Crystal Meth Addiction
Meth is an all-too-accessible, highly addictive drug made from a variety of ingredients. As a central nervous system stimulant, it produces a rush, followed by a state of agitation. The relative ease of creating the drug, which is also known as methamphetamine, is the reason why it is one of the most popular illicit substances in the United States. In some areas of the country, meth addiction outpaces the rates for both heroin and cocaine addiction. Meth addiction is a debilitating disease, but there is hope for recovery. Many people successfully quit using the drug, and there is evidence that the brain can return to a normal state after a significant period of sobriety.
Methamphetamine is a powerful type of amphetamine that comes in the form of tablets, powder, and crystals (crystal meth). Meth users experience the same ‘high’ as cocaine, but it’s longer-lasting. Meth can be ingested in powder and tablet form or it can be snorted or smoked. Meanwhile, in crystal form, the salt base is removed and it is smoked like crack cocaine.
Methamphetamine was first synthesized in Japan in the 1880s for the treatment of asthma. During World War II, soldiers from Germany, Britain and other countries would take it to stay awake. In medicine, it is used to treat narcolepsy and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, but the spread of abuse has led meth to be reclassified as a Class-A drug, due to its dangerous side effects.
What is Meth Addiction?
Methamphetamine is a central nervous system stimulant made from various forms of amphetamine — a common element in various over-the-counter medications. Methamphetamine is listed in the same drug class as cocaine, operating as both a stimulant and anorectic, which is an appetite suppressant. Originally prescribed as a decongestant, antidepressant and weight loss aid, methamphetamine was once widely and legally available in tablet and injectable forms. A large population abused these products for their stimulant effects. After wide popularity as a pharmaceutical in the 1960s, meth became classified as a schedule II substance under the Controlled Substance Act in 1971 and addiction to the drug significantly decreased. Resurging in the 1980s, meth became popular again as a street drug. Methamphetamine remained popular in these same circumstances up to this day.
Currently, there is only one prescription methamphetamine drug on the market known as Desoxyn. It is used to treat obesity and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. The vast majority of methamphetamine distribution comes from illegal laboratories and imports.The key ingredient in meth is typically the stimulant ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, which is found in some common medications. The product is “cooked” in a “laboratory” — commonly trailers or remotely located residential homes — and made into a consumable form. Meth labs are notoriously dangerous because the byproducts of the drug’s creation process (gas and spillage) are toxic and combustible. The two most common names for methamphetamine — meth and crystal meth — correspond respectively with its two popular forms: powder and rock. Meth is a crystalline powder. It is most commonly white, though it can also be yellow, pink, or brown. It is odorless, bitter and can be dissolved in liquid. It’s most commonly consumed via smoking, snorting or injection.
In some cases, it is compressed into a pill. Crystal meth is clear or blue and takes the shape of coarse crystals. These crystals are commonly said to resemble ice. The rock form of methamphetamine is usually smoked.Many drug dealers “cut” methamphetamine with other substances to sell less of the actual drug for the same price and fetch a greater profit margin. These additional substances are often common household substances such as salt, sugar and talcum powder. In some cases, methamphetamine is cut with prescription medications, ranging from antidepressants to laxatives. These additives can enhance or alter the effect of the drug in a user’s system. After the excessive use of meth enters the body on countless occasions, the body becomes accustomed to the effects of the drug and it becomes the new normal.
Street slang for Meth addiction
Over the years, meth has been called many names, depending on how it’s ingested. Some of the nicknames for meth include:
- Poor man’s coke
- Redneck cocaine
- LA Glass
- Ice cream
- Go fast
- Scooby Snax
- Cotton Candy
- Rocket fuel
When meth is combined with other illicit drugs, the name changes to include:
- Biker coffee – meth and coffee
- Shabu – coke and meth
- Party and play – meth and ecstasy
- Mexican speedballs – meth and crack
- The five-way – heroin, Rohypnol, methamphetamine, cocaine, alcohol
When the ingredient is adjusted the name changes to:
- Soap dope- meth with pink tint
- Lemon drop – meth with yellowish tint
- Christmas tree meth/holiday meth – meth with green tint
Why is Meth Addictive?
