Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Patricia Sullivan MD MPH
Methamphetamine–known as meth to most people–is an addictive drug that comes in clear shards. Battling a meth addiction is not easy and let’s just say that misuse of methamphetamine is a global problem. It’s estimated that around 12.3 million American’s have used methamphetamine at once in their life. Out of those 12.3 million, they estimate about 600,000 people use meth weekly. It is known for completely rewiring brain activity in individuals.
Meth is a hazardous and addictive substance. Your body adapts to the presence of meth after a few uses. Different communication pathways in your brain become impaired, and your mind will send you signals of cravings for meth instead of desires for healthier activities. Worst of all, your brain can send withdrawal signals that make you crave meth for years.
While these cravings will make it easier to relapse, there is still plenty you can do to help yourself succeed. You’ve taken an important step just by searching for help and reading this blog. Call us at (385) 327-7418 if you’re ready to start your journey to a clean life.
Are you struggling with an addiction to meth? Do you know someone that is? No matter the situation, continue reading below for more information about meth addiction. On the other hand, you can also call us today to talk to one of our specialists.
Most Don’t Believed They’ll Get Addicted to Meth
Think of it as a circle. In the beginning, you have a desire for the drug. It makes you feel good or better, and that sounds wonderful. Then you crave it until you get your hit. You have a rush of good feelings once you get the impact, which leads to the crash. It’s only a short amount of time before withdrawal kicks in when you crash. Once the withdrawal happens—or a situation creates an unusual amount of stress for you—the desire for another hit comes back.
Getting an Addiction
First and foremost, it’s unlikely anyone will wake up one day and become an addict. It is something most users stumble into. They feel good when they use meth and try to repeat that good feeling. Before you know it, the brain’s sophisticated communication system has been hijacked, and an addiction is in progress.
Our brains are full of many naturally occurring chemicals. Dopamine plays a big part in the chemistry of our minds. While it is vital for many things, we often know it as the “happy brain chemical.” Research from the University of Missouri tells us dopamine is critical to the progress of methamphetamine addiction. Because dopamine is hijacked during the shift from enjoying meth to craving meth, your brain has difficulty finding enjoyment in anything except meth.
While drugs feel good in the beginning, within the time you need the drug to avoid withdrawals and get a sense of being average.
You might try taking a little more meth to see if you can recapture that good feeling you felt initially. You might try to wean yourself off only to have cravings and withdrawals become more intense than ever before.
Maybe you skip essential events with family and friends to meet with your dealer.
You stop eating and sleeping because it’s not essential to you.
Over time, addiction will consume every aspect of your life. Consuming drugs becomes all you can focus on. When you try to focus on something else, your brain will work against you no matter how hard you try.
Cravings tend to be associated with reckless risk-taking behaviors to achieve a feeling of pleasure. It doesn’t matter if you have to jump through flaming hoops with your eyes closed. You will go for it to get the drug.
In this case, the drug is methamphetamine.
If you’ve been using meth for a long time, your body has acclimated to having it available in your system. Quitting isn’t enough to clear your brain from firing a signal that you need more.
People who have stopped using meth have often experienced an intense urge to use the drug long after it was last used.
The human brain is slow to make new connections and fix broken connections. Because the brain is slow to heal—and meth alters how the brain functions—it takes time to recover.
One study has found recovering crystal meth users have an increase in cravings because of triggers in the first three months of abstinence, but an overall decrease at six months and one year.
There are two types of cravings. The first is the craving for survival. The second is the yearning for pleasure regardless of any life-altering consequences.
Symptoms of a Meth Craving
- Severe Depression
- Vivid, frightening dreams
- Preoccupation with meth
- Strong desire to use meth when seeing a pipe
- Telling yourself how good it felt when you were on meth
- Desire to visit with old friends you used with or the neighborhood your dealer was in
When do Cravings Happen?
Cravings can begin within a few hours. But cravings may also take a few days once you stop using. It’s hard to say how long a craving will last because everyone is different and is often affected by the length of your addiction, mental health, how often, and how much you’ve used.
Call our specialists today if you or someone you know suffers from addiction to meth. Do not let the cravings control your life. We are here to help you start your healthier and happier journey now.
Why Is it So Hard to Quit Meth?
Recovering from addiction takes time and more than one attempt. Addiction is a chronic condition characterized by relapse.
