Methamphetamine or “meth” is an extremely addictive stimulant drug. The stimulants are a broad category of drugs that include substances like cocaine and Ritalin. Stimulants are sometimes referred to as “uppers” because they increase feelings of alertness, attention, and energy 1. Addiction occurs when a person demonstrates compulsive drug-seeking and drug-using behaviors, often to the point where the time spent obtaining and using the drug interferes with their everyday life and impacts their ability to function. It’s important to understand the following information about methamphetamine:
- Methamphetamine abuse.
- Rehab for methamphetamine addiction.
- Price of addiction treatment.
- Paying for meth abuse treatment.
- Recognizing methamphetamine addiction.
- Why do people become addicted?
- Long-term consequences of methamphetamine abuse.
- Get Help for Methamphetamine Addiction Today
We examined the various ingredients commonly found in meth and researched their symptoms and side effects.
Methamphetamine is found in a variety of forms. One common form is crystal meth, which is a crystalline solid that is smoked in a glass pipe. Meth can also appear as a powder or pill form and can be ingested orally, snorted as a powder, or dissolved in water and injected 2.
Meth causes a flood of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain 3. Dopamine is a reinforcing brain chemical that is involved in reward, pleasure, and motivation 3. The surge of dopamine levels is in part responsible for the euphoric “rush” reported by methamphetamine users, particularly those who snort or smoke it the stimulant. But this intense high usually subsides fairly quickly, resulting in a cycle of binging and crashing, in which the users repeatedly use meth in order to avoid the “comedown” or maintain the high 3.
As the brand Desoxyn, pharmaceutical methamphetamine can be used to manage the symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), however, it is increasingly rarely prescribed in the medical community. It is a Schedule II drug, which means that it is federally controlled, has a high potential for abuse, and is only available through prescription 3. Despite its high potential for abuse and addiction, meth use declined in 2012 compared to previous years and continued to follow a downward spiral of use across the previous decade. 4
Rehab for Methamphetamine Addiction
It is possible to regain control of your life.Methamphetamine addiction is treatable—it is possible to regain control of your life. While some people try to quit on their own, it’s not an easy undertaking and it’s can be beneficial to seek treatment from a recovery program.
Treatment programs can be very effective in helping people obtain and maintain sobriety because they may offer many forms of care and support. While not every treatment program will share the same philosophy or offer the same interventions, some services may include:
- Intake evaluation to assess your meth use and mental health status.
- Supervised medical detox to help you gradually rid yourself of the drug’s toxic influence.
- Individual therapy and group counseling.
- The provision of medication—and other forms of medical care if needed—to help you deal with any underlying medical or psychological problems.
- Psychiatric care to help you address issues that may lie beneath your addiction.
- Aftercare planning, which can set you up with ongoing treatment once you complete the recovery program.
There are many types of rehab options to choose from. The treatment program that will work best for you is one that meets your individual needs and aligns with your beliefs.
Some of the more common types of treatment programs include:
- Detox: A short-term detox program can help you get through the initial phases of withdrawal and is often the first step in the recovery process. It is not a substitute for methamphetamine addiction treatment since it does little to address many of the underlying issues contributing to the meth abuse issue.
- Inpatient: Also referred to as residential treatment, inpatient recovery programs provide round-the-clock supervision and care. People may attend inpatient programs for a time period ranging from 28 to 90 days. Inpatient programs offer a wide range of treatment variety, such as group counseling and individual therapy, but also often provide access to 12-step meetings, nutritional counseling, or exercise therapy.
- Outpatient: People who are unable to attend an inpatient program due to family obligations or work responsibilities often benefit from outpatient programs, which provide similar treatments to inpatient programs but require relatively less of a time commitment. A person lives at home but may attend an outpatient program once or several times per week for a couple to several hours each meeting.
- Luxury: For those who have the financial means, luxury programs can feel a bit like a vacation from everyday life. While they still offer top-notch substance abuse treatment, these programs often have a resort-like atmosphere and offer high-end facilities and luxurious amenities, such as spa treatments or gourmet meals.