Meth is three times as powerful as cocaine and is among the most difficult drugs to permanently quit. It triggers dependency faster than a majority of other illicit substances. Methamphetamine forces the brain to release an unnatural amount of dopamine at a given time, as well as norepinephrine, also known as adrenaline. The result is a rush, followed by a high. This chemical combination deeply affects the brain’s limbic system, which is responsible for emotion and memory. Any consistent use of the drug begins to rewire the decision-making centers of the brain. The first few times a person gets high, the decision is a conscious choice made in the prefrontal cortex of the brain. After that, the decision moves to the hindbrain — the area responsible for non-voluntary action such as blinking and breathing.
Methamphetamine use becomes something that the brain believes it must do to stay alive. It becomes a survival mechanism. It is possible for the brain to return to a normal state when methamphetamine use feels voluntary, but this often takes several years of sobriety to achieve. While you may not become addicted to meth after one use, the drug does serve as an enormous temptation after just a single dose. The powerful euphoria of a methamphetamine high will often draw people back to the drug. After this, the brain’s wiring is likely to change and dosing becomes something that no longer feels voluntary. The human brain becomes dependent on meth in an extremely short amount of time.
People who use meth will often spiral into something called a binge, in which they become hyperactive and repeatedly dose with methamphetamine in hopes of maintaining the initial, euphoric high. This uncontrolled drug use will often decrease its potency, however, making achieving the nigh impossible. Eventually, a user will stop experiencing a high and “tweaking” begins. While tweaking, a user feels emptiness and unease. Many people testify to feeling a loss of identity during this time. It is also common for users to experience hallucinations and extreme itchiness. Addicts at this stage are at high risk for self-harm.
Dangers of Meth Addiction
Eventually, if a person continues to use methamphetamine, the dopamine receptors in their brain are destroyed. This makes it impossible for them to experience a high, or even to perceive regular levels of pleasure. If a person has used meth more than once and wants to use it again, they may be well on their way to developing a meth addiction. Meth addiction is a treatable condition. If you or someone you love is addicted to meth or crystal meth, your best shot at overcoming this disease is meth addiction rehabilitation. Over time, those who are addicted are likely to experience a variety of side effects. The following is a list of some of the short-term dangers of meth addiction:
- Brief surge of energy (euphoria)
- Increased blood pressure and respiration rate
Some of the long-term dangers of meth addiction include:
- Prolonged anxiety
- Weakened immune system
- Brain damage
- Skin infections
- Heart infections
Another danger of addiction and perhaps the most well-known side effect is “meth mouth.” Meth mouth involves severe tooth decay, tooth loss, tooth fracture, acid erosion and a number of other problems of the teeth and gums. Meth addiction can certainly take a toll on the body and mind. The best way to treat it is to prevent it from developing, and the best way to prevent it from developing is to simply never start using the drug. Is meth addictive? It is, but the good news is, hundreds of rehab centers all over the country offer programs to treat addictions.
Who Abuses Meth?
Meth is quite popular in rural areas. Some people believe that this is because many of its ingredients can be found in agricultural products such as fertilizer. In general, research shows rural areas are more prone to drug abuse and addiction overall. For example, these areas typically have the highest rates of binge drinking and driving under the influence. Some experts suggest that these areas are predisposed to substance abuse. Methamphetamine is also quite popular in suburban areas.
Signs and Symptoms of Meth Addictions
An addiction to meth can cause various side effects that depend on each person’s chemical makeup and the severity of the addiction. Users may experience different physical and psychological symptoms such as:
- Sudden weight loss
- Dilated pupils
- Rotting teeth
- Bad breath
- Premature aging of the skin
- Irregular breathing patterns
Easiest way to spot a meth user
If you suspect a family member or loved one is using meth, there are several ways to spot a user. Common signs to look out for include:
- Rapid eye movement
- Scratching at skin
- Weight loss
- Mood swings
- Meth mouth
- Dilated pupils
- Rapid breathing
- Intense physical activity
Teen meth addiction
While adults who are more exposed know the risk of meth addiction and how it ruins lives, many teens may not be fully aware of the danger. Drug abuse has severe consequences in young people. Research shows some teens develop Alzheimer-like symptoms and severe brain damage.
