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 anti-freeze, 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.
But after the war, 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 over time, can lead to addiction.
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 it is combined with other drugs like cocaine, marijuana, ketamine, and ecstasy. It is also often combined with alcohol, opioids, Xanax and Viagra.
- 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 takes place in distinct stages: the rush, high, comedown, binge, tweaking, crash, and hangover.
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
Compared to other drugs like cocaine, the methamphetamine rush lasts for quite a bit of time. Cocaine’s rush, for example, only lasts for 2 to 5 minutes. But methamphetamine’s rush can last up to 30 minutes. After the initial rush, dopamine signals the brain’s reward system, leading to 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, more sociable, or more talkative 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
- Irregular heartbeat
- Intense sweating
- Feeling extremely hot or extremely cold
Depending on the dose consumed, these effects can last anywhere from 4 to 16 hours. As the high wears off, users experience the meth 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:
- Muscle weakness
- Lack of motivation
- Insomnia despite exhaustion
- Headache from dehydration
Desperate to find a solution, many users turn to meth to provide them another high. This leads to meth binges.
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 and need for higher dosages.
At the end of a binge, users enter the “tweaking” phase, the most dangerous stage of meth addiction. The rush is over and the high is gone, leaving the user with a feeling of emptiness. Cravings increase. Unable to “fix” their problems with a “high,” users experience symptoms such as:
- 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.
Eventually, users experience the “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. Some of the most common meth withdrawal symptoms include:
- Fatigue, sleepiness
- Severe depression
- Increased appetite
- Red, itchy eyes
- Clammy skin
- Joint pain
- Suicidal thoughts
Signs and Symptoms of Meth Addiction
Now that you understand how meth addiction works, you should also know the signs and symptoms associated with meth addiction.
Physical signs of meth use and addiction include:
- Dilated pupils
- Raised blood pressure
- Rotting teeth, known as “meth mouth”
- Intense and consistent scratching
- Random and rapid thinning of the body
- Skin sores on the face and body
- 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:
- Violent and reckless behavior
- Reduced appetite
- Outbursts and mood swings
- Being very alert and physically active followed by extreme drowsiness
- Uncontrollable grinding of the teeth
- Repetitive motions and behaviors
- Increased confidence followed by depression or aggressive behavior
- Emotional numbness
Methamphetamine is a synthetic drug often made by “meth cooks” in basements or other makeshift meth labs. Unlike drugs derived from plants or created in professional laboratories, meth is often a “do it yourself” drug manufactured at home. Because this process typically involves unregulated and dangerous chemicals, a recent report published by the CDC reveals that methamphetamine is the number one drug involved in overdose deaths in 4 out of 5 regions west of the Mississippi. The same report goes on to reveal that in 2017 alone, more than 9,000 people overdosed on meth. In 2018, approximately 1.9 million people aged 12 and older used meth, with 63% of those using the drug qualifying for a methamphetamine use disorder diagnosis.
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.
Maybe you’ve noticed a loved one displaying signs and symptoms of struggling with meth use. Maybe you know it’s time to schedule a professional intervention for an addicted person you know and love. Perhaps you’re looking for the right treatment facility. Our solution-based treatment programs can help. Call us today at 877-309-4311 if you or a loved one are facing addiction of any kind. We are available 24 hours, 7 days a week.
We Know From Experience
We have helped thousands of people recover using a solutions-based approach of empowerment and knowledge.
We pride ourselves on creating a warm, relaxed recovery environment where our clients can show their true selves.
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Medical detox is a critical first step in recovery, which is why we provide supervised medical detox in-house.
Every client benefits from a fully personalized treatment and plan of care, helping them recover and reach their unique goals.