Methamphetamine (also called meth, ice, crystal, or chalk) is a highly addictive man-made stimulant / drug that comes in the form of a white, odourless crystalline powder. The drug is typically snorted, smoked or injected and, infrequently, ingested orally. The effects of meth usually last 6 to 8 hours but can last much longer in some situations.
Most of the major internal organs will be affected by meth, and sometimes the damage can be irreversible. Meth addiction can destroy the addict’s relationships, and their physical and mental wellbeing. Unfortunately, in some cases, a mother who abuses meth during pregnancy can pass on the effects to their unborn babies.
Effects of meth on the body
Image Source: Psychonaught [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Meth usage affects dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine is one of the prominent neurotransmitters of our nervous system. Although this neurotransmitter is known for giving us pleasure, it is also critical for movement, motivation, memory functions, learning, and reward processing.
In short term, meth could lead a person to a strong feeling of well-being and euphoria, increased alertness and physical activity, and a loss of appetite. Long-term use of meth can result in addiction, psychosis (including hallucinations), paranoia, and repetitive body movement. Other effects may include memory loss, changes in the brain structure and function, weight loss, severe dental and skin problems, aggressive or violent behaviour, deterioration in thinking and motor skills and damage to the internal organs.
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If meth is taken regularly, our bodies can build up a tolerance towards the drug and force the user to take a higher doses or take it more often in an attempt to achieve the same high, The higher the dosage, the more likely they are to become dependent on the drug. The higher the level of dependency, the more difficult and problematic the withdrawal process can be.
Detox from Methamphetamine
The first step to treat meth addiction is a detox program. This program provides medical supervision, support and medication when needed. These are designed to help rid the body of the substance. Because in these situations, the body has typically begun to develop a dependency on meth, moderate to severe symptoms are possible during the detoxification process. Each person experiences different symptoms, but they could include sweats, tremors, anxiety, paranoia, hallucinations, seizures, nausea, or vomiting. The patient in detox may experience one or more of those symptoms for five to seven days depending on their circumstances.
Therapeutic Treatment Approaches
According to NIDA, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is the ideal form of treatment for meth addiction. This type of therapy is designed to help modify the patient’s thinking, behaviours, and to increase skills in coping with various life stressors. Meth is a highly addictive substance. The risk of relapsing is high and therefore it is recommended that patients seek and remain in a recovery program for sometime until the patient forms healthy habits, to allow new brain connections to form, and to learn relapse prevention techniques which help control cravings. 90 days is the ideal time to stay in an addiction treatment program at a reputable Drug Rehab, recommended by NIDA for addiction to meth.
To maintain healthy habits after recovery, and completing an addiction treatment program, there are many options the patient can take, such as outpatient addiction treatment, or 12-Step based support groups. The more options you incorporate into your post-treatment recovery, the more likely you are to avoid falling back into bad habits and behaviour patterns.
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