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Methamphetamine Addiction Treatment

Methamphetamine is a highly addictive drug that contributes to thousands of deaths every year. Once you’re in meth’s grip, it can feel impossible to break free. We want you to know that addiction recovery is very possible with the right treatment, motivation, and support. We’ve seen thousands of clients walk out our doors into a new, fulfilling life in recovery, and you can too. Learn more about meth addiction treatment for meth abuse.

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What Is Methamphetamine?

Commonly called by its street name “meth,” methamphetamine is classified as a stimulant and recreationally abused. Meth is derived from amphetamine and was first used to treat attention deficit disorder, specifically with hyperactivity. It’s also been used to treat cases of severe obesity.

Meth was created in the late 1800s by a Japanese chemist as an alternative to ephedra. Ephedra is a plant used throughout Asia for its stimulant effects. Ephedra started being manufactured into crystallized form, creating what we now know as “crystal meth.” Desoxyn is an FDA-approved medication containing methamphetamine still used for treating severe ADD with hyperactivity.

Illegal meth is mostly white with little or no odor. However, it can also have a yellowish-brownish or pink hue. Meth users mainly snort, smoke, or inject meth. It’s generally sold in powder or crystal form.

Street names for meth are based on how it’s used and include:

  • Crystal
  • Ice
  • Glass
  • Crank
  • Chalk
  • Speed
  • Trash, garbage
  • White cross
  • LA Ice
  • Ice Cream
  • Cotton candy
  • No-Doze
  • Scooby Snax
  • Go-go juice
  • Rocket fuel

What’s the Difference Between Meth and Amphetamines?

Amphetamines are synthetic drugs. They increase alertness and stimulate the heart and respiratory system. They were first marketed as a prescription drug called Benzedrine in the 1920s. Doctors sometimes prescribe amphetamines to treat narcolepsy, ADHD and extreme obesity. Recreational abuse of amphetamines started in earnest in the 1960s. Known as bennies or speed, amphetamine abuse led to widespread overdoses.

Meth and amphetamines are sometimes called “chemical cousins.” Their makeup is similar, but meth has a greater impact on the central nervous system. Meth is a highly concentrated chemical variation of amphetamines. Meth tells the brain to release much more dopamine than amphetamines. Therefore, it’s more addictive and produces a stronger high.

Effects of amphetamine use, and abuse can include:

  • Increased alertness, attention, and energy
  • Increased blood pressure and heart rate
  • Narrowed blood vessels
  • Increased blood sugar
  • Opened-up breathing passages
  • Dangerously high body temperature
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Heart failure
  • Seizures

Effects of Meth

Meth produces an immediate euphoria and energy, which is why it’s so addictive. Meth releases the brain chemical dopamine at much higher levels than even cocaine. A casual meth user can become addicted very quickly because of the high amount of dopamine receptors activated from first use. Meth affects a person’s behavior and personality. It can create feelings of grandiosity, which leads to dangerous and isolating situations. Long-term meth abuse sometimes results in:
  • Slacking on responsibilities or neglecting them altogether.
  • Engaging in behaviors you wouldn’t normally like committing crimes or having risky sex.
  • Experiencing physical changes like dry skin, sores on the skin, teeth grinding, and rotting teeth.
Crystal meth labs are common in the United States. Though usually found in remote rural areas, some are located throughout big cities as smaller, more concentrated labs called “meth dens.” Meth labs are highly explosive and dangerous.

Short-term Effects of Methamphetamine Use

Meth produces 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 effects last about 30 minutes, subsiding to a moderately steady high for hours after. Meth’s effects may last longer when smoking and snorting the drug but aren’t as intense as injecting it. The short-term side effects of meth include:
  • Better mood
  • Hyperactivity
  • Increased sexual desire
  • Hyper-focusing — “tweaking”
  • Bizarre behavior– “strung”
  • Talkativeness/jabbering/rambling
  • Alertness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Hallucinations

