Understanding Meth Addiction
Methamphetamine, or meth, is a highly addictive stimulant that is most often used as a recreational drug. Chronic meth use can lead to a range of harmful long-term side effects, such as damage to the heart and brain. Meth addiction can be difficult to overcome due to the drug’s severe withdrawal symptoms. To learn more about methamphetamine, read on for more information.
What Is Meth Addiction?
Methamphetamine is a powerful drug that stimulates the central nervous system, increasing heart rate and blood pressure, suppressing appetite and fatigue, and creating an intense euphoria.
Because of its crystal-like form, this substance is often referred to as crystal meth.
Crystal meth is highly addictive because it releases large amounts of dopamine in the brain’s reward areas. The effects of meth addiction can be devastating on both the mind and body and has been linked to several health problems, including social anxiety, psychosis, aggressive behavior, brain damage, and death.
Meth Addiction Statistics
According to the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health:1
- 0.9%, or 2.6 million, people aged twelve and older reported using methamphetamine in the past twelve months.
- 0.6%, or 1.5 million, people aged twelve and older had a methamphetamine use disorder in the past twelve months.
According to the 2021 Monitoring the Future Survey:1
- Around 0.2% of eighth graders, 0.2% of tenth graders, and 0.2% of twelfth graders reported using methamphetamine in the past twelve months.
How Do People Use Meth?
Meth can be taken orally, snorted through the nose, injected, or smoked by heating it on aluminum foil and inhaling the resulting fumes. Smoking or injecting meth causes an immediate and intense rush as the drug quickly enters the bloodstream and brain. The rush lasts only a few minutes and is described as extremely pleasurable. Injecting meth puts the person at high risk of HIV, hepatitis C, and hepatitis B. Snorting or taking meth orally produces a high but not an intense rush.
Causes Of Meth Addiction
One of the biggest factors contributing to crystal meth addiction is environmental factors. For example, people who live in areas where the drug is easily available are at higher risk of developing an addiction. Moreover, people who are part of a family or a social circle in which addiction is a normal part of life may see drug abuse as an appropriate way to solve their problems.
Addiction is believed to run in families. For instance, people who have a close family member, such as a parent or sibling with a history of addiction, are more prone to develop an addiction themselves.
People dealing with unemployment, debt, and poverty are more likely to have an addiction than financially secure people. A 2013 study by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 17% of unemployed workers have a substance use disorder, compared with 9% of full-time workers.2
Some of the most common risk factors that contribute to developing a meth addiction include:
- Access to methamphetamine
- Lack of parental supervision
- Peer pressure
- Genetic predisposition to addiction
- Family history of drug addiction
- Low socioeconomic status
- Undiagnosed mental illness
Some physical symptoms of meth use can include:
- Weight loss
- Skin problems, such as acne, sores, or puncture wounds
- Rotting teeth
- Sexual dysfunction
- Shaking and twitchiness
- Intense scratching
- Obsessive-compulsive behaviors
- Memory loss
- Meth-induced psychosis
- Suicidal thoughts
Behavioral symptoms of meth use may include:3
- Unusual euphoria
- Aggression and violence
- Auditory and visual hallucinations
- Less need for sleep
- Speaking fast and moving between topics quickly
- Less need for food
- Unable to sit still
Side Effects of Meth Addiction
Many different side effects result from short-term and long-term meth addiction. As the addiction progresses and the duration elongates, the side effects worsen and increase in severity.
Short-Term Side Effects
The most common short-term side meth addiction effects include:
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased body temperature
- Faster breathing
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Loss of appetite
- Erratic sleep patterns
- Violent behavior
Long-Term Side Effects
Chronic meth use can lead to a range of damaging, long-term meth addiction effects, such as:4
- Damage to the heart and brain
- Heart attack
- Liver, kidney, and lung damage
- Risk of developing a mental health illness, such as anxiety and depression
- Psychotic symptoms, such as paranoia, hallucinations, mood disturbances, delusions, or violent behavior
- Intense itching
- Premature osteoporosis
- Severe dental problems
Meth Addiction Treatment
Crystal meth addiction is a chronic, relapsing medical condition that requires an individualized treatment plan. Several different options are available for those seeking help for their addiction, including medical detox, behavioral therapies, and inpatient treatment.
Methamphetamine withdrawal is an unpleasant experience, with symptoms ranging from insomnia and anxiety to depression and intense cravings. A methamphetamine detox is a recommended first step in meth addiction treatment. It typically involves a period in a supervised rehabilitation facility, but the length of time varies for each person depending on several factors, such as the severity and duration of the addiction. Meth addiction medications have been proven effective in helping people succeed in long-term recovery.
The best treatment for meth addiction is behavioral therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral, contingency management interventions, and the Matrix Model.
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy: Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that helps individuals explore their thoughts and behaviors. The goal of CBT is not to change the content of one’s thoughts but rather to challenge and correct negative thought patterns to improve mental health.
- Contingency Management Interventions: Contingency management interventions are evidence-based interventions for recovering addicts. One of the most popular types of contingency management interventions is the use of vouchers or incentives in exchange for sobriety, such as cash and prizes.
- The Matrix Model: The Matrix Model is an integrative and holistic approach to addiction treatment that includes behavioral therapy, individual counseling, family sessions, trauma-informed care, and 12-step program participation.
Get Help Now at Concise Recovery Center
If you or a loved one is ready to seek meth addiction treatment but unsure where to begin or how to decide which type of rehab is best for you, contact us at Concise Recovery. Let our admissions team help you take the first steps towards a future free from addiction.