Methamphetamine is a highly addictive stimulant drug that floods the brain with dopamine, resulting in a very quick “high” or euphoric feeling. Although the immediate effects of methamphetamine are felt by the user almost immediately, they also wear off quickly. As a result, many meth abusers binge on the drug, taking it every few hours for several days straight. Many addicts do this for an extended period of time, neglecting other basic necessities like food and sleep.
Methamphetamine is typically made in the form of a powder or pill, but it can also be made into bluish-white crystals, called crystal meth. The legal prescription version of the drug comes in tablet form and is used to treat obesity and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), although it is very rarely prescribed.
Most users snort, swallow, or smoke methamphetamine. Some will also dissolve the powder in water or alcohol and inject it with a needle. Users typically become addicted very quickly and as they continue to use, they develop a tolerance, which means they continually need to take larger doses of methamphetamine to get high.
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Despite the fact that methamphetamine is a highly addictive drug and can cause many serious medical issues or even death, methamphetamine abuse is a growing problem in the United States. According to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 1.4 million Americans (0.5 percent of the population) reported using methamphetamine during the past year. The widespread abuse of methamphetamine has also increased the risk and rate of individuals contracting HIV, hepatitis, and other infectious diseases caused by shared or dirty needles.
The effects of methamphetamine abuse involve a wide range of physical, social, and psychological consequences and should be taken very seriously.
Immediate short-term effects of methamphetamine abuse include:
- Increased energy and physical activity
- Increased respiration
- Decreased appetite
- Increased body temperature
- Rapid/irregular heartbeat
- Increased blood pressure
Long-term effects of methamphetamine abuse include:
- Increased risk of HIV and Hepatitis B and C
- Cognitive impairments
- Memory problems
- Dental problems
- Weight loss
- Extreme itching
- Sleeping problems
- Violent behavior
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), children and adolescents most at risk for developing an addiction later in life share several risk factors, including:
- Lack of parental supervision
- Substance use and abuse among peers
- Aggressive behavior early in life
- Availability of drugs and alcohol
Although having one or more of these risk factors does not guarantee that a person will become addicted to methamphetamine or any other drug later in life, it does increase their risk significantly.
If you suspect that you or a loved one is addicted to methamphetamine, the signs and symptoms may not always be obvious, but here are a few of the most common warning signs of addiction:
- Inability to control methamphetamine use.
- Having strong cravings for methamphetamine.
- Having problems at work, school, or home as a result of methamphetamine abuse.
- Experiencing uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms when the effects of methamphetamine wear off.
- Repeatedly finding oneself in harmful or life-threatening situations while under the influence of methamphetamine.
- Developing a tolerance (needing more methamphetamine to achieve the same effect).
- Continuing to use methamphetamine despite all the negative consequences.
Methamphetamine addiction can be overcome with a medically assisted detox program. Medical drug detox programs provide round-the-clock medical care for individuals who are withdrawing from addictive substances, such as methamphetamine.
Because the physical symptoms of withdrawal can be very uncomfortable, methamphetamine detox is best completed in a trusted detox center that is staffed with professionals who are trained to recognize and treat the symptoms of methamphetamine withdrawal. This will not only increase the likelihood that a person will complete the withdrawal process without giving up and using meth, but it will also ensure their safety and overall well-being throughout the entire process.
Methamphetamine withdrawal typically produces the same types of symptoms, although each individual’s experience in drug detox will vary. Some common symptoms of methamphetamine withdrawal include:
- Increased appetite
- Strong cravings
- Suicidal thoughts or self-harm
- Feelings of hopelessness
1-3 days after the last dose: Exhaustion, anxiety, and paranoia set in. Some people may experience more extreme withdrawal symptoms during this time, such as suicidal thoughts or hallucinations.
4-7 days after the last dose: Symptoms may range from severe cravings, feelings of hopelessness, aches and pains. Headaches, difficulty concentrating, and weight gain are also common.
8-14 days after the last dose: Most withdrawal symptoms subside by this time. Some symptoms may linger for a few weeks, including mood swings, depression, and difficulty sleeping.
For those who want to achieve lasting sobriety and freedom from methamphetamine addiction, long-term drug rehab can provide the skills, tools, support, and time to learn how to live a sober life. Research shows that addiction treatment of at least 90 days is ideal to achieve the most successful treatment results.
During drug rehab for methamphetamine addiction, addicts can expect to work with a variety of treatment professionals, including counselors, therapists, and recovery specialists who have personal and/or professional experience overcoming addiction. Clients will also actively work with their peers to develop and practice effective coping strategies to manage cravings, triggers, and high-risk situations they will face outside of rehab.
Therapeutic strategies used in long-term drug and alcohol rehab often include behavioral therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy, family behavior therapy, contingency management, and other specialized therapies including 12-step facilitation therapy and pet therapy.
Inpatient Drug Rehab vs. Outpatient Drug Rehab
Inpatient drug rehab is different than outpatient rehab. The primary difference is that an inpatient program requires the addict to live at the addiction treatment center while they complete their drug rehab program. While living at the center, they must abide by a strict daily schedule and interaction with the outside world is limited.
On the other hand, outpatient treatment provides a more flexible addiction treatment option for parents with children or individuals who cannot otherwise commit to living at a rehab center for an extended period of time. Programs consist of a series of group meetings hosted in an addiction treatment center and held three or more times each week.
The cost of long-term drug and alcohol rehab will vary depending on the program the client chooses and any additional recovery support services. If the individual has medical insurance, those medical benefits may be used to help supplement the cost of treatment. Additional payment options include private loans or an out-of-pocket payment. Some employers may also offer an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) which is designed to help employees deal with personal issues such as substance abuse. Benefits from this program (if available) may also help lower the cost of addiction treatment.
Once a client has completed detox and rehab, they may still need some additional support to maintain their sobriety on a long-term basis. Sober living and aftercare programs are designed to provide various levels of support for individuals in different stages of their sobriety journey.
Sober Living Programs
The primary purpose of a sober living program is to help a person transition from a life of addiction to a life of sobriety. This lifestyle change comes with many challenges, therefore it is best to have a team of supportive individuals who can help the person overcome the obstacles they face in the process.
Sober living programs, also known as transitional housing programs, provide structured living in sober group homes with house managers. These transitional living programs can also be enhanced with other recovery support services like regular drug and alcohol testing, 12-step support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA), or employment and educational assistance.
Transitional housing programs vary in cost, depending on the location of the home, the type of residence, and any additional recovery support services or IOP. Payment is collected from residents on a monthly basis, like rent would be.
Aftercare programs are designed to provide support to individuals who have already graduated from a drug and alcohol rehab program, also known as alumni. These programs consist of group meetings that serve as sobriety check-ins for those who would like some additional support maintaining their sobriety.
- Gender-specific treatment
- Evidenced-based treatment
- 12-Step immersion
- 90-day residential treatment
- Family program
- Full continuum of care
- Insurance and private pay
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