Teenagers exhibit the same signs as adults, but their brains are still growing, so the psychological effects are more pronounced. They also expose themselves to the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B and C and may entice their friends to join them in substance abuse. If you suspect your teenager is abusing meth, it is time to seek help.
Seven undeniable signs your teen is abusing meth
In the past, meth was the drug of choice for poor people or low-income earners seeking the next ‘high’, but teenagers have since been caught in its grip. Meth is highly addictive and there are several signs parents should look out for:
Meth Mouth: When teenagers take meth, it causes the mouth to dry out, because there is no saliva to clean the teeth. Meth users sometimes tweak for days without bathing or brushing their teeth, which leads to tooth decay. You’ll also notice lip burns caused by smoking through a metal pipe or hot glass.
Weight loss: Meth is a stimulant that speeds up the CNS and was used in the past to help people diet. Meth users lose weight fast. They have no appetite or interest in food.
Memory loss: Meth is made from chemicals and toxic substances that distort normal brain functions. Young people who start using as early as 15-16 years old may experience memory loss.
Tweaking: The cycle of abuse is common among meth users. Teenagers can go up to a week without sleep, surviving on meth until they’re unable to use more or simply run out of supply. The drug doesn’t provide the same high after some time, which leads to increased dosage and more frequent usage. When teens are tweaking, their voice quivers, they become violent and their body jerks uncontrollably.
Low mental function: Meth affects the brain. Teens using meth have trouble concentrating, doing homework or remembering things.
Lack of interest to socialise: Meth users lose interest in crowds, friends, family gatherings and social functions.
Mood swings: The mood shifts when they’re under the influence or agitated, because they need the next high.
Meth use and psychosis
Meth users who engage in long drug binges often experience meth-induced psychosis where they suffer delusions, aggressive behaviour and paranoia. According to the American Psychiatric Associate, psychosis happens when you experience delusions and hallucinations.
Hallucination distorts your sense of reality, seeing and hearing things that aren’t there. Meanwhile, tactile hallucinations make you feel like there’s something under your skin. There’s also gustatory hallucinations that are false perceptions of taste. You might be convinced that someone has poisoned your food. Some meth users smell things that are unpleasant, such as a rotting brain.
Meth delusions (which are another part of psychosis) are false personal beliefs. These include:
- Persecution – fear of being harmed or believing someone is out to get you
- Somatic-where the patient believes their body is changing
- Control- thinking someone is brainwashing you
- Grandeur – believing you’re more special than others
Meth usage and the central nervous system
Meth is a neurotoxic stimulant that damages brain cells. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, meth is a highly addictive substance with far-reaching psychoactive effects. Meth is made with toxic substances like battery acid, antifreeze and drain cleaner. It is highly volatile, combustible to manufacture and dangerous to consume.
Continued meth use leads to neuronal death in areas like the striatum, hippocampus, cerebellum, subcortical structures, frontal and prefrontal cortex and the parietal cortex. Meth use prevents CNS from regenerating, while chronic use leads to brain damage caused by neuronal death.
The short-term side effects of meth abuse
Meth adversely affects the brain, neurotransmitters and major organs of the body. Even young ones in the womb of pregnant meth users are not spared and some carry the scars into adulthood.
Short-term effects of meth abuse include:
- Zero appetite for food
- Feeling of intense pleasure and euphoria
- Increased blood pressure
- Panic and paranoia
- Erratic/violent behaviour
- Seizures and convulsions
- Increased wakefulness
The long-term side effects of meth abuse
The major long-term effect of meth usage is addiction. Chronic abusers may experience the following effects:
- Mood disturbances
- Significant anxiety
- Psychotic symptoms that lasts for month and, sometimes years, such as auditory and visual hallucination
- Brain damage
- Risk of infectious disease such as HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis B and C
- Destruction of nose tissues
- Damage to lung, liver and kidney
- Permanent damage to blood vessels of brain and heart
Choosing the Best Crystal Meth Addiction Rehab Program
Crystal meth addiction is difficult to kick because it stimulates the reward centers of the brain. Once away from the drug, patients can experience extreme depression. However, there are many crystal meth rehabilitation centers throughout the country, and each one is unique. Anyone seeking help should carefully choose the best center that fits their needs and budget. Crystal meth addicts are quick to relapse without a support system or help from a program, so you need to do your research and find a treatment center that will keep you clean and sober. According to the National Survey on Drug Abuse, more than 10.4 million people have tried meth.
