Crystal Meth Addiction and Abuse
Methamphetamine, also referred to as meth or crystal meth, is a highly addictive stimulant that provides users with a rush of energy and euphoria. Meth increases levels of dopamine along with adrenaline to create a pleasurable feeling and increase in mental and physical energy.
Methamphetamines produce a strong effect on the dopamine reward circuitry in the brain. For this reason, meth has a high potential for abuse. Addiction can develop quickly, and users may find themselves seeking or craving the drug and find it very difficult to quit.
Methamphetamine use often occurs over a prolonged period of time as people can use the drug for days on end often without sleeping. This type of binge use is followed by a crash that involves a period of extreme fatigue and exhaustion. Additionally, users who are experiencing a crash may experience anxiety, agitation, and depression.
Due to the intense stimulation caused by meth on the brain, body, and nervous system, prolonged meth use can produce many negative consequences that affect both psychical and mental health.
What is Methamphetamine?
Methamphetamine (N-Methylamphetamine) is better known by its street names crystal meth or glass. It was first developed in the late 19th century in hopes that it could be used to treat asthma. In more recent years, N-methylamphetamine has been used to treat a variety of illnesses, including attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), narcolepsy, and obesity.
Still, even with its potential medical uses, methamphetamine remains a Schedule II controlled substance in accordance with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Not to mention, most of the meth sold on the streets isn’t the same as the one being used for medical treatment.
Methamphetamine is usually developed in private laboratories using a combination of other chemicals, including over-the-counter cough and cold medicines. Most of the time, the amphetamine chemicals found within these medicines are extracted through a chemical process that uses phosphorus, lithium, and/or gasoline.
Due to the nature of methamphetamine’s production, many of the products sold on the street are dangerous and contain chemicals not made for consumption.
Meth Addiction and Abuse
Methamphetamine stimulates the central nervous system (CNS) by releasing excitatory neurotransmitters such as dopamine, epinephrine (adrenaline), and norepinephrine. Though these effects don’t last long, they are powerful and followed by a rapid drop in these brain chemicals, commonly known as a “crash.” The reduction in neurotransmitter levels can lead to a burned-out feeling, including feelings of depression and intense irritability.
Though the effects vary from person to person, users commonly feel the following:
- Empowerment, invincibility, and euphoria.
- Increased energy.
- Increased heartbeat, blood pressure, body temperature.
- Increased restlessness, irritability, aggressiveness, and psychotic conduct (i.e. hallucinations and delusions).
- Reduced appetite.
It’s important to note that people struggling with meth addiction are also prone to a fatal overdose, which can occur if a user takes a large dosage that the body can’t handle. If you or someone you love is experiencing agitation, chest pain, psychosis, rapid or slow heartbeat, or seizures following meth use, you must call 911 as soon as possible.
Signs of Crystal Meth Abuse
Methamphetamine can be manufactured just about anywhere, and there are no standards or regulations on what it contains. What’s sold on the streets is often highly potent and likely to contain dangerous chemicals. Due to the harmful chemicals and substances that meth contains it has many harmful side effects that can damage the brain and body.
Meth use can cause a wide range of negative side effects including:
- Burns on the lip, nose, or fingers.
- Chronic bad breath.
- Dental health problems (often referred to as “meth rot”), such as cracked teeth, loose fillings, lost teeth, and rapidly deteriorating/rotting teeth.
- Disregard for personal hygiene.
- Dry or cracked skin.
- Emotional and cognitive difficulties.
- Higher potential for increased blood pressure, arterial damage, heart attack, and stroke.
- Lack of interest in personal obligations, such as personal relationships, finances, work.
- Mood imbalances, extreme Highs and Lows, extreme depression, lethargy, apathy, irritability, and aggression.
- Movement problems.
- Paranoia and delusions.
- Potential legal problems.
- Nasal damage (if users snort the drug).
- Weight loss.
If you have noticed any of the above characteristics in someone you love, it’s essential to reach out for help as soon as possible. The sooner a meth addiction is addressed, the better chance someone has at recovery.
Prolonged periods of meth use create physiological changes in the brain and body that lead to dependence on the drug for normal function. Once meth use is stopped, withdrawal symptoms can follow shortly after as the mind and body begin to adjust to the absence of the drug
Due to the stimulating effects of meth, many of the brain’s neurotransmitters associated with energy, focus, and motivation are used up. Using up these essential brain chemicals results in low mood states and feelings of extreme fatigue and lethargy.
The following are some of the symptoms of Meth withdrawal:
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Lack of motivation
- Fatigue and sleepiness
- Increased appetite
These withdrawal symptoms can be intense and challenging for one to manage on their own. Not to mention, some may last upwards of months – depending on the nature of one’s meth usage. The help of addiction professionals can aid this process of detoxing from Methamphetamines. Due to the potentially dangerous side effect of meth withdrawal, it’s recommended that it be undertaken with medical supervision.
Under medical supervision, you increase the chances of recovery. Medical staff will provide you with the resources you need to reduce withdrawal discomfort as much as possible. Most importantly, they can monitor and treat any potentially dangerous symptoms of withdrawal.
Meth Addiction Treatment And Rehab
The first step to treating meth addiction is to assess the underlying factors contributing to the problem. Meth addiction is a complex disorder that can involve a combination of mental, physical, emotional health factors. These factors may include lifestyle, past trauma, co-occurring mental health conditions, and family history of addiction. Assessing which issues may be playing a role in meth addiction is the first step to creating a custom treatment plan suited to the needs of the individual.
Group therapy is centered around themes and topics related to drug and alcohol abuse and is a foundational component of most meth rehab programs. Group therapy may include group exercises, discussion groups, or substance abuse education groups. Group therapy allows individuals to share thoughts and ideas with others who have shared experiences. Group therapy helps to build a sense of unity and addresses issues often experienced by those with meth abuse disorders.
Substance Abuse Counseling
Private therapy sessions with an experienced addiction therapist is a foundation part of recovery from meth addiction. Individual therapy sessions allow clients the opportunity to discuss difficult emotions in a safe and supportive private environment. Therapy sessions help raise awareness of sources of mental and emotional distress and serve to identify and correct root level issues. Addiction therapists work with clients one on one to resolve mental and emotional conflict using psychotherapy techniques such as CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy). These therapy techniques help clients to reshape negative beliefs, thoughts, and behavioral patterns.
Holistic Addiction Treatment
Meth rehab programs combine the use of alternative and complementary therapy with conventional psychotherapy to treat the mind, body, and spirit. Meth abuse can stem from a combination of mental and physical conditions that are best resolved by a comprehensive approach to treatment that heals the mind and body together.
In addition to conventional substance abuse treatment, meth rehab can also include:
Completing a meth addiction treatment program is only the first step in the recovery process. For those with substance abuse disorders maintaining abstinence remains an ongoing challenge. The goal of effective aftercare treatment is to provide clients with the resources they need to sustain long term sobriety, including assistance with job placement, providing local resources such as drug and alcohol meetings, introducing sponsors, and recommending a sober living house.
Many clients choose to continue with OP and aftercare services such as substance abuse counseling, drug testing, and supervision to help support the post-treatment transition process.
Crystal Meth Rehab Los Angeles
Nuview offers outpatient treatment for methamphetamine addiction. Our comprehensive crystal meth detox treatment model can help heal the mental, physical, and emotional imbalances caused by meth abuse.
If you or a loved one has been struggling with addiction to methamphetamines, we can help. Our caring and welcoming staff have the skills and experience you need to help you recover from addiction.