Methamphetamine

Methamphetamine is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant made from pseudoephedrine, the main ingredient in decongestant cold medications, and a number of toxic chemicals (e.g., lye and drain cleaner). Also referred to as meth, crystal meth, speed and ice, methamphetamine is a highly addictive drug that is chemically similar to amphetamines and produces similar physical effects.

Illicit methamphetamine is sold as a white crystal-like powder that can be snorted, smoked, injected, dissolved in water or alcohol, and is the most commonly abused form of the drug. A prescription methamphetamine medication, called Desoxyn, is available for short-term weight loss and treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but it is rarely prescribed.

A Schedule II stimulant, methamphetamine is prone to abuse and addiction. Owing to its addictive nature and extremely uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, a successful addiction treatment at methamphetamine detox centers involves a combination of detox program and addiction therapy sessions under supervised medical care.

How does it work?

The pleasurable and rewarding effects of methamphetamine are due to the release of high levels of a brain chemical called dopamine. Similar to cocaine, methamphetamine blocks the reuptake of dopamine; at the same time, methamphetamine increases dopamine release, which can lead to toxic concentrations in the synapse. Researchers believe that methamphetamine’s action on dopamine release is how the drug damages the brain’s nerve terminals.

Methamphetamine abuse: Short-term effects

Immediately after methamphetamine enters the body, it causes an intense euphoric and pleasurable “rush,” but the “high” produced by the drug dissipates quickly (called a “crash”), lasting only a few minutes.

The effects of methamphetamine are long-lasting; only about half of the drug is removed from a person’s body in a period of 12 hours. Methamphetamine is an extremely addictive stimulant that has a number of negative short-term effects.

At high doses of methamphetamine, overdoses can occur that can cause convulsions, seizures and other problems and even lead to death. Following are some of the short-term effects of methamphetamine abuse.

  • Decreased appetite
  • Talkativeness
  • Alertness
  • Increased respiration and blood pressure
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Euphoria
  • Severe itching
  • Hyperthermia (increased body temperature)
  • Increased motor activity
  • Erratic or bizarre behavior
  • Violent behavior
  • Dilated pupils
  • Hallucinations
  • Irritability
  • Panic
  • Psychosis
  • Hyperexcitability
  • Convulsions
  • Seizures

Methamphetamine abuse: Long-term effects

Long-term abuse of methamphetamine can have harmful consequences and neurotoxic effects, including changes to the brain’s structure and function. The abuse of methamphetamine can alter brain regions responsible for functions such as emotions, memory, and pleasure.

Methamphetamine can damage the brain’s tissues and blood vessels and can lead to brain damage and permanent cardiovascular problems. The effects of the drug on the brain are similar to patients who have Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, strokes and epilepsy.

Some of the other long-term effects of meth abuse include the following.

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia and other sleep problems
  • Mood disturbances
  • Confusion
  • Psychotic symptoms (e.g., paranoia, hallucinations, delusions), which can last for months or years and recur in times of stress
  • Depression
  • Weight loss
  • Skin sores
  • Malnutrition
  • Liver, lung, or kidney damage
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Permanent cardiovascular problems
  • Distractibility
  • Memory loss
  • Aggressive or violent behavior
  • Mood disturbances
  • Physical dependence and addiction

Methamphetamine abuse: Effects on physical appearance

Methamphetamine abuse takes a huge toll on a person’s physical appearance. People who abuse the drug may scratch and pick at their face or body because they feel bugs or insects crawling underneath their skin (called formication). They may also appear to be older than they really are due to loss of skin luster and elasticity.

Long-term suppression of appetite and poor diet can also lead to the deterioration of muscle in the face and body. Accompanied by poor hygiene, methamphetamine can contribute to serious dental problems, including severe tooth decay, tooth loss (referred to as “meth mouth”), and teeth grinding, which can lead to rotting and broken teeth.

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Methamphetamine addiction

Methamphetamine addiction can change a person’s brain chemistry, affecting the reward and pleasure centers in the brain, and contributing to damage of the prefrontal cortex, a brain region that is important for higher-level cognitive functions, such as executive functions (e.g., attention, memory, multitasking, planning, inhibition) and working memory.

These brain changes can make it difficult for a person to stop taking the drug, despite any social, economic or legal problems that occur. Meth abusers quickly develop tolerance to the drug and need to take more to experience the pleasurable effects of the drug leading to drug dependence.

Methamphetamine detox

Physical dependence and/or addiction to methamphetamine can make it difficult for people to stop taking the drug. Methamphetamine addiction can also lead to compulsive drug use and drug cravings, which contribute to the high risk of relapse associated with the drug.

Over time, chronic methamphetamine abuse can lead to difficulty experiencing pleasure except for what is experienced by using the drug. Methamphetamine detox can be a difficult process, as people can experience withdrawal symptoms including the following.

  • Intense cravings
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Tiredness
  • Fatigue

Detox for methamphetamine begins the treatment and recovery process for methamphetamine addiction and involves ridding the body completely of the drug. Though detox for methamphetamine can be a difficult process, it is possible to recover from methamphetamine abuse and addiction.

Post a successful methamphetamine detox treatment, patients undergo therapy sessions to uncover any hidden illness responsible for drug addiction and learn coping mechanisms to deal with daily life stressors without drugs.

Meth treatment program

Considered as one of the most addictive and the most destructive drugs, meth has the ability to affect the central nervous system and provide an immediate rush of euphoria to its user. Considered as one of the most addictive drugs due to its high euphoric effects and short tolerance levels, a successful methamphetamine addiction treatment involves a combination of detoxification process and therapy sessions.

While the detox process helps the poisonous substance off the body and help the patients gradually withdraw from the drug, therapy sessions helps one discover the root cause of addiction and learn effective coping mechanisms.

Why choose Sovereign Health?

A dually licensed and joint commission accredited center, Sovereign Health combines holistic and evidence-based approaches to help its clients overcome addiction to dangerous substances including drugs and alcohol and enjoy an addiction-free life.

Meth treatment programs offered to women patients at Sovereign Health of Arizona’s Chandler facility include comprehensive and individually tailored programs suited to the patient’s needs. In addition to clinically proven methods of addiction treatment including medically-supervised detoxification treatment, Sovereign Health’s state-of-the-art methamphetamine treatment centers provide women with a holistic array of evidence-based and complementary treatments including the following.

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Neurofeedback
  • Art and music therapy
  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Equine therapy
  • Specialized treatments for trauma, including eye movement desensitization reprocessing (EMDR) therapy

To learn more about Sovereign Health’s comprehensive methamphetamine treatment programs offered at our Chandler facility, please call our 24/7 helpline to speak to a member of our team. You can even chat online with our representative for any further assistance.

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