Methamphetamine is not the most-discussed drug in American media given the nation’s ongoing opioid crisis. However, even though the number of meth overdoses in America trails behind that of opioids like fentanyl, heroin, and prescription painkillers, meth-related overdoses are on the rise.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the number of drug overdose deaths involving methamphetamine increased 3.6-fold, from 1,887 deaths in 2011 to 6,762 deaths in 2016, with some states seeing increases in such overdoses as high as 5,000% over a period of 8 years. In addition to the risk of overdose, meth addiction causes severe physical and psychological decay that destroys the lives of addicts in the process. Here, we discuss the most pressing aspects of meth addiction and drug rehab.
Why is Meth Addiction Becoming More Common?
Meth’s resurgence in the United States can partially be traced to its cost and availability. Meth has followed a similar trend to heroin, in that people often turn to alternative substances when the substances they abuse become too expensive or difficult to procure. Just as many have turned to heroin in lieu of prescription painkillers, many are now turning to meth in lieu of opioids, which are becoming less readily available.
Meth offers users a low-cost alternative to opioids and a strong, euphoric high. Much of the meth available today is produced outside of the United States, and is often extremely high in purity. This highly pure meth is frequently laced with fentanyl or other lethal drugs, to disastrous effect.
Side Effects of Meth Use
Methamphetamine is one of the most destructive drugs one can take, often proving highly addictive early on, while slowly damaging a person’s body and mind over time. Meth sends a user’s breathing, temperature, and heart rate soaring to dangerously high levels. Users may experience:
- uncontrollable twitching, fidgeting, rapid eye movement
- teeth grinding
- lack of appetite that often leads to mal-nourishment and weight loss
- severe dental decay
- skin sores
- stroke or heart attack
- paranoia and/or hallucinations
- mood swings or emotional outbursts
- avoidance of or inability to sleep
Regular meth use also contributes to severe dental decay – often known as “meth mouth” – along with skin sores, a greatly increased risk for stroke or heart attack, and damage to internal organ function.
Psychologically, meth users may feel paranoid, experience hallucinations, or act out dangerously against themselves or others. Long-term meth use can also impair immune system function, and is linked to “severe structural and functional changes in areas of the brain associated with emotion and memory”.
Methamphetamine Abuse and Stimulant Use Disorders
Methamphetamine use falls under the general diagnosis of Amphetamine-Type Substance Use Disorder, which includes both meth dependence and abuse. Amphetamine-Type Substance Use Disorders are classified in magnitude based on the number of symptoms present, meaning the more symptoms, the more severe the disorder. Such symptoms include:
- strong cravings for the substance
- using the substance in inappropriate situations
- modifying one’s behavior to obtain the substance
- the development of a tolerance to the drug
- withdrawal symptoms when attempting to discontinue use
Meth is infamously addictive. Users can quickly develop a tolerance for the substance, requiring more of it to achieve the same effects. Similarly, meth commonly drives users towards dangerous behaviors while under the influence of the drug.
Signs That a Loved One is Using Meth
Meth’s tendency to do its damage over time may obscure a loved one’s substance abuse. However, meth use often provokes immediate, observable changes in the user’s appearance and behavior. These can include:
- uncharacteristic behavior
- irresponsible behaviors
- unexplained selling of possessions
- requests to borrow money
- poor financial decisions
- severe depression or anxiety
The psychological damage caused by meth addiction can lead to severe depression or anxiety in users, especially if they are experiencing these symptoms as a function of withdrawal from the drug.
If you or a loved one is using meth, seeking professional treatment is essential. Because meth’s damage tends to accumulate over time, entering drug rehab early on can make a huge difference in the difficulty of recovery. However, even addicts who have abused meth over the long-term can overcome meth addiction. With proper care and abstinence from the drug, much of meth’s damage to the body and mind is reversible. The first step of recovery is often detoxification.
Meth Detox and Withdrawal
Detoxification refers to eliminating use of a given substance and removing all traces of it from one’s body. Meth‘s fiercely addictive nature means that it often proves extremely difficult for users to quit on their own. Apart from severe cravings, meth also provokes a host of serious withdrawal symptoms when users attempt to cut back or eliminate use. These can include psychological symptoms, such as depression, anxiety, or paranoia, as well as physical manifestations like sharply increased appetite and desire to sleep.
Medical detox from meth generally consists of an evaluation, stabilization of the patient, and then a referral to further treatment once the detox process is completed. The initial period of detox in which symptoms are worst lasts approximately 5 to 7 days, though this depends on the user’s history with meth. Following this detox process, most patients are ready to begin receiving professional recovery care.
Treating Meth Addiction
Despite decades of research, there are no medications approved to treat meth addiction. Professional treatment requires an approach grounded in research-backed psychotherapy, which offers powerful behavioral and psychological techniques that help addicts cope with cravings while fighting negative thoughts and feelings that fuel meth abuse.
Patients must also learn healthy reinforcing habits and behaviors that can increase their chances of preventing relapse and developing a healthy lifestyle. Drugabuse.gov notes that successful interventions for meth addiction can consist of cognitive-behavioral therapy, 12-step work, individual counseling, and an emphasis on healthy habits and activities. A proper meth recovery plan should include some or all of these features.
