Crystal meth, the drug that gained fame through shows such as Breaking Bad, has devastating effects. Although there has been a national decline in crystal meth use since 2011, regional trends tell a different story. The drug has continued to become problematic throughout the West Coast, Midwest, and states such as Hawaii. A disturbing number of adolescents have tried the drug, which can soon prove fatal due to its highly addictive and dangerous nature.
If you or someone you care about is suffering from a crystal meth addiction, it's time to learn how recovery can change your life for the better. At Satori Recovery Center, we offer meth addiction treatment in a safe and medically-supported setting. Successfully completing a crystal meth recovery program can help you re-discover the beauty of life in the absence of this drug. If meth addiction treatment is something you're considering, we're here to help you learn more about how it works.
What is meth?
Meth is a street term that people use for the illegal drug crystal methamphetamine. Although there are many types of methamphetamine, the drug we're discussing here is the crystal (illegal) form.
As a powerful stimulant, meth acts on the Central Nervous System (CNS) to produce feelings of euphoria. Those who take it may feel a powerful sense of happiness and an ability to connect with those around them that's like nothing they've encountered before. Additionally, they may feel a false sense of being more in-tune with the world or extra focused.
While all those effects sound great, they don't last forever. When the person who has taken meth crashes down from their high, they'll likely crave the sensation and take steps toward experiencing it again. If they take meth again, their tolerance to the drug builds and so they need to take more the next time. This leads to an addiction forming, and at the same time, the harmful side-effects of long-term crystal meth use are wielding their effects.
How meth works
To understand how meth works, you need a brief insight into two important neurotransmitters in the human brain: noradrenaline and dopamine. Noradrenaline is partially responsible for your fight or flight response. When your brain releases more of it, you'll feel stimulated and excitable. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that increases your sense of focus and pleasurable feelings.
When someone takes meth, their brain floods with levels of noradrenaline and dopamine that are incredibly excessive compared to normal amounts. As a result, they feel a surge of excitement and pleasure for a few hours that they're highly unlikely to experience elsewhere. When those noradrenaline and dopamine resources deplete again, they want to take more crystal meth to induce the same effects. Unfortunately, the human brain doesn't have infinite amounts of these neurotransmitters that rise in accordance with a person's meth use, so they're consistently chasing an experience that's unlikely to happen.
Key crystal meth statistics and facts
Although it's easy to assume that crystal meth use and addiction are restricted to small corners of society, the problem is more common than you may think. Current crystal meth statistics and facts are a reflection of this.'For example:
- A report released by the United States Government in 2008 found that more than 13-million people over the age of 12 had taken crystal meth.
- Of those individuals, more than 585,000 had become recreational users.
- United States border agents are now seizing between 10 and 20 times more meth than they did a decade ago.
- Meth drug overdoses in Oregon account for more deaths than heroin drug overdoses.
- In San Diego, more than 20,000 pounds of meth were seized in 2016.
- Between 2008 and 2015, hospitalizations due to crystal meth jumped by 245 percent.
What happens when someone takes crystal meth?
A person who takes crystal meth may do so by swallowing, smoking, snorting, or injecting the drug. The longer someone uses the drug, the more likely they are to progress onto a 'harder' means of taking it.
Upon first taking meth, the user may feel a rushing sensation as their energy levels rise. During the high period, they'll feel a sense of assurance and aggression that significantly boosts their confidence levels. They may then enter the binge phase, which is where they take more meth to sustain the effects they're feeling. Some users may realize this and so they'll allow themselves to enter the comedown phase. This is where they're coming down from their high.
In a dangerous number of cases, a meth user may continue to try and sustain or increase their feelings of euphoria. This can result in them entering the tweaking phase.
What are the short-term risks of crystal meth?
The tweaking phase of meth use usually follows sustained use but can happen on a single binge. During this period, the user may feel a complete loss of identity and sensations of hollowness. Their skin may itch uncontrollably and they may enter a period of psychosis.
Other short-term effects of crystal meth include:
- Severe insomnia
- Rapid heartbeat
- Decreased appetite (anorexia)
- Urine retention, resulting in an acute kidney injury
- Hyperthermia, which is where the body's temperature grows dangerously high
- As a result of hyperthermia, seizures, loss of consciousness, or even death
What are the long-term risks of crystal meth?
Some of the long-term harms associated with crystal meth can become irreversible. For example, medical teams have begun using specialist imaging techniques to examine the brains of those who have taken meth for at least three years. Those images have revealed that their dopamine neurons still haven't recovered, which means there's a chance that consistent meth use may alter your brain chemistry forever.
Some other long-term effects of meth use include:
- Damage to blood vessels in the brain, which increases the risk of a hemorrhagic stroke
- Hypertension, which may require long-term pharmaceutical therapies to resolve
- Kidney damage, either due to damage inflicted following an acute kidney injury or because of high blood pressure
- Memory loss and a reduced ability to form new memories and maintain concentration
- A reduced ability to consider abstract concepts
- Long-term mood swings
- Ongoing memory gaps
- Dental problems, such as meth mouth
- Periods of psychosis that may or may not repeat depending on the extent of the meth addiction
- Permanently disturbed sleep patterns
- Anhedonia, which is an inability to take enjoyment from life
Although not all long-term effects of meth use are guaranteed to happen, the longer a person takes crystal meth for the more likely it is they'll experience permanent consequences. Therefore, it's important to begin meth addiction treatment as soon as possible.
