According to research provided by the United States Sentencing Commission, methamphetamine was responsible for more charges in 2015 than any other drug in 27 states. Use of this drug is once again growing across the nation, and so are the devastating effects that the drug has on people who use it and those who care about them.
What is meth?
Methamphetamine is a manufactured drug that makes users feel as though they have more energy. It is in the category of drugs known as amphetamines, along with prescription drugs like Adderall and Ritalin, which affect the central nervous system. Some amphetamines are actually prescribed for use to treat conditions such as narcolepsy and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Methamphetamine goes by a variety of different names. Depending on the region, it may be referred to as:
- Go fast
It is man-made from combining various chemicals such as pseudoephedrine, acetone, anhydrous ammonia (fertilizer), ether, red phosphorus, and lithium, many of which are known to be extremely harmful to humans. The drug is very powerful and highly addictive. It usually appears either as a white powdery substance or may appear clear or blue in color and look like shards of glass.
It can be ingested many ways. Users can swallow it, smoke it, inject it directly into the bloodstream, or inhale (snort) it. For most people, the effects are felt immediately. Users who smoke the drug or use needles to inject it into their bloodstream, feel the high the quickest. Snorting meth produces a high after about 3-5 minutes and ingesting it orally after about 10-15 minutes. These methods produce a longer lasting high, but not as intense.
How does Meth Addiction affect your body and brain?
Once meth has entered into the body’s bloodstream, it is carried to the brain. Inside the brain, there are billions of neurons that are responsible for passing messages on to other neurons as well as to other parts of your body. They do this through the use of neurotransmitters. Since the drug is a stimulant, it makes the messages that pass along inside your brain happen faster. This makes you feel more alert and more awake.
One of the neurotransmitters most affected is dopamine. Dopamine is normally released into the brain when you experience pleasurable things. Eating a delicious meal, holding your loved one’s hand, watching a funny movie, or any other activity that makes you happy. However, when the drug is introduced to the brain, it tells it to release dopamine as well. Lots of it. In fact, up to 10 times the normal amount of dopamine can be released when meth is present.
This sudden overflow of pleasure gives the user a euphoric high, but when it wears off, there is always a crash. To avoid this low, many users try taking more of the drug to feel the way they did at first. At times, addicts can go on for days at a time using meth, staying awake the entire time and often forgetting to eat.
However great the high may be, the low is equally or even more low. The body can only produce so much dopamine at any given time. If you continually introduce it into the body, the dopamine will eventually run out until the body can make more. When you let your body become accustomed to these higher surges of dopamine, it becomes more dependent on higher levels to feel any kind of pleasure.
Over time, with prolonged meth use, you may reach a point where nothing feels good anymore. This may even last into the first part of your recovery. That is because your brain needs to get used to feeling of pleasure from the much smaller, normal amounts of dopamine that it releases naturally.
Addiction also has severe consequences to your body. People develop what is commonly referred to as “meth mouth”, where many of their teeth start disintegrating due to lack of proper care and nutrition. Users also have severe cases of weight loss where it may appear that they are rapidly wasting away to nothing. Many users become fixated on picking at their face or body. That is because oftentimes the user experiences a feeling of bugs crawling all over them causing them to itch or pick at their skin until it bleeds. This can leave open sores and ultimately very bad scarring.
How do you know if you are Suffering from Meth Abuse?
Since methamphetamine affects the pleasure center of your brain, it makes it one of the easiest drugs to get hooked on. What may start out as casual use can quickly turn into a daily habit where you are dependent on the drug to even function on a basic level. Addicts will often times have changes in their mood, behavior, thinking, and physical appearance.
As with most addictive substances, there are some warning signs to look for if you think you or a loved one may be addicted to meth. These include:
- Sudden and rapid weight loss
- Open sores
- Rotting, yellow teeth
- Unusual sleep patterns
- Dark circles under the eyes
- Red or bloodshot eyes
- Constant twitching, jerking or fidgeting
- Hair loss
- Pale, sickly looking skin tone
- Depression or anxiety
- Risky behavior
- Sudden unexplained financial problems
- Legal trouble
- Violent behavior
- Sudden fits of rage or irritability
- Lack of appetite
- Intense attention to certain things
- Starting multiple projects and not finishing them
- Disorganized thoughts or irrational thinking
Another sign to look for when concerned about a friend or loved one includes sudden dishonesty. They may make up stories about things that are truly irrelevant. Sudden mood changes are often one of the biggest signs that they may need methamphetamine addiction treatment. Sadly, many users may also begin to steal in order to support their habit, even from friends and family members.
