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How to Avoid Methamphetamine Addiction

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Methamphetamine is a stimulant that works quickly and has a major impact on the central nervous system. It is a lot more powerful than its parent drug amphetamine. Nowadays, meth is mainly used as an illicit drug. Methamphetamine is dangerous and highly addictive.

Methamphetamine addiction is one of the most severe forms of substance use disorder; it’s a compulsive need to keep taking the drug despite the harm it causes. Addiction to methamphetamine can be so severe it induces structural and functional changes to the brain and other consequences.

In order to avoid methamphetamine addiction, it is crucial to understand how the drug works and have a clear plan on what to do in certain situations. Some of the most effective strategies to avoid methamphetamine addiction are listed below.

1. Make being drug-free a key goal

One of the most important ways to quit methamphetamine is to prioritize life without meth (and drugs in general). That should be the number one goal in your life i.e., the main target or mission to be accomplished.

In order to achieve this goal, it’s useful to ask friends and family members for support. A person with meth addiction needs a structured schedule, larger or expanded goals, and time to work on underlying problems. This also involves attending therapy sessions regularly, practicing self-care, engaging in every part of the treatment, and surrounding oneself with people who are a positive influence.

This strategy works because it highlights the priority in a person’s life. Addiction affects relationships, health, and everything else. It ruins families, job prospects, and more. Prioritizing recovery and remaining drug-free is the only way to improve relationships, find a job, and improve other aspects of life. The more you do it, the more motivated you’re going to be to continue and stop using or reduce the risk of meth relapse.

2. Avoid anything that you identify with drug usage

Drug use preoccupies a person’s life so much without them even realizing it. Some things can trigger cravings for meth. The same applies to various situations and even some people. So, the best way to stop smoking ice and prevent its relapse is to avoid those things entirely. 

If you don’t know what your triggers are, take some time to think about the most common situations associated with meth use. What led to them? What happened? What was the trigger? Did you use more meth when some people were around? 

Try to answer these questions truthfully. The answers help determine everything that a person identifies with drug usage. Then, avoid those things or reduce exposure to them. For example, stop socializing with people who contribute to your meth use. 

Avoid places that encourage meth use and reduce exposure to situations that would trigger drug use. Instead, hang out with people who don’t use drugs (or they’re sober) and replace unhealthy habits, situations, and toxic people with more positive changes.

Avoiding anything that a person identifies with drug usage helps reduce temptations and encourages them to maintain their sobriety. This move helps people avoid common pitfalls that appear in drug recovery – exposure to triggers that fuel meth use.

3. Have a solid exit strategy in place

One of the most important rules in recovery from methamphetamine addiction is to avoid the temptation to use the drug. Sometimes it’s impossible to do that. For that reason, persons who want to prevent relapse need to have a solid exit strategy in place.

An exit strategy is a plan of action a person sets in motion when facing temptation. Take a pen and a piece of paper and start writing about what to do in the face of temptation. The first thing to write is a specific temptation, whether it’s meth itself or a trigger that makes a person want to use the drug. 

Next is what to do or where to go should this temptation arise. Name a person to call in these situations, e.g., a sponsor, and inform them about the plan so, if it happens, they know exactly everything they need to do. Specify the next step to avoid relapse e.g., attend the closest support group meeting.

A solid exit strategy works for people who want to avoid meth addiction because it allows them to remove themselves from the situation. As they do so, the craving for the drug will subside and disappear entirely. Additionally, exit strategy shows a person is serious about remaining sober and engages people who can help them remain free from meth.

4. Exercise, eat healthily, and get enough sleep

Since methamphetamine addiction affects both the mind and the body, it’s important to modify your lifestyle for successful recovery. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, and proper sleep can contribute to sobriety and help prevent relapse. 

Lifestyle modifications such as these begin with a firm decision to make positive changes and stick to them. Strong willpower is necessary. Strive to exercise at least three days a week. Since for many people, it’s difficult to stick to exercise, it’s useful to do something you truly like. Some people prefer playing sports rather than jogging or spending time in the gym. So, they should play their favorite sport. The same applies to persons who would prefer to jog or join the gym. The crucial thing here is to choose an activity that you really like.

