Methamphetamine, or meth as it is colloquially known, is one of the most powerful drugs available today. The drug is so powerful that you only need a single dose or a few doses to get hooked. It will not only damage your teeth, but will also damage your brain, your liver, heart, appetite, and interfere with almost every physical function. Although it is challenging to quit meth addiction, with the proper help, you can stop meth for good. The severity of meth addiction (which is dependent on the duration of use) determines how challenging it is to quit meth addiction.
What It’s Like to Be Addicted to Meth
According to a PBS Frontline documentary on Meth, the drug induces the brain to produce dopamine at high levels. Over time, it becomes impossible for the addict to feel pleasure without taking the drug.
Eventually, the dopamine receptors in your brain get destroyed. This makes you incapable of deriving pleasure from sources other than meth. At this point, meth becomes the sole pleasure point of the addict. They spend their time, money, and energy on meth. Anything not related to meth loses vitality as the addict focuses more on meth addiction.
To quit meth addiction, you need to realize the risks that the drug is putting you or your loved ones through – this is the most challenging part. However, once you are through with the hard part, you only need to change your environment and seek help from an addiction treatment center. During recovery, you will go through detoxification, therapy, treating withdrawal symptoms, more therapy, and after-treatment care. Depending on the severity of your addiction, treatment can take anywhere between six months and a year.
Why is Meth Challenging to Quit?
Like most other dangerous drugs on the market today, methamphetamine addiction interferes with dopamine production in the brain. It also interferes with other vital functions of the brain. Meth users, therefore, will view doing meth as a way to reward themselves. In this case, your brain works against you, making it challenging for you to see the effects of meth.
With all the side effects on the brain, a meth addict may not even know they need to quit. Again, the substance is highly addictive, and even those who realize that they need to quit end up relapsing.
Meth is more powerful than amphetamine, and even a single dose can take a long time to get out of the system. Once you have decided to quit meth, where should you start?
Side Effects and Symptoms of Meth
Meth has both immediate and long-term effects. Understanding the risks will help you, as a meth addict or as a person assisting the meth addict, gain motivation to push you through the recovery process.
What Is Meth Mouth?
The term meth mouth refers to dental damage and oral hygiene issues specifically related to meth addicts.
Long-term methamphetamine abuse will cause tooth decay.
This decay can be due to the effects of drugs themselves, the tendency to eat sugary foods and drink sugary beverages when on meth, and a lack of self-care.
- For example, research from the American Dental Association found among meth users, 96% had cavities. In addition, 58% had tooth decay, and more than 30% had six or more missing teeth.
- People who smoked meth were three times as likely to experience symptoms of meth mouth than people who used it in other ways.
- Noticeable meth mouth can occur within a year of using the drug for many people.
- Actual symptoms of meth mouth include dry mouth, gum disease, and tooth decay.
- When someone is high on meth they might clench or grind their teeth when they are, which can also make the oral health and appearance of their mouth worse.
- When you use meth, you can experience xerostomia, which is just another term for dry mouth. That then reduces your teeth’s natural protection, leading them to decay more quickly.
A user feels anxious and depressed all the time. The feeling can be overwhelming, leading to confusion and disorientation. At such times, the addict experiences panic attacks, hallucinations, and sometimes meth psychosis. With extended use of meth, these can develop into mental health and mood disorders.
Meth users have a high libido and less sense of judgment – this exposes them to the risk of contracting HIV and other STIs. Again, they may get into unplanned pregnancies. They could also get into a coma, seizure, heart attack, or stroke at any time.
Unlike alcohol, meth does not have a “safe” or “moderate” dose. Any time you take crystal meth, you are at risk of overdosing. It increases the risk of many illnesses seeing as meth use diminishes your immunity. You might also deal with liver and heart damage problems. Meth releases toxins into the body that might cause organ damage and destroy your healthy muscle tissues.
