What is Methamphetamine?
Commonly called by its slang name “meth,” methamphetamine is in the stimulant class of drugs and is mainly used recreationally, though it was originally used for attention deficit disorder (ADD), specifically with hyperactivity and a medication aimed at treating obesity. It was created in the late 1800’s by a Japanese chemist as an alternative to ephedra- a plant which was widely used throughout Asia for its stimulant effects for thousands of years. Inside of the plant, a chemical was identified called ephedrine which subsequently was manufactured into crystallized form, creating what we now know as “crystal meth.” Currently, the drug is manufactured both or legal medication and illegal recreational drugs. Desoxyn is an FDA approved medication still used for treating severe ADD with hyperactivity. Illegal meth is mostly white in color with little or no odor. However, it can also have a yellowish-brownish, or pink hue. Users mainly snort, smoke, or inject the drug. It generally is sold on powder or crystal form. Slang and street names for meth depending on how it is used include:
- Trash, garbage
- White cross
- LA Ice
- Ice Cream
- Cotton candy
- Scooby Snax
- Go-go juice
- Rocket fuel
Points to Understand about Meth
Meth has been long understood to be an extremely strong stimulant and has been manufactured for non-illegal use in huge quantities, especially during World War II. Meth was given to German soldiers and used by Adolf Hitler as part as the campaign to create the world’s strongest army, keeping troops awake for longer and increasing a desire to fight. Leaders inside the Nazi regime distributed millions of meth tablets called Pervitin to the Nazi forces, as well as to the public as an over the counter medication. In addition to using cocaine and opiates, Hitler was known to ingest high amounts of methamphetamine. Some people try meth because of a desire to lose weight, others out of curiosity. It produces an immediate euphoria and energy but is also one of the most addictive drugs releasing the brain chemical dopamine more than three times the amount than cocaine. Casual users can become addictive very easily because of the high percentage of dopamine receptors activated from first using. Meth effects a person’s behavior and personality, creating grandiosity which leads to dangerous and isolating situations. Users lack in responsibilities, engage in risk-taking behaviors, and find themselves participating in situations they otherwise would never do sober including committing violent crimes or engaging in deviant sexual behavior. Physical changes occur rapidly as it dries out the skin, causes itching created skin sores, creates teeth grinding and rot mouth. Crystal meth labs are everywhere in the United States through more commonly found in remote rural areas, though have been found throughout big cities as smaller, more concentrated labs called “meth dens.” Labs are highly combustible and dangerous. It is challenging to withdraw from meth and is best to do in treatment. Research shows that meth users who try to detox on their own have a very high relapse rate. It can take a long time to detox from methamphetamine. Most insurance companies will not cover treatment for someone who only wants to detox from meth, which sounds counter-intuitive due to the high percentage of meth addicts and that they do better in treatment. Meth addicts wishing to get detox from a facility have a better chance of getting covered by insurance companies if upon admission they are dual or polydrug users.
Short-term Effects of Methamphetamine Use
Meth is a similar stimulant as cocaine when used because they both produce an immediate high and a “rush” due to increased blood pressure and elevated heart rate. It also releases a large amount of the brain’s reward chemical, dopamine at an incredibly rapid speed. The strongest feeling will last about 30 minutes, subsiding to a moderately steady high for hours after. Smoking and snorting may last longer but not be as intense as injecting the drug. The short-term effects of using meth include:
- Increased mood
- Increased sexual desire
- Hyper-focusing- “tweaking”
- Bizarre behavior- “strung”
- Loss of appetite
Long-term Effects of Methamphetamine
As low and moderate doses over a short period of time will create an elevated mood, an appetite suppressant, an energy boost, using the drug at high doses or for prolonged periods will result in serious health issues. These include psychosis, both temporary and non-reversible, seizures, muscle and skeletal breakdown, brain bleeding, and severe gum and tooth decay. Using meth also produces rapid mood swings, hallucinations, delusions, violence, and prolonged sexual activity. Prolonged use of meth creates a withdrawal process typically longer than other illegal substances, sometimes up to months. There are several studies showing how meth has caused significant effects on the brain in areas such as impulse control, decision making, memory, and motor functioning. A common long-term use effect called “Meth Mouth.” Users understand that they can and will create severe dental issues by using meth, specifically by injecting it though it can happen by any means. The American Dental Association defines meth mouth to be a combination of users not paying attention to oral hygiene, the effect the drug has creating dry mouth, grinding teeth, and the habit of consuming high-calorie sodas while using. Meth mouth is very serious and can lead to other health complications.
How addictive is Methamphetamine?
