When an individual falls privy to a methamphetamine addiction, life can become very narrow. What begins as an occasional, recreational activity becomes a necessary part of survival. Scoring a fix or buying a week’s worth of meth becomes an addict’s central focus. In light of the debilitating effects of crystal meth addiction, it is especially imperative that meth addicts seek the services of an addiction treatment center.
Once a Meth Addiction Begins, the Rational Brain Is Quieted
Crystal meth is notorious for the insidious claws it digs into victims. The ability to make logical, healthy decisions becomes compromised through abuse of meth. The very first time a user tries meth, a neurological shift occurs. Meth damages the brain in such a way that the brain’s reward pathway and circuitry is permanently altered. Thus, the initial high and euphoria a user feels upon trying meth can never quite be recreated.
A perpetual attempt at experiencing a high and filling an inner void – inevitably met with disappointment – fuels a self-destructive cycle. Out of all illicit drugs, meth has one of the highest relapse rates. Overdose from meth can occur as a byproduct of trying to reach an unattainable high.
Who Can Become Addicted to Meth?
Policymakers and officials have narrowed down the demographics in terms of who uses meth on a statistically significant scale. Although meth addiction crosses boundaries of age, race, gender and ethnicity, two profiles of users represent the most common categories reported by officials and treatment professionals. They include:
1. High school and college students and college athletes
2. White, blue-collar workers and men and women in their 20s and 30s who are jobless
Meth abuse occurs across rural and urban boundaries. Usage is divided equally among both women and men. According to KCI, the national, government-run anti-meth site, the following pinpoints the demographics of users in terms of age:
- Under the age of 18: 24 percent
- 18-23 years old: 35 percent
- 23-30 years old: 19 percent
- 30-40 years old: 13 percent
- Age 40 and above: six percent
Why Does Meth Have the Highest Rate of Relapse?
Similar to issues experienced by cocaine addicts, meth addicts face an entourage of obstacles. Oftentimes, meth users are closely connected with a group of friends who also use meth. Buying and using meth is part of the group culture. Daily obligations are altered or ignored to ensure that meth use is the primary priority. Thus, staying abstinent from meth virtually always involves the addict needing to shift his or her entire social circle. Shifts in daily routine can be emotionally taxing, but they must be adhered to in order to preclude a relapse.
Full recovery from meth addiction requires addicts to make substantial changes in their lifestyle. This means cutting ties with current friends, relocating if necessary, and avoiding places in which the meth user is accustomed to using drugs in. Meth addiction is mental, physical and biological in nature. The brain damage caused by meth often serves as an impetus to send a recovering addict back into the throws of active addiction. According to KCI’s website:
- The period of acute withdrawal effects for casual meth users lasts six to eight months after the abuser’s last usage.
- For addicts in which regular meth use was an integral part of their lifestyle, acute withdrawal effects do not dissipate fully for an estimated two to three years after the last use.
- In some cases, long-term meth addicts never fully recover and suffer from ongoing psychosis, paranoid schizophrenia, and hallucinations.
Prolonged abstinence from meth allows the brain time to heal and repair itself. Thus, the longer a meth addict can stay invested in a treatment program, the better – from a statistical and logical standpoint. Staying away from meth can be very difficult especially in the early stages of sobriety. Physical cravings crop up at any given moment. In women, the weight gain that can result from no longer ingesting a drug that curbs the appetite can send them reeling for more meth. Depression from withdrawal can also contribute to the addict’s chances of relapse. When an addict is out of treatment and begins to feel depressed, a hit of meth – promising energy, short-term vitality and alertness – can present itself as a viable option.
Meth Treatment Helps
Barring treatment, meth users are a liability to society. Their demand for meth keeps mom-and-pop meth labs in business. Drug trades conducted through gangs, in and around the Mexican border, are propelled by demand. The economics – i.e., demand and supply of meth – fluctuates in a similar fashion to that of any commodity. By attending treatment, patients learn to live free of drugs. As compared to incarceration, treatment is about one-tenth of the cost to society. In addition, treatment raises the stakes for sobriety. Fewer people on meth translates into reduced opportunities for the following:
- Meth-induced car collisions
- Fires and explosions caused by the illegal production of methamphetamine
- Environmental contamination near meth production; meth is made from chemical compounds in asthma medications and cold medicines, red phosphorous, hydrochloric acid, drain solvent, battery acid, lantern fuel, antifreeze and other hazardous components
- Dental expenses from tooth decay and damage as a result of meth use
- Individuals incarcerated for meth
- Contaminated sludge drains, storm drains, soil and groundwater near meth production sites
Additional Meth Statistics
- According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, over 12.3 million Americans age 12 and older have tried meth at least once.
- Statistically speaking, women are more inclined to pick up meth than they are to pick up cocaine.
- Meth’s purity decreases the closer production is to the Mexican border, most likely a result of drug trafficking from Mexican locations.
- The top two reasons reported for using meth are (1) accessibility and (2) the fact that it is relatively inexpensive.
- Adolescents between 12 and 17 years old admitted to meth addiction treatment increased by 100 percent between the years of 1994 and 2004.
- Over 85 percent of meth production occurs in “superlabs” found in California and Mexico.
- Members of drug cartels often strike up business relationships with Native American reservations to use the land as a distribution point between Mexico and North Dakota.
- In 2004, over 3,000 children were removed from meth labs throughout the US by child welfare officials.
- One pound of meth creates five to six pounds of toxic waste.
- Approximately $1,000 worth of ingredients, such as aluminum foil and paint thinner, is enough to create $20,000 worth of meth.
- In a typical mom-and-pop meth lab, all of the equipment and paraphernalia used to make meth could fit in a small beverage cooler. Some labs are contained within bath tubs, sheds, barns, vehicles or abandoned trailers
Seek Treatment for Meth Addiction Through Rehabilitation
If you or someone you love is addicted to meth, seek help as soon as possible. Crystal meth treatment is available. Inpatient drug rehabilitation is the preferred method of treatment for meth addicts. The longer the addict can stay in a drug treatment center, the better the chances of sustaining long-term sobriety. Help is only a phone call away.