Long-Term Effects of Methamphetamine Abuse

Low and moderate doses of meth over a short period may create an elevated mood, energy boost, and suppress the appetite. However, using the drug at high doses or for prolonged periods can cause serious health issues. These could include:
  • Psychosis, both temporary and non-reversible
  • Seizures
  • Muscle and skeletal breakdown
  • Mental health issues
  • Brain bleeding
  • Severe gum and tooth decay
  • Rapid mood swings
  • Delusions
  • Violent tendencies
  • Meth withdrawal symptoms
Research also shows that meth has caused significant effects on the brain in areas such as:
  • Impulse control
  • Decision making
  • Memory
  • Motor functioning
One of the well-known effects of long-term use is “meth mouth.” This is usually due to a combination of:
  • Meth users not paying attention to oral hygiene
  • Dry mouth from the drug
  • Grinding teeth
  • Habit of consuming high-sugar foods like sodas and candies while using

Signs of Meth Addiction

Meth produces more dopamine than other stimulants like cocaine. The high of meth is also longer than other stimulants. As you continue to abuse meth, it’s more difficult to get that same high though. Your body quickly develops a tolerance to meth. The brain produces excessive amounts of dopamine that start depleting your natural supplies of this chemical. Dopamine plays an important role in many functions. When levels are off balance, you experience meth withdrawal symptoms. This keeps you stuck in the addiction cycle.

Meth addiction signs differ depending on frequency, the amount used, and by what means you’re using meth. However, with most drug abuse, there are standard and identifiable problems that go hand-in-hand, including some of these physical symptoms of meth addiction:

  • Lack of sleep
  • “Meth mouth”
  • Open sores on body and face
  • Trembling and shaking
  • Hair loss
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Loss of skin elasticity
  • Changes in body temperature

Behavioral symptoms of meth addiction may include:

  • Unsuccessful at stopping or reducing methamphetamine use
  • Committing crimes
  • Isolating
  • Picking at skin sores
  • Dangerous, risky behaviors
  • Increased impulsiveness
  • Grinding teeth/moving jaw
  • “Tweaking”
  • Interpersonal relationship problems
  • Rapid mood swings
  • Violent behaviors
  • Low appetite
  • Aggression
  • Risky sexual behaviors

Psychological symptoms of meth addiction may include:

  • Nervousness
  • Anxiety
  • Repetitive and bizarre behaviors
  • Brain damage
  • Talking to self
  • Disorganized thoughts
  • Auditory and visual hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Delusions
  • Feeling a “ghost” sensation of bugs crawling underneath the skin

Risks of Meth Addiction

The potential dangers and health effects of meth abuse are not worth the high this stimulant provides. Meth is highly addictive and can quickly take over your life, becoming your only focus. Meth ruins families, relationships, and lives.

Using meth can put you at risk for:

Behavior Changes

Methamphetamine interferes with brain neurotransmitters that play a role in impulse control, mood, sleep, and other important functions. This can cause long-term meth users to become aggressive, erratic, or violent. Sleep patterns may also be interrupted, which can fuel behavior changes as well.

Heart issues

Meth can have severe effects on your cardiovascular system, including:

  • Constricted blood vessels
  • Blood vessel spasms
  • Extreme blood pressure spikes
  • Rewiring of the heart’s electrical system
  • Heart attacks
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Strokes
  • Death

Organ Damage

Multiple organs are affected by meth abuse. Toxins can cause liver and kidney issues. Smoking meth can damage your lungs.

Brain Changes

Your brain can incur permanent damage from meth abuse. Meth interferes with the brain’s structure and neurotransmitter production, which can cause:

  • Anxiety
  • Psychosis
  • Hallucinations
  • Memory loss
  • Changes in structure and function

Mental Health Disorders

Changes to the way your brain produces chemicals can cause long-term mental health conditions. These can last for months or years after stopping meth. They may include:

  • Mood disturbances
  • Paranoia
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Delusions and paranoia

The imbalance of brain chemicals in meth users is known to cause anhedonia and psychosis. These conditions can begin during meth withdrawal and detox and take several months to correct.