Meth Rehab at Granite Recovery Centers
Granite Recovery Centers in New Hampshire takes a unique approach to treating meth addiction. Our abstinence-based substance abuse care weaves together 12-step programming with clinical psychotherapy, while offering individualized treatment and a holistic emphasis on our clients’ physical, psychological, and spiritual health.
Meth’s resistance to treatment via medication requires an approach that combines the most effective aspects of cognitive and behavioral treatments for substance abuse.
With an abstinence-based approach, Granite Recovery Centers takes great care in honing in on exactly how these behavioral treatments can be adapted and best used to guide the client through rehab from meth.
12 Steps and Meth Addiction
The 12 Steps are a time-tested method for encouraging addicts to recognize and begin to work on their substance abuse. Our 12-step integrated curriculum provides structure, goals, and much-needed incentives for the sort of introspection and emotional work that is necessary to recover from addiction. This can involve facing hard truths, not just about one’s addiction, but their entire self-image, past, or responsibilities to others. It’s not enough to have courage to do these things – clients need to learn the emotional tools that make this work possible and successful.
Clinical Psychotherapy and Meth Addiction
There are many forms of clinical psychotherapy; from cognitive behavioral therapy to trauma and grief counseling, in individual or group settings. The type of care one needs is specific to the individual. Meth users often benefit from some combination of care strategies, especially since they often experience high rates of co-occurring mental disorders that can worsen or enable addiction and encourage self-limiting beliefs that get in the way of recovery. Since meth abuse has been shown to predispose users to depression, cognitive behavioral treatments that address and replace these negative self-beliefs are essential.
Holistic Care for Meth Addiction
Long-term meth use frequently leaves addicts malnourished, out of shape, anxious, depressed, and even paranoid. Therapy goes a long way, but is not enough to restore the damage done. Addicts in recovery don’t just need to discontinue use of drugs. They need to replace their substance abuse with an entirely new lifestyle based on restorative practices for the body and mind, self-care, and recovery-oriented thinking. This starts with providing the body and mind the nutrients needed to function properly. Our inpatient drug rehab programs provide clients with a nutritious diet of chef-prepared meals that is designed to give the body what it needs to feel good without drugs.
Meth addiction has disastrous effects on the brain’s ability to produce vital neurotransmitters like dopamine, often leading to mood dysfunction. Along with cognitive therapy to address such dysfunction, two of the tools used to treat meth addicts in recovery are yoga and exercise.
Physical exercise and yoga increase circulation, improve mood regulation, and aid in restoring the body’s natural function after it has been damaged by substance abuse. Along with its physical benefits, yoga also acts as a vital stress-reduction practice that aids clients in developing mindfulness and tolerance of bodily and emotional states, helping them recognize that discomfort does not have to necessitate relapse.
Meditation is another practice offering similar benefits, reducing stress, improving mindfulness, and encouraging the mind to calm its fight-or-flight stress responses and replace them with emotional stability. These practices aid recovering meth addicts in preventing relapse, offering new, healthy habits that enable clients to put their physical and mental health first.
Levels of Care for Meth Addiction
Granite Recovery Centers has multiple facilities throughout New Hampshire that cater to differing substance abuse needs. Our sub-acute, medically-supervised detox center at Green Mountain Treatment Center provides comfort and professional supervision during the critical first steps of discontinuing a drug. From there, our intensive drug rehab programs provide the next level of care.
Granite Recovery Centers offers both inpatient and outpatient programs based on the client’s needs. Both approaches focus on 12-step work, clinical psychotherapy, and the development of a recovery community. As is often the case with meth addiction, many clients need a change in environment that gets them away from outside influences and into a drug-free, monitored, safe, and stress-free setting to recover. Inpatient care is vital in such situations, since it ensures that clients with moderate to severe addictions have all available tools and advantages for recovery at their disposal.
Following an initial stay, many meth addicts are just beginning to adjust to living without drugs and are still getting a grip on the recovery tools necessary to sustain that lifestyle. Extended care options are designed to help clients continue this journey, with increasing degrees of responsibility and freedom developed as recovery skills are mastered.
During this time, clients focus on the 12 steps, on learning life skills like financial management and employment training, and on learning and adapting their relapse prevention and coping techniques as new challenges arise. All work is structured and monitored in order to keep clients on track and ensure continued abstinence from drugs and alcohol.
Meth Addiction Rehab at Granite Recovery Centers
Granite Recovery Centers’ treatment philosophy is simple: Addiction to substances like meth is a disease, not a moral failing.
Proper treatment for such a disease requires an approach that attacks addiction on all fronts, from the physical, to the psychological, to the spiritual.
Our integrated care combines the time-tested model of the 12 Steps with the latest and most effective forms of clinical psychotherapy to address and conquer every facet of addiction. With individualized care and recovery planning, the team at Granite Recovery Centers will help you or your loved one overcome meth addiction and build the healthier, happier life of sustained recovery that you deserve.