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Shabu drugs: definition, use, purpose and precautions

Reading time: 19 mins
Shabu drugs

Shabu drug is a name for methamphetamine in specific regions. Methamphetamine is a highly powerful stimulant that belongs to the family of amphetamines. It is similar to cocaine, but its effects last longer. This drug is used across the globe. In fact, shabu in the Philippines is the number one drug of choice for people who use illicit substances. The uses of shabu include recreational purposes to feel “high”, improve alertness, and increase energy levels and moods due to its stimulant properties. 

Shabu drugs’ side effects are numerous and may include signs of an allergic reaction (difficulty breathing, hives, and swelling of face, lips, throat, and tongue), dizziness, headache, insomnia, tremors, appetite suppression, weight loss, stomach problems such as upset stomach, diarrhea, and constipation. 

The consequences of shabu drug use can be short- and long-term. Short-term effects are the feelings of euphoria and rush following the administration. However, with repeated use people tend to experience long-term effects that include worsening of mental health, physical health problems such as organ damage and cardiovascular issues, meth mouth, skin sores, and a high risk for dependence and addiction.

What are shabu drugs?

Shabu drug is a slang term for a drug called methamphetamine. The term is mainly used in Japan, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Methamphetamine is a powerful central nervous system (CNS) stimulant that belongs to the family of amphetamines. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) of the United States, methamphetamine is a Schedule II stimulant under the Controlled Substances Act. Schedule II classification indicates the specific substance has a high potential for abuse and a currently accepted medical use.

Regular meth comes in the form of a pill or powder that is odorless and bitter-tasting. It dissolves easily in water or alcohol. Crystal meth looks like glass fragments or shiny bluish-white rocks.

The history of shabu drugs dates back to 1893 when a Japanese chemist Nagai Nagayoshi first synthesized methamphetamine from another stimulant called ephedrine. In 1919, another Japanese scientist, Akira Ogata, synthesized the drug in the crystalline for which it is known today. Initially, methamphetamine was used to treat narcolepsy, and asthma, and as a weight-loss aid. During World War II methamphetamine was extensively used in Japan and Germany to increase stamina among soldiers and build tolerance to psychological traumas.

During the Blitzkrieg, in the period between 1939 and 1941, up to 40 million tablets of methamphetamine-containing medicines Pervitin and Isofan were deployed to German troops. The U.S. soldiers used methamphetamine during the Korean War from 1950 to 1953. Methamphetamine was outlawed in the United States in 1970, but the use of this drug increased drastically. 

The abuse of shabu drugs continues today thereby increasing the risk of dependence and addiction to this powerful stimulant.

What is the other term for shabu drugs?

The other term for shabu drugs is methamphetamine (short for n-methylamphetamine). Methamphetamine is a generic name and it is used to describe a medication from the family of amphetamines. Amphetamines belong to a class of drugs called CNS stimulants. The brand name for methamphetamine is Desoxyn.

Other names for shabu drugs include meth, bathtub crank, christina, batu, bikers coffee, black beauties, chicken feed, chalk, crystal,  crank, glass, hiropon, go-fast, ice, poor man’s cocaine, methlies quick, speed, shards, tina, stove top, tweak, trash, ventana, uppers, yaba, vidrio, and yellow bam. 

More terms for shabu drugs include crissy, fire, gak, redneck cocaine, rocket fuel, and scooby snacks.

How common is shabu drug use?

crystals on a wooden table

Shabu drug use is very common with estimates showing that it is the number one drug of choice for drug users in the Philippines as per the Dangerous Drug Board within the Republic of the Philippines Office of the President. Also, in 2021 over 2.5 million people in the U.S. reported past-year use of this substance, according to Statista. More precisely, 0.9% of people older than 12 in the U.S. used this drug, as per the report on the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Approximately 0.6% or 1.6 million people from this age group had a methamphetamine use disorder in the past year. According to the same report in 2022, about 0.2% of 8th graders, 0.3% of 10th graders, and 0.5% of 12th graders reported meth use in the past 12 months. That means the use of shabu drugs is not uncommon among children and adolescents as well.

