Methamphetamine is known as a party drug or club drug, keeping users up for hours at a time and giving a rush each time it is taken. However, methamphetamine is a highly addictive and dangerous drug. Methamphetamine affects the brain not only as a stimulant, but also releases dopamine and serotonin, two chemicals that regulate mood, appetite, sleep and other functions. As methamphetamine crosses into the brain, the serotonin and dopamine produce an intense rush of euphoria, the most intense part of the high. The intense highs of methamphetamine also come with terrible lows. With the brain depleted from these vital chemicals, the individual is susceptible to depression, agitation and anxiety. These highs and lows are made more intense by repeated use, which helps make methamphetamine so addictive, and withdrawal so difficult. An extended methamphetamine binge can go on for days, as the user chases a high that becomes less intense as the brain’s vital chemicals become more and more depleted. As days pass without sleep, the brain is wracked with withdrawal, yet unable to shut down.
SIGNS OF ABUSE
A person who is high on methamphetamine will show a variety of physical symptoms such as picking their skin, hair loss, bad breath and tooth decay, loss of appetite and subsequent weight loss, dilated pupils, heart palpitations, a racing pulse and nausea. There are also notable mental symptoms someone high on methamphetamine will exhibit such as being agitated and behaving oddly, panicking, experiencing psychosis or hallucinations.
Methamphetamine can be snorted, smoked, taken orally or injected. The way methamphetamine is used can determine how quickly and to what extent one gets high. Each mode of administration is addictive. Through injection, users melt the drug and inject is using hypodermic needles. Paraphernalia for this method includes spoons or bottle caps with which a person will liquefy the drug for injection, a lighter or candles to use as a heat source to melt the drug from its crystallized form, and other materials such as shoelaces, rubber hoses, long strings or belts, use to “tie off.” By restricting blood flow on a person’s limbs, veins pop out, making injection via hypodermic needle easier. When smoked, a person might use a glass pipe or household items such as aluminum cans or light bulbs to replicate a pipe.
Methamphetamine withdrawal symptoms can be severe and take very long to subside. Acute withdrawal symptoms can begin in as little as 24 hours after last use and can last for 7 to 21 days. Once withdrawal has reached sub-acute levels, symptoms can still linger for months. Continuing treatment is especially important for long term recovery from an addiction to methamphetamine. A person withdrawing from methamphetamine will likely experience fatigue, lethargy and excessive sleeping. Repetitive and involuntary movements are also common. Less severe physical symptoms include an increased appetite or dry mouth. Many of the methamphetamine withdrawal symptoms are psychological and not physical. A person might experience depression, thoughts of suicide, apathy, hopelessness and cravings to use. In more severe withdrawal a person can exhibit psychosis including paranoia, hallucinations and delusions.
Amatus Recovery Centers’ detox facilities offer medically assisted detox for individuals facing the physical symptoms of methamphetamine withdrawal, as well as inpatient and outpatient therapy programs designed to build the skills for long term recovery. Methamphetamine withdrawal can be a long process. It can take a long time for the body and the brain to heal themselves. Continuing treatment is especially important for recovery from methamphetamine. Because of methamphetamine’s effects on the brain’s reward pathways, it is important that any co-occurring mental health disorders are considered when implementing a treatment plan. At every level of care, you will have access to trained professionals to help you get clean and stay clean. If you or a loved one is struggling with a methamphetamine addiction, reach out to one of our treatment professionals today.