- Executive: CEOs may opt for executive treatment programs, which cater to the specific needs of people in highly visible or demanding careers. Executive treatment offers the chance for professionals to continue to work or interact with their clients while participating in treatment.
- 12-step: Based on the 12 steps of recovery initially developed by Alcoholics Anonymous, 12-step programs provide anonymity and a safe place for people in recovery to continue their journey to sobriety. Many people benefit from the support and encouragement of the group and from working one-on-one with a sponsor.
- Teen programs: Teens have unique developmental and educational needs. Teen treatment programs focus on meeting these needs while also guiding teens through the recovery process.
- LGBT: Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people have historically been discriminated against and may also be more likely to abuse drugs, especially meth 5. Programs that focus on LGBT treatment provide a safe, encouraging atmosphere while addressing issues like self-esteem and self-acceptance through psychoeducation.
- Gender specific programs: Some people dealing with addiction feel more comfortable participating in treatment with others of their own gender, especially if they wish to avoid distraction or sexism. These programs are specifically geared toward the unique treatment needs of men and women.
- Veteran programs: Veterans often deal with co-occurring mental health disorders, such as PTSD or depression. Veteran addiction recovery programs provide comprehensive treatment to address not only the addiction but any potential underlying issues as well.
Deciding on Treatment Options for Drug Addiction
The path each individual takes toward recovery will be a different one, and there are a variety of options to choose from.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the most effective treatments for methamphetamine addiction are those that focus on behavioral change, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or contingency management 6. The Matrix Model is a comprehensive example of behavioral treatment that was created to specifically treat stimulant addiction. It includes a combination of treatment modalities, such as individual counseling, family education, 12-step groups, and drug testing 6.
There are currently no approved medications to treat methamphetamine addiction, but research has been conducted on the effectiveness of a drug called ibudilast that has proven to reduce self-administration of meth in rats 6.
Additionally, promising research at UCLA in 2015 found that naltrexone, a medication approved for the treatment of alcohol addiction, may help with eliminating the rewarding effects of methamphetamine, however, it is not yet approved by the FDA for this purpose 7.
Price of Addiction Treatment
Every recovery program is going to have a different price. The cost of treatment depends on a wide range of factors, including:
- The type of treatment.
- The location of the recovery center.
- The types of amenities offered.
- Your insurance coverage.
If you have insurance, call your insurance company to learn about your specific insurance coverage and recovery options.
Paying for Meth Abuse Treatment
Ultimately, your health, happiness, and sobriety are the most important factors.
It might be tempting to put off your recovery if you lack insurance coverage or if you feel discouraged by limited financial means. But even if you don’t have insurance, there are many ways in which you can finance your addiction treatment. Sometimes, being creative and combining several payment options can help make treatment costs more feasible. Some of the options to consider include:
- Sliding scale/payment plans: Some recovery centers will take your financial circumstances into account and reduce their fees based on your ability to pay. Or they may be able to break down the costs into a more manageable monthly payment plan.
- Asking friends or family for money: Chances are your loved ones are willing to help you get the treatment you need to make a positive change.
- Starting a crowd funding campaign: Creating a campaign on sites like GoFundMe or IndieGoGo can provide you with the opportunity to receive donations from people looking to help.
- Using a credit card: Look at this as a type of monthly payment plan and just pay down the minimum (or as much as you can afford) until the fees are paid off.
- Drawing upon your savings account: There’s no better way to use your savings than to help finance your journey to clean and sober living.
Ultimately, your health, happiness, and sobriety are the most important factors—you truly cannot put a price on regaining control of your life.
Recognizing Methamphetamine Addiction
People addicted to methamphetamine may display a wide range of physical, psychological, and behavioral symptoms. It’s important to be aware of these signs and symptoms so that you can seek help for you or a loved one sooner rather than later.
The behavioral signs and symptoms of methamphetamine addiction include 8,9:
- An inability to control your meth use.
- Continuing to use meth despite awareness of the negative consequences.
- Displaying secretive behavior, such as lying, hiding your use from others, or sneaking off to use.