The use of shabu drugs is more common in men than women. In their paper from the June 2022 issue of Neuroscience and Behavioral Reviews, A.P. Daiwile et al. reported that the average annual meth use among adult men was 8.7 per 1000 people. On the flip side, 4.7 per 1000 women used this drug. According to the same report, male meth users have taken the drug for a longer period of time than women; 14.9 years and 10.6 years respectively. However, women were most likely to have meth as the first substance they use, which wasn’t the case for men.Shabu drug use is present among the elderly, as well. A retrospective analysis by D.A. Benham et al. in the June 2021 issue of the American Journal of Surgery reported that of 15,770 patient encounters with substance use testing in ER, 34% or 5278 accounted for older adults. Meth use by the elderly jumped from 2% in 2009 to 8% in 2018.

What is the purpose of shabu drugs?

The purpose of shabu drugs is to experience feelings of euphoria and excitement or to increase energy levels and reduce fatigue. People use shabu drugs to forget about their problems by getting high. The drug produces mood enhancement and a sense of wellbeing, which a person may find pleasurable. Shabu drugs create a feeling of self-confidence. A person may take shabu drugs with the purpose of feeling invincible.

People may also take the drug to stay awake during the night to study or for shift work. The drug works by “turning off” a person’s mind, which is why people also use it to increase productivity, especially if they’re doing time-consuming or repetitive jobs.

How do shabu drugs work in the body?

Shabu drugs work in the body through their fast-acting properties that make the substance enter the bloodstream quickly after administration. Bloodstream takes the shabu drug to the brain and organs and tissues in the body including lungs, liver, and kidneys. Since the shabu drug is water-soluble, it can easily pass through cell membranes, which allows the drug to cross the blood-brain barrier fast.

The liver and kidneys do the hard work of metabolizing and eliminating shabu drugs from the body. One enzyme in the liver, called cytochrome P450 2D6, breaks down the shabu drug into its two main metabolites. These metabolites are amphetamine and parahydroxymethamphetamine (pOH-MA). It’s the kidneys’ job to filter these metabolites and expel them from the body through urine.

With repeated use, it becomes difficult for the liver and kidney to do their job. That means higher amounts of the drug remain in the system and harm both physical and mental well-being.

Shabu drugs work in the body by producing the feeling of rush or euphoria almost immediately after the administration. When a person introduces shabu to their system, a flood of dopamine is released in the brain. In addition to feeling excited and euphoric, a surge of dopamine also speeds up heart rate, causes dilation of pupils, and increases blood pressure and metabolism. These effects can last up to 30 minutes.

Once the rush goes away, people experience the “high” effect, which can last anywhere from four to 16 hours. When a person is feeling “high”, they experience rapid thoughts and become hyperactive. During this time, shabu drugs may make a person more violent or aggressive. To prevent pleasurable effects from wearing off, a person may continue to use shabu drugs, which may lead to binge use, intoxication, hangover, and withdrawal.

How does shabu affect the brain?

crystals on a black background

Shabu affects the brain through its stimulating properties. Upon administration, shabu produces the “high” effect i.e. the feeling of euphoria and excitement through a complicated process that largely involves dopamine release. Neurotransmitter dopamine regulates the brain’s reward system. The drug temporarily increases the release of dopamine and boosts its activity with every use, meaning it teaches the brain to keep taking the drug. 

Short-term effects of shabu on the brain are happiness, satisfaction, and a state of “high”, but long-term effects occur with chronic use and they can be very serious. A paper by M.D. Prakash et al. in the June 2017 issue of Pharmacological Research showed that meth use can cause feelings of pleasure, and motivation, and improve motor function temporarily, but long-term use induces changes in the dopamine system, contributes to nerve terminal damage in the brain, and it impairs motor skills, leads to cognitive decline, and raises the risk of mental health disorders.

Chronic use of shabu drugs results in both structural and functional changes in the brain. These changes can negatively affect emotions, memory, and decision-making. In a paper from the August 2003 issue of The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, T.E. Nordhal et al. explained that the neurotoxic effects of methamphetamine alter levels of dopamine. Higher levels of this neurotransmitter correlate with decreases in dopamine neurotransmission. The shabu drug also affects other neurotransmitters such as serotonin. The release of dopamine is believed to be a major reason behind serotonin degeneration in cases of methamphetamine abuse. Besides dopamine and serotonin, shabu negatively affects the function of the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate.

