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Meth addiction is the result of excessive and continued use of methamphetamine which results in an increased tolerance, heightened physical dependence and psychological cravings to use the drug despite the known consequences associated with its use. The dangers of meth addiction are very prominent and yet, despite the potential for this powerful drug to cause long lasting consequences for the user, the addiction continues to fuel their habits resulting in erratic behavior, increased situations of drug abuse and heightened potential for long term consequences.
How it Meth Abused?
Crystal meth is regularly snorted, smoked or injected. In some cases, the drug is even consumed orally by mouth—this is especially true when the user believes that he or she is taking another drug such as Molly or MDMA but is actually taking methamphetamine. When the drug is taken, it produces almost immediate effects including:
- reduced appetite
- increased dopamine production which results in a pleasurable experience
- heightened sense of grandiosity or well-being
- increased energy
Unfortunately, these feelings are all short lived as, once the meth wears off, the user will go through a phase of “coming down” or “crashing” that will result in extreme paranoia, feelings sketchy, twitching and later being excessively tired.
How Meth Addiction Begins
For most people, meth addiction begins with the occasional, recreational use of this powerful drug. Arizona State University remarked upon the dangers of meth addiction by stating, “a famous experiment studied the effect of methamphetamine use on lab animals, who were give a dose of methamphetamine every time they pushed a lever. In spite of the fact that food and water bowls were within easy reach, these lab animals ignored eating and drinking, ultimately dying of starvation.” This powerful study shows that meth addiction is seriously dangerous for the user and may lead to extreme consequences including death.
Early use of meth is not usually addictive in nature. It’s the cash stage in which the user feels tired and lethargic that they usually resort back to more drugs. This is the start of the addiction, the repetitive use of methamphetamine to reduce the feelings of tiredness and lethargy that result when the drug is not being used.
How Prominent is Meth Addiction?
While meth addiction was once only a real problem in the California area, NIDA research reports that meth addiction is now, “a substantial drug problem in other sections of the west and southwest.” While some studies indicate that the use of the drug is extending into all areas of the United States, it is unknown just how terrible this addiction is in many areas. An estimated 3% of the adult population in the United States has abused methamphetamine at some point in their lives and many of those are suffering from addiction to this powerful drug.
Medical Dangers of Meth Addiction
Methamphetamine addicts are at risk of an array of medical complications that result from their drug use. The medical risks of meth addiction and abuse include:
- cardiovascular problems
- heart attack
- rapid heart beat
- irregular heart beat or arrhythmia
- high blood pressure
- damage to blood vessels in the brain which can lead to an increased risk of stroke
- elevated body temperature
- damage to the lining of the heart
- inflammation of the heart lining
- lead poisoning
Signs of Meth Addiction
If you or someone you love is abusing methamphetamine, consider the following signs that there is an addiction present:
- a complete preoccupation with methamphetamine
- inability to cope with emotions without the use of meth
- having strong cravings to use meth
- using meth even when there have been problems caused by the drug use
- using meth in situations in which there is increased risk or danger such as while driving
- using meth even after promising ones self or others that such use would not continue
- spending excessive amounts of time focused on meth
- sores on the face or the body
- burnt fingers or hands or lips as a result of smoking meth
- lying about methamphetamine abuse
- denial that there is a problem
- getting into trouble for meth use and then continuing to use the drug
- admitting that there is a problem but doing nothing to fix it
- trying to quit and failing
These are just some of the symptoms of meth addiction. Many users will have a rapid deterioration of their appearance in just a short period of time with meth abuse. In fact, “meth mouth” is a commonly known symptom of addiction that arises from the rotting of the teeth and rapid deterioration of the gums that occurs with prolonged meth use.
Help for Meth Addiction
According to NIDA, “the most effective treatments for methamphetamine addiction are cognitive behavioral interventions.” This involves taking an approach to helping the patient by educating them about their addiction, helping them to pinpoint poor behaviors and thoughts and then teaching them how to respond different and more effectively. Behavioral therapy such as this is commonly used both in residential meth addiction treatment as well as in outpatient meth treatment programs too.
Residential Treatment or Outpatient Treatment
You may be wondering if you should choose residential treatment for your meth addiction or if outpatient treatment is the right choice for you. While there are benefits to both, if you are heavily addicted to methamphetamine and you do not have a very significant support system at home, residential treatment is likely the best and safest option for you.
According to the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research, residential treatment, though highly effective, does remove patients from their normal routines and can be costly. In some cases, it is more beneficial to patients who have limited funds to receive outpatient treatment while they continue to tend to their home balance and maintain a job. Ultimately, the type of treatment that is best for your situation of meth addiction will depend on:
- how bad or severe your addiction is
- how much you are committed to getting sober
- whether you have any underlying health conditions
- whether you have a mental illness
- whether you have been in treatment before
- whether you are addicted to other drugs or alcohol
- what you can afford and whether you have insurance
- what kind of support you have through friends and family
The effectiveness of residential treatment or outpatient treatment will be greatly enhanced if you are ready and willing to get help but NIDA reports that effective treatment does not have to be willingly entered into. As such, if you know someone who is addicted to methamphetamine and who needs help but will not willingly go into treatment, consider the possibility of an intervention to help.
Will Meth Addiction Treatment Help Me?
If you are committed to your recovery, you are ready to get help and you do what it takes to stay involved in your treatment program, meth addiction treatment will prove to be highly effective and beneficial to you. Unfortunately, addiction is a disease characterized by chronic relapse and you will always face the potential that relapse is a possibility when you are abusing drugs such as methamphetamine. Even after treatment it will be important for you to continue to receive support and follow up care to ensure that you remain sober and on the right path.
NA or Meth Anonymous are two self-help and support groups that can go a long way at providing you with the supportive care necessary to facilitate your continued recovery from meth addiction. Both are free to join and readily available throughout the country. If you cannot find a Meth Anonymous group near you, NA provides many of the same supportive measures to members who are addicted to a wider range of drugs not only methamphetamine but also possibly prescription drugs, alcohol and even marijuana.
Most importantly, if you are addicted to crystal meth and need help, don’t refrain! Caring counselors are ready to assist you in finding the right type of meth addiction treatment and care for your needs.