Meth addiction is a physical dependence on methamphetamine, a dangerous and highly addictive illegal drug. Meth belongs to the stimulant category of psychoactive drugs and produces a high level of energy as well as feelings of intense euphoria and alertness.
Chronic use of this drug can lead to a meth addiction, which is characterized in part by changes in the brain's structures and function that result in the onset of withdrawal symptoms when use is discontinued. While meth addiction can't be cured, it can be sent into remission with the help of a drug treatment program.
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Abusing meth can easily lead to an addiction over time, as tolerance builds up and higher doses are needed to get the desired effects. Meth addiction is less prevalent than heroin and cocaine addiction in the U.S., with only 512,000 people reporting using the drug in the past 30 days in a recent study. More than 11 million Americans have tried it in their lifetime.
Initially, this drug produces euphoria and wakefulness, but for those who abuse it long-term or have an addiction to meth, quitting the drug can cause a serious, deep depression marked by thoughts or attempts of suicide.
Meth suppresses the appetite and raises blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature. Using it with alcohol dramatically increases the risk of overdosing on either substance due to the effects of one countering the effects of the other.
Long-term health effects associated with using meth include:
Some of the signs and symptoms that someone is addicted to meth might include:
Secondary addictions are generally behavioral in nature and often accompany a physical dependence on a psychoactive substance. Secondary addictions may include addictions to food, eating, sex, and gambling. Engaging in these behaviors while under the influence can increase their desirability, and a psychological dependence on the behavior can develop. Secondary addictions are treated along with the primary substance addiction during rehab.
Medical detoxification is the first phase of treating an addiction to meth. Medical detox breaks the physical addiction with the help of a team of medical and mental health professionals, who administer medications as needed to alleviate some of the symptoms of withdrawal, such as cravings and intense depression.
The second phase of treatment involves using various traditional and alternative treatment therapies to address the underlying issues surrounding the addiction. These highly complex psychological aspects of addiction require a holistic approach to treatment, which might include cognitive-behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, Moral Reconation Therapy, and art or music therapy.
Once treatment has been completed, an aftercare plan is individualized and put in place to help patients abstain from using meth. The aftercare plan will include ongoing therapy and participation in a community recovery program like Narcotics Anonymous.
The rates of relapse for those who have an addiction to meth are very high, but that shouldn't preclude people with an addiction from getting the help they need. It often takes more than one round of rehab to maintain successful long-term recovery.
Around 85 percent of people who receive treatment for an addiction to meth will relapse within the first three months, and 88 percent will relapse in the first three years. For those who don't seek professional help for an addiction to meth, the rate of relapse in the first three months is 95 percent.