Why is meth withdrawal and Treatment so tough?
Meth withdrawal happens once you decide to quit using this harmful drug. Most people at this stage are unhealthy and meth has ravaged everything from their physical appearance to relationships.
You may be in this unhealthy state, yourself. Not being at your best, naturally, any strain on your body will be uncomfortable. This discomfort is certainly true of meth withdrawal.
The meth comedown involves a wide variety of symptoms. These symptoms of withdrawal include:
- Sleeping too much
- Intense anxiety
- Severe depression
The depression that most people suffer in withdrawal from meth is long-lasting. This depression can be worse than the depression of cocaine withdrawal. Your body will be weak in withdrawal and you’ll sleep almost 24 hours per day for a full week. The good news is that, despite the discomfort, withdrawal from meth is not as dangerous as some substances like heroin or alcohol.
One particularly difficult part of the withdrawal from meth is that of cravings. Your cravings for the drug will be very strong.
If you seek help from a quality, licensed meth rehab, you can detox from meth with the full help and support of caring professionals. These professionals will help you stay comfortable throughout detox and may provide medications to ease your symptoms.
What’s the best kind of rehab for meth addicts?
If you are ready for meth addiction treatment in Arizona, there are many options available to you whether you have a dual diagnosis or not. There are different levels of care that can be explored when you first meet with your counselor.
In dual diagnosis therapy, you’ll learn:
- About your mental illness
- Signs that your mental illness isn’t controlled
- Why you started abusing meth
- How to cope with both conditions
- How to keep yourself mentally healthy
- How to prevent meth relapse
A physician may provide you with medication for treatment of your mental illness. Chances are, you’ll be surprised how much better you feel about yourself, and life in general, with the help of this medication and your therapies.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), there are nearly 8 million people in the United States who suffer from a co-occurring condition, otherwise known as a dual diagnosis. SAMHSA also reports that nearly half of all adults that do rehab treatments for methamphetamine have a co-occurring mental illness. This is likely due to the fact that meth hits the dopamine receptors in your brain, giving the user a feeling of pleasure that may normally be absent due to their mental illness, making it much easier to become addicted to the drug.
If you or your loved one have been diagnosed with a co-occurring condition, you may feel as though rehab for meth may no longer be enough. The good news is that once you know about your co-occurring conditions, you can get the specific treatment you need to help you succeed. Being able to understand that your addiction may have come from some previously unknown, underlying condition can offer you hope for a successful recovery. By addressing the underlying issues, you can effectively treat both the mental illness and the drug addiction.
Patients who undergo meth treatment in Arizona as part of dual diagnosis treatment experience an improved quality of life in recovery. Dual diagnosis treatment can change patient’s lives for the better by:
- Decreasing use of drugs or alcohol
- Improving mental health conditions
- Improving function in daily life
- Experiencing fewer cases of hospitalization
- Increasing stability in housing
- Resulting in fewer arrests
How to find the best meth addiction treatment centers near me in Arizona?
If you have a problem with meth, whether on its own or as part of a dual diagnosis, it is imperative that you seek a facility that specializes in treating patients with your specific needs. Located in Scottsdale, Arizona, Pinnacle Peak Recovery has been providing meth addiction treatment to clients for years and has highly skilled and well-trained staff on hand to help you through recovery.
If you have a co-occurring condition, you are absolutely not alone. What you didn’t know prior to receiving a dual diagnosis has been hurting you. Your mental illness has likely fed your addiction and, in turn, substance use has fed your mental illness.
You can’t be expected to know how to treat your addiction alone. You need support and guidance every step of the way. If you or someone you love is ready to break free of addiction, call us today at 866-377-4761.