Exercise should go hand in hand with a well-balanced diet. Ditch junk food, sugar-laden foods, and heavily processed foods. They offer little to no nutritional value. This can be problematic because a recovering meth addict tends to have nutritional deficiencies. Having low levels of various nutrients can cause health problems. For that reason, it’s necessary to eat a well-balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, protein, minerals, vitamins, healthy fats, and other healthful compounds. Eat nuts and seeds, lean meat, and a lot of seafood.

When it comes to sleep, it’s useful to get seven to nine hours of good night’s rest every night. Make sure to go to bed every night at the same time and wake up every morning at the same time as well. Create a peaceful and calming environment in the room and avoid using your phone or watching TV in bed.

The abovementioned lifestyle modifications help avoid meth addiction or relapse because they strengthen the body and mind alike. For instance, exercise activates the reward pathway and triggers the release of feel-good chemicals like dopamine. It helps a person feel good and confident without the drug. Plus, exercise is beneficial for mental and physical health. At the same time, diet and sufficient sleep improve the functioning of the brain and favorable influence its processes. A person becomes healthier, makes wiser decisions, and is more motivated to maintain sobriety. 

5. Take care of your spiritual well-being

Spiritual well-being is often overlooked, but it’s never too late to focus on improving it. In fact, taking care of spirituality can help avoid methamphetamine addiction or reduce the risk of relapse.

Becoming more spiritual is simple, but how to stop doing crystal? Some of the best ways to achieve that goal are to meditate regularly, read spiritual literature, and practice gratitude on a daily basis. Other things to do for spiritual well-being is to spend more time in nature, practice mindfulness, and be open-minded. Practicing patience and learning to forgive also increase spirituality.

Spirituality works to avoid methamphetamine addiction because it guides better ways of living. It teaches us to look beyond ourselves and trust in the wisdom of a higher power in life. Sometimes people fail to maintain recovery because they feel like they can’t control everything. 

Spirituality teaches us it’s not necessary to control everything to begin with. Some things are out of our control; they’re regulated by a higher power. For that reason, meth users should only focus on things that are in their power to control – their actions, recovery, and the level of effort they make to achieve and maintain sobriety. 

The more spiritual a person becomes, the less likely they prioritize drug use. For instance, Psychology of Religion and Spirituality published a study which found that spirituality (but not religion) plays a role in aiding addiction recovery.

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6. Make new recovery pals

Making new friends in recovery is a practical way to avoid relapse and stay on the right track. Friendships are good for us in many ways, especially for people who are working on their sobriety. 

For a meth user who’s trying to recover, it can be tricky to make new friends. Not impossible, though. To make friends with people who are in the same situation, it’s useful to attend support group meetings regularly, join online groups, attend community events, reach out to someone on social media, and sign up for some classes. Be open, honest, and communicate freely. Always remember they are in the same situation, going through similar things, and you have a lot in common.

The greatest advantage of making new friends in recovery is that it allows meth users to both offer and receive support and encouragement. That way, someone with meth addiction doesn’t feel alone. There’s someone else with a similar problem, and they understand exactly everything they’re going through. Two, or more, people can use their newfound friendship to motivate one another, hold each other accountable, and boost each other’s confidence. All this translates to stronger willpower to quit crystal methamphetamine or avoid using it again.

7. Participate in aftercare therapy

Aftercare therapy refers to any form of ongoing treatment service provided to individuals recovering from substance use disorder after they achieved sobriety. To simplify, aftercare is a kind of ongoing care a patient receives after rehab. While it may seem unnecessary to take part in aftercare after completing treatment for meth addiction, this is one of the most crucial aspects of relapse prevention.

In order to participate in aftercare therapy, it’s essential to stick to the plan created by therapists, counselors, or case managers. They work together with patients to set up an aftercare plan based on specific needs, current situation, employment, and other factors. 

Participating in these programs means a person needs to fully engage in every aspect. They need to show commitment, be proactive, and make an effort with everything the plan entails. In most cases, the aftercare plan includes alumni programs, staying in sober living for a while, 12-step meetings, reaching out to a sponsor, and attending therapy sessions (both individual and group).

Aftercare therapy helps quit crystal meth use or prevent relapse by encouraging a person to stay on the right track. The ongoing care provides the structure a meth user needs in their life for a successful recovery from meth addiction. Besides preventing relapse, aftercare therapy provides coaching, housing, and support. All these things are necessary for the treatment of meth addiction, but many people wouldn’t have them otherwise. 

