Meth Abuse, Addiction, and Treatment in Orange County, California
Methamphetamine, commonly known as meth, is a highly addictive stimulant drug that can lead to addiction after just one or two uses. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), more than 2.6 million people used meth in 2020 and about 1.5 million people had a methamphetamine use disorder.
Meth is cheap, powerful, and habit-forming, so it is highly addictive and a popular drug of abuse. However, it is also dangerous and can leave devastating impacts on a person’s physical and mental health.
If you or a loved one are struggling with meth addiction, know that treatment is available. Sheer Recovery offers a number of accredited drug and alcohol treatment programs that can help you get sober and healthy.
What is Methamphetamine (Meth)?
Meth, which is also referred to as “crystal meth,” “ice,” or “Tina,” is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant that is made by mixing amphetamine with other chemicals. The drug causes a rush of dopamine in the brain which produces euphoric, energizing, and pleasurable effects.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that regulates feelings of pleasure, motivation, memory, reward processing, and learning. Since meth produces significantly larger amounts of dopamine than the brain is used to, people who use the drug experience heightened energy, heart rate, and focus, but they also experience extremely pleasurable feelings that encourage users to continue using the drug. This is how meth addiction develops so quickly.
Meth is an illegal drug, but it has a history of medicinal use. It was originally prescribed as a weight loss aid and decongestant, however, prescribers quickly saw how addictive the drug could be, prompting the FDA to put heavier regulations on it. Today, only one type of prescription methamphetamine is only available legally–Desoxyn. Desoxyn is sometimes prescribed to treat obesity and severe attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
The vast majority of meth that people abuse today is manufactured illicitly in clandestine laboratories or comes from imports. As a result, meth often contains a number of dangerous toxic chemicals and additives, making it even more dangerous.
Side Effects of Meth Abuse
Meth can be smoked, snorted, or injected. It is a quick-acting and long-lasting drug that produces effects within minutes. The initial rush from meth can last for about 30 minutes, but the entire high can last anywhere from 8 to 24 hours depending on the dose and potency.
Common side effects of meth abuse include:
- Loss of appetite
- High blood pressure
- Elevated body temperature
When the immediate effects of meth wear off, users may experience a “crash” characterized by symptoms of hunger, fatigue, and depression.
Meth takes a serious toll on a person’s mental and physical health, and users often find it difficult to conceal their meth use from friends and family. Meth abuse and addiction are hard to hide because many people who abuse this drug lose weight rapidly, develop skin sores from picking at their skin, or experience tooth decay, a tragic dental condition that is sometimes referred to as “meth mouth.” Individuals who are abusing meth may also act out erratically, have excess energy, or seem as though they are always on edge.
Long-Term Dangers of Meth Abuse and Addiction
Meth is an extremely dangerous drug that can impact physical and mental health. As far as mental health is concerned, long-term meth abuse can cause anxiety and depression, memory loss, confusion, violent behavior, paranoia, and delusions.
Physically, people who are addicted to meth may:
- Lose a lot of weight due to poor appetite and diet
- Develop skin sores from scratching due to severe itching or the sensation of bugs crawling on the skin
- Dental problems or “meth mouth” as a result of tooth decay. Tooth decay is especially common in people who use meth because of the toxic chemicals it contains.
Long-term meth use can also lead to an increased risk of:
- Cardiac arrhythmia
- Heart attack
- Extreme and unhealthy weight loss
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Birth defects
- Parkinson’s disease
Additionally, many of the chemicals used to make meth come from household items such as cleaners, paint thinners, and cancer-causing agents. These chemicals can increase the risk of certain types of cancer and cause irreversible damage to blood vessels.
Signs and Symptoms of Meth Addiction
Meth addiction is characterized by compulsive, dangerous drug use. Some of the most obvious signs of meth addiction are the development of tolerance and physical dependence.
Tolerance happens when the body adjusts to having excess dopamine from meth. As the body adjusts to high levels of dopamine, people begin needing to take larger doses of meth or use meth more frequently to feel the same effects as before. Dependence, on the other hand, happens when the body needs meth to function properly because the body’s cells can no longer create and use dopamine in the same way that they used to. This causes symptoms of withdrawal when people stop using the drug after prolonged use.
In addition to tolerance and dependence, there are behavioral signs of meth addiction, such as:
- Isolating from loved ones
- Lying to friends and family about drug use
- Wanting to quit but feeling as though it is impossible to do so
- Trying to quit but being unable to follow through with recovery
- Spending excess time thinking about meth, using it, and recovering from the effects of it
- Engaging in risk-taking, dangerous, or illegal behaviors
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies that were once enjoyed
- Drastic mood changes or sleep patterns
If you or a loved one are struggling with meth addiction, speak to an admissions coordinator at Sheer Recovery today to discuss your treatment options.
Meth Withdrawal and Detox Treatment
Meth withdrawal can be extremely intense, and the psychological symptoms withdrawal causes can be worrisome. As a result, individuals are always encouraged to detox under medical supervision.
Common symptoms of meth withdrawal include:
- Severe depression
- Increased appetite
- Drug cravings
- Body and muscle aches
- Suicidal ideation
Symptoms of meth withdrawal typically begin 8-24 hours after the last dose and can last for about one week. Medical supervision is recommended due to symptoms like dehydration, severe depression, suicidal ideation, and psychosis.
Medical detox centers in California can help people who are detoxing from meth by prescribing medications, facilitating healing therapies, and offering around-the-clock support. Although there are no medications approved for the treatment of meth withdrawal, doctors can prescribe medications to alleviate the symptoms. For example, patients struggling with anxiety or irritation may be given benzodiazepine drugs and clients struggling with psychosis may be given antipsychotics or sedatives. These medications reduce activity in the central nervous system (CNS) and can alleviate symptoms of withdrawal.
Other symptoms, like aches and pains, can be managed with over-the-counter painkillers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
Treatment Options for Meth Abuse and Addiction
Medical detox helps individuals move past the physical effects of meth dependence, but it doesn’t treat addiction. Addiction usually stems from buried emotions, unresolved trauma, or untreated mental illness. Overcoming addiction requires comprehensive treatment that addresses the root cause of substance abuse and teaches practical relapse prevention skills.
At Sheer Recovery, we use a number of behavioral therapies to identify, treat, and help our clients overcome their mental health struggles and achieve sobriety. Each person has an individually-tailored treatment program based on their situation, addiction severity, and mental health diagnosis.
Our clients have access to a number of treatment options according to their needs, such as:
- Residential inpatient rehab
- Partial hospitalization program (PHP)
- Intensive outpatient program (IOP)
Following treatment, we work closely with each individual to help them build an aftercare plan and practice relapse prevention skills in real-life situations.
Find Help for Meth Abuse and Addiction Today
By offering a secure, private, and comfortable residential treatment environment, Sheer Recovery is able to guarantee your safety and well-being during your stay at our facility. Our excellent therapists will guide you through group and individual therapy sessions with compassion and understanding.
By the time you complete treatment, you will be equipped with a thorough understanding of your addiction, positive coping skills to deal with the stressors of everyday life, and a healthy routine that you can implement at home.
Please don’t hesitate to speak with a team member about starting treatment. We’re available 24 hours a day to take your call, assess your needs, and help you begin your recovery.