"Once away from the drug, patients can experience extreme depression."
Inpatient Versus Outpatient Facilities
There are two primary types of facilities to treat crystal meth addiction: inpatient and outpatient. Outpatient facilities allow people to reside at home and come to the treatment center on a regular basis. Inpatient services provide a place to live and 24-hour support and treatment on the grounds of the crystal meth rehab facility. Given the intense withdrawal symptoms associated with crystal meth and the frequency of relapse among addicts, an inpatient facility is typically the best for recovering addicts.
Do I Need a Residential Facility?
A residential facility can be difficult to use because, for that period of time, you will not be working, going to school, or fulfilling your day-to-day obligations. Instead, you will be 100 percent focused on treating your addiction. You may not need a residential facility if you are an infrequent drug user. In that case, an outpatient clinic may be right for you. If you have an addiction that causes withdrawal when you go off the drug, if you go to extremes to get the drug or if it's negatively impacting your life, then it might be best to use a residential facility.
Over time, your body becomes tolerant of the drug and needs more of it to get the same high. The more crystal meth you take, the more you need. This is because over time your body becomes dependent on the drug to function properly. If you are at this level, then you need a residential facility for the best results in your recovery.
Are Crystal Meth Rehab Programs Confidential?
Rehab programs are very confidential and required to follow the same Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act regulations as hospitals. Attending a residential treatment center will require an extended absence from work, so you may need to consider how you will handle that and what you will say to your employer.
28- or 30-Day Addiction Rehab Program
If you or someone you love is having a hard time quitting drinking or abstaining from drug use, you might want to consider a 28-day or 30-day drug rehab. One-month rehab centers give you a chance to get and stay clean without requiring a long-term commitment.
Many crystal meth treatment facilities use licensed doctors and are covered by insurance plans. If you want a private room, then you may have to pay extra, but private rooms are often available. Contact us to get help. It is not too late.
How Long Does Inpatient Crystal Meth Rehabilitation Last?
The length of time for rehabilitation depends on the financial ability of the patient and the difficulty of kicking the crystal meth habit. Many patients start out on a one-month program and then go to an outpatient program for further treatment. For more severe cases in which the patient may require significant medical and psychological help, inpatient treatment can last two to three months. You can spend even more time at the facility if the environment you will return to will be detrimental to your recoveries, such as an abusive home or one in which there are negative influences.
What Happens During Treatment?
Treatment for crystal meth addiction generally follows a set pattern:
- Taking the patient's medical and addiction history. This includes a description of how often and for how long the patient has been taking the drug, as well as factors that may have led to addiction.
- The patient goes through detoxification. During this period, a patient no longer has access to the drug and will go through several days of withdrawal under the supervision of the clinic.
- Therapy for medical and psychological issues to get to the root of the addiction. This includes one-on-one therapy as well as group therapy.
- Aftercare, usually outpatient, for follow-up counseling and support.
Meth treatment options
The two main treatment options for drug rehabilitation and meth treatment are therapy and pharmacology. There is no approved medication for meth treatment, but the combination of counselling, therapy and medical detox helps rehabilitate meth addicts.
Detox is completed under medical supervision to ensure a patient is comfortable and safe during the process. Aftercare treatment will consist of group counselling, individual therapy sessions and other CBT based programmes to help achieve sobriety.
Medications that may help your meth addiction recovery efforts
While there is no pharmacology therapy with renowned efficacy, some drugs have shown promise in managing symptoms and curbing dependency and craving. They include:
- Dopamine d2 partial agonists
- Gaba agents
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor
Meth rehab treatment process
Intake and assessment: At this stage, a medical professional determines if the rehab centre is a good fit for your meth addiction. They consider factors like age, sex, abuse history, disorders and other details.