By offering support and other resources, aftercare therapy enables meth users to focus on their journey to sobriety or its maintenance. The more dedicated a person is, the more likely they are to succeed.

8. Keep away from anything you don’t want to utilize

Recovery from methamphetamine addiction isn’t only about quitting the use of this drug. Sobriety involves getting clean and avoiding all other addictive substances. For that reason, it’s important to stay away from all substances, especially stimulants, that you don’t want to use anymore.

How to stop doing meth this way? Doing so is easier said than done, but it’s an important step toward successful recovery and relapse prevention. To keep away from things you don’t want to use, it’s important to make wise choices on a daily basis. To start, a person with methamphetamine addiction should also avoid alcohol and places where alcohol is served. 

Always seek alcohol-free places and events. The same applies to other drugs, including marijuana. Also, strive to choose activities that don’t revolve around drinking or drug use. Redefine what fun means to you. It’s possible to have a great time without having to use meth or other drugs. 

It’s also useful to set up reminders on your phone or post-it notes to stay away from anything you don’t want to use or what doesn’t make you feel good. Positive affirmations focusing on one’s power to avoid those things are also useful.

Staying away from anything a person doesn’t want to use is helpful because it prevents replacing methamphetamine with something else. Otherwise, a person would simply move on from one substance to another. By firmly deciding to avoid those substances and staying away from them, a person gets on the right track to successful recovery. It helps them stop meth use or reduce the risk of relapse while also ensuring they have a clean and sober lifestyle.

9. Make a life plan for yourself

A life plan serves as a guide and reminder of what a person wants to achieve in their life. It helps a person with methamphetamine realize their dream of being sober and meet personal objectives in other aspects of life. Making a life plan is a practical strategy to avoid relapse and support methamphetamine addiction recovery.

Creating a life plan is easier than it seems. Everything starts with creating a vision where a person imagines their dream life with as many details and specifics as possible. Write down the vision and think about everything necessary to do in order to achieve it. A great starting point for a life plan is self-assessment of everything achieved so far.

Self-assessment should cover different aspects of life, such as personal growth, relationships, health, and finances. To get the most from this process, it’s necessary to grade every analyzed aspect in terms of satisfaction level. Use a scale of 1 to 5. Grading helps identify strengths and weaknesses to improve.

Once self-assessment is completed, it’s time to prioritize and decide what’s essential in life and what things aren’t as important. After that, a person needs to identify their values and a great way to do so is to analyze their past. 

After identifying values, the next step in creating a life plan is to generate SMART goals. In other words, it’s time to create life goals that are SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound). Upon generating goals, it’s time to create a plan of action and adjust it as needed.

A life plan for a person recovering from methamphetamine addiction can be as simple as spending more time with family, finding a job, playing sports, or anything they’d want to prioritize in their life.

What makes a life plan useful is that it gives a sense of purpose and shows there’s a lot to accomplish or look forward to. This allows a person with methamphetamine addiction to become more motivated and committed to making positive changes in life. Whether they want to stop taking meth or maintain sobriety/prevent relapse, creating a life plan is always useful.

10. Celebrate your achievements

Celebrating the achievements is an important part of avoiding methamphetamine addiction or its relapse. Recovery from addiction to this powerful drug is a process, which is why it’s crucial to celebrate progress, even when it doesn’t seem that significant. It is! 

This step is all about celebrating and acknowledging everything positively. There are many ways to make it happen. One of the best strategies is to celebrate a sobriety anniversary or “birthday”. Sobriety birthday is the day a person decided to get help and recover from addiction, the day when they stopped taking methamphetamine. This particular day marked the ending of one and the beginning of the next chapter. It’s the time when everything changed. So, it’s nice to celebrate it with a proper cake or even decorations, lunch with friends and family, or other fun activities.

Other ways to celebrate achievements include writing “thank you” notes to people who supported your recovery, sending small tokens of gratitude to them, or throwing a sobriety party. The exact activity depends on what achievement a person wants to celebrate. But, the point is to do something nice, thoughtful, and fun. Make sure to highlight the achievement as the main cause for a specific occasion. 

