Methamphetamine is a highly addictive stimulant drug. It causes long-term damage of the central nervous system. Methamphetamine was derived from amphetamine drugs, and it can lead to problematic use, heart-rhythm disruptions, and changes in behavior. Unlike cocaine, another popular stimulant, methamphetamine is man-made, can quickly damage nerve terminals in the brain, and lingers in brain tissue longer.1
Addiction to methamphetamine is common with even short-term use. Methamphetamine use disorder leads to a chronic series of relapse and repeated use. Although most users don’t realize they are sustaining and/or causing a significant level of damage by using the drug, they are compulsively motivated to continue the abuse.
“There never seems to be a good time to go to treatment. Think about it. You can come up with every excuse in the book, but you’ll just have to say yes and do it. The bottom line is if you keep doing this, you are either going to be in an institution, jail, or you will die.” —Pamela K., HeroesInRecovery.com
Physical effects of methamphetamine abuse are varied and devastating. Initially, users will develop a level of tolerance to the drug. This means he will at first feel pleasure from using the drug, but with time will become unable to get the same results from using the original amount. This will lead to irritability, drug seeking and other unhealthy behaviors.
Methamphetamine abuse impairs the user’s ability to react to events and stimuli, damaging the brain’s motor movement and memory. The good news is that the neurological effects of this drug are reversible, and brain imaging research shows that even 12 months after detoxification the brain will return to a somewhat normal state of operation.2
Mental illness sometimes accompanies drug use. Sometimes it’s the reason behind it, and sometimes it’s the result of drug abuse. Regardless of the cause, integrated treatment addresses both mental health issues and addiction issues simultaneously. Without an integrated approach, the two issues will feed off each other and continue to negatively impact the user’s life.
As with any other substance, methamphetamine use comes in many shapes and sizes. Some meth users are categorized as low-intensity users, while others are binge users, and others frequent the drug so often and in such high quantities that they fall into the category of high-intensity abuse.
Low intensity levels of use involve swallowing or snorting it on occasion, which might not have yet resulted in full-blown addiction. The other categories, however, are psychological addictions. If you or someone you love uses meth to get a fast and intense high, it is necessary to seek medical treatment as soon as possible to reverse addiction symptoms.3
Treatment for Methamphetamine Addiction
Inpatient treatment care for meth abuse or addiction provides 24-hour medical assistance and a team of therapy professionals in a safe environment. Medically supervised detoxification is the first step in the process, along with medication management, wellness services, counseling and group therapy. In this type of treatment, you will be able to meet other people who are overcoming addiction, working on solutions to enjoy life without dependence on this destructive drug.
Outpatient care is also a great option, one that may allow you to keep your job or school or other responsibilities going while you get treatment. Patients can return to sober living or to their own home each evening. Regular appointments are scheduled around other obligations, but patients should attend all appointments to get the full benefit of their treatment program.
If patients or loved ones have questions, those can be addressed in consultation with the treatment program professionals. Each patient and family member will have different emotional and physical needs during this process. Due to the physical changes that methamphetamine sets on the brain, the emotional makeup of a meth user is changed drastically. He or she may demonstrate behavior that is completely out of character with his or her personality.
These emotional and behavioral changes are often greatly distressing to the addicted person and his or her loved ones.It takes courage to pursue and accept treatment, but treatment can and will save lives. Any methamphetamine user can comply with treatment and gain lasting benefits. Families can be repaired and sometimes reunited when the mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health of one member is restored.
Do not let the tragedy of methamphetamine addiction rob the world of your authentic self. Help is available, and it is usually not beyond reach in either physical or financial terms.
1 National Institute on Drug Abuse. Methamphetamine. Sept 2013. Retrieved 7 Jul 2017.
2 National Institute on Drug Abuse. What Are the Long Term Effects of Methamphetamine Use? Sept 2013. Retrieved 7 Jul 2017.
3 Australian Government, National Drugs Campaign. Ice Destroys Lives. Retrieved 7 Jul 2017.