One illicit drug that has caused considerable agony for the user and family members is methamphetamine abuse. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) conducted in 2015 showed that over 1.7 million Americans (12 years of age and older) reported meth abuse.
The stimulant drug is either pill or powder with bitter taste. Crystal meth is one type of this illegal drug that appears as glass fragments or glittery and bluish-white stones. The chemical elements of this variety are similar to amphetamine used in the treatment of sleep disorders and Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD.
Use and Addiction
Meth is considered among the most venomous and devastating drugs in the worldwide. Hence, getting addicted to meth can be fatal. The effects of meth are powerful so it becomes habit-forming immediately and opens the door to long-term substance abuse. After a while, C damages the brain’s dopamine receptors. Meth users cannot experience pleasure through other sources except this substance. A treatment program and rehabilitation can be useful but there is always the danger of unending cognitive impairment if methamphetamine abuse is not addressed right away.
Symptoms of Addiction
Meth addiction goes further than the psychological. The warning signs include the following:
- Weight loss as a result of the drug shutting down hunger centers of the brain.
- Dehydration or thirst.
- High body temperature.
- Lack of sleep due to constant stimulation.
- Boils in the skin caused by the injection of methamphetamine to the skin rather than the veins.
- Decreased sexual appetite.
- Osteoporosis which makes the bones and teeth brittle and fragile.
The brain chemistry of meth users is altered completely which is manifested in several behavioral changes. When this happens, the addicts experience relentless paranoia along with nightmares or delusions as well as violent behavior characterized by uncontrollable mood swings.
Use of meth is done through snorting, injection of powder, smoking, inhalation, and swallowing. The “high” feeling begins and diminishes quickly prodding methamphetamine users to take recurring and large doses. What are the effects of Methamphetamine? It increases the quantity of dopamine responsible for producing ecstasy or flash experienced by addicts.
Temporary and Long-Term Consequences
Small amounts of substance abuse produce the same effects like cocaine or amphetamine.
- Reduced appetite
- Quick and irregular breathing
- Increased restlessness along with physical activity
- High blood pressure and body temperature
On the other hand, long-term meth use includes:
- Tremendous weight loss
- Serious dental issues
- Severe itching that leads to skin blisters caused by scratching
- Sleeping issues
- Vicious or violent behavior
- Hallucinations and suspicion
Recent clinical research suggested that nonstop use of meth can add to the risk of being afflicted with Parkinson’s disease. It is also highly possible for methamphetamine addicts who inject the chemical to become infected with diseases like Hepatitis B and C. and HIV. Said diseases are transmitted through transfer of blood and other fluids.
Possible Treatment for Methamphetamine Dependence
There is a still hope for those suffering from meth addiction. Experts maintain that the most effective treatment program consist of behavioral therapies.
The first one is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT which helps patients become familiar with, stay away from, and deal with situations that can help them stop using drugs. The second technique is the use of positive reinforcement through motivational incentives employing minor cash rewards or vouchers in encouraging patients to abstain from substance abuse. The third is referred to as the Matrix Model which integrates CBT, education on addiction and relapse prevention, self-help programs (12-step model), and weekly urine exams to guarantee self-discipline. So far, this is said to be the most effective addiction treatment.
Research is still being conducted even as there are no medications approved by the government to treat meth abuse. However, researchers from a prestigious university in California found out that patients prescribed with Naltrexone following complete detoxification reduced their yearning for meth. This drug reportedly dampened the pleasure of taking this substance. Other medicines such as benzodiazepines are prescribed if the person is troubled or panicked because their bodies adjust to life minus meth abuse.
Importance of Detoxification
In almost all rehab centers in the country, treatment of meth addiction calls for complete courses of detoxification. This involves cleansing of patient’s bodies so these can get used to functioning without the chemical. The treatment program must also focus on the psychological impairment brought about by meth. The objective is to revitalize the mind and show patients the possibility of living without substance abuse.
The process of detoxification will depend on the individual’s addiction. It could be moderate or extreme. If the level is extreme, an inpatient treatment program could be the best solution. Or, an outpatient approach is appropriate where the patient is given medicines with detoxification done at home. The criteria include the following:
- There are no illicit substances to include drugs and alcohol in the household.
- The patient has clear-headed and dependable family members and colleagues who can provide support.
- The meth users agree to take part in therapies and aftercare group activities.
- All unused medications are returned to the rehab center.
If possible, detoxification should be made at a hospital or treatment center so the medical staff can keep track of the patient’s withdrawal progress and the needed support.
Continuing meth abuse has plenty of adverse consequences which include mental health and addiction. Dependence is a persistent and degenerating syndrome distinguished by obsessive substance abuse. This is usually accompanied by molecular modifications in the brain. Tolerance to the gratifying effects of meth happens if this is taken repetitively. Meth addicts are compelled to take higher and frequent dosages with the hope of getting the preferred effects. Research financed by the National institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is continuously looking at the programs associated with treatment of meth abuse, prevention and outreach programs in the community.