The same paper by T.E. Nordhal et al. also revealed that chronic use of this drug is associated with impaired performance on various cognitive tasks including verbal memory and motor function, memory recall, and sustaining attention. Again, changes in dopamine are the main culprit because the dopaminergic system exhibits modulatory effects on cognitive functions such as attention, memory, response inhibition, and task switching.

A paper that N.A. Northrop and B.K. Yamamoto published in the March 2015 issue of Frontiers in Neuroscience suggested that methamphetamine use disrupts the function of the blood-brain barrier and impairs its functioning. Consequences of disrupted blood-brain barrier function in meth abuse include higher vulnerability to other disease states including stress and HIV or hepatitis C. At the same time, impaired functioning of the blood-brain barrier contributes to cognitive decline and depression in people who use this drug.

Problems in brain functioning can be reversed by avoiding shabu drugs or getting help for addiction. However, certain types of damage cannot be reversed. In their paper from the March 2016 issue of Alcoholism and Drug Addiction, S. Moeller et al. revealed methamphetamine can cause irreversible brain damage and persisting structural brain lesions. The drug, according to the study, causes structural brain alterations and may affect several regions including the cortex, thalamic, hippocampal, and hypothalamic structures. These areas of the brain participate in many functions including regulation of mood, sleep, sex drive, memory formation, or emotion processing.

How does shabu impact physical health?

Shabu affects physical health by exhibiting stimulating effects that influence how the body works. Short-term effects of shabu on physical health include elevated body temperature, increased heartbeat, lack of sleep, and reduced appetite and weight loss. People may also experience nausea and vomiting.

Repeated use of shabu worsens these effects and puts a person’s life in danger. Long-term effects of shabu on physical health include extreme weight loss, serious dental problems, impaired brain functioning, skin sores and scars, and damage to the heart, lungs, kidneys, and liver.

According to a paper that F. Jaafari-Sheybani et al. published in the January 2021 issue of the World Journal of Plastic Surgery, the use of methamphetamine causes major inflammation and necrosis (death) of adipose tissue. That happens because the drug can affect basic homeostatic systems and protective functions.

The use of shabu, especially by inhaling, can damage the lungs. E. McCarthy and E. McClain described a case of methamphetamine-induced lung injury in the June 2019 issue of the European Journal of Case Reports in Internal Medicine. The 44-year-old man experienced problems such as atypical infection and sinus tachycardia as well as bilateral patchy airspace opacification. Inhaling meth increases the levels of free radicals, which are present in harmful chemicals the drug contains. This may lead to lung damage. Moreover, methamphetamine use is associated with pneumonia and acute respiratory failure, according to a study that H. Tsai et al. published in the October 2019 issue of ERJ Open Research.

Problems with shabu use for physical health also extend to the increased risk of cancer. More precisely, a study by Z. Si et al. in the March 2023 issue of Life Science Alliance confirmed that methamphetamine users are at a higher risk of liver cancer in addition to being more susceptible to high blood pressure, atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, and acute vasospasm. The use of this drug promotes several cancer-related processes including cell proliferation, migration, and invasion ability. The drug can cause toxicity by increasing the levels of free radicals.

Chronic use of this drug can lead to severe cardiovascular complications including coronary artery disease, ischemic cardiomyopathy, acute myocardial infarction, methamphetamine-associated cardiomyopathy, malignant hypertension, aortic dissection, and sudden cardiac death, according to a paper that Z. Qutrio Baloch et al. published in the January 2018 issue of Emergency (Tehran, Iran). Shabu causes heart damage because it increases stress on the body and cardiovascular system.

Negative effects of shabu on physical health involve kidney damage too. In their paper from the September 2019 issue of BMJ Case Reports, K.M. Baradhi et al. reported that methamphetamine abuse can induce kidney damage leading to end-stage renal disease. Kidney-related problems in meth abuse occur due to changes in dopamine and other brain chemicals such as norepinephrine. Norepinephrine activates specific rectors to promote vasoconstriction. At the same time, methamphetamine increases levels of free radicals, which can affect renal health as well.

Shabu drug exhibits detrimental effects on dental health and causes problems such as “meth mouth”. The term “meth mouth” is indicated by severe tooth decay and gum disease, which is why teeth may fall out. People who use shabu have the blackened, stained, and rotten teeth that are crumbling and falling apart. In most severe cases it is impossible to save teeth and they need to be removed. 

