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Methamphetamine Addiction and Treatment

treatment for meth addiction

You have most likely heard of methamphetamine referred to as “meth.” It comes in several different forms, including a white powder that can be formed into pills or injected; a kind of waxy substance usually called “base”; and crystals which are sometimes referred to as “rocks.”

Crystal meth is smoked and is the most potent form of the drug. Most of this form of the drug, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, is made in Mexico by large criminal organizations. It can, however, be made in smaller laboratories using over-the-counter ingredients. Usage in the United States is very high in some areas making meth addiction treatment a very important tool in helping our communities.

You have most likely also heard of amphetamines, like Adderall, and the two words can be kind of confusing.

Methamphetamine and amphetamines are both manufactured, which means they do not occur naturally. Someone has to go through many steps to make both of them.

Methamphetamine utilizes quite a few ingredients but one of the more well-known is pseudoephedrine, which is used in some cold medications you can buy at the store. The US government has put laws in place to restrict how pseudoephedrine is sold and where it’s available to help slow the production of meth within the United States.

Meth Addiction Treatment and Usage Statistics

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 2015 and 2018 almost 1.7 million Americans that were 18-years and older said they had used meth in the past year. That may not seem like a huge number across the United States, but it gets scarier when you consider the next statistic.

Of those nearly 1.7 million, more than half of them — an astounding 52.9% — officially qualified as having an addiction. This shows that meth is highly addictive, and as we know addiction comes with a lot of negative consequences.

An addiction to any substance means someone is continually seeking out, attaining, and taking a substance despite all the negative outcomes associated with these acts. Addiction comes with strong cravings for the substance and can sometimes mean doing anything to guarantee another chance at using the drug.

It doesn’t have to be only negative outcomes for the person struggling with the substance, however. An addiction can result in someone failing to meet requirements for their job, for social interactions, and even to neglect their family.

If someone continues to take an addictive substance despite all of these negative outcomes, they need help with their addiction.

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What Does Taking Meth Do to You?

Our brains naturally produce a chemical called dopamine, sometimes called the “reward chemical.” It’s what our brains release to make us feel good/happy for “rewarding” situations. Some ways to release dopamine naturally are exercise, listening to music, and meditation, among others.

Meth unnaturally affects the brain’s production of dopamine, greatly increasing the level released. This leads to a person enjoying how great they felt in such a short amount of time and wanting to repeat the feeling. It is a classic first step toward addiction.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse says even taking a little methamphetamine can lead to staying awake longer than normal and a surge in hyperactivity. It can also negatively affect your desire to eat, make you breathe faster than normal (which can also come with increased heartbeat), and even raise your blood pressure and body temperature.

These are just the short-term side effects, however. What can happen to someone who is struggling with meth use for longer?

One of the more recognizable and well-known side effects is drastic changes in dental hygiene and the overall health of the mouth. Often called “meth mouth,” it usually means blackened and/or rotting teeth and can include sores on the gums and tongue as well.

There are other side effects though, including sustained and drastic itching that can lead to skin sores, rapid and severe weight loss, loss of memory and general confusion, and sometimes violent outbursts. There is even the possibility someone using meth for long periods of time can begin hallucinating.

There is even a study that shows long-term use of meth can result in drastic changes to brain chemistry, such as decreasing the ability to learn verbally and also affecting memory.

One study also found that a person who has taken methamphetamine once is at a higher risk to develop Parkinson’s Disease.

Can someone overdose on methamphetamine?

Yes, meth overdoses happen and there are actually two types of overdose possible when using meth. The U.S. National Library of Medicine lists acute and chronic overdoses as possibilities for those using meth.

An acute overdose is possible for someone using a large amount of meth at once, whether on purpose or by accident. This type of overdose can be characterized by the side effects that are already possible, like heart attack, seizures, or even stroke.

The chronic overdose is evident in someone who is addicted and thus has been struggling with meth use for a considerable amount of time. This type of overdose can include extreme paranoia, intense mood swings, and delusional behavior.

If you or someone you know is struggling with short- or long-term meth use, how does recovering from meth work, and how does it feel?

What It Feels Like to Detox From Meth Before Addiction Treatment

Recovering from addiction brings a lot of new steps to accomplish and can be very scary. It can not only mean withdrawal symptoms and urges to relapse, but sometimes even physical and mental changes that may stick around for a bit.

What does it feel like to detox from meth?

There are some common withdrawal symptoms but it’s important to remember everyone’s body may react differently. This is because the length of time they’ve been using will determine how much of their brain chemistry and body has changed due to meth, but also because our bodies respond to treatment differently based on a huge amount of factors, like age, daily diet, and any underlying health conditions.

