Methamphetamine (meth) use has become a problem of epic proportions in the United States in recent years. Meth use is destroying individual lives and ravaging communities. Along with other substances, meth also stretches the already overburdened healthcare and justice systems to their breaking points. Once in the grips of meth addiction, people may feel lost and hopeless, but there is hope. Although breaking free from methamphetamine use can be a monumental challenge, treatment for meth use is available and, in many cases, can even be done without going to inpatient care.
What is Meth?
Meth is a highly addictive, powerful synthetic stimulant that affects the central nervous system (CNS). Street names for meth include crank, crystal, glass, ice, chalk, fire, sketch, ish, zip, and zoom. It is also referred to as “poor man’s cocaine” due to its lower cost. Meth can be obtained in pill, powder, liquid, or crystal form. It can be ingested orally, intravenously, smoked, or snorted.
Methamphetamine is classified as a Schedule II drug and is only legally available through a non-refillable prescription. It treats obesity and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
The Reason Meth is Extremely Addictive
We know that meth is highly addictive, but why? Why is it so hard to break free from meth use? The secret to meth’s power lies in its massive effects on the brain’s reward pathways.
Meth changes how the brain works. Normally the brain releases small amounts of dopamine when we do something pleasurable, such as engaging in an enjoyable activity or eating a delicious meal. The first time a person uses meth, they usually experience an extremely intense high as the meth causes the brain to release a large amount of dopamine rapidly. This causes a temporary feeling of euphoria and intense energy called a “rush” or a “flash.”
The dopamine that floods the brain will run out, leaving the person to use it again to experience that same rush. They may not realize that the brain adapts quickly to the drug, and more meth will have to be used to achieve the same high. Over time, the brain will stop releasing those small amounts of dopamine in response to things that previously elicited a dopamine release. This can lead to feeling numb or depressed, causing the person to use meth to feel good again. Eventually, a person using meth may discover that they can only feel pleasure when they are high.
What Makes Meth Use So Dangerous?
Meth is extremely dangerous and can lead to severe physical, mental, and social problems. Not only does it change how the brain works, but it also speeds up the body’s systems. This can lead to several dangerous and sometimes lethal medical issues, including:
- Highly elevated body temperatures
- Rapid respiratory rate
- When injected, meth can lead to severe infections, including cellulitis, necrotizing fasciitis, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Hepatitis, and HIV.
- Dental issues including cavities, gum disease, and abscesses/infections. It is now known that poor dental health is related to many other health problems, such as heart disease and erectile dysfunction.
- Nonadherence to medication and treatment protocols for health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease
Meth is also devastating to mental health and social relationships as it can lead to:
- Aggressive behaviors
- Extreme paranoia
- Impulsive and reckless behavior
- Isolation and being cut off from family and friends
- Job loss
How IOP Can Help You Break Free From Meth Use
Choosing to seek treatment for meth use is a huge step, and maintaining sobriety is challenging. It is also one of the most rewarding things a person can do for themselves. An Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) offers services for a minimum of nine hours per week and usually meets three times a week. For those who do not need detox or 24-hour care, IOP is a highly effective level of care for treating substance use disorders.
Currently, there are no approved medications to treat meth use like there are for opioid and alcohol use. However, while in IOP, different modalities may be used to treat meth addiction, including:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): Treatment involves helping people to change their thinking and behavior patterns and learn more effective ways of coping with problems.
- Motivational interviewing: A client-centered approach where the provider guides the patient through the interview process and helps them discover their reasons for making change. The provider essentially meets the patient where they are at.
- Contingency management: Programs that provide tangible incentives for engaging in treatment.
- Mindfulness: The practice of gently focusing attention on the present moment without judgment. People who can develop mindfulness increase their chances of remaining substance free.
- Art therapy: A modality using creative expression through the arts to help patients work through their feelings and thoughts. Participation in creative endeavors can also provide a helpful distraction when patients are experiencing cravings.
- Family therapy: Meth use affects the entire family, and this treatment can assist with healing family wounds caused by meth use or those that might have contributed to why a person began using.
- Group and individual therapy: Therapy occurs on both a group and individual basis. In group therapy, a person can work with peers who share similar problems and give and receive feedback. Individual therapy allows for time to work on personal issues.
Get Help Today
Treatment and recovery are not easy. Sustained recovery requires a lifetime of work, but a sober, drug-free life is worth the effort. Take that first step. Get help today and break free from meth use!
Methamphetamine use is a severe problem in the US today. For those caught in its clutches, escaping and maintaining sobriety can seem like an impossible feat. At Sober Life, we believe that dream of living a drug-free life is attainable, and we are here to help. From day one of treatment, we will work with you to develop a plan of care that builds on your strengths and focuses on your needs. Our expert staff will guide and support you as you learn effective skills to combat triggers and cravings. After discharge, stay in touch and continue to receive support from our alumni program. Learn more about Sober Life and how we can help by calling (619) 542-9542 today.