Anhedonia is the inability to experience pleasure without meth or other drugs. You feel depressed and don’t get enjoyment from activities you once found fun or fulfilling. Psychosis from meth is also related to the imbalance of brain chemicals from using the drug. Meth-induced psychosis is characterized by paranoia and hallucinations. You may believe people are out to get you or think something is there that’s not.

Changes in Appearance

Many meth users binge on high-sugar, processed foods. In combination with a lifestyle that doesn’t prioritize brushing your teeth and other personal hygiene, this often leads to tooth decay and rotting teeth (meth mouth). Extreme weight loss can cause saggy, dry skin. Some meth users experience intense itching, which can lead to open sores. Poor nutrition and personal hygiene can also cause severe acne.

How Do You Treat Meth Addiction?

Significant meth withdrawal symptoms start about a day after the last use. They typically include extreme fatigue and tiredness. Depression can set in and feel overwhelming. Lack of sleep when using causes hallucinations, and they can continue to manifest in the withdrawal process. Anxiety and paranoia are common and long-time users may experience lack of pleasure and emotional issues years after quitting.

Relapse prevention in drug rehab focuses on how to stay sober 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. You may get tired, have headaches, or feel general malaise. Being in meth addiction treatment with staff that understand the physical and behavioral effects of meth and how to treat them is critical. Meth causes a severe psychological “grip” on its users and quitting by yourself is nearly impossible except for short periods.

Detoxing From Meth

Meth detox can be challenging. Meth users who try to detox on their own have a very high relapse rate. In a medical detox program, you can withdraw from meth safely, obtain proper nutrition, and begin repairing the physical and mental wounds of meth use. It’s important to detox under the care of medical professionals who understand the withdrawal and treatment process associated with using methamphetamine. They can provide medications that ease withdrawal symptoms and can:

  • Assist with anxiety
  • Stabilize the brain and neurosynaptic effects of the drug
  • Reduce cravings
  • Help with depression

Without addiction treatment following detox you’re at great risk for relapse. Many meth users relapse in just one to three days after detox. Staying at a meth addiction rehab will help you refrain from acting on your cravings. Methamphetamine withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Depressed mood
  • Apathy
  • Lethargy
  • Weight gain
  • Anxiety
  • Lack of focus
  • Headaches
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Fatigue

Meth Addiction Treatment After Detox

Recovering from an addiction to methamphetamines begins with detox, but should continue with a structured residential program. Inpatient rehab provides you space and distance from triggers that can feel unbearable to resist without relapse prevention skills. In Inpatient treatment, you’ll live with peers going through similar issues and participate in therapy and recovery activities during the day. Evenings usually include activities like 12-step meetings, free time in the facility, or games and other opportunities to socialize.

Addiction rehab helps you address the reasons why you feel such a strong pull to self-medicate with substance abuse. Common risk factors for addiction include:

  • PTSD and complex trauma
  • Co-occurring disorders like anxiety and depression
  • Dysfunctional relationships
  • Excessive stress
  • Low self-worth
  • Socio-economic factors
  • Family history of addiction

Meth addiction treatment usually includes therapies that specifically target past trauma like eye movement desensitization reprocessing (EMDR). You may also see a psychiatrist to help manage mental health disorder symptoms with medications and behavioral therapy. Likely, the majority of your time in treatment will be spent in individual and group therapy where you’ll explore the reasons behind substance abuse, acquire healthy coping skills, and learn how to welcome support from others and be authentic in relationships. Treatments for methamphetamine may also include medications to help rebalance brain chemicals that were affected by your substance use.

Many people slowly transition back into everyday life after residential treatment. This greatly lowers the risk of relapse. A partial hospitalization program (PHP) is the next step after inpatient treatment. During partial hospitalization programming, you attend treatment during the day like in residential care. The difference is you live at home or in a sober living residence instead of at the drug rehab center.

After PHP, most people progress through a couple of levels of outpatient rehab. The first is an intensive outpatient program (IOP). Most IOPs meet around 10-15 hours a week. The next phase is less hours of outpatient treatment as you transition fully into life outside a structured treatment program. In the last level of outpatient treatment, you may only attend group therapy for one to three hours a week. Types of treatments offered (i.e. individual therapy, experiential therapy, etc.) usually vary by level of care.