Dental problems in meth abuse are associated with xerostomia (dry mouth), poor oral hygiene, high-carbohydrate diet, weakened immunity, and endocrine dysfunction according to a study by T. Ye et al. in the January 2018 issue of BMC Oral Health. Illicit drugs such as meth stimulate alpha-adrenergic receptors in salivary glands. When that happens, blood vessels constrict, salivary flow reduces, and protective properties in the mouth decrease. Repeated shabu use can also reduce salivary pH, which increases the risk of dental erosion.

Can shabu cause mental health problems?

crystals on a black background

Yes, shabu can cause mental health problems especially with chronic use. In a paper titled “Neurologic Manifestations of Chronic Methamphetamine Abuse” from the June 2013 issue of The Psychiatric Clinics of North America, Daniel E. Rusyniak, MD reported that people who abuse methamphetamine tend to suffer from mental illness such as depression, anxiety, and psychosis. The latter is particularly present in methamphetamine abusers and is indicated by delusions of persecution and auditory hallucinations. The exact mechanism through which shabu can cause psychosis is unclear, but it could be due to methamphetamine-induced neurotoxicity. However, factors such as family history make a person more susceptible to psychosis due to shabu use.

In their paper from the October 2018 issue of Frontiers in Psychiatry, T.A. Wearne and J.L. Cornish explained that chronic meth use can lead to the development of a persistent psychotic syndrome such as schizophrenia by eliciting underlying vulnerability or predisposition. Development of psychosis, and even more serious problems such as schizophrenia, in meth users, could result from a complex interaction of predetermined vulnerability and direct effects of the drug as an environmental trigger. 

With continued use, the shabu drug changes how the brain works. As a result, it may impair a person’s perception of reality or affect their thought patterns and emotional processing.

As mentioned above, methamphetamine can lead to depression. According to a paper that S. Glasner-Edwards et al. published in the April 2009 issue of the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, prevalence of depression in shabu users is moderate compared to that among cocaine users, but it is still higher than in the general population.

Mental health problems in shabu users are associated with the neurotoxic effects of the drug. X. Wang et al. suggested in their study from the January 2022 issue of Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience that hyperthermia (increased body temperature) plays a pivotal role here. The researchers explained that hyperthermia resulting from the use of this drug amplifies meth-induced neurotoxicity. The paper confirmed that hyperthermia contributes to depressive symptoms in people who use meth. 

Shabu use can worsen mental health by putting a person in a cycle of euphoria and hopelessness. At the same time, a person with depression may use shabu to cope with symptoms they experience, which further worsens their condition. Chronic meth use may reduce the sensitivity of dopamine receptors in the brain and thereby impairs the ability to experience pleasure. When that happens, symptoms of depression become more pronounced. To combat their symptoms, a person may start using more meth and get into the vicious cycle that paves the way to dangerous complications.

Due to the powerful effects of shabu, a person who uses this drug may experience depressive symptoms during withdrawal.The relationship between methamphetamine and mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety could be mediated by increased inflammation. According to a study by M. Davidson et al. in the August 2022 issue of the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, methamphetamine has a negative effect on the gastrointestinal system and induces dysfunction of the intestinal mucosal barrier. In turn, epithelial permeability and systemic inflammation increase, which plays a major role in the pathophysiology of cognitive decline, depression, anxiety, fatigue, and sleep disorders.

What is shabu drug made of?

Shabu drug is made of various forms of amphetamine or derivatives with other chemicals to increase its potency. The primary ingredients in shabu are ephedrine and pseudoephedrine obtained from over-the-counter weight-loss products and cold medications.

Shabu is a synthetic drug. People tend to make shabu in hidden and illegal laboratories. Medicines containing ephedrine and pseudoephedrine serve as the base for the drug, but they are combined with other chemicals.

When meth is “cooked”, the active ingredients from the pills are extracted so that their potency becomes higher. The process of preparing meth also includes dangerous chemicals such as drain cleaner, battery acid, antifreeze, and lantern fuel. These chemicals are explosive. Since meth users are confused and disoriented, preparing meth puts them at risk of injury, burns, and even death due to explosion, according to the post titled What is Meth Made From on the website of Foundation for Drug-Free World.