Celebrating the achievements works by allowing a patient and their family or friends to acknowledge the positive steps they’ve been making to achieve or maintain sobriety. Taking the time to celebrate every progress made boosts motivation to keep going and prevent relapse or stop using methamphetamine. This is particularly important if we bear in mind that recovering from methamphetamine addiction is a major challenge. Progress needs to be celebrated.

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What is Methamphetamine?

Methamphetamine is a powerful stimulant that acts on the central nervous system. This highly addictive substance appears in the form of a white, bitter-tasting crystalline powder that is odorless and dissolves easily in alcohol or water. It is known as meth, ice, and crank.

Although methamphetamine is often mistaken for amphetamine, they’re not the same. Both drugs are stimulants. Methamphetamine is an illicit drug without medical usage, whereas amphetamine is a prescription drug that treats ADHD and narcolepsy. Basically, amphetamine is methamphetamine’s parent drug.

Amphetamine was first synthesized in Germany back in 1887, whereas methamphetamine was first synthesized in Japan in 1919. The use of methamphetamine was prominent in World War II when soldiers used it to stay awake and become “fearless.” Compared to amphetamine, meth is a lot stronger because, at comparable doses, greater amounts of methamphetamine reach the brain.

For a while, methamphetamine was used as a medicine too. Initially, it was used in bronchial inhalers and nasal decongestants. In the 1950s, it was prescribed as a medication to fight depression or to promote weight loss. Two decades later, in 1970, the U.S. government practically banned methamphetamine for most uses.

Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies methamphetamine as a Schedule II stimulant. That means the drug has a high potential for abuse and a currently accepted medical use in FDA-approved medications. As a medicine, methamphetamine is only available through a non-refillable prescription for weight loss and ADHD. It’s very rare or uncommon for doctors to prescribe methamphetamine-containing medication to their patients. 

However, the illegal use of methamphetamine isn’t uncommon. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in 2020, about 2.6 million people aged 12 or older reported methamphetamine use in the past 12 months.

What is Methamphetamine Addiction?

Methamphetamine addiction is a form of substance use disorder (SUD) indicated by a compulsive need to keep using methamphetamine regardless of the problems it creates. It’s a chronic and relapsing disease. 

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in 2020, about 1.5 million people aged 12 or older had a methamphetamine use disorder in the past year. The same year, about 23,837 people died from an overdose linked to psychostimulants besides cocaine, usually methamphetamine. 

A person addicted to methamphetamine experiences severe withdrawal symptoms when trying to stop using the drug. The compulsive need to keep using the drug and withdrawal symptoms when not using it are the hallmark symptoms of addiction to this powerful substance. Other symptoms of methamphetamine addiction include anxiety and restlessness, loss of interest in once-loved or enjoyed activities, neglecting relationships, agitation, and hyperactivity. 

Moreover, methamphetamine addiction may also manifest itself through twitching and jerky movements, rapid eye movement, mood swings, reduced appetite, meth mouth, droopy facial skin, weak immune system, social withdrawal, and spending a lot of time thinking or planning how to get more methamphetamine. 

The causes of methamphetamine addiction can be biological, psychological, and environmental.

Biological causes include the drug’s impact on the brain’s reward system and increased oxidative stress that makes a person more sensitive to the effects of methamphetamine. Psychological causes of methamphetamines include underlying mental health disorders, whereas environmental causes include family history and dynamics and a person’s social circle.

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Why should you refrain from Methamphetamine?

You should refrain from methamphetamine because it’s highly addictive. Unlike other substances that lead to addiction with repeated use, sometimes a single use is enough for a person to become addicted to methamphetamine. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that methamphetamine causes serious health problems and even death. 

Not only does methamphetamine change the way our brain works, but it also accelerates the function of the body’s systems to dangerous, oftentimes deadly, levels. For instance, methamphetamine can lead to dangerously high blood pressure and respiratory rates. Hypertension can pave the way to cardiovascular diseases and events such as heart attack and stroke. People who use methamphetamine also develop intense itching that they keep scratching so much that skin sores appear. Premature osteoporosis is also a possible consequence of methamphetamine use.

Besides these effects, people should refrain from methamphetamine because it harms their work or school performance and leads to unemployment, financial troubles, legal problems, and other complications. 

Yet another important reason to avoid using meth is that it makes a person difficult to get along with, thus leading to impaired family dynamics, broken relationships, and other interpersonal difficulties.

The drug can affect any aspect of a person’s life and it’s tricky to recover because methamphetamine is so powerful.