If you’re ready to quit, one of the best things you can do is find support. Trying to stop on your own is almost a guarantee for failure. It’s crucial to find a positive person who’s also in recovery to cheer you on and help you through the rough days.
Finding a support group or treatment program is critical. If you want help with your step into recovery, call us today.
The reason why meth is hard to quit is quite complex due to the strong addictive nature of the drug.
Symptoms of a Meth Withdrawal
- Increased appetite
- Unpleasant dreams
- Decreased heart rate
- Inability to feel pleasure
- Slow movements and thoughts
Long-Term Effects of Meth Use
Those who depend on substances, such as meth, will most likely have psychological and cognitive impairments. The longer you’re using meth, the more likely it is to pick up a long-term impairment.
During one research study, participants were given a questionnaire measuring impulsive thoughts and performance on hasty tasks. The researchers noticed addicts’ scores were elevated compared to the non-user group. Essentially confirming addicts are more impulsive than non-addicts.
Chronic meth use creates an abundance of mood disturbances. For example, anxiety and depression symptoms are common among those who are dependent and experiencing withdrawal from meth. However, depression symptoms generally resolve within 2 or 3 weeks.
Treatment for Methamphetamine (Meth) Addiction
It is a rule, rather than an exception, that psychiatric disorders accompany a methamphetamine addiction. In fact, during treatment, methamphetamine users are more likely to have an underlying psychiatric disorder than cocaine users. Often, the symptoms we think of when discussing methamphetamine addiction is a preexisting characteristic. Symptoms like poor impulse control or traumatic childhood event that impairs impulse control make it easier to try meth and become addicted.
There is no consistent, effective treatment. A one size fits all treatment plan does not exist. It is often a lot of trial and error, especially for those who rely on methamphetamine. However, this can be suggested for almost any addiction. Many treatment plans will depend on various factors, including your personal physical and mental health history. A quality treatment plan will work on all elements of your health and not focus on your addiction exclusively.
Treatment will often include counseling, medication, and support groups. A combination of treatments is often needed because drugs mess with every part of a person’s life. Addicts often need help to improve relationships, go back to work or school, and re-learn how to have fun and feel good without drugs becoming an option.
Why Is Treatment Needed?
Most people who are addicted to drugs cannot stop just because they want to stop, primarily methamphetamine. Without meth in their system, the addict will experience withdrawals and feel sick.
People with drug addiction often stop taking care of themselves and any responsibilities. Treatment is not only for getting the drug out of their system or eliminating the habit.
During treatment, addicts are taught skills and given tools to achieve success in promise-keeping in addition to building or mending relationships. They will learn to take care of themselves. Often this comes by working on improving a sleep schedule and placing a focus on eating healthy.
Those in treatment know to build a daily self-care routine that will include brushing teeth, showering, and wearing fresh clothes. Addicts also learn to fill their time with beneficial activities.
Most recovering drug users take this time to pick up a new hobby or volunteer their time on something they enjoy. The goal of building skills is to improve their self-esteem and coping mechanisms.
After Treatment & Relapse Signs
After you receive treatment for your addiction, there are still things to do.
You’ll want to talk with your healthcare providers about areas you’re still struggling with or finding triggers. Your healthcare provider will help find solutions or even suggest a change in treatment.
You’ll want to continue working with a counselor to find solutions to obstacles with your friends, family, job, and finances caused by the meth addiction.
You’ll also want to find your triggers and write them down in a journal. Motivation is anything that makes you want to go back to drugs. This can be anything from a person, place, feeling, or picture; to smell or memory. Those fighting addictions must avoid situations that bring up a desire to use drugs again.
Relapse Warning Signs
- Daydreaming of past use and finding it enjoyable
- Relationships start to breakdown
- Loss of interest in activities you find enjoyable
- Changing or Negative attitude towards treatment
- Getting together with friends who use
- Thinking you can use only once in a while without getting addicted
f you devote yourself to staying free of meth and keeping a positive attitude about your recovery, you are much less likely to relapse.
What You Can Do Today
Here are a few things you can do to begin your journey to sobriety. Start with the easy steps and work your way to the harder step. Every step you take towards a drug-free life will be a win.
- Take a shower, brush your teeth, and put on clean clothes.
- Find a trusted friend or family member who is clean and express your desire to get clean.
- Avoid your dealer’s neighborhood and places you frequent when you use it.
- Keep a journal when you notice a trigger or use it again.
- Call us today and speak to a specialist who can help you!
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