If you or a loved one has struggled with an addiction to methamphetamine, you know that simply quitting is no easy task. Methamphetamine, also known as “crystal meth,” has become an increasingly popular drug of choice in the United States. According to The National Institute on Drug Abuse, an estimated 12.3 million Americans have used methamphetamine at least once in their lives.
What is Methamphetamine?
Methamphetamine, also known as “crystal meth,” “ice,” and “speed,” is a highly addictive drug that works by releasing mass amounts of dopamine throughout the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that produces an intense feeling of euphoria and is one of the main reasons why individuals that choose to use Meth get addicted. Crystal Meth has been classified as a Schedule ll drug by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and carries a hefty prison sentence if caught with a large quantity.
Methamphetamine is relatively cheap to produce, often manufactured with at-home chemicals and cold medicines in backyard labs across America. This highly addictive substance comes in a white, odorless powder or crystalline form. Methamphetamine is often confused with Amphetamine which is also a powerful stimulant. However, Meth is far more potent and longer-lasting by delivering greater amounts of the drug to the brain in shorter periods of time.
How is Methamphetamine used?
The overdose rate for Methamphetamine users has recently risen sharply, partly due to the fact that Meth is one of the most commonly used and accessible drugs in the United States today. According to the National Institutes of Health, Meth overdoses have risen more than 500% between 2011-2018 when compared to previous years.
The most common way individuals consume Methamphetamine is by smoking the drug in a glass pipe called a “stem” or “flute.” Individuals who smoke Meth will often find themselves experiencing an unpleasant side effect called “meth mouth.” This can occur due to the toxicity of the chemicals used to produce this substance, leaving users with corroded teeth and gums.
Methamphetamine can also be intravenously injected directly into the bloodstream. This is probably the riskiest way of using the drug due to the likelihood of spreading diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C.
Another option to use meth is by consuming the drug orally. This is perhaps considered the safest way to use however can still have negative side effects. Methamphetamine pills, also known as “speed,” are often combined with other substances to increase the “high.” Ingesting meth orally can take a longer period of time, usually taking 15-20 minutes to feel the effect, which is why this method is not as popular among addicts.
Warning signs of Methamphetamine use
Methamphetamine does not discriminate and addiction can happen to anyone. Using this substance can cause health complications such as disease, overdose, and even death. If you think your loved one is using Methamphetamine here are some easily detectable warning signs:
- Loss of personal appearance
- Picking at their hair or skin
- Weight loss
- Decrease in appetite
- Deprivation of sleep
- Erratic movement
- Stealing or selling possessions
- Mood Swings
Methamphetamine withdrawal symptoms
Withdrawing from methamphetamine will be different for every individual including men and women, generally lasting one to three weeks. This heavily depends on what amount and how frequently the substance was used. The first signs of withdrawal can be noticed as soon as 24 hours after the last use. Some common withdrawal symptoms are:
- Agitation and anxiety
- Suicidal ideations
- Increased appetite
- Drug cravings
- Stomach ache
Physical withdrawal symptoms typically subside during the acute withdrawal phase. Psychological symptoms can last for months and are often the most challenging part of the whole process. The potential for relapse is extremely high during this period of time and the correct medical attention should be sought out.
Treatment options for Methamphetamine addiction
If you or a loved one begins showing signs of an addiction to Methamphetamine, seeking out the correct medical treatment is extremely important for health and safety reasons. Choosing a detox program is highly recommended and should always be the initial step in the process of recovery. Here the individual will be able to successfully and safely come off the drug, going through the withdrawal process with medical staff present to help resolve any issues should they arise.
The next step after completing detox is to choose an addiction treatment program. This can come in the form of an inpatient or outpatient program, both having their unique set of benefits. Inpatient treatment programs consist of the patient checking in and living at the facility for an extended period of time, generally lasting around 30 days. This type of program will incorporate different types of therapy and counseling practices to help the individual identify healthy coping mechanisms for addiction and prevent future relapse.
Outpatient treatment programs offer more flexibility for individuals who may not be able to live at the facility but still want to receive the help necessary to fight their addiction. Outpatient programs generally take place 2-3 mornings or nights per week, lasting for 3 months. Here the individual will also receive help through a variety of therapy services and one-on-one counseling sessions. Outpatient treatment is often used as a step-down treatment option after completing an addiction program such as inpatient.
At Knoxville Recovery Center we offer a variety of treatment services, focusing on the initial stages of addiction treatment. We want to effectively prepare our clients to face addiction head-on and make sure we give them the tools necessary to do so. If you know someone struggling with an addiction, please reach out today and begin getting the help that is needed to live a life of sobriety.