That’s how long it takes some users to become addicted to methamphetamine (meth).
This stimulant is so powerful that it can become habit-forming in an instant. Every time someone uses meth, they can cause damage to key brain receptors. Over time, it becomes nearly impossible for them to feel pleasure without another hit.
According to research, more than 12 million Americans have tried meth at least once. Of those, 600,000 people use it weekly. While it was initially synthesized for therapeutic use, it’s now more widely abused as an illicit, recreational drug.
Is someone you know suffering from meth addiction? If so, there is treatment available.
Today, we’re sharing how this process works and the steps you can take today.
What Causes a Meth Addiction?
To understand the devastating depths of meth addiction, it’s important to understand how the substance works.
Like many drugs, meth forces the user’s brain to pump out excessive quantities of dopamine. This is the neurotransmitter that delivers feelings of accomplishment and self-worth. While it’s normal for our brains to secrete minimal amounts of dopamine on a daily basis, meth amplifies these effects.
After continued use, meth actually destroys the dopamine receptors in one’s brain. This renders them unable to achieve those same feelings of happiness or satisfaction unless they continue using the drug.
At the same time, users become less motivated to pursue success in their professional or personal lives, as even their most valiant efforts cannot bring natural pleasure. This is why early intervention and treatment is necessary. If left unchecked, meth addiction can lead to permanent cognitive impairment.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Meth Abuse?
Are you concerned that a friend or family member might be abusing meth? If so, you’ll need to know the symptoms of meth abuse to look out for.
These can be physical and behavioral. Let’s review the physical changes that you might notice first. These include:
- Weight loss
- Higher body temperature
- Skin sores and abscesses
- Brittle bones/osteoporosis
- Dilated pupils
- Rotting teeth
- Rapid eye movement
- Burns on lips or fingers
In addition, the behavioral changes that can occur include:
- Extreme paranoia
- Social isolation
- Twitching/jerky movements
- Erratic sleeping patterns
- Sudden, aggressive outbursts
- Mood swings
How to Pursue Effective Meth Treatment
Treating and reversing an addiction to meth takes a two-fold approach.
There must be multiple courses of detoxification completed to fully rid the body of the substance and help users acclimate to life without it.
Phase 1: Detoxification
Initial treatment will involve eliminating one’s body of the physical presence of meth. Known as detoxification, this is the period of time in which the person will physically adjust to living each day without taking a hit of the drug. Depending on the level of addiction, this phase can take one of two forms.
Outpatient Treatment: Moderate Addictions
If the addiction is new or short in duration, outpatient detoxification can be effective. With this type of program, the person would receive medication from their hospital or treatment center to help support the detox. Then, they would complete the process at home.
While many patients prefer to take this approach, it isn’t for everyone. Before an outpatient detox program can occur, the medical professionals overseeing the program would need to confirm that:
- There are no drugs (including alcohol) in the home where the detox will occur
- The person has agreed to participate in post-detox therapy and support sessions
- The person will return all unused medicine to the hospital or treatment center
- The person has reliable and sober loved ones who can support them
Inpatient Treatment: Severe, Long-Term Addictions
If meth addiction is more severe in nature or has been occurring for a long period of time, inpatient meth treatment is often recommended. The same holds true for anyone who has snorted or injected large amounts of meth, regardless of the timeframe.
An inpatient detox program will occur on-site at the hospital or treatment center. It’s the preferred route to take if any of the following holds true:
- The person might relapse at any point during the detox
- The severe withdrawal symptoms will drive the person to use meth again
- The person lives in an environment that is not supportive of or conducive to sobriety
- There is a co-occurring mental health disorder
With an inpatient treatment program, the medical staff at the facility can monitor the individual’s progress as they work through the detox process. They can also provide medication and moral support to ease the pain of withdrawal. Moreover, this environment will be completely devoid of the triggers that contributed to the person’s drug abuse in the first place.
Phase 2: Therapy
The detoxification process can help one’s body adjust to life without meth. Yet, as we’ve mentioned, this drug can also have a powerful stronghold over the mind and psyche.
That’s why the next step will be intensive therapy, designed to address the psychological damage that meth can do. Not only will this help rehabilitate the user’s mind, but it will also show them how they can move forward, successfully growing and functioning without experiencing the compulsion to use meth.
The main goals of therapy include helping clients:
- Identify and address their former behavior and thought patterns that lead to meth use
- Recognize new, healthier behavior and thought patterns
- Understand ways to cope with the temptation to use meth in their everyday lives
- Come to terms with the ways their addiction affected their friends and family members
With the careful support of their therapist, those addicted to meth can learn the ways to leave meth behind and pursue a happier, healthier life.
Find Help For a Meth Addiction Today
If you or someone you know is suffering from a meth addiction, it’s not too late to turn the situation around.
Though the substance can be addictive and highly dangerous, there are treatment programs and therapies in place that can help users break free from the chains of their addiction. In time, these can help them overcome their physical and psychological dependencies on the drug.
If you’re looking for outpatient addