Methamphetamine, otherwise known as meth, is a strong and highly addictive drug that can cause addiction even with short-term use. Methamphetamine addiction is characterized by the compulsive seeking and use of methamphetamine despite harmful consequences.
Methamphetamine side effects can manifest in physical and psychological ways and can even be fatal. The dangerous substance also dramatically affects the central nervous system (CNS), and that includes the brain. Meth unleashes a flood of dopamine that leads to an immediate euphoric rush.
The brain naturally seeks out this pleasurable experience and because it perceives all pleasures in the same way, whether they are from eating, shopping, a sexual encounter, or drugs, users keep coming back for more to achieve the same effect. Unfortunately, for many people, this can mark the beginning of methamphetamine abuse and may keep people trapped in the vicious cycle of addiction.
Methamphetamine can cause significant physical, psychological, and behavioral risks. The possible symptoms of methamphetamine addiction are listed below.
Methamphetamine users experience a sudden rush of pleasure as the brain releases dopamine after the first use. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that influences an individual’s mood and feelings of reward. Over time, the brain associates taking the drug with pleasurable experiences, making it seek out the substance at the expense of healthier activities.
One of the signs of meth use is the feeling of euphoria, which is also triggered by increased levels of dopamine in the brain. Euphoria is an intense feeling of happiness that motivates people to continue using methamphetamine. Individuals who experience euphoria may feel safe, carefree, and free of stress.
Methamphetamine has stimulating effects on the central nervous system. After meth use, the nervous system sends messages from the brain to the heart, causing rapid heart rate. Over time, this can lead to changes in blood pressure, heart damage, stroke, and a greater risk of a heart attack.
One of the cardiotoxic effects of methamphetamine is high blood pressure. Because it is a powerful stimulant, meth can cause increased blood pressure even in small doses. Meth users also have an increased likelihood of suffering from high cholesterol and blood pressure, which are both contributing factors for heart disease.
Meth addiction can cause the heart to beat too fast, too slow, or irregularly. This condition is called heart arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat. An arrhythmia may interfere with blood flow to the body, resulting in damage to several vital organs.
Abusers of methamphetamine experience higher levels of physical activity even with small doses of the substance. This is also due to an increase in the amount of dopamine, which plays a critical role in body movement and coordination.
Stimulants such as methamphetamine can cause a rapid increase in body temperature that can last for many hours. This condition is frequently caused by environmental factors and can result in heat stroke. But even when caused by stimulant drugs, heat stroke can still result. When body temperatures are elevated beyond normal, permanent organ damage or even death can occur.
Stimulants are substances that let people stay awake and engage in obsessive physical activity with reduced need for sleep. Due to fear of experiencing the unwanted side effects of meth wearing off, people may go on for days without real sleep. Prolonged use of meth can result in severe sleep deprivation and even after abstinence, a person can still experience sleep disturbances for a couple of weeks.
Alongside lack of sleep, meth users can also stay awake for several days without a full meal, as meth is believed to suppress appetite. As one of the symptoms of meth use, poor appetite can also be so severe that it leads to poor nutrition, causing drastic changes in one’s outward appearance.
The treatments used for methamphetamine addiction include medical detox, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), contingency management, and support groups. One of the proven ways on how to treat methamphetamine addiction is through medically assisted detox, which is often the first step in quitting methamphetamine use.
The severity of crystal meth side effects vary from person to person and depends on various factors, such as the duration of meth use, the amount of substance used, and how frequently they engaged in addictive behaviors around meth, to name a few.
During meth withdrawal detox treatment, a team of medical professionals helps ensure that patients receive proper medical care and attention while managing withdrawal symptoms. The detox process for meth can take around 50 hours, and symptoms can persist for about two weeks or even several months for more frequent users.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is another form of methamphetamine addiction treatment that is widely used today. CBT teaches recovering addicts how their thoughts, feelings, and actions can impact their recovery. Once negative emotions are identified, CBT helps afflicted people develop new positive behaviors to replace their harmful meth use.
On the other hand, contingency management (CM) is another behavioral therapy approach that works by rewarding a person for sticking to their treatment plan and staying off meth. Support groups can also help individuals battling methamphetamine addiction overcome their condition and thrive in their recovery.
The different treatments for methamphetamine addiction work in various ways. For instance, medical detox works by removing meth from the body with the help of medications that ease meth addiction symptoms and help individuals get through the detoxification process as safely and comfortably as possible.
Meanwhile, behavioral interventions such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and contingency management (CM) help modify behaviors related to meth use and provide incentives in exchange for abstinence.
Lastly, support groups work by connecting a recovering meth addict with others who share the same struggles and experiences. This helps build a support network that can be beneficial for the recovery process.
Treatments for methamphetamine addiction do not have to be expensive, as there are nonprofit and state-funded rehabs for those who have financial constraints. These low-cost and no-cost addiction rehabs are available so individuals can achieve recovery regardless of income.
Those with the financial capacity also have an option to be treated in a rehab facility. Medically assisted detox costs around $600 to $1,500 and a part or all of the total costs may be covered by most insurance plans.
It is worth noting, however, that the exact cost of meth detox may still depend on whether it is included in an inpatient rehab program or not. On the other hand, behavioral therapy approaches for meth addiction cost around $100 to $200 with an average of $130 per session. These estimates may still vary depending on the city and state where one is availing of therapy.
More affordable options may be offered by community mental health clinics and may cost between $40 and $80 for each session. Lastly, the majority of support groups are free or low-cost.
The cost of participating in a support group may only be affected by whether the person is attending a peer-led group or a therapy group. Peer support groups are often free and in the case that it is not, there may be suggested donations of up to $30.
Therapy groups, on the other hand, are also affordable at around $40 to $60 per session. Group therapy allows mental health professionals to provide their services at lower fees to help individuals gain access to mental health treatment.
Ahmed Zayed, MD, is a physician, an author, and a fitness lover, and he has a deep-seated desire to assist others in leading happier and more fulfilling lives.
Dr. Ahmed Zayed, who received his degree in medicine and surgery from the University of Alexandria, is committed to sharing his expertise with his audience and believes that readers deserve accurate information.
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