Methamphetamine & Crystal Meth Addiction
Methamphetamine, also known as speed, meth, chalk, ice, crystal or glass, is an extremely addictive central nervous system stimulant. It is a white, colorless, bitter-tasting powder that works by entering the brain and triggering a cascading release of norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin. Because meth stimulates the mesolimbic reward pathway (causing euphoria and excitement) it is highly addictive. Meth is administered orally, by snorting, by injecting or by smoking. Because it delivers meth to the brain more quickly than other methods of administration, smoking increases one’s risk for addiction the most.
Crystal methamphetamine, also known as ice or glass, is a pure form of methamphetamine. It is called “crystal” meth because of its clear, crystalline, rock-like appearance. Like other stimulants, crystal meth arouses the brain’s pleasure centers, releasing dopamine and, initially, causing feelings of intense pleasure.
When meth enters the brain it causes the excessive release of dopamine. This produces a high characterized by increased alertness, concentration, self-esteem, libido, energy and euphoria. Meth highs last for several hours. After initial feelings of euphoria fade, meth users feel fatigued and depressed and can sleep for extended periods of time. Because the pleasurable effects of methamphetamine wear off quickly, users tend to abuse the drug in a “binge and crash” cycle, meaning they take more of the drug before the first dose is out of the system. Continued abuse, destroys the brain’s dopamine and serotonin receptors, making it extremely difficult for users to experience feelings of pleasure. This reduced capacity to experience pleasure encourages dependence and addiction as the users requires more and more crystal meth to achieve the same high.
Users report feelings of euphoria, increased energy and power. In the short term, crystal meth causes a variety of side effects, including suppressed appetite, mood swings, sleep disruption or insomnia, anxiety, erratic or violent behavior, mood swings, unpredictability, loss of appetite, convulsions, increased blood pressure and irregular heart rate. Occasionally, users experience thoughts of homicide or suicide.
Chronic use of crystal meth results in weight loss, psychosis, hallucinations, sores on the body from picking at the skin, inflammation of the heart lining, formication (a sensation of bugs crawling on the skin) and “meth mouth” (tooth decay and cracked teeth caused by tooth grinding and poor oral hygiene).
Long-term effects of methamphetamine abuse are quite serious. Users experience mood disturbances; exhibit violent or bizarre behavior; feel anxious or confused; have difficulty sleeping; and develop severe dental problems (meth mouth). Abuse is also associated with depression, suicide, psychosis and heart disease. All users, especially those who inject, are at risk for infectious diseases such as hepatitis and HIV/AIDS. Additionally, meth damages nerve receptors in the brain, some of which can never be restored even after several years of abstinence.
Rehabilitation & Recovery
Addiction to meth and crystal meth can be debilitating, dangerous and, for some, life threatening. Fortunately, effective treatment is available. Because methamphetamine users develop drug dependence, they will experience withdrawal symptoms upon discontinuing or curtailing use. Common withdrawal symptoms include fatigue, depression, increased appetite, headaches, agitation, hypersomnia (excessive sleeping), anxiety, lucid dreams, drug craving and suicidal thoughts.
At Hopes Gates, recovery from methamphetamine addiction is possible! Detoxification from meth is a vital element of treatment and is not easy for patients. Our Program starts with detox and treatment for the intense withdrawal symptoms. Therapy is initiated to relieve the psychological damage. 12-step programs might be recommended, along with a combination of group and cognitive behavior therapies. Coping with meth withdrawal symptoms can be very difficult without help. Call Hopes Gate and let us help you or your loved one now!
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