Meth Addiction Treatment FAQs

Is Meth Withdrawal Painful?

Symptoms of meth withdrawal are more psychological than physical. You may experience stomach issues, sweating, and itchy eyes, but most meth withdrawal symptoms stem from your central nervous system going into overdrive to rebalance your neurotransmitters. This causes symptoms that are more psychological in nature like:

  • Agitation
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia

How Long Is Treatment for Meth Addiction?

There is no set time for meth addiction treatment. Some people benefit from a 30-day program, while others may need longer periods in drug rehab. The process in meth treatment typically includes:

Outpatient starts with several hours a week and as you get further along in sobriety, decreases to just one to three hours a week.

Do You Need Inpatient Treatment for Meth Addiction?

Meth is extremely addictive, and it can be hard to kick without space away from triggers. Because meth drains your brain’s natural supplies of dopamine, cravings for the drug can be very strong, especially in the beginning. Many people find that residential treatment gives them an opportunity to focus completely on themselves and relapse prevention. Living in a treatment facility with access to 24/7 staff can help you address withdrawal symptoms, triggers, and cravings with expert medical and psychological assistance.

Where Do You Live During Meth Treatment?

If you attend an inpatient treatment program, you’ll live in apartment-style residences with other people in the drug rehab. If you attend a partial hospitalization program or other outpatient program, you can live at home or in a sober-living residence.

Does Insurance Pay for Meth Treatment?

Most major insurances are required to cover behavioral health treatment in similar ways as medical conditions. Your insurance may pay for all or a portion of treatment. Some insurances cover residential and outpatient treatment in different ways.

Are There Medications to Help Meth Addiction?

As of yet, there are no FDA-approved medications to treat meth addiction like there are for addictions to opioids and alcohol. Some research shows promise that these types of medications are on the horizon.

Sometimes antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, and psychotropic meds can ease the psychological effects of meth, which can decrease the pull to self-medicate with the drug.

What Therapies Help Meth Addiction?

Typically, the same approaches to other addictions are effective for meth abuse as well. The underlying issues that fuel substance abuse are similar, no matter what type of drug is being abused. Addiction therapies may include:

  • Individual, group, and family therapy
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)
  • Motivational interviewing (MI)
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)
  • Holistic approaches like yoga, mindfulness, and exercise
  • Contingency management
  • Peer-led support groups

What Is Meth Addiction Treatment Like at Vogue?

Methamphetamine addiction treatment at Vogue Recovery Center includes expert psychotherapy and experiential approaches so you heal the wounds of addiction from all angles — physical, mental, and spiritual.  Drawing on the science of addiction medicine in a home-like, discreet environment – you’ll benefit from an abundance of comfort and embark on a path to restoration.

Using a solution-focused approach, our team will help you address the reasons behind your substance abuse. Your treatment plan will take into consideration your family history, traumatic life events, unique stress factors, relationship challenges, and individual patterns.

We have several treatment options available. Treatment plans are tailored to each client’s needs, but may include approaches like:

  • Meth detox
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)
  • Individual and group therapy sessions
  • Family therapy
  • Motivational interviewing
  • Dual diagnosis treatment
  • Experiential approaches like yoga, art therapy, and music therapy
  • Relapse prevention groups
  • Continuing care planning
  • Introduction to 12-step programs

Does Insurance Pay for Meth Treatment?

Insurance coverage for drug addiction treatment centers vary by plan. Most major insurances are required to pay for treatment in the same way they cover medical conditions. You may be required to meet a deductible before your benefits kick in or pay co-insurance. If you have questions about your insurance coverage for addiction treatment, call us. Our admissions team will work directly with your provider for insurance verification and coverage information.

Looking for Help?

If you or a loved one is struggling with a meth addiction, we can help. Vogue Recovery Center provides engaging and effective treatment, a full continuum of care, and offers locations in Nevada, California, and Arizona. Addiction doesn’t get better on its own. Don’t wait another day to get the help you need. Seek treatment now.

Kelsey Jones vrc az

Medically Reviewed by Kelsey Jones, MS, LPC

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