As the opioid epidemic gains popularity among American citizens, another problem continues to brew under the surface. The meth boom began in the mid-1980s, and it’s still wreaking havoc in rural communities throughout the U.S. In its wake, it created a wave of theft, prostitution, and disease.
However, the use of meth began declining at the beginning of the new millennium, as laws were passed that prevented access to the primary ingredients of meth. For instance, pharmacies started limiting the amount of pseudoephedrine that could be purchased over the counter. In response, many meth users turned to opioids and newer stimulants.
While these new laws slowed down the production of meth in American communities, Mexican drug cartels started ramping up production in their own superlabs. Since these cartels were already distributing heroin and cocaine, they used their established networks to start distributing meth in massive quantities.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has made research on meth addiction a top priority. Some drugs have shown promise in rats, and a regulatory process has been expedited to see whether it’s safe in humans. The initial results seemed promising, but it’s far too early to tell if it will be a “miracle drug” in the ongoing war against the meth epidemic.
What Is Meth?
Methamphetamine (better known as meth) is a powerful stimulant that works on the central nervous system (CNS). It provides the body with a feeling of euphoria and increased energy and libido. Meth is a white crystalline drug that can be ingested by snorting, smoking, or injecting it.
Meth is a Schedule II controlled substance, which means it has a high risk of abuse and addiction. It’s illegal for all usage, including medicinal. Nevertheless, many individuals use it recreationally, especially in nightclubs and party scenes.
Meth affects multiple brain receptors, and it inhibits the uptake of certain neurotransmitters. In fact, it can cause permanent damage that affects a person’s ability to learn, and it can generate psychoses. Many studies have verified its long-term effects on the parts of the brain that control memory and emotion, which is one of the reasons why meth users have a greater risk of relapse.
What Are The Signs Of Meth Addiction?
Meth addiction has catastrophic effects on the mind and body. While the use of some drugs is harder to detect, meth tolerance comes with a unique set of warning signs, which include:
- Numerous attempts to stop using it
- Loss of appetite
- Insomnia (which can be extreme)
- Lack of appetite
- Compulsive jaw-clenching
- Paranoia (which can be extreme)
- Abnormally fast heart rate
If you experience more than one of the symptoms listed above, you could have a substance use disorder. If you’re worried that a loved one is developing a meth addiction, here are some signs:
- Dilated pupils
- Increased physical activity
- Unpredictable or compulsive behavior
- Bath breath
What’s Involved In The Treatment Of Meth Addiction?
One of the most difficult decisions an individual can make is admitting they have a problem and committing to the pursuit of a better life. As previously mentioned, meth addiction has one of the highest risks of relapse, which is rooted in the permanent brain damage it can cause. In order to allow the best chance for success, a user must commit to an extended stay in treatment. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the best outcomes are contingent on adequate treatment.
In the continuum of care, the first portion of treatment is NCBI. Meth is a powerful drug that chemically and psychologically controls the user. In order to ensure safety during withdrawal, addiction specialists recommend starting with this intensive level of care. During the withdrawal process, stimulants aren’t inherently dangerous, but the symptoms can be extremely uncomfortable. Detox will give the client 24/7 access to professional staff so that they can cleanse the drug from their system and maintain their dignity.
Once the staff ensures you’re stable after your detox, they’ll release you into the next stage in the continuum of care, which could differ among clients. The factors involved in this decision include the severity of the addiction, the length of use, and the ability to live in a suitable environment outside of the treatment facility.
The staff could place you in residential treatment, which would mean you’d stay onsite for up to 90 days. You’ll attend various therapies that are designed to get to the root of your addiction, which will help you achieve long-lasting sobriety.
If the staff deems you as having a low risk of relapse, you could be placed in outpatient treatment. This option will allow you to commute to therapy sessions, which works well for users who are students or have full-time jobs.
How Dangerous Is Meth?
Meth is often seen as one of the most dangerous drugs available. People that are caught in a pattern of habitual meth use are often seen with physical signs of meth addiction like acne, sores, and oral health problems. They may also suffer from extreme fatigue, insomnia, and even psychosis, which can present with outward signs. Because of these signs and symptoms, meth is a frightening drug in our culture, and rightly so. Meth is a powerful stimulant with intense, but short-lived euphoric effects. Because of that, the drug encourages repeated use. Some of the most prominent adverse effects of meth are caused by meth binges and prolonged use.
A meth binge can last for days at a time. Continual meth use can prevent sleep through insomnia and constant stimulation. Between the lack of sleep and the powerful stimulant, you are more likely to experience stimulant psychosis. Meth psychosis is characterized by delusions, anxiety, paranoia, hallucinations, and a loss of your sense of reality.
In people who are schizophrenic or predisposed to schizophrenia, meth can trigger long-term psychotic disorders. Someone in this state will be extremely paranoid, so they could hurt themselves or someone else.
Meth also causes serious cognitive impairments that can last for years after usage has stopped. Meth addiction can also have terrible effects on the body. For instance, users can experience dramatic weight loss and eating disorders. Meth smokers can get a condition called “meth mouth,” which literally causes the user’s teeth to rot.
Meth can also cause overdose symptoms that can be deadly. Stimulant overdose often causes heart-related complications like arrhythmias, palpitations, and cardiac arrest.
Why Seek Addiction Treatment?
Addiction is a chronic disease that often gets worse if it’s ignored. However, it’s a treatable problem, and early treatment is the best option. Because addiction is progressive, it’s likely to spread to other aspects of your life, causing severe consequences without treatment.
It can cause dangerous consequences like medical problems, it can worsen psychological issues, and it can cause a rift in your interpersonal relationships. In some cases, active addiction can start to cause financial problems and the inability to maintain employment. Addiction is also closely tied to criminal activity and may lead to legal issues.
Addressing a substance use disorder early can help you avoid some of the most severe consequences of addiction. However, even if you’ve struggled with a severe substance use disorder for a long time, there are treatment options available to help you achieve long-lasting recovery. To take the first steps toward freedom from active addiction, learn more about meth addiction treatment today.
Meth Abuse Statistics
- In 2012, more than 1.2 million people used meth, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
- In 2011, 103,000 people visited emergency rooms due to meth overdose and complications.
- Between 2010 and 2014, deaths caused by meth overdoses doubled.