Methamphetamine is considered to be in the top three categories of the most dangerous and addictive illegal substances, just under crack cocaine and heroin. A person can become addicted after their first dose. A dependent person will go into immediate withdrawal once they stop using. Symptoms of addiction to meth will differ with individual users due to frequency, amount used and by what means they are using. However, with most drug use, there are common and identifiable problems that go hand-in-hand, including: Physical symptoms of meth addiction:
- Lack of sleeping
- “Meth mouth”
- Open sores of body and face
- Trembling and shaking
- Hair loss
- Rapid weight loss
- Loss of skin elasticity
- Feeling overheated in body temperature
Behavioral symptoms with meth addiction:
- Committing crimes
- Picking at skin sores
- Dangerous, risky behaviors
- Increased impulsiveness
- Grinding teeth/moving jaw
- “Tweaking” – obsessively focused attention on things
- Interpersonal relationship problems
- Rapid mood swings
- Violent behaviors
- Low appetite
- Risky sexual behaviors
Psychological symptoms with meth addiction:
- Repetitive and bizarre behaviors
- Brain damage
- Talking to self
- Disorganized thoughts
- Auditory and visual hallucinations
- Feeling a “ghost” sensation of bugs crawling underneath the skin
Meth Addiction and Sex
Meth has a reputation of being the center drug for sex addiction, particularly but not exclusively with homosexual males. This “party and play” subculture meet through online dating apps and clubs. By using meth, participants can have continuous hours, even days of arousal and sexual increase. The withdrawal from meth and sex addiction is severe and can lead to major depression, often having people turn back to the drug and sex party lifestyle. Meth users who engage in sexual activity have a high rate of unprotected sex even with known HIV positive partners. The risk-taking aspects of the drug may cause participants to push thoughts of protection and safe sex aside. In addition, skin lesions, abrasions, and open sores on the mouth on genital areas will cause an increased risk of infections and disease.
How do Treatment Centers Help Meth Addiction?
Going through withdrawal for anything is hard and methamphetamine detox can be tough- which is why people who use should seek treatment. Using crystal meth, major withdrawal symptoms start about a day after the last use, stating with extreme fatigue and tiredness. Depression can set in, and can feel overwhelming. Lack of sleep when using causes hallucinations, and they can continue to manifest in the withdrawal process. When dopamine is topped being produced, anxiety and paranoia can set in. Long-time users may have feelings of depression, lack of pleasure, and emotional issues years after quitting. Relapse prevention in treatment centers is focused on how to stay sober for a long while after getting off meth. Cravings can be very severe, though physical symptoms will be comparatively low to other drugs like heroin, alcohol, and crack cocaine. People may get tired, headaches, or feel a general malaise. Because meth use is a suppressant, people may find themselves gaining weight and sleeping excessively or a few weeks or more. Being in treatment with a staff that understands about the specific of methamphetamine is very important on many levels. Meth causes a severe psychological “grip” on its users and quitting by yourself is nearly impossible except for short periods. In treatment, a meth addict can withdraw safely, obtain proper nutrition, and start learning how to rebuild their lives with the help of others. Having a detailed aftercare plan for the next year after quitting is important and can be worked out with a case manager and therapy team. At Vogue Recovery, there is medical and professional staff members who understand the withdrawal and treatment process associated with using methamphetamine. They understand the effects it has on each person, and though some will differ, they realize clients will have challenges during detox and residential treatment and are prepared to meet them. Clients will be seen by a medical doctor and a psychiatrist, who will be able to prescribe medications to assist in the recovery process if needed. These medications can:
- Assist with anxiety
- Stabilize the brain and neurosynaptic effects that the drug has had
- Reduce cravings
- Help with depressive mood
There is a very high percentage of users who relapse after the first 1-3 days of detox. Staying at a treatment center will help someone from following their cravings and continue to relapse. Methamphetamine withdrawal symptoms may include:
- Depressed mood
- Weight gain
- Lack of focus
- Extreme fatigue
There is va ery little risk of dying from meth withdrawal. It is important to stay hydrated because the body can go through some dehydration. Water is the best bet and staying away from drinking too much coffee or carbonated drinks which can cause more dehydration. Speaking with the onsite nutritionist or chef is important to keep a healthy diet of vegetables and fruits, to assist in the withdrawal and recovery process. Taking vitamins and supplements, along with nutritional drinks may help speed up the body’s recovery as well. Getting enough rest and sleep is important, especially the first week of treatment. Light exercise is important for mood stabilization. Yoga, walking, and light workouts are especially beneficial to the meth addict in recovery. Learning how to increase serotonin and dopamine levels naturally is a tool for long*term recovery from meth.
Methamphetamine Addiction Treatment
Methamphetamine addiction treatment at Vogue Recovery Center includes expert psychotherapy and a multidisciplinary approach designed to give you a customized goal-oriented experience. Utilizing the science of addiction medicine in a comfortable, exclusive environment – Vogue provides an abundance of comfort and path to restoration. Using a solution-focused approach, our team will address the many reasons you began abusing methamphetamine. Taking into consideration your family history, traumatic life events, unique stress factors, relationship challenges and individual patterns – our experts will assess your strengths and weaknesses and design a customized treatment plan that meets your personal needs.