The Long-Term Effects of Meth Abuse
There are many long-term effects of meth.
Some may be reversible with the right treatment options if you stop using the drug, while others may not be.
Long-term effects of meth use:
- Weight loss
- Severe dental problems
- Sores from scratching
- Changes in the function and structure of the brain
- Memory loss
- Sleep problems
- Paranoia, which is an extreme, irrational distrust of others
- Hallucinations, which are images or sensory experiences that aren’t real
- Bad Breath
- Irregular heartbeat
- Dental decay
How Long Does Meth Stay in Your System?
- Users feel the effects of meth rapidly after introducing the drug into their system, especially if it’s injected or smoked. The onset speed results from the body absorbing the drug as soon as it enters the bloodstream.
- The actual high of being on meth is short-lived, leading to rapid cycling where someone binges on it and uses a significant amount within a short window of time.
- The half-life of meth, that’s how long it takes the body to break down the meth to one-half of the dose used, is around 12 to 34 hours.
- Even though someone might not feel the euphoric high for long, they can feel the effects of the drug for up to 24 hours after the last time they used it.
- If someone were to undergo a drug test, meth could show up in a blood test for up to 72 hours after use, and if you used large amounts, as long as ten days.
- Detected in urine testing, meth metabolites could be detectable for three to five days after use.
Understand Why You Need to Quit Meth
There are a million reasons to quit meth. The earlier you understand the dangers of meth, the easier it becomes to quit meth addiction. One reason you might want to keep taking meth is that your brain makes you think you feel good after taking the drug – but that is just euphoria, which wears off.
Additionally, meth addiction interferes with daily life, including personal relationships. With the paranoia that often comes with meth addiction, many addicts may accuse loved ones of things that are not real, feel like everyone is out to get them, or lie and break trust with family and friends.
Realizing why you need to quit meth is crucial to begin recovery. But it’s not something that can happen easily for many severe meth addicts, as their reality is often warped from the drugs. During a period of sobriety a user might feel so terrible, they never want to do meth again. However, addiction doesn’t always resolve from a desire to quit. Many times, individuals need to reach out for help from professional treatment centers.
Change of Environment
Besides deciding to quit meth, a challenging part of the recovery process is dealing with withdrawal symptoms, especially cravings. Without proper assistance in a treatment facility, it is possible to slip back to using meth. The cravings are so strong irrespective of your motivation or willpower.
Before you start seeking treatment options, you need to change your environment and move away from friends who sell or use meth. Start by telling everyone that you are quitting and then move out. Compare treatment centers around your neighborhood and choose one that will meet your needs. Cut any connections with your buddies who are still doing meth.
Do not try to fight meth addiction on your own. When the journey gets challenging, and the withdrawal symptoms become unbearable, you are more likely to relapse. In a treatment facility, the doctors will give you medication and engage you in behavioral therapies and support groups to get you in good shape.
Life after Treatment
Meth addiction recovery continues beyond leaving treatment programs. You need to stay in touch with a professional from the center for when the journey gets challenging. Again, you might need to continue using any drugs that the doctor at the center recommended these will help manage any cravings and other withdrawal symptoms and counteract the effects of meth on your brain.
Group therapies should continue after the treatment center even when you feel like you have broken the chains of addiction. Narcotics Anonymous meetings, for instance, will help you meet other people dealing with the same situation you are dealing with. This will help you avoid relapsing.
In conclusion, learn to identify and avoid triggers that will cause you to relapse. These triggers might be in the form of places, people, things, feelings, or anything that would make you want to go back to meth. The most common of these triggers are Hunger, Anger, Loneliness, and Tiredness (HALT).
At Opus Health, we understand what it’s like to experience meth addiction. Whether you’re personally addicted and want to get your life back, or you’re struggling with someone you love who uses meth, get the help today to quit meth addiction.
If you or someone you care about needs treatment for meth addiction in southern California, call at 949-625-4019.