Schedule II controlled substance, which makes it legally available only through prescriptionMeth takes the form of a white, odorless, bitter-tasting crystalline powder that easily dissolves in water or alcohol. Meth can also be smoked, snorted, injected, or orally ingested. People who use meth sometimes combine it with other drugs, such as alcohol or fentanyl (a “speedball”), which can be particularly dangerous and raise the risk of overdose.

Meth can cause addiction in as little as one use in some users, people typically use meth and alcohol combination, which in fact, increase the side effects. This is mainly due to the rush of dopamine produced by the drug. Dopamine is a chemical that’s responsible for inducing feelings of pleasure and motivation, memory retention, learning, and reward processing. 

methamphetamine detox treatment
Chronic meth addiction is also associated with cognitive problems, such as impaired decision-making and impaired behavioral inhibition. The most effective treatment for meth addiction at this point is psychotherapy.

How addictive is meth?

Meth increases the amount of the natural chemical dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is involved in body movement, motivation, and reinforcement of rewarding behaviors. The drug’s ability to rapidly release high levels of dopamine in reward areas of the brain strongly reinforces drug-taking behavior, making the user want to repeat the experience.

Meth causes an intense elevated or euphoric mood that is much stronger than cocaine. Experiencing these unnatural dopamine levels causes a strong desire to continue using the drug. It becomes addictive because your body experiences intense cravings to maintain the euphoric state, which often results in constant redosing and binge-like behavior to achieve that goal.

How Does Methamphetamine Affect Your Health?

Methamphetamine affects your brain

Methamphetamine causes changes in the brain circuits that control reward, stress, decision-making, and impulse control, making it more and more difficult to stop using even when it is having adverse effects on your life and health. Frequent use also can lead to tolerance and withdrawal, so you need more of the drug to feel normal. Additional effects of using methamphetamine can include anxiety and depression, chronic fatigue, paranoid or delusional thinking, and severe psychological issues.

Methamphetamine affects your body

Methamphetamine use increases heart rate, blood pressure, and risk of stroke. Other adverse consequences of long-term methamphetamine use are extreme weight loss, severe dental problems, and skin sores caused by scratching. Methamphetamine use affects the levels of dopamine in your brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter. It affects, among other things, movement, motivation, emotions, and feelings of pleasure. Because meth causes a flood of dopamine to the brain, the natural supply gets depleted. Thus, activities that would increase pleasure may no longer do so. This can lead to depression.

Methamphetamine affects your self-control

Methamphetamine can cause aggression, violent behavior, and loss of contact with reality.

Methamphetamine affects more than the user

Methamphetamine use impacts the user’s family and friends. Children found in meth labs may experience emotional, behavioral, and cognitive problems. In addition, the chemicals used to produce meth can cause fires and explosions, produce toxic vapors, and damage the environment.

Side Effects of Meth Use

Meth has a great influence even in small quantities because its effects are like those of other stimulant drugs like cocaine. Moreover, side effects may include:

  • Increased breathing
  • Lack of appetite
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Increased physical activity and fidgeting
  • Lack of inhibitions
  • Confusion
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Increased alertness and wakefulness
  • High blood pressure
  • Feeling exhilarated
  • Feeling confident and empowered
  • Euphoria
  • Dulled or “blunted” emotions
  • Increased sexual arousal
  • Agitation
  • Talkativeness
  • Increased sociability
  • Increased aggression
  • Bizarre behavior
  • Lack of social awareness

Meth addiction
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How long does meth last

The experience of “high” from meth only lasts five to 30 minutes then, the lingering effects can last up to 12 hours. Consequently, it causes difficult emotional and physical symptoms, such as depression and insomnia. As a result, meth addiction often follows a pattern of bingeing on the drug for several days at a time, followed by a crash.