Signs someone is suffering from a meth addiction
Although meth addictions are sometimes easy to identify, you may not be familiar with all the signs and symptoms. They can include:
- Being hyperactive
- Talking excessively
- Easily distracted
- Grandiose ideas
- Agitated behavior
- Acting twitchy
- Tooth decay
- Aggressive behavior
- Failing to engage with usual activities
- Reduced attendance at work or at school
- Reduced attendance at social events
- Spending time with suspected addicts
- Poor financial management
- Unexplained loss of money
- Bizarre behavior
- Socially undesirable behavior
- Becoming argumentative
- Memory loss
- Failing to attend appointments
- Picking at skin
- Itchy skin
What medications are used for meth addiction treatment?
At present, there are no specific medications designed for meth addiction treatment. However, the doctors who help patients recover will use a combination of pharmaceutical therapies to help them ease the side effects of withdrawal. For example, rehydration therapies may be used if they experience prolonged vomiting and diarrhea.
Two medications that physicians may use during meth addiction treatment are Bupropion and Naltrexone. Bupropion helps to ease patients out of their meth addiction while reducing the cravings they experience. Naltrexone, when administered according to a carefully staged plan, will also reduce a patient's craving for meth. As a result, both of these drugs can prevent meth addicts from taking the substance again, even when they have access to it.
How to treat a meth addiction
Treating meth addiction often requires a combination of medical and psychological therapies. The reasons for a person's addiction are usually very complex, which means every treatment period begins with a full psychological and physical evaluation. From there, the patient will receive information regarding their treatment package so that they feel prepared for what's ahead.
Some of the therapies used during meth addiction treatment include:
Cognitive behavioral therapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) helps patients to work through the thought patterns that have allowed their addiction to form. It challenges negative thought processes and beliefs that encourage patients to turn toward drugs rather than coping with life's challenges in a safe way. A CBT therapist will help the patient identify what their negative and false thought patterns are, before assisting them in finding new ways of thinking that tackle their addictive behaviors. By the end of their CBT program, those with a meth addiction have better life skills that prevent them from turning to drugs when challenges come their way.
Group therapy is a reliable way to prevent meth addicts from feeling alone in their journey. Many people who enter a rehabilitation program may already be experiencing social isolation as a result of their illness. Unfortunately, this isolation only serves to make the problem worse and may push patients further toward those who enable their addiction. Using group therapy, patients can talk openly about their journey, the challenges they've faced, and how they're progressing. It's often an empowering experience and it allows those with a meth addiction to form a new and supportive network that prevents them from relapsing.
Motivational enhancement therapy
It isn't unusual for patients to feel ambivalent about resolving their drug addiction. While some may feel as though they can delay recovery until later, others feel as though they're more in control of the condition than they truly are. Motivational enhancement therapy aims to remove their hesitancy and rapidly encourages them to engage with the process. When successful, motivational enhancement therapy can make meth addiction treatment highly effective.
Contingency management focuses on a reward-based scheme for desirable behaviors during meth addiction treatment. For example, the patient may enjoy certain privileges outside of their treatment for every successful step they make. Some contingency management approaches involve providing the patient with cash incentives for successfully remaining clean.
Creative expression therapy
Creative expression therapy provides patients with an alternative means of expressing their feelings. Additionally, modes such as drama therapy can help them gain a clearer idea of what their emotions are about a particular situation or event. For those who struggle to express themselves, creative expression therapy is a reliable means of resolving challenging feelings.
Why choose Satori Recovery Center for meth addiction treatment?
At Satori Recovery Center, we provide medically-supported inpatient meth addiction treatment. Using a combination of medical monitoring, pharmaceutical support, and psychological therapies, we help those suffering from crystal meth addictions recover to a fulfilling life of sobriety.
The team at Satori Recovery Center always prioritizes our patients comfort. We understand that withdrawing from drugs can invoke unpleasant physical and emotional sensations, as a result, we provide medical and psychological support every step of the way. This support extends to a nutritional program. Many people who seek meth addiction treatment are in a poor nutritional state due to reduced appetite and self-neglect. Using our expertise, well form a nutritional program that helps each patient recover to a heightened state of health.
Talking therapies and group therapies allow the patients who attend Satori Recovery Center to discover what is driving their addiction and the alternative measures they can take to cope with lifes struggles. Throughout the treatment program and beyond, we also help our patients rediscover how to enjoy life in the absence of crystal meth. This includes group adventure therapies and meditation-based programs.The adventure therapies involve enjoyable activities that are exhilarating and rewarding. During the meditation sessions, patients develop mindfulness techniques that they can use when they feel the urge to use crystal meth pulling at them.
Finally, when patients leave Satori Recovery Centers meth addiction treatment program, theyre supported back into their community. Our team understands that this is where many of their triggers are, yet they deserve to live a fulfilling life.With ongoing talking therapy and group therapy support, we prevent relapse and support a life thats clean and free from drugs.
To learn more about the work we do and to discuss our meth addiction treatments, call (949) 607 9717.