During the shabu preparation process, the mixture of ephedrine or pseudoephedrine and flammable chemicals is added to a solvent such as acetone or gasoline and heated to achieve the crystallized form.

People who make meth tend to add cutting agents in order to dilute the drug. Cutting increases volume but reduces the amount of the actual psychoactive substance. Substances used as cutting agents include red dye, a pain reliever methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), amphetamines or other stimulants, sulfur from ephedrine sulfate, phosphorus, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. Cutting is a dangerous practice that further jeopardizes the wellbeing of a person who uses the shabu drug.

What are the health risks of shabu drugs?

mountain crystal

Health risks of shabu drugs include worsening both physical and mental well-being. Medical News Today explains in the post Methamphetamine: What You Should Know, by Kathleen Davis, FNP, that people tend to develop tolerance to shabu drugs quickly and are prone to developing an addiction because dopamine remains in the synapses of the brain for quite a while after use.

Shabu drug use can cause cardiovascular problems. In fact, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death among shabu drug users behind accidents and overdoses.

People who use shabu drugs are more susceptible to serious health problems such as Parkinson’s disease. In a study from the June 2018 issue of Drug and Alcohol Dependence, J.M. Lappin et al. confirmed the use of methamphetamine could be an initiating event in the onset of Parkinson’s disease.

People who use shabu drugs are at a higher risk of developing hepatitis and HIV. That happens because individuals who inject the drug may use the same needle as other people i.e. people who use the same drug at the same time. Sharing needles puts a person at risk of bloodborne diseases and infections. 

Health risks of shabu drugs include sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). According to a paper by S.A. Salamanca et al. in the January 2015 issue of Frontiers in Neuroscience, the mind-altering effects of the drug can cause behavioral modifications that encourage people to engage in risky sexual behaviors. This increases the risk of STDs such as genital warts, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis. 

The same paper also revealed that methamphetamine can weaken the immune system. Due to a weakened immune system, a person who uses the shabu drug is more susceptible to developing infections or getting sick.

What to know before you take shabu drugs?

Before taking shabu drugs, you should know that this synthetic stimulant is a powerful substance that can be habit-forming. People shouldn’t take shabu if they are allergic to stimulant substances. Since shabu drugs can impair reactions and thinking, be careful when driving or doing anything that requires being alert. The best thing to do is to avoid these activities. 

When taking shabu drugs, make sure not to drink fruit juices or take vitamin C at the same time. Doing so makes the body absorb less of the medication.

Shabu drugs can cause side effects such as dizziness or headache, insomnia, fast heartbeat, upset stomach or diarrhea or constipation, loss of appetite and subsequent weight loss, and tremors.

The doctor prescribes methamphetamine for specific use only and they determine the most suitable dosage for the patient’s needs. A patient shouldn’t stop taking the medication on their own or tweak the dosage. During the treatment for a specific medical problem, a doctor may recommend a patient stop taking the medication for a while. This is done to determine whether a patient exhibits changes in behavior or whether they still need the medication.

When it comes to shabu as a drug that people make illegally, it is important to keep in mind that doing so carries the risk of mental and physical health problems, accidents, and can lead to overdose.

What are the facts about shabu drugs?


The facts about shabu are that it is a stimulant that is chemically similar to amphetamine and works similarly to other drugs such as cocaine. According to the post titled “How is Methamphetamine Different from Other Stimulants, such as Cocaine” on the website of National Institute on Drug Abuse, cocaine is quickly removed and almost entirely metabolized in the body, but shabu drug is characterized by a longer duration of action. For that reason, a higher percentage of the substance remains unaltered in the body. This allows the shabu drug to remain in the brain longer thereby prolonging the stimulant effects.

Yet another useful fact about shabu is that release of dopamine following administration of the drug is a lot higher compared to other substances such as cocaine.

People may use shabu in combination with other drugs including opioids such as heroin. A. Palmer et al. reported in their study from the February 2020 issue of Harm Reduction Journal that the primary motivation for co-use of both substances is the belief that heroin could alleviate negative effects of heavy crystal methamphetamine use, especially during the “comedown” phase. The term comedown phase refers to cases when a person uses the drug as the effects begin to wear off. Other reasons behind co-use included prolonging the intoxicating effects of heroin by adding small quantities of methamphetamine, the combination of the two substances producing more desirable effects than they would individually, and crystal methamphetamine producing the alternative form of “high” for heroin after starting the opioid substitution therapy.