Certainly that the short duration of the drug’s euphoric effects may cause you to reuse the substance, which can increase your tolerance to meth. As a result of your tolerance to the drug, you will need to take higher doses to achieve the desired effects. In fact, some users are smoking or injecting meth to experience a stronger, more immediate high.

Effects of Meth Addiction

Most users try to maintain the high by taking more of the drug. In some cases, people indulge in a form of binging known as a “run,” foregoing food and sleep while continuing to take the drug for up to several days. [2]

The short-term effects of meth according to the SAMHSA [3] includes the following:

  • Even taking small amounts of meth can cause harmful health effects such as irritability
  • Increased blood pressure and body temperature
  • Faster breathing
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Loss of appetite, disturbed sleep patterns, or nausea
  • Erratic, aggressive, or violent behavior

Drug abuse of meth can lead to many damaging, long-term health risks, even when people stop taking meth, including these symptoms:

  • Permanent damage to the heart and brain
  • High blood pressure leading to heart attacks, strokes, and death
  • Liver, kidney, and lung damage
  • Anxiety, confusion, and insomnia
  • Paranoia, hallucinations, mood disturbances, delusions, or violent behavior (psychotic symptoms can sometimes last for months or years after meth use)
  • Intense itching, causing skin sores from scratching
  • Premature osteoporosis
  • Severe dental problems 

Physical Signs of Meth Addiction & Abuse

A painful reality of substance use is that others will often not realize it until it reaches the abuse or addiction phase. Unfortunately, meth has such a high addiction potential that it is relatively easy for a regular user to slip from use to abuse to addiction.

Physical signs of meth use will emerge whether the person is new to the drug or becoming increasingly dependent on it. The following are some of the physical signs or dangers associated with meth abuse:

  • A thinning, frail body
  • Facial acne or sores
  • Rotted teeth (“meth mouth”)
  • A droopy quality to the facial skin
  • Convulsions
  • Liver damage
  • Stroke
  • Lowered immunity/susceptibility to infectious disease
  • A dramatic increase in body temperature
  • Increased libido
  • Intense scratching
  • Death

Psychological Signs of Meth Addiction & Abuse

Meth is connected with a lot of different psychological side effects. When meth is used, there is an initial feeling of euphoria because of this drug’s ability to increase dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine is one of the main chemical messengers in the brain’s reward system. Illegal drugs, such as meth, that activate the brain’s reward circuitry have a high potential for addiction in general.

But dopamine has functions in the brain other than pleasure alone. Dopamine is also involved in learning ability and memory. Ongoing meth addiction will constantly flood the brain with dopamine, which over time, will form an imbalance in the brain’s natural dopamine levels and dopamine-involved operations. Consequently, those who abuse meth in the long term may experience memory problems, an inability to learn new motor skills and other tasks, and impaired visual memory.

Meth addiction can cause psychosis in some users. Features of meth-induced psychosis include auditory and visual hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, and irritability. Intense scratching is a physical side effect that is ingrained, in some cases, in psychosis. People who experience meth-induced psychosis may perceive bugs crawling all over their skin, and persistent scratching and picking are ways to relieve this perceived pain. As a result of the picking and scratching, skin abrasions and rashes will likely be developed.

Behavioral Signs of Meth Addiction

Substance use, whether it’s meth or other addictive stimulants, has a way of quickly transforming from a recreational choice to a major life preference. When people prioritize drug use, it is generally only a matter of time before work, school, or relationship problems arise. Although users will attempt to hide the misuse in the beginning stages of meth use, a typical side effect of meth addiction is that the person using no longer cares about what other individuals think because the meth abuse has become all-important. 

This level of self-involvement with meth, to the exclusion of important obligations and relationships, is itself one of the most vital behavioral signs of addiction. Many concerned individuals will not want to approach individuals they suspect are using meth without evidence. As a result, family members may decide to search for meth-related paraphernalia. In some cases, drugs may be found; only the paraphernalia may be found in other cases. Although finding a drug would seem like the “smoking gun,” the paraphernalia alone is highly compelling evidence that should not be ignored. Even though meth and paraphernalia are not time-stamped, they are very likely to be a sign of present drug use.

