Methamphetamine Addiction, Effects, and Treatment
By AlternativeRelief in Addiction
How Addictive is Meth?
Methamphetamine was invented almost 100 years ago in Japan. Used to help keep soldiers alert during the Second World War, meth became popular as a recreational drug in Japan in the 50’s. The 1950’s saw methamphetamine use rise in the US, as it was prescribed to help treat depression and as a dieting aid. As is true today, it was used by students, drivers, athletes, and others for it’s potential to increase performance, endurance, and concentration. It has grown in popularity in recent decades as it is relatively cheap, produces long-lasting effects, and is one of the most intense drugs out there.
What is Meth?
Methamphetamine is a central nervous system stimulant known colloquially as crystal meth, meth, ice, or speed. Meth can be smoked, injected, snorted, or taken orally. Like many other street drugs, methamphetamine is unregulated and users may get a drug with varying levels of potency. According to SAMHSA’s Behavioral Health Trends, there are over 550,000 regular meth users in the United States. This makes up a significant portion of all stimulant use in the country, and is almost completely acquired illegally.
Can You Get Addicted the First Time?
You may have heard it said about meth that you can get addicted with just one single use. This is often cited in drug education programs and on websites as a reason to never try meth once. The truth is that meth use produces a very strong experience when used for the first time. Sometimes called a “flash,” the rush of euphoria, pleasure, and excitement can be overwhelming. This experience is especially common when smoking meth or using it intravenously, but may also occur when snorted.
Although a person may become attached to the experience and seek to experience it again, they don’t generally experience a true addiction after the first time. Individuals will often “chase” the first high, trying to achieve the same results. As tolerance builds, it is unlikely that they will ever experience the same high again. Although you can’t truly get addicted to meth using it just once, the pleasure and euphoria can create a strong mental attachment almost immediately. This is the reason it’s best to steer clear of meth completely and never try it!
Addictive Potential of Methamphetamine
Like any other addiction, there are a number of contributing factors. Not everyone gets addicted to meth, and not everyone fits perfectly with the potential risk factors. However, you may be at risk of becoming addicted to meth if you:
- Use meth in your teen years
- Have a family history of mental health disorders
- Have a family history of addiction
- Use methamphetamine for extended periods of time
- Personal history of mental health disorders
- Personal history of trauma
- Witnessing domestic violence
- Growing up with an impaired parent
One of the issues with methamphetamine and other drugs is that a user builds tolerance. This means that as you use crystal meth for longer periods of time, your mind and body begin to experience less powerful effects. This means you need to use more and more of the drug to achieve desired effects. This pattern creates dependence as the person begins taking in more and more of the drug. Furthermore, withdrawal symptoms may be very unpleasant and the person may return to meth use to deal with the discomfort of symptoms.
Meth Use Information
Meth causes many short term and long term effects. People may experience symptoms of withdrawal for quite some time after quitting, and the short term effects of meth can be devastating on an individual and the people who care about them.
Crystal meth can be quite damaging even with short-term use. There are substantial physical and psychological effects from methamphetamine use after just a few uses. The drug can be quite dangerous and regular substance abuse can cause a variety of symptoms.
Short-term effects of meth abuse include:
- Intense alertness
- Anger or rage
- Irritability and anxiety
- Irregular heart rate
- Decreased hunger
- Irregular sleeping patterns
- Shaking and tremors
- Vomiting or nausea
- Irregular bowel movements
Long-Term Effects of Meth Use
Over longer periods of use, meth may cause some pretty scary symptoms. It’s the nature of addiction that people use drugs despite these symptoms, but it’s important to know the pain and harm that meth use may cause.
Some long-term effects of methamphetamine use include:
- Weight loss
- Memory loss
- Pervasive anxiety
- Violent behavior and fits of rage
- Strong mood swings
- Suicidal and/or homicidal thoughts and ideation
- Severe oral problems (known as “meth mouth”)
- Lung diseases
- Heart problems
- Liver damage
- High blood pressure
One of the other common effects of methamphetamine use is psychosis, which is sometimes referred to as meth-induced psychosis or ice psychosis. This is a state that arises from prolonged meth use, and is most common during the withdrawal period. Meth psychosis symptoms include:
- Visual hallucinations
- Auditory hallucinations
- Delusions of grandeur
- Delusions of reference
- Delusions of persecution
- Intense paranoia
Methamphetamine Addiction Help
If you or somebody you know is struggling with addiction to methamphetamine, it’s important to reach out for help. There are many reasons to do so. First, you don’t have to go it alone. Withdrawing from drugs is painful, difficult, and can be overwhelming. Find love and support by reaching out for help. Second, there are professionals out there with tons of experience working with those struggling to get and stay sober. You’re much more likely to stay sober if you find help from a detox, inpatient treatment, or an intensive outpatient program.
About the Author
This post was written by one of our staff writers at Alternative Relief!