How are shabu drugs used?

Shabu drugs are used in the ways listed below. 

  • Smoking: also known as “foiling” or “chasing the dragon”, shabu is placed in aluminum foil and heated with an open flame from below. As the drug melts and vapors release, a person uses a straw or an empty pen casing to inhale the fumes. Smoking puts the drug quickly into the bloodstream and causes an intense rush, according to the facts about shabu or meth on the website of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
  • Snorting: includes rolling up a paper or using another tube-like object to snort the powdered drug from a surface. It produces the effects within three to five minutes.
  • Injecting: the drug is dissolved in a cooker (e.g. a metal spoon) with a small amount of water. After that, a person draws the solution into the syringe and injects it into their vein. Injecting produces instant effects like smoking.
  • Oral ingestion: the drug is eaten, swallowed as a pill, or consumed as a beverage. This type of use produces effects within 15 to 20 minutes.

What are the signs of shabu addiction?

man smoking

The signs of shabu addiction are symptoms that a person experiences when they develop dependence and addiction to this substance. The severity of symptoms of addiction depends on how long a person has been using shabu and how much they use or whether they also use other substances like alcohol. The signs of shabu addiction are listed below.

  • Strong cravings for shabu 
  • Withdrawal symptoms when not using the drug
  • Unsuccessful attempts to reduce or stop using shabu
  • Drastic mood swings, agitation, and irritability
  • Social withdrawal and loss of interest in activities once enjoyed in favor of using shabu
  • Spending a lot of time and money on trying to obtain, use, or recover from shabu
  • Neglecting personal responsibilities and relationships due to shabu use
  • Poor performance at home or school
  • Getting into legal or financial troubles due to shabu
  • Being too secretive and lying a lot to loved ones in an attempt to conceal shabu use
  • Impaired cognitive skills such as memory, decision-making, judgment, and experiencing confusion and disorientation
  • Neglecting personal hygiene, especially oral health
  • Insomnia
  • Scabs and sores on the skin
  • Muscle spasms and tics
  • Sexual dysfunction 
  • Significant weight loss due to lack of appetite 
  • Continuing to use shabu despite being aware of the physical and mental problems it causes

What are the precautions of shabu drugs?

The precaution of shabu drugs refers to cases when caution is necessary with the use of methamphetamine as a medication. A person shouldn’t use the drug if they have an overactive thyroid, severe agitation, glaucoma, moderate to severe high blood pressure, and heart disease. 

Caution is necessary for persons with a history of drug abuse. 

People who have used antidepressants that belong to the class of MAO inhibitors within the past 14 days shouldn’t use methamphetamine, according to the post titled Methamphetamine, updated in August 2023, on Examples of MAO inhibitors include isocarboxazid (Marplan), linezolid (Zyvox), and phenelzine (Nardil).

People who experience psychosis may experience worsening of their symptoms, particularly if they have a history of mental illness including bipolar disorder and depression.

Methamphetamine may interact with certain supplements (herbal or vitamin supplements) and medications. It is necessary to exert caution when using stomach acid medicine, insulin, seizure medicine, antihypertensive drugs, or medications for mental illness. 

Inform a doctor about the use of cold medicines and medications for managing cough, sinus problems, hay fever, and asthma, even if these medicines are obtained in over-the-counter form.

Women who are pregnant and breastfeeding their babies should avoid using methamphetamine medication entirely.

What is the treatment for shabu addiction?

Treatment for shabu addiction depends on the severity of the addiction and a patient’s individual needs. The treatment plan usually involves detoxification (detox), inpatient or residential programs, and outpatient treatment. 

The first stage of shabu addiction treatment is detox, which involves an abrupt cessation of drug use under medical supervision. The sudden cessation of shabu use can cause withdrawal symptoms. Common symptoms of shabu withdrawal are drug cravings, anxiety and irritability, fatigue, weight gain, chills, dehydration, insomnia followed by hypersomnia (excessive sleeping), low mood, inability to feel pleasure, and social withdrawal. Withdrawal symptoms tend to go away within a week or two. However, certain withdrawal effects last longer (two to three weeks). These include depression, cravings, mood swings, inability to feel pleasure, psychosis, increased appetite, fatigue, and suicidal thoughts and tendencies. 

