Crystal meth addiction is powerful. Untreated, it can lead to significant declines in functionality. Addiction to crystal meth creates severe physical and mental health complications. If you’re active in crystal meth addiction or you have a loved one, help is available.
The first step of recovery from an addiction to meth is going through detox. During medical detox, withdrawal symptoms are carefully monitored and managed.
We’ll explore the specifics of meth addiction and a substance use disorder and what withdrawal from this potent stimulant can look like for many people.
What is Methamphetamine?
Methamphetamine is a highly addictive stimulant. Crystal metham
phetamine is one particular type of meth. The name comes from the fact that this form of the drug looks like glass or shiny white rocks. Methamphetamine is similar chemically to amphetamine. Amphetamine treats attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy.
Methamphetamine use can include smoking it, snorting it, or injecting the dissolved powder. Meth creates a rapid high, but that high fades quickly. The short effects of the stimulant contribute to the typical binge and crash pattern.
When you take this drug, it affects the brain’s chemical dopamine. Dopamine plays a role in the reinforcement of rewarding behaviors. Dopamine is also part of bodily movements and motivation. Your brain releases very high levels of dopamine when you take meth, reinforcing drug-taking behavior. The stimulation of your brain’s reward response is how addiction occurs.
The short-term effects and physical symptoms of meth, even in minimal amounts, include:
- Increased energy and wakefulness
- Dry mouth
- Increases in talkativeness and physical activity
- Reduced appetite
- Rapid breathing
- Fast or irregular heartbeat
- Risk of heart attack
- Raised body temperature
- Increased blood pressure
The long-term effects of meth use include:
- Higher risk of contracting an infectious disease like HIV when drug equipment is shared
- Unhealthy weight loss and other physical health complications
- Addiction and dependence
- Dental problems, also known as meth mouth
- Itching that leads to sores from scratching
- Changes in the function and structure of the brain
- Memory loss
- Sleep disturbances
As you continue to use meth, it creates changes in your dopamine system associated with impairments in coordination and visual learning. Studies of meth users over the long term also found severe changes in parts of the brain involving memory and emotion.
Methamphetamine is highly addictive. There are effective treatments that can help, however.
Signs of Crystal Methamphetamine Addiction
Some of the physical signs of the effects of crystal meth addiction include facial sores, rotted teeth, and a fragile, frail body. Psychological symptoms of meth abuse can consist of auditory and visual hallucinations, irritability, paranoia, and delusions.
- There’s something called tweaking that can occur in a meth user. Tweaking means a person using meth might experience insomnia for up to two weeks.
- Tweaking is part of a binge cycle, where you might be chasing the original high you got from the drug and experiencing strong cravings.
- Tweaking can cause paranoia, confusion, and irritability. The effect also leads to rapid eye movements.
Someone can develop an addiction to meth after using it just a few times. Signs of addiction include being unable to stop using it, despite harmful consequences, and prioritizing it above everything else. Meth cravings are more intense even than most other illicit drugs.
Detoxing From Crystal Meth Addiction
When you’re dependent on addictive drugs, including meth, and stop using it, you experience physical and psychological side effects. Your body, during withdrawal, is trying to normalize itself following a period of substance abuse.
This situation can be a little different with meth. For example, you can experience a crash fairly soon after stopping using the drug, but that crash isn’t necessarily withdrawal. The crash may happen before symptoms of meth withdrawal. Then, meth withdrawal itself can last for several weeks.
Meth withdrawal symptoms include:
- Intense cravings
- Increased appetite
- Itchy eyes
- Suicidal thoughts
- Severe depression
How to Detox From Meth
While everyone is unique, the general withdrawal process from meth looks like the following:
- During the first 48 hours of the detox process after your last dose, you may experience a crash. Usually, this is within the first day. During this initial 24 to 48-hour period, you may experience declines in your cognitive function and energy levels. You may also begin to experience cramping, sweating, and nausea.
- From the third day through the 10th day, your symptoms may peak. Your symptoms could include depression, anxiety, and fatigue. Some people also have muscle aches and shaking, as well as strong drug cravings.
- Within about three weeks after the last time you use meth, you should start to notice your symptoms lessening. You may still experience lingering symptoms, including depression, fatigue, and cravings.
- Around a month after you stop using meth, you should notice the worst of your symptoms are over.
Detoxing from meth almost always requires medical supervision. Detoxing from this drug can lead to severe side effects.
The meth detox process will start with a comprehensive evaluation of your overall physical and mental health, as well as your substance abuse. From there, a treatment team can begin to develop a personalized plan for you as you go through detox and withdrawal.
Once a plan is in place, the treatment team can be to stabilize you. The goal is to provide monitoring and, if necessary, medical care to help you feel more comfortable.
After you fully detox from meth, you can begin your actual addiction treatment.
Different medications can be part of your detox from meth. For example, antidepressants may help, as can certain anti-anxiety medicines.
Treating Meth Addiction
The physical dependence on meth is separate from drug addiction, but the two often occur together. When you’re physically dependent on a substance, it’s a physiological response. Your brain and body adjust to the presence and effects of the substance. Your body changes its functionality in response. During detox, the symptoms you experience are because of those changes.
Addiction is a chronic disease that changes your brain function and structure. The treatment of addiction should occur after you fully detox.
There are different ways to approach meth addiction treatment, but there currently aren’t any FDA-approved medications like there are for other addictive substances like alcohol and opioids.
The primary focus in a treatment program for meth is on cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). During CBT, you start to recognize and avoid the situations and emotions likely to trigger drug use.
We encourage you to contact The Right Time Recovery Center team by calling 800-630-1218 if you’d like to learn more about detoxing from meth safely and effectively and treatment options for crystal meth addiction.