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Methamphetamine Addiction

Methamphetamine Addiction

Addiction is a chronic, relapsing disease of the brain that is characterized by compulsive drug-seeking behaviors. Someone who is addicted to a drug as powerful as methamphetamine can quickly find themselves physically dependent on this substance. As that physical dependence grows, so does the psychological dependence, leading to full-blown meth addiction. One of the most common drugs that people can get quickly addicted to is meth. Methamphetamine addiction is when an individual is physically and/or mentally addicted to the substance methamphetamine. Methamphetamine is long lasting and toxic to dopamine nerve terminals in the central nervous system. 

Meth comes in white powder form and can be snorted, injected, or smoked as well as taken orally. Meth is most popular in small towns and rural communities, as its main ingredients can be purchased from pharmacies and home repair stores and it can be cooked up in any environment where a stove is present. Because this drug is relatively cheap and easy to make, it remains one of the most abused substances in the world.

Effects of Meth Addiction

When under the influence of meth, a person can experience intense feelings of power, ability, confidence, energy, excitement and giddiness. Feelings of grandiosity aren’t uncommon. Appetite is decreased and weight loss is not only common but also classic, with severely addicted users often struggling to maintain a healthy weight. Malnutrition is common, as meth not only destroys appetite, but it also disturbs the absorption of nutrients. Meth addicts can lose their teeth and experience severe skeletal issues as a result of lack of calcium and other nutrients necessary for good bone health. 

Methamphetamine can have serious health implications, especially as this type of use can quickly lead to a long term and heavy addiction. Some of the most harmful effect of meth addiction can include, but are not limited to, the following:

• Lowering your immune system making you more susceptible to illness
• Heightened blood pressure which can lead to heart attack and stroke
• Collapsed veins if intravenously using meth
Contraction of blood-borne diseases such as HIV and hepatitis
• Development of eating disorders
Increased risk for developing Parkinson’s disease

The effects that a person experiences as a result of their meth use is usually tied to the severity of their addiction. The more severe the addiction, the more destructive the effects.

Methamphetamine Withdrawal

Methamphetamine withdrawal symptoms develop when a person dependent on meth abruptly stops their use. When there is prolonged, heavy use, it is normal for the body to become dependent on a substance. The mind and body eventually change to support the consistent presence of meth. Therefore, when meth is no longer being abused, the body reacts through uncomfortable and in some cases debilitating withdrawal symptoms. 

Withdrawal symptoms associated with meth most commonly consist of the following:

• Depression
• Anxiety
• Extreme exhaustion
• Clouded Cognition
• Agitation
• Suicidal Thoughts
• Increased Appetite
• Gastrointestinal issues
• Vivid dreams
• Tremors
• Heart palpitations
• Tremors
• Paranoia
• Strong cravings

The severity of withdrawal symptoms will depend on the length of time and the amount of meth that was being abused. Usually, the more intense the meth addiction, the more intense with withdrawal symptoms tend to be.

Methamphetamine withdrawal symptoms can last for several weeks. Because of how distressing these symptoms can be, it is highly recommended to seek professional treatment for meth addiction. Professional treatment can offer the support individuals need to get through these withdrawal symptoms safely and effectively so that true recovery can begin.

Methamphetamine Addiction Treatment 

Recovery from a methamphetamine addiction often begins with detox because a vast majority of individuals develop a dependence to it. During this time, the individual stops this meth consumption and the body works to clear it from the system. This is when withdrawal symptoms start developing, which can require professional treatment if they become too much to self-manage. 

Although methamphetamine withdrawal generally is not life threatening, it can be uncomfortable and distressing. It can be so overwhelming that a person may start abusing meth just to relieve the symptoms. Detox alone, however,  is not a one-stop-shop. It takes a comprehensive approach to addiction treatment in order to help treat meth addiction. There are treatment centers available that offer detox services as well as provide programming to help those addicted to meth to implement various methods to fully end their.. The combination of detox services and therapy allows  these programs to target the root of the individual’s use in an effort to develop a solution. Long-term treatment centers can provide the knowledge and skills needed to deal with cravings and emotional stressors without using again.

Therapy 

When exposed to intensive group therapies and individual therapies that are aimed to promote the behavioral changes needed to remain abstinent, prevent relapse, and establish a full lifestyle change over a 16 week period, methamphetamine users have proven to benefit greatly. Recovery is not just based around stopping active use, but also about making a full change and improving one’s future. By setting up long-term goals in therapy, a meth addict can zone in and focus on overcoming the challenges presented to them by their addiction.

Medication

There are currently no medications approved for methamphetamine addiction treatment, however a recent clinical trial revealed that the antidepressant bupropion, marketed as Wellbutrin, can be effective in reducing methamphetamine abuse in lo w/moderate users. With a more novel approach, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has made development of such medications a high priority. This includes potentially developing medication that would minimize cravings by blocking the effects of meth. Medication can play a significant role during the detox process, as medical professionals can supply medications that help to soothe symptoms such as sleeplessness, gastrointestinal discomfort, and anxiety.