Meth Overdose

Meth addiction is a serious worldwide public health problem with major medical, psychiatric, socioeconomic, and legal consequences. According to data from the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), over 14.7 million people (5.4 percent of the population) have tried methamphetamine at least once.

Meth addiction
Meth is one of the world’s most addictive and dangerous substances. Acute overdose of crystal meth can be fatal.

Meth Overdose Signs and Symptoms

If someone you know struggles with meth, getting familiar with the signs of an overdose could one day save a life.

Common symptoms of a meth overdose include:

  • Chest pain
  • Arrhythmias
  • Hypertension or hypotension
  • Difficult or labored breathing
  • Agitation
  • Hallucinations
  • Psychosis
  • Seizures
  • Rapid or slow heartbeat
  • Hyperthermia

If someone undergoes a meth overdose, their odds of recovery depend on how much of the drug they took and how quickly they receive treatment. Coming back from a meth overdose is possible, but it is paramount that the person who overdosed receives professional medical attention immediately. Since a meth overdose is a clear sign of an abuse issue, professional addiction treatment should follow once the person is stabilized

Effects of Meth Withdrawal

Research has shown that meth withdrawal follows a predictable pattern. Firstly, symptoms appear within 24 hours after the last dose. In fact, these symptoms peak after 7 to 10 days of abstinence. And then, they disappear within 14 to 20 days of abstinence. [3] 

Further meth withdrawal symptoms include the following:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Red, itchy eyes
  • Joint pain
  • Clammy skin
  • Hyperventilation
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Shaking

While going through meth withdrawal during detox, people often become angry, nervous, or anxious. Some may experience severe mental health problems such as depression or meth psychosis. [4] You may also feel intense cravings for the drug often because of the discomfort you feel without the effects of the drug.

Given that, you should undergo detox in a supervised treatment center to help you ease with these withdrawal symptoms. Detoxification is a process aimed at helping you stop taking meth as safely and as quickly as possible.

Meth Addiction Treatment and Detox at We Level Up NJ

Clearing meth from the body and overcoming withdrawal symptoms is the goal of detox, which is the first step of treatment for meth addiction.  Here at We Level Up NJ, a comprehensive team prescribing medications can alleviate your withdrawal pains while monitoring your health 24 hours during the detox. We prioritize your safety and comfort because this is a fragile and challenging time for you.

Once detox is complete, a new doorway in treatment opens up, which is referred to as a residential level of care. Our residential care program slowly and effectively introduces the individual into an atmosphere of therapeutic growth, marked by master’s level therapists, clinicians, group counselors, psychiatrists, and a community of like-minded individuals with the same aim: to attain sobriety and live a great life.

Some of the many modalities applied and practiced within our residential treatment facility are:

Our treatment tailors the program to the individual and the individual to the program of recovery. We begin by assessing our client’s history of mental health, drugs, and alcohol-related past. The needs of each patient are specific and personalized because we aim to provide comprehensive support for mental health, addiction, and dual diagnosis treatment. Our supportive environment is designed accordingly to give patients 24-hour care for sobriety. Most importantly, we hope to have our patients live comfortably within the facility during this crucial and fragile time.

We prioritize removing temptations for relapse and applying an air of recovery into every component of the treatment timeline, including meth addiction treatment.

At We Level Up NJ, we find that when client’s are living in a supportive community, especially during their early recovery process, they can truly focus on what matters most: their recovery.

Meth addiction
Advanced NJ detox center for substance abuse and alcohol addiction.

Sources:

[1] Methamphetamine – National Institute on Drug Abuse
[2] Meth – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA)
[3] Methamphetamine Misused – National Institute on Drug Abuse
[4] https://www.samhsa.gov/meth – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration