Methamphetamine (Meth) is a highly addictive and potent stimulant drug that has profound effects of the central nervous system. Known as chalk, ice, or crystal, methamphetamine comes in a white crystalline powder that is odorless, tasteless, and easily dissolves in water or alcohol. The drug is a synthetic drug that is commonly manufactured in large, illegal laboratories but can also be made in smaller laboratories based in abandoned buildings and other dwellings. While the active ingredient in methamphetamine is pseudoephedrine, which is commonly found in many cold medications, the other ingredients of meth are extremely toxic and includes phosphorus, toluene, acetone, and sulfuric acid, among others.
According to statistics in the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, there were 569,000 current users of the drug, and it was estimated that between 11 to 13 million Americans had tried meth at least once their lifetime. While it doesn’t get the coverage that drugs like heroin, prescription painkillers and marijuana receive, meth use is widespread across the country and those who are addicted to the drug experience tremendous physical and psychological problems.
If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to methamphetamine, a Florida meth addiction treatment program such as the one offered at Ocean Breeze Recovery Center can help you beat your addiction once and for all. Call Ocean Breeze Recovery Center today at 1-800-960-5341.
Meth is a powerful stimulant that has profound effects even in small doses. It can increase blood pressure and heart rate, raise alertness, cause hyperactivity, and elevate mood. However, in high doses, users risk psychosis, musculoskeletal breakdown, seizures, and brain bleeding. Meth affects the trace amine-associated receptor 1 (TAAR1) as a full agonist, which means that it binds and activates the receptor with maximum efficiency. TAAR1 is responsible for releasing “feel-good” neurotransmitters like dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin.
Dopamine, in particular, is released well above normal, healthy levels. Over a period of regular use, meth can erode dopamine receptors by constantly flooding them with the chemical. This can lead to a dulling of the pleasure response, so much so that meth becomes the only source for an addicted individual to experience pleasure outside of meth use. The degradation of the ability to properly feel joy and satisfaction is one of the factors that makes meth notoriously hard to quit.
Meth has the potential to become instantly addicting, with some users developing dependency after just one high dose. With your brain inundated with dopamine, your limbic system (the reward center) quickly learns to associate meth use with the intense positive feelings it produces. Your limbic system is designed to recognize activities that release dopamine like a healthy diet, exercise, sleep, and achieving goals. The reward center is adapted to recognize these healthy activities and to teach our brains to repeat and seek them out. Repeating healthy functions helps us to survive and thrive.
But meth hijacks the system in a powerful way.
Drugs like meth that flood the brain with dopamine trick the limbic system into teaching your brain to seek meth like it was food, sleep, or another healthy activity. The more powerful the reward response, the more your brain seeks out the source. Since meth provides an intense response, addiction can lead to seeking the drug before any other need.
Since meth is such a volatile drug, it’s not easy to hide regular use from family and friends. Addiction, in general, has some telltale signs but meth addiction, in particular, can leave some noticeable effects. The early signs of addiction can be subtler but noticing the beginning of a drug dependency in yourself or a loved one can mean seeking treatment before the problem permeates every part of your life.
Meth addiction has some specific symptoms that become more obvious the longer it’s used. Here are some of the physical symptoms of meth that can be noticeable to the user, friends, and family:
The short-term effects of methamphetamine include increased alertness and physical activity as well as a decrease in appetite. The drug can also cause a variety of cardiovascular problems including rapid heart rate, irregular heartbeat, and increased blood pressure. Additionally, short-term use can also lead to hyperthermia or an increase in body temperature. For those who take a high dosage of methamphetamine, it can lead to convulsions and can result in death, depending on the potency and any underlying health issues the user may have.
Chronic use of methamphetamine can have a significant impact on the user’s body and brain. Meth use constricts blood vessels and leads to a user’s skin appearing aged. Additionally, the damage to the tissues and blood vessels makes it difficult for the body to repair damage and meth users develop open sores and abscesses. Meth use also causes extensive damage to teeth and gums and users develop “meth mouth” in which their teeth rot and fall out due to excessive drying of tooth sockets and increased acid buildup.
Methamphetamine also significantly damages brain receptors that produce dopamine and serotonin, which are neurotransmitters which help regulate pleasure sensations. As a result, users will experience wide and volatile mood swings as well as significant bouts of depression and anxiety. Long-term use can also produce visual, auditory, and tactile hallucination as well as periods of psychosis and insomnia. Those who abuse meth have an increase in self-harming behaviors like cutting and other forms of self-mutilation.
Additionally, methamphetamine decreases a person’s libido and rational thought processes so meth users could contract STDs or get other serious injuries. Since meth use significantly suppresses appetite, severe malnutrition and weight loss are also a hallmark of addiction.
Those who are looking to quit using meth need to seek the professional help of a Florida methamphetamine treatment program as soon as possible. While the withdrawal symptoms associated with the drug are not as severe as drugs such as heroin, meth withdrawal symptoms are difficult to overcome without medical supervision. Methamphetamine “takes over” the production of dopamine in the brain, and once the drug stops being used, the brain can’t produce it on its own. As a result, users can experience an extended period of extreme depression that can be severe, to the extent that meth users will use the drug again in order to feel better.
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In addition to depression, those who are withdrawing from meth can also experience suicidal thoughts. For these reasons alone, those struggling with methamphetamine addiction need to find treatment immediately. Florida methamphetamine addiction treatment programs, such as the one offered at Ocean Breeze Recovery Center, feature a three-step approach that help will users fully address their addiction to meth. These steps are as follows:
To help minimize the discomfort and danger of withdrawal symptoms, users’ needs to complete medical detoxification in a safe, secure, and highly supervised environment. During the detox process, treatment staff may use various medication and other interventions to make the process as tolerable as possible. Staff will also perform a comprehensive evaluation to diagnose any co-occurring mental or physical illnesses that may lie at the root of the user’s addiction. The entire detox process takes place in an environment that is safe, secure, and strictly supervised.
The next phase in a Florida meth addiction treatment program is an intensive drug rehab program, which is highly structured and individualized to meet the specific needs of each client. From individual and group therapy, life and coping skills training, holistic healing, and therapeutic techniques among others, treatment staff will utilize all available treatment methods and services to help you truly address and overcome your addiction.
For added support and encouragement, Florida meth addiction treatment programs such as Ocean Breeze Recovery Center offer and highly recommend those new in recovery to attend aftercare programs such as outpatient drug rehab and/or sober living. These treatment options will help newly recovering addicted people understand the triggers and daily stressors that can lead to relapse. Additionally, those who attend aftercare programming can acquire and further refine the necessary healthy life and coping skills that are needed to deal with cravings and urges.
You may feel that your struggles with meth addiction will never end, but recovery is possible with the help from Ocean Breeze Recovery Center. Our Florida methamphetamine addiction treatment program is effective and delivered by experienced staff who will provide you the attention and around the clock care you need to achieve recovery. Call us today at 1-800-960-5341.
NIDA. (2019, May 16). Methamphetamine. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/methamphetamine
Forbes. (2012, May 23) Losing The War On Meth And Sudafed At The Same Time. Whelan, D. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidwhelan/2012/05/23/losing-the-war-on-meth-and-sudafed-at-the-same-time/#5d3a058f6887
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2015 September) Behavioral Health Trends in the United States:Results from the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Retrieved from http://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-FRR1-2014/NSDUH-FRR1-2014.pdf
Wikipedia. (n.d.) TAAR1. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TAAR1
American Psychiatric Association. (2017 January) What Is Addiction. Parekh, R. M.D. M.P.H. Retrieved from https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/addiction/what-is-addiction
NIDA. (2019, October 16). Methamphetamine. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/methamphetamine/what-are-long-term-effects-methamphetamine-misuse