facts about meth addiction and recovery

Facts About Meth Addiction and Recovery

by Pat Fontana

Methamphetamine is a dangerously addictive drug. When you know more of the facts about meth, you can take steps to get help and stop meth addiction before it causes serious consequences for yourself or for a loved one.

A Highly Addictive Stimulant

Methamphetamine, commonly referred to as meth, is a highly addictive and powerful stimulant that affects the central nervous system. Although chemically similar to amphetamine, which is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, meth is much more dangerous.

The high from the drug is quick to start and to fade, so individuals will often take repeated doses in an effort to achieve the effect. This is referred to as a “binge and crash” pattern. People may also take meth in a form of binging that is referred to as a “run,” as they continue to take the drug every few hours for several days, usually giving up food and sleep to do so.

Forms of Meth

One of the important facts about meth is that it takes many forms. Crystal meth is one form that looks like shiny, bluish-white rocks or glass fragments. Common names for meth include crystal, blue, ice, and speed. Meth can be taken by swallowing a pill or by smoking, snorting, or injecting the powder in water or alcohol.

Effects on the Brain

Meth works by increasing the amount of dopamine, a natural chemical in the brain. Dopamine is involved in the body’s movement, an individual’s sense of motivation, and the reinforcement of rewarding behaviors. Meth can release high levels of dopamine rapidly in the reward areas of the brain that strongly reinforce the drug-taking behavior, leading quickly to meth addiction.

Over the short term and even in small amounts, meth can cause:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Increased wakefulness and physical activity
  • Rapid and/or irregular heartbeat
  • Faster breathing
  • Increased blood pressure and body temperature.

Longer term, meth addiction can have devastating consequences. If an individual injects the meth, they will be at an increased risk of contracting hepatitis B and C as well as HIV from the needle and from unprotected sex as they tend to engage in riskier behaviors under its influence. The unfortunate facts about meth are that it also causes significantly negative effects on an individual who uses it long-term, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Severe dental problems
  • Extreme weight loss
  • Changes in brain structure and function, including confusion and memory loss
  • Intense itching, leading to skin sores from scratching
  • Sleeping problems
  • Violent behavior
  • Hallucinations, those sensations and images that seem real though they aren’t
  • Paranoia, an extreme and unreasonable distrust of others.

How Meth Addiction Works

An individual will become addicted to meth because they will develop a tolerance to its pleasurable effects, which causes them to need to take it repeatedly. They will need to take higher doses of the drug each time as well. They may even have to change their method of using meth in an attempt to get the same effect. At a certain point, the individual may even have difficulty feeling any kind of pleasure other than that provided by the drug.

Meth Overdose

When an individual uses too much meth and has a toxic reaction, it can result in serious and harmful symptoms, including death. An overdose usually leads to a stroke, heart attack, or organ problems.

About 15% of all drug overdose deaths involve meth. Half of those also involve an opioid, with half of those related to fentanyl, a synthetic opioid. One of the very important facts about meth is that these cheap and dangerous synthetic opioids are sometimes added to the meth when sold on the street, without the user’s knowledge.

Treatment for Meth Addiction

The hopeful news is that meth addiction can be treated. The treatment process will start with detox, which has to be professionally supervised to be safe. Symptoms of withdrawal, which can range from mild to severe, can include anxiety, depression, fatigue, and an intense craving for the meth.

As part of treatment and recovery from meth addiction, the individual will work to discover why they started using the drug and why they continue to use it, addressing their underlying emotions as they overcome their addiction. They will also learn new and healthier methods of coping as well as new, more positive behaviors that will help them get their life back.

Get Help for Your Addiction at South Miami Recovery

Overcoming an addiction to meth is not easy. At South Miami Recovery, we are here to help you get started on your recovery. You deserve to enjoy true freedom from active substance dependency, so you can live a healthier life.  During the COVID-19 pandemic, we want you to stay safe and healthy, so we offer HIPAA-compliant telehealth services to help you get the treatment you need now. To learn more and to sign up for telehealth substance abuse services, contact us today. Call South Miami Recovery at 305.661.0055.