Meth Addiction Treatment
Meth abuse takes an extreme physical toll on abusers, which is what makes it one of the most harrowing drugs on the market.
In one sense, addiction is simple: people seek a chemical because it makes them feel good.
If we look at addiction this way, methamphetamine is a prime candidate for abuse. Its primary effect is to make people feel good. But on a deeper level, meth is much more complicated, especially when it comes to quitting.
If you or a loved one needs meth addiction treatment, it helps to know what you’re dealing with. Here’s a quick overview about how meth works and what your treatment options are to overcome addiction.
The Basics of Methamphetamines
Methamphetamine, better known as crystal meth, is a highly addictive stimulant drug. It derives this name from its appearance: a white, odorless, crystalline powder.
Meth was first derived in the early 20th century from the parent drug amphetamine and was used in nasal decongestants. The key difference is that far greater amounts of meth get into the brain at comparable doses.
It also has longer-lasting, and more dangerous, effects on the central nervous system.
How Meth Works on the Brain
Like many drugs, meth’s effectiveness comes from its ability to trick the brain into producing large amounts of dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in the brain’s reward system, which encourages us to repeat positive behaviors.
Normally, dopamine is secreted in response to all sorts of normal daily activities. These include eating, drinking, having sex, or caring for children. All of these activities that are vital to our survival as a species.
But meth, very much like other similar drugs, forces the brain to produce large amounts of dopamine in a short period of time. These amounts are far more than the brain would regularly secrete in response to normally pleasurable activities, and far more than is healthy for our system to handle, especially on a sustained basis.
This activity in the brain is what makes it instantly habit-forming and one of the biggest reasons it is so difficult to quit for those who have become dependent or addicted to meth.
Signs and Symptoms of Meth Addiction
Meth abuse takes an extreme physical toll on abusers, which is what makes it one of the most harrowing drugs on the market. In the short term, it creates a false sense of energy and wellbeing, leading users to push their bodies further than they can safely go.
This creates ongoing damage during each high and a severe physical or mental breakdown once the drug wears off.
Like other stimulants, meth also decreases the appetite and feelings of hunger, which can lead to extreme weight loss over prolonged use. It also disrupts sleep patterns and can increase hostility and aggression.
But the most marked physical sign of meth abuse is “meth mouth,” the characteristic blackened, stained, or rotting teeth of meth addicts. Once the teeth have deteriorated because of drug use, they often cannot be saved, even among short-term users.
The exact causes of meth mouth aren’t fully understood. One theory attributes it to the corrosive chemicals in the drug. But the more likely culprit is the side effects of a meth high.
When someone takes meth, it constricts his or her blood vessels. This limits the steady flow of blood that the mouth requires in order to stay healthy. Over time, after repeated shrinking, the blood vessels die out, cutting off oral tissues from a supply of oxygen and nutrients.
- Tissues in the mouth, including the teeth, to rapidly decay
- Dry mouth, limiting saliva to neutralize acidic compounds
- Strong desire for sugary foods
- High amounts of bacteria in the mouth
- Accelerated tooth decay
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What Treatments Are Effective For Meth Addiction?
Like other forms of addiction, meth addiction is a disease that requires medical treatment to successfully overcome it. For anyone that is abusing meth to the point of addiction, there are several treatment options available. Here are a few of the most common (and most effective) treatment options.
The best place to start in rehabilitation is a detoxification period, more specifically, a medically supervised one.
Detox is the first stop in the road for a recovering addict. It’s the period in which drugs or alcohol are completely eliminated from the person’s body so that they can begin recovery with a clean slate.
It’s also the period when withdrawal symptoms will be the most acute and uncomfortable, which is why a medically supervised detox is always recommended. This assures that the patient stays away from drugs to alleviate withdrawal, and ensures that they remain as safe and comfortable as possible.
There are many factors that affect how long detox will take, but it depends mostly on the person and the severity of their abuse. The more severe the addiction, the harder the withdrawal will be and the more advisable it is to only work with trained medical professionals.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Once detox has been successfully completed, there are several treatment options to start building healthier habits. One of these is cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT.
CBT teaches people to identify and correct problematic behaviors rather than falling back on unhealthy coping mechanisms. It also teaches strategies for maintaining abstinence and strengthening self-control.
One of the main focuses of CBT is identifying automatic negative thoughts that contribute to destructive behavior patterns. These negative thoughts exacerbate emotional difficulties and, when accepted as true, tend to negatively impact a person’s mood and lead them to seek negative coping tools.
During the CBT process, patients identify these thoughts and learn to effectively question them. They’re encouraged to look at evidence from reality that supports or refutes these thoughts. They then take a more objective view of their negative thoughts and addiction patterns.
In addition to CBT, it’s important to find a treatment center that offers both individual and group therapies so they can work on the root causes of their addiction one on one with a therapist and also in groups with other people who are going through the same thing.
Relapse Prevention Therapy is equally important to recovery, as it teaches coping techniques for overcoming triggers and cravings that often lead those in recovery to relapse and revert back to their old ways.
Finding the Right Meth Addiction Treatment
Regardless of the type of meth addiction treatment you choose, any rehabilitation program is a process that requires a daily commitment to getting better, no matter how difficult it may be.
It’s often a long, difficult journey, and nobody should have to take it alone. That’s where we come in. We offer evidence-based treatment options and support that is needed to live a life of sobriety after overcoming addiction.
The sooner a person begins the road to recovery, the better the chances they have for success.
The quickest way to begin is to verify insurance benefits here on our website.