What are Methamphetamines’ Long-Term Effects?

Long-term effects of methamphetamines include addiction and withdrawal symptoms and other problems such as anxiety, confusion, mood disturbances, insomnia, and violent or aggressive behavior. 

According to the National Institutes of Drug Abuse, long-term effects of methamphetamine use also include paranoia, delusions, visual and auditory hallucinations, and other psychotic problems. This dangerous drug can also induce structural and functional changes in the brain, especially with memory and emotion. As a result, a methamphetamine user may develop cognitive and emotional problems. 

At the same time, changes in the structures associated with decision-making are also among the long-term effects of methamphetamine. The drug may also disrupt the brain’s ability to suppress useless or counterproductive habitual behaviors. Some long-term effects of methamphetamine are partially reversible. 

Long-term effects of methamphetamine also include weight loss, severe dental problems, increased distractibility, and various health problems. For example, the Journal of General Internal Medicine found that people who use methamphetamine are more susceptible to multiple chronic health conditions than individuals who do not. 

More precisely, someone who uses meth is twice as likely to have a medical multimorbidity (at least two chronic conditions), more than three times as likely to have a mental health problem, and more than four times as likely to have a SUD.

The study also revealed that methamphetamine could be toxic to the lungs, heart, neurological system, and liver. 

The use of this drug can also complicate the management of chronic diseases in persons who already have them. Of all chronic diseases evaluated in the study, meth users had a higher prevalence of liver diseases such as cirrhosis and hepatitis, lung diseases such as asthma and COPD, and even HIV/AIDS.

sad man sitting on a bad holding cigarette

Who is Subject to Methamphetamine Addiction?

Everyone who tries methamphetamine is subject to addiction. Methamphetamine addiction is most prevalent among white males 18 to 25 years of age. People with mental illnesses such as depression and bipolar disorder are also at a higher risk of addiction to methamphetamine. Sometimes, a person may use methamphetamine as an escape from their negative emotions and other symptoms of mental health conditions.

Other risk factors include a personal history of substance abuse and a family history of meth addiction or substance abuse. More precisely, a person is more susceptible to methamphetamine addiction if they are also addicted to alcohol and drugs or if they had a substance use disorder in the past. Also, they’re more prone to methamphetamine addiction if their family has problems with SUDs due to genetic predisposition. Evidence shows some genetic markers are linked to methamphetamine addiction.

In addition to the abovementioned risk factors, socializing with people who use meth also increases the risk of addiction to this powerful and dangerous drug. This happens due to continued exposure to the drug and a higher chance of using it. Like with other substances, peer pressure can push a person in this direction.

It’s important to bear in mind that people who don’t have any of the abovementioned risk factors can still develop methamphetamine addiction. After all, methamphetamine is highly addictive and a person can become dependent after single use only. Unfortunately, many people don’t know the risk of meth addiction and how easy it is to get addicted before they decide to experiment with the drug.

Is Methamphetamine Addiction Treatable?

Yes, methamphetamine addiction is treatable with professional help, a strong support system, and a well-structured treatment program. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the most effective methamphetamine addiction treatment approaches are cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and contingency management (CM).

The main objective of CBT is to help patients identify negative thoughts and behavior patterns to replace them with positive ones. This helps them cope with triggers, learn skills they can use to remain sober, and prevent relapse. On the other hand, CM provides tangible incentives in return for engaging in the treatment and maintaining sobriety.

The Matrix Model is effective in the reduction of methamphetamine misuse. In a nutshell, Matrix Model is a 16-week comprehensive behavioral treatment program that combines family education, therapy, 12-step support, individual counseling, drug testing, and encouragement to engage in activities not related to drug use.

Medications are helpful for some forms of a substance use disorder, but at this point, no pharmacotherapy relieves the specific effects of methamphetamine. There is no medication that prolongs abstinence from methamphetamine addiction, but scientists are carrying out studies to find some forms of pharmacotherapy that could help. 

A review from the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology found that some studies found naltrexone, bupropion, and modafinil could have the potential to treat methamphetamine addiction. A lot more research is necessary to investigate their true effectiveness and generate pharmacotherapy methods that work for this form of substance use disorder. 

That’s why a strong support system and therapy are crucial factors for the treatment of methamphetamine addiction.

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