After the withdrawal, a patient begins an inpatient or residential program, a well-structured approach that requires living in a rehab center for a specific period of time e.g., 30, 60, or 90 days. In residential treatment programs, patients with shabu addiction take part in education sessions, and psychotherapy, and learn skills necessary for recovery and its maintenance. 

Psychotherapy is the cornerstone of shabu addiction treatment, especially cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a type of talk therapy that focuses on identifying negative or irrational thought patterns in order to change them into more rational alternatives. During CBT sessions, the patients learn to identify situations that lead to shabu use. They also learn skills and coping mechanisms that allow them to avoid using shabu. CBT helps bring awareness and correct maladaptive behaviors. 

In addition to CBT, contingency management (CM) can help in the treatment of shabu addiction. Contingency management is a type of behavioral therapy where patients are rewarded for evidence of making positive change e.g. providing monetary value to motivate a person to avoid using the drugs. 

Although more research on the effectiveness of psychotherapy for shabu addiction is necessary, current evidence is promising. In their paper from the May 2008 issue of Drug and Alcohol Review, N.K. Lee and R.A. Rawson showed that CBT is associated with reductions in methamphetamine use and positive changes even after a short-term treatment of two to four sessions. Contingency management is associated with a significant reduction in drug use.

Typically, six to 20 sessions of CBT are necessary to experience the best results. The duration of each session is 30 to 60 minutes. 

Upon completion of residential treatment, a patient may start with an outpatient program. Outpatient programs are types of programs where people with drug addiction get support, education, and receive therapy, but they live in their homes and retain employment. This type of shabu addiction treatment is suitable for people with mild to moderate addiction or those who have completed an inpatient program and need more support for their recovery. Outpatient programs also involve regular therapy sessions, which can be individual or in the form of group therapy.

Support groups are an important aspect of recovery from shabu addiction. The peer-support groups allow members to share their experiences; to receive and offer support during recovery. What makes support groups particularly important is that people with shabu addiction see they’re not alone and can use fellow members’ success stories to work on their sobriety.

Can shabu be detected in drug tests?
white powder in a bowl

Yes, shabu can be detected in drug tests. This drug has a half-life of nine to 24 hours meaning that’s how long it takes for the amount of meth in blood to decrease by half. However, even weeks or months after last use it is still possible to detect shabu use via drug tests. 

The timeframe of detection depends on the drug testing method used. For example, a urine test can detect the presence of meth for up to 72 hours after the last dose. Since methamphetamine metabolizes to amphetamine, the drug test will turn out to be positive for both drugs. Generally speaking, the detection interval in urine for drugs from the amphetamine family is three to five days following the last use. That being said, the interval could be longer for chronic meth users and may last a week.

Blood tests can detect shabu drugs in the system for up to three days after the last use. Saliva testing detects the presence of meth as long as two days after the last dose.

Hair tests have the longest detection interval. This type of drug test can detect whether a person used shabu drugs within the last 90 days.

Is it possible to get addicted to shabu drugs if you use them frequently?

Yes, it is possible to get addicted to shabu drugs if you use them frequently. Methamphetamine is a highly addictive and habit-forming substance. The use of this drug acts on neurotransmitters in the brain, such as dopamine. The quick release of high amounts of dopamine and the drug’s impact on the brain’s reward system amplifies drug-taking behaviors and contributes to the development of addiction.

Keep in mind there is no specific timeframe within which a person develops shabu addiction. However, according to Methamphetamine Research Report (revised in 2019) by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, chronic use of this drug causes withdrawal symptoms. The hallmark sign of addiction is the development of withdrawal symptoms when a person stops using the drug.

Are there any medical uses for shabu?

Yes, there are medical uses for shabu. The generic form of the drug was initially developed to treat health problems such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and to help treat obesity. Medication that doctors prescribe to manage these health problems is Desoxyn, but it is not the first-line treatment option due to its habit-forming effects. In this form, the drug may help improve attention and reduce impulsiveness and hyperactivity in ADHD patients.

A doctor may prescribe the abovementioned medication to people with narcolepsy to promote wakefulness and combat drowsiness.