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Methamphetamine, also known as meth or crystal meth, is a Schedule II drug with powerful stimulant properties. Typically white, odorless, and found in crystalline form, methamphetamine is highly addictive and can lead to various complications to health and well-being.
Although methamphetamine drugs are available by prescription, they are most often produced in clandestine laboratories and distributed illegally. Due to the many dangers associated with the illegal manufacture of methamphetamine, which include the emissions of toxic fumes and the likelihood of fires and explosions, these illegal operations are a primary concern of law enforcement, the medical community, and average citizens alike.
The dangers of clandestine meth labs are the result of the toxic chemicals used to make the drug. What’s more, nearly all the ingredients found in illegally-produced methamphetamine can be purchased legally over the counter. For example, one of the primary ingredients of methamphetamine is the pseudoephedrine found in OTC cold and sinus medications.
Other common ingredients found in meth include the following:
Like cocaine and other stimulant drugs, meth is extremely addictive. Typically, methamphetamine drugs are either smoked, snorted, or injected intravenously. These methods provide the user with an instantaneous euphoria, or “high,” which is the result of increased production of dopamine in the brain. However, the euphoric effects of methamphetamine are short-lived, usually lasting only a few minutes at most. Once the initial high wears off, users experience intense cravings for methamphetamine, prompting continued use, and ultimately addiction.
The use of methamphetamine produces signs and symptoms like the following:
Over time, the side effects of meth intensify. For example, long-term meth addicts often suffer the following side effects:
Addiction to methamphetamine is extremely harmful to virtually all areas of health. Plus, the highly-addictive nature of meth, combined with its toxic ingredients, cause users to experience complications at an alarming rate.
In addition to the long-term effects of meth use, abusing this drug may lead to serious health complications like the following:
Because of the severe effects and complications associated with meth use, seeking treatment is often a matter of life or death for the addict in question. And although recovery from methamphetamine addiction can be challenging, effective treatment is available.
Since meth affects users in different ways, treatment is usually personalized to suit each individual’s unique needs; however, the following basic approaches are often used in the treatment of methamphetamine addiction:
Detox is the first step in treating addiction to methamphetamine. This process is designed to rid the body of all traces of methamphetamine, which allows the user to move forward to the next phase of treatment. Detox can often be uncomfortable and is associated with the onset of withdrawal symptoms which, in many cases, can be quite severe.
Withdrawal from methamphetamine drugs can often produce the following effects:
Due to these unpleasant effects, most treatment facilities aim to increase clients’ comfort during the detoxification process. Some detox methods include the use of medications, such as antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, and sleep aids to ease discomfort during this first stage of recovery. However, many facilities prefer a drug-free approach to detoxification, which may or may not include vitamin or nutrition regimens, and other all-natural detox methods.
Once the detoxification process is complete, treatment for meth addiction usually involves talk therapy. There are several different types of therapy that have proven effective in the treatment of meth addiction; most often, these include cognitive behavioral therapy and group counseling.
However, no matter the approach, common goals of therapy include the following:
Due to the severe health complications associated with addiction, addressing physical health can play a crucial role in recovery. When it comes to methamphetamine addiction, specifically, physical health is often a primary concern. For this reason, many treatment methods include physical health screenings, exercise, and other approaches to overall health and wellness.
Since studies show that meth addicts benefit from long-term treatment, this stage of recovery can last for an indefinite amount of time. In most cases, this type of care includes scheduled counseling sessions, group therapy meetings, and other types of continued support.
Although addiction to methamphetamine drugs can be frightening and overwhelming, help is available. With the proper care, meth addiction can be treated effectively and have lasting results.