Methamphetamine, also known as crystal meth or simply “meth,” is a highly addictive, dangerous and illicit drug. Its effects can last up to 12 hours.
After first ingesting the drug, users report feeling euphoric and overwhelmed with a sense of pleasure. However, the feel-good effects of crystal meth are temporary.
As meth’s short-term impact on the body dissipates, users begin to experience physical cravings, agitation, depression, a sensation of bugs crawling under their skin and a host of other negative reactions. Withdrawal symptoms from crystal meth are unpleasant and exhausting. These withdrawal symptoms frequently push users back to meth, creating a vicious cycle of abuse and dependence.
What Exactly is Crystal Meth?
Crystal meth is a powerful stimulant that works by triggering dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin receptors in the brain. Over time, meth compromises the brain’s capacity to create feel-good chemicals on its own.
Meth can be snorted, smoked or dissolved in water and ingested intravenously. Meth is generated in home labs, illegal operations where individuals create methamphetamine out of household solvents, cleaners, ammonia and pseudoephedrine, one of the chemical components found in over-the-counter cold medicine. With the discovery of meth labs, in which inordinate amounts of cold medicine and cleaning solvents were contained, came restrictions on over-the-counter cold medicines such as Sudafed and Contac. Currently, if someone needs to purchase cold medicine, he or she is required to purchase the drug from behind the pharmacy counter and provide a valid driver’s license upon receipt.
Street names for crystal meth include “ice,” “crank,” “chalk,” “fire,” “shards,” “poor man’s cocaine,” and “crystal.”
Why Detox from Meth?
When an addict undergoes detoxification from a crystal meth addiction, the withdrawal symptoms can be severely incapacitating.
Withdrawal symptoms from meth include but are not limited to:
- Depression and/or anxiety
- A spike in appetite
- Unusual mood or behavior
- Physical cravings
- Profuse sweating
- Grinding of the teeth and jaw
- Extreme fatigue
- Vivid dreams
- Thoughts of suicide
Thus, it is important for methamphetamine addicts to be medically detoxed
from meth in a medically supervised environment. An untreated addiction almost always drives an addict back into the throws of the drug’s clutch. While detoxifying in a professional setting, each patient is comforted by clinicians and staff members. Rehab staff members work to ensure that each patient receives individual attention and a treatment plan catered to their personal needs.
Staff members include physicians, psychiatrists, resident assistants, nutritionists and other specialists. Many meth addicts enter the treatment center vastly underweight and malnourished, partly because meth curbs the user’s appetite. Based on each client’s health assessment, on-site professionals work to restore patients to good health. Balanced meals, slow exposure to exercise, rest and plenty of liquids are integral parts of the detox and rehab experience.
Co-Occurring Mental Disorders with Meth Addiction
A medical team will assess whether or not a co-occurring substance abuse problem exists or if dual diagnosis rehab
will be needed.
For many meth addicts, coming down from meth is simply unbearable; as such, sedative and depressant narcotics may be used to mitigate withdrawal symptoms. Herein lies the crux of polysubstance abuse. When a drug addiction spawns across multiple drugs, the term “polysubstance abuse” is used. Rehabilitation staff members are accustomed to working with patients experiencing co-occurring substance abuse problems. Patients receive the best and most appropriate treatment regimen that synergistically treats withdrawal from two or more drugs, when applicable.
Throughout the detoxification process, patients will be assessed on a psychological level. When and if co-occurring disorders exist, detoxification specialists utilize the adequate resources at hand to treat both the substance abuse problem and the underlying mental disorder, e.g., depression, bipolar disorder or generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Effectively managing both mental disorders is crucial to fostering the success of a patient’s long-term sobriety.
In cases of prolonged meth use, psychosis, paranoia and schizophrenia can originate beyond the scope of drug usage. Long-term meth use is highly correlated with depression and suicide, making professional rehabilitation a necessity.
Physical risks associated with meth use include heart disease, aggressiveness, stroke, Parkinson’s Disease, psychosis and schizophrenia.
Treatment for Meth Addiction – The Longer, The Better
Acute withdrawal symptoms from methamphetamine can last up to a year after the user’s last dose. Thus, the longer a methamphetamine addict or abuser can afford to stay in treatment, the better.
The best bet for a meth addict is to continue engaging in treatment immediately after the detoxification period has commenced. Through drug rehabilitation, meth addicts will pursue a path of self-discovery, meaning and hope.
Overall, detox and rehabilitation are imperative components in the meth user’s arsenal of tools, used to stay abstinent from meth on a long-term basis.