Meth Addiction and Abuse

What is Meth?

One of the most dangerous drugs currently being used is meth. The drug forces the brain to release dopamine. This is often referred to as a pleasure chemical. The power of the drug often results in the user forming an immediate habit. Eventually, the brain’s dopamine receptors are destroyed. Meth becomes the only way the user can experience pleasure. 

meth addiction

The drug takes over the life, time, focus, energy, and resources of the user. Constant use results in less importance being placed on family, friends, and obligations. If the individual continues using meth, the result can be permanent cognitive damage. Although rehabilitation and treatment are critical, once permanent damage has occurred, there is no way it can be reversed.

Addiction and Abuse

To help someone addicted to meth, you need to understand how they think and feel and the side effects. The drug is a stimulant, resulting in fidgety behavior such as the feeling of bugs on the skin. The itching sensation causes addicts to scratch continually. The result is sores and scabs on both the face and body. Women use meth to lose weight by suppressing their appetite. This causes deterioration of the woman’s physical appearance.

Despite the indications of a specific addition to meth, the feeling and thoughts of the user are similar to addictions to other drugs. Drug addicts are only concerned with finding their next fix. Cravings result from the reaction of the brain to the specific drug. Addicts will do anything to obtain more meth. This is the reason addicts steal, cheat, and lie. An addict will participate in illegal actions to acquire more. They do not see the pain caused to the people in their lives.

An addict will lie, manipulate, and mislead their friends and family. Caring and loving behavior can transform into manipulations due to drug use. Your love and concern will be turned against you without the user having any idea what they are doing. An addict will plead and beg you for money to purchase more drugs. They will make you promises they know they are not going to keep.

Once you realize you are being manipulated and why, the best way to help your loved one is by helping them receive treatment. The user will be unable to think of anything but meth until they are in the process of recovery. If you are addicted to meth or have become aware that a friend or a family member has become addicted, the only viable solution is obtaining professional help. 

Symptoms and Warning Signs

Meth has a physical and psychological impact on the body. This is one of the reasons the drug is so dangerous. The brain and body of the user are affected. Highly visible warning signs and symptoms reveal this. The first sign of addiction is when the user loses interest in areas of their life previously important. Obtaining and using meth will come before a career, relationship, or hobby.

The user may try to hide their addiction in the beginning. The longer they use meth, the more important the drug will become. The drug chemically changes the way the addict feels and thinks. This turns recreational drug use into a priority. There are certain physical and behavioral symptoms of meth addiction you can look for. The most common signs include:

  • Paranoia
  • Erratic sleeping habits
  • Decreased appetite
  • Erratic sleeping habits
  • Skin sores
  • Hyperactivity
  • Rotting teeth
  • Agitation
  • Mood swings or outbursts
  • Dilated pupils
  • Extensive weight loss
  • Rapid eye movement
  • Jerky movements, facial tics, and twitching
  • Burns generally on the fingers or lips

One of the most common symptoms of using meth is called tweaking. This period of insomnia and anxiety usually lasts between three and 15 days. When the addict finishes a drug binge, they are sometimes unable to achieve a high or rush. This results in tweaking. This can lead to side effects, including confusion, irritability, and paranoia, due to desperation to receive the rush.

Tweaking due to meth can cause your loved one to lash out with violent behavior or have hallucinations. Another sign is referred to as the crash plane. During this time, the user’s body does not have access to the dopamine provided by the meth. This results in severe exhaustion. This can continue for between one and three days. The user will experience depression, intense cravings for meth, and sleep for long periods.

Treatment and Rehab

There are two basic types of treatments for addiction or drug abuse. These are therapy or the approval of prescription medications called pharmacology. The FDA has not approved any medications for meth addiction or abuse at this time. No medications are currently available capable of counteracting the side effects, the potential for addiction, or helping users remain abstinent from meth.

Research and experiments are currently being conducted on rats for blocking the administration of meth. There is also another approach currently being reviewed. Antibody injections or a vaccine may be able to neutralize the meth in the blood. This can potentially eliminate or decrease the effect of the drug on the brain. The amount of funding devoted to this area shows pharmacology may hold the answer for meth abuse in the future. 

The majority of treatments for addicts start with medical detox. This is when the drug is gradually removed from the body of the user. This process is supervised by medical professionals to make sure the user remains both comfortable and safe during the entire process. Individuals with meth addictions are usually treated with behavioral therapy after detox. This has shown to help the individual recover.

Withdrawal and Detox

There is no specific amount of time necessary for going through withdrawal. There are variations according to each individual. In most cases, the acute withdrawal phase peaks around the second or third day after the addict last used meth. The phase eases after approximately seven days. The psychological symptoms, including agitation, sleep issues, mood swings, and drug cravings, can persist for as long as a year.

There is a general timeline of symptoms for meth withdrawal. This is as follows. 

First 48 Hours: This is referred to as the crash. This begins within 24 hours after the individual has stopped using the drug. After a period of 24 to 48 hours, the symptoms include a sharp drop in cognitive function and energy levels, sweating, abdominal cramping, and nausea.

Days three through 10: Withdrawal symptoms generally increase during this period. The body tries to make adjustments necessary without meth. The addict will typically experience extreme fatigue, anxiety, and severe depression. Some users experience lingering aches in the muscles, shaking, and an intense craving for the drug.

Days 14 through 20: The withdrawal symptoms usually remain between two and three weeks. By the end of the second week, the majority of physical symptoms have started to subside. The user may still experience intense cravings for the drug. Depression and fatigue are common during this time. 

After 30 Days: By this time, the worst of the withdrawal is over. As time passes, any symptoms remaining will fade. Psychological symptoms, including anxiety and depression, may remain for several months prior to subsiding.

The effect of meth can last between eight and 24 hours. This is dependent on how the drug was administered, such as oral or IV, the body chemistry of the individual, how much of the drug was used, and the function of the liver and kidneys. The half-life is nine to 24 hours. After this time, the meth remaining in the user’s blood is decreased by half.