a person holding drugs in need of meth rehab

Meth Addiction

Long-term meth use causes organ and brain damage, heart problems, and increased risk for infectious diseases. There is no single medication known to cure meth addiction, but medically-assisted detox, behavioral therapy, education, and individual counseling have helped thousands of people reclaim their lives after meth addiction. If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to meth, the rehab programs at Solution Based Treatment & Detox can help get you on the path to long term recovery.

A Brief History of Meth

First created by Japanese scientist Nagai Nagayoshi in 1919, meth’s primary ingredient is pseudoephedrine, the active ingredient in nasal decongestants. Although dealers today mix meth with toxic chemicals such as battery acid, drain cleaner, rat poison, lantern fuel, and antifreeze, meth was first used as a nasal decongestant in the 1930s. Once doctors recognized its psycho-stimulant properties, they gave it to soldiers in World War II to help keep them awake while on duty. In the 1950s, doctors used meth to help patients manage depression and lose weight. Methamphetamine abuse skyrocketed. In 1970, the United States government made it illegal for most uses. But today, millions of people continue to use, abuse, and misuse meth, which can lead to addiction over time.

During the initial rush after using meth, dopamine signals the brain’s reward system, leading to feelings of energetic euphoria. This rush lasts around 30 minutes, but users continue to feel high for anywhere from 4 to 16 hours. These changes in brain chemistry often lead to chemical dependence.

Quick Facts about Methamphetamine

  • Methamphetamine is a powerful, highly addictive stimulant.
  • Most users smoke or snort meth. Sometimes, after dissolving the powder in alcohol or water, users inject it into their veins with a needle. Other times, they take it orally as a pill.
  • In its original form, meth is a white powder with a bitter taste. Crystal meth is a form of meth that looks like glass fragments or shiny, bluish-white rocks.
  • The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) lists meth as a Schedule II drug, meaning it has a high potential for abuse and can lead to severe psychological and physical dependence.
  • Meth consumption is most dangerous when combined with other drugs like opioids, alcohol, Xanax, cocaine, marijuana, ketamine, and ecstasy. 
  • Popular street nicknames for meth include blue, crystal, ice, speed, chalk, tweak, rocket fuel, uppers, Christina, Tina, glass, and crank.

The Stages of Meth Addiction: From Experiment to Addiction

Most people try meth with the hopes of experiencing a stimulating high. But meth is highly addictive, meaning it only takes a few uses to develop habitual usage patterns. Meth use typically occurs in distinct stages: the rush, high, comedown, binge, tweaking, crash, and hangover.

The Rush

After smoking, snorting, or injecting methamphetamine, users experience a flood of dopamine in the brain, leading to total bodily stimulation, including:

  • Accelerated heartbeat
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Rapid pulse
  • Shallow, quick breaths

The High

At this point, users begin to experience euphoric feelings and full-body stimulation. They have impeccable focus and may experience hallucinations and delusions that make them feel smarter and more outgoing than usual. But as the brain releases an unnatural amount of dopamine, the physical body begins to feel the effects of the drug more strongly, including:

  • Extreme nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Intense sweating
  • Feeling extremely hot or extremely cold

The Comedown

When left to deal with this imbalance of chemicals, the brain attempts to find a natural balance again. At the same time, the body, worn down from a euphoric high, weakens. Generally, symptoms associated with the meth comedown include:

  • Hopelessness
  • Sadness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Depression
  • Lack of motivation
  • Insomnia despite exhaustion
  • Headache from dehydration
  • Fatigue

Desperate to find a solution, many users turn to meth to provide them another high. This leads to meth binges.

The Binge

On average, most meth users binge meth for three to fifteen days. Each time users consume meth, they experience another, smaller rush, and another, less significant high. The brain grows accustomed to meth, increasing the users’ tolerance for the drug. The more meth you use, the more you need.

Tweaking

At the end of a binge, users enter the tweaking phase. The rush is over, and the high is gone, leaving the user with a feeling of absolute emptiness. Cravings increase followed by problematic, sometimes dangerous reactions, including:

  • Extreme itchiness
  • The feeling of insects crawling underneath the skin
  • Inability to sleep for days at a time
  • Vivid hallucinations
  • Anger, irritability, and hostile feelings
  • Meth sores, which occurs when users repeatedly pick at their skin, leading to open wounds
  • In extreme cases, self-harm

Tweaking can last for 3 to 15 days.

The Crash

Eventually, users experience a crash as the body physically shuts down. After being alert and unable to sleep for so long, users fall into a long period of sleep. The crash lasts for 1 to 3 days.

Hangover & Withdrawal

After the crash, users wake up dehydrated and exhausted. Eventually, this hangover phase, which lasts from 2 to 14 days, translates into withdrawal. A medication-assisted detox program can be extremely helpful during this phase. Some of the most common meth withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue, sleepiness
  • Severe depression
  • Psychosis
  • Cravings
  • Increased appetite
  • Shaking
  • Headaches
  • Red, itchy eyes
  • Clammy skin
  • Joint pain
  • Hyperventilation
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Tremors
  • Suicidal thoughts

Signs and Symptoms of Meth Addiction

Now that you understand how meth addiction works, you should also know the signs and symptoms of meth addiction.

Physical signs of meth use and addiction include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Rotting teeth
  • Intense and consistent scratching
  • Random and rapid thinning of the body
  • Skin sores on the face and body
  • Disjointed speech
  • Rapid breathing combined with shortness of breath
  • Twitching, facial tics, jerky movements, exaggerated mannerisms
  • Nasal problems
  • Breathing problems and consistent coughing
  • Chest pains, irregular, but a rapid heartbeat

Psychological and behavioral symptoms associated with meth use include:

  • Paranoia
  • Irritability
  • Confusion
  • Talkativeness
  • Violent and reckless behavior
  • Reduced appetite
  • Outbursts and mood swings
  • Hyperactivity followed by extreme lethargy
  • Uncontrollable grinding of the teeth
  • Repetitive motions and behaviors
  • Vacillation between hyperactivity and depression
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Emotional numbness

Meth Addiction Treatment and Recovery

Here at Solution Based Treatment & Detox, our treatment programs for overcoming meth addiction and abuse include drug and alcohol detox as well as inpatient and outpatient programs. All of our programs include individual, group, and family therapy, as well as peer support. Some of our peer support activities include relapse prevention and sober living classes. We also offer faith-based and music-based recovery programs.

We have helped countless individuals recover from meth addiction. Our solution-based treatment programs can help. Call us today at 833.999.1941 if you or a loved one face addiction of any kind. We are available 24 hours, 7 days a week.