Detox: After intake, you start the detox process where your body is cleansed of meth.
Rehabilitation: The work of helping you recover from meth addiction happens in rehab. You’ll work with counsellors and therapists to overcome your addiction.
Recovery and aftercare: A therapist works with you to uncover factors that led you to drug abuse and teaches you to develop positive thoughts and behaviours that helps you to stay sober post-rehab.
Meth detox treatment process
Meth detox is the first step to recovery. Under the supervision of medical professionals, your detox lasts three to seven days, depending on your length of use. Long-term users might experience psychosis and acute withdrawal symptoms. During detox, a medical doctor prescribes medication to treat insomnia, muscle relaxants and intravenous fluids to help with dehydration and muscle spasms.
Withdrawal symptoms to expect during detox include fatigue, depression, aggressiveness, anxiety and irritability. Some recovering addicts sleep for hours or days during detox, because they are completely exhausted from the crash.
Paying for Crystal Meth Addiction Treatment
Crystal meth rehabilitation centers are not inexpensive, and luxury and top-rates facilities will cost more. There are state-supported services that cost less, but the treatment isn't as extensive. Private facilities can cost upwards of $5,000, depending on the services provided. Many insurance providers will pay for a portion of the fee for inpatient treatment facilities, but there is usually a limit.
Should I Travel or Stay at Home?
If you have a strong positive support system at home, then there is no reason why you shouldn't be able to go to a treatment center near where you live. If that support system isn't there or if there are too many negative influences, then traveling out of state may give you a better chance at recovery.
I Want to Find an Executive or Luxury Rehab Center
If executive circumstances have been a stumbling block you, your husband or your wife from getting care for a narcotic or prescription drug problem or behavioral addiction, executive rehab facilities can be invaluable. Coupling excellent substance abuse and behavior addiction treatments with the flexibility of occasional computer and phone access, an executive can get clean and sober away from the spotlight.
Many fine narcotic, prescription drug or behavioral addiction treatment facilities provide the excellent amenities one would only expect in America's finest hotels, with your success and well-being being the biggest goals. From fine linens and gym facilities to 5-star chef-prepared meals and private rooms, you can get the top narcotic, prescription drug or behavior addiction treatment for yourself, your husband or your wife while enjoying the surroundings. If you need a hand in finding excellent luxury treatment centers for Crystal Meth addiction, dial our toll-free hotline as soon as you're able.
When treatment is over, patients can go back to their homes and lives, but they will still periodically check in with an outpatient service. There are also sober living facilities that provide housing for recovering addicts. In these environments, you will be surrounded by people in a similar situation that will act as a support system. You will also be subject to a strict curfew and expected to follow various rules.
Are You Ready for a Crystal Meth Rehabilitation Center?
Before you choose an inpatient rehab center, you need to ask yourself if you are ready. If an addict is going to get better, then he needs to want to get better. If you aren't willing to follow the rules or aren't committed to recovery, then it isn't going to work.
Further Reading and Information
If you or a loved one needs to kick crystal meth addiction, then there are many aspects of treatment that you can learn more about before choosing an inpatient rehab clinic. There are many different treatment options and philosophies. An addict who does not recognize a need for treatment may need an intervention by family members to push him or her toward recovery. You can learn more about treatment and detoxification procedures, residential versus outpatient clinics and faith-based versus traditional treatment methods.
It's Not Too Late!
If you are reading this, then it isn't too late to turn your life around and eliminate crystal meth addiction. If you are still breathing, then you still have an opportunity to create a better life for yourself.
For more information, call us for all the latest information on treatment services.
‘Breaking Bad’: When Pop Culture Takes on the Drug Trade https://www.elementsbehavioralhealth.com/addiction/breaking-bad-when-pop-culture-takes-on-the-drug-trade/
Concurrent Alcohol and Meth Abuse
A WORLDWIDE EPIDEMIC OF ADDICTION https://www.drugfreeworld.org/drugfacts/crystalmeth/a-worldwide-epidemic-of-addiction.html
What is MDMA? www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/mdma-ecstasymolly
What is methamphetamine? www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/methamphetamine