- Exhibiting defensive behavior when confronted about potential use.
- Taking larger quantities of meth than intended.
- Stealing or engaging in other illegal behaviors.
- Spending a lot of time thinking about and trying to obtain meth, as well as recovering from the effects of meth.
- Using meth in dangerous situations, such as while driving.
- Atypical behaviors, such as heightened aggression.
Physical and psychological signs of meth addiction and abuse include: 8,9
- Severe cravings for methamphetamine.
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when use is reduced or stopped.
- Developing tolerance to meth, requiring increased doses to get high.
- Mood swings.
- Increased energy and alertness.
- Rapid speech.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Significant weight loss.
- Impaired judgment.
- Delusions and hallucinations.
- Nasal consequences, such as irritated nasal tissue, if the user is snorting meth.
- Intravenous consequences, such as track lines and collapsed veins, if the user is injecting meth.
Why Do People Become Addicted?
Addiction to any substance or behavior is never caused by one specific influence—addiction is a complex condition that can be the result of a combination of factors, such as 10,11,12,13:
- Genes: The heritability rate for stimulants is around .40, according to some twin studies on addiction. This means that approximately 40% of meth addiction can be attributed to genes, while the other 60% is influenced by additional factors, such as the environment. It is crucial to remember that while genetics can play a strong influential role, genes do not dictate your life. If someone in your family has an addiction, that doesn’t mean you will develop one too.
- Environmental factors: This category can include risk factors like growing up in an impoverished neighborhood, parental drug use, or the availability of drugs in your immediate surroundings.
- Trauma: Exposure to traumatic events, such as physical, emotional or sexual abuse, neglect or mental illness in a family member, can all be potential risk factors for addiction.
- Mental health: Chronic stress or mental health issues like anxiety and depression may increase your chances of developing an addiction.
Long-term Consequences of Methamphetamine Abuse
Addiction to any substance can have several negative effects on a person’s life and social functioning.
Methamphetamine addiction is progressive, which means that it tends to worsen over time if left untreated. Long-term meth abuse can have detrimental consequences on your mental and physical health and negatively impact your overall life functioning.
Some of these consequences may include 14:
- Physical dependence: You will need to use meth in order to avoid unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.
- Withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop using. This can include symptoms of depression, anxiety, cravings, and fatigue.
- Anhedonia, or an inability to feel pleasure.
- Mood disturbances or anxiety.
- Psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations or delusions, which can persist long after someone has quit using meth.
- Impaired learning skills.
- Decreased motor speed.
- Memory loss.
- Increased risk of stroke.
- Increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.
- Severe weight loss and malnutrition.
- “Meth mouth,” which is characterized by tooth decay.
- Skin sores.
Addiction to any substance can have several negative effects on a person’s life and social functioning. Some of the general consequences of addiction may include:
- Decreased performance at work and school.
- Job loss.
- Loss of friends or other significant relationships.
- Alienation from children and other family members.
- Legal problems.
- Financial difficulties.
Get Help for Methamphetamine Addiction Today
Don’t let methamphetamine abuse take over your life. With proper assistance and support, you can take back your life and start the road to recovery. Call 1-888-439-3435 Who Answers? today to speak to an addiction support specialist about the available recovery options.
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- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2013). What is the scope of methamphetamine abuse in the United States?.
- Rosza, M. (2013). Crystal meth and its use among gay men, Addiction Professional.
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- Science Daily. (2015). Potentially effective treatment for methamphetamine addiction identified.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2015). Substance Use Disorders.
- Mayo Clinic. (2014). Drug Addiction: Symptoms.
- Bevilacqua, L. and Goldman, D. (2009). Genes and Addictions. Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 85 (4): 359–361.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2003). Preventing Drug Use Among Children and Adolescents: A Research-Based Guide for Parents, Educators, and Community Leaders.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2016). Adverse Childhood Experiences.
- Goeders, N. (2003). The impact of stress on addiction, European Neuropsychopharmacology, 13 (2003): 435 – 441
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2013). What are the long-term effects of methamphetamine abuse methamphetamine abuse?.