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Withdrawal can come with the following physical symptoms:

  • Recurring headaches
  • Loss of appetite and trouble keeping food down
  • Difficulty sleeping, which is particularly common for long-term meth use

Withdrawal is almost never a situation with only physical side effects, however. Someone detoxing from meth can experience these emotional side effects:

  • Depression
  • Paranoid, heightened levels of anxiety, and maybe even hallucinations
  • A lack of motivation or purpose
  • Severe exhaustion and potentially sleeping for an increased period throughout the day (this tends to be both physical and mental)
  • Recurring and powerful urges/cravings for methamphetamine

These withdrawal symptoms can be very hard to deal with, and since some of them can even be life-threatening, the process can be dangerous too. Vertava Health of Mississippi has many plans in place to help begin and maintain recovery, and do so safely and as comfortably as possible.

Safely Detox and Recover from Meth Addiction with Help From Vertava Health

Each path to recovery has different twists and turns and each person walking that path will have different experiences, needs, and struggles. It would make no sense to help everyone in the exact same way.

That’s why Vertava Health of Mississippi offers individualized care and uses evidence-based methods to help you start your recovery. Our biggest asset is your strength, the natural that led you to us. You may doubt yourself, but we don’t doubt you.

When you or your loved one decides to get help here, the first thing we do is a thorough clinical assessment. By examining every aspect of a person’s struggle, whether it’s only substance-related or is in combination with a mental health disorder, we can determine the best way forward for the individual.

Let’s look at how we can help with meth recovery.

Medically Supervised Detox

Once you have decided to seek meth addiction treatment and are enrolled in our care, detoxing from meth is most likely where the program begins.

Detoxification is a process that has both physical and mental side effects, as you read above. Struggling with a substance can have physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual fallout. To make sure treatment leads to long-term recovery we focus on cleansing your body, but we also address any negative effects on your psyche.

First, we address the physical fallout by providing you, or your loved one, with a medically-supervised detox.

All the physical symptoms listed above can be daunting when thinking about beginning detox and achieving long-term recovery. A medically-supervised detox uses medications to help with withdrawal. Good treatment goes beyond a medicinal approach, however. Sometimes, while going through withdrawal, the comfort of another person can be incredibly powerful.

Our caring and professional staff is there to offer you compassion, an ear for your story or stories, and maybe a distraction or two. We do everything we can to make sure someone experiencing detox has all needs met.

During medically-supervised detox you are not alone and can rest assured a medical professional is always there to help.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy

The core of our evidence-based therapy program is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). It’s a form of therapy that has been tested and proven to help not only substance use disorders but also anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The four main sections of a DBT program are: practicing mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotional regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness. Each of these focuses on an aspect of your thoughts and emotions, and looks at how your choices are influenced by and impact the world around you.

It is somewhat similar to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) by how it connects with you and works through how you can change problematic/hurtful thoughts and behaviors. One of the larger differences with DBT, however, is that it moves further into embracing acceptance.

Let’s look at each of the four aspects of DBT a little closer so you can know what to expect.

Mindfulness: Encouraging someone to embrace the present and to focus on where they are right then. It will help them to form a feeling of self-awareness and the healthy thoughts they will use accepting themselves and their situation.

Distress Tolerance: Creating proactive coping skills to help someone get past a distressing situation, but also to tolerate and change their emotions in difficult situations.

Emotion Regulation: Related to distress tolerance, this helps someone tell the difference between multiple emotions, but also gives them more skills to help experience those emotions healthily. It brings positive results and allows the person to move forward rather than continuing on with no change, and helps them avoid falling back to old and harmful behaviors.

Interpersonal Effectiveness: Establishing healthy boundaries for their own life, but also for those around them. This phase makes sure the boundaries stick and can help bring balance and understanding to what they can, and can’t/shouldn’t, do.

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How do we use DBT, specifically, during substance use treatment? Here are some ways:

  • Used as early as detox to lend comfort during withdrawal. Mindfulness can play a large role in alleviating physical agitation and discomfort.
  • Similarly, mindfulness and distress tolerance can be used to reduce the urge to relapse.
  • Examining lifestyle, including the presence of friends/family, or certain settings and situations that may trigger cravings.
  • Builds up tolerance for distress and creates processes and thoughts for creating a life that thrives on sobriety.

Evening Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

Once detox has finished and your recovery is continuing on, depending on your clinical assessment, you may need to visit for our Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP). These are sessions that take place Monday through Friday, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

These are visits that offer both individual and group therapy, plus psychiatric services and medical assessments for how well any medication you may be taking is working. The benefit of the evening IOP treatment is your visits are spaced out across multiple days, and after your meth addiction treatment, you go home.

Vertava Health of Mississippi Knows Recovery Can Be Yours

Whether you are just beginning recovery or are working to maintain long-term recovery, Vertava Health of Mississippi knows you have what it takes. Not only do we have all the resources already listed, but we have begun offering telehealth options during Covid-19. Our website also has a chat feature you can use if you cannot use the phone right away.

Our blog also has resources to help you with some topics we know are important. It is our goal to always be a valuable part of your or your loved one’s recovery, whether it’s at the beginning, middle, or the achievement of long-term health and wellness.

Don’t be afraid to call us with any questions you have. There is someone here 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We want to talk with you about anything you are struggling with. Your strength makes your recovery not only possible, but achievable. We’re here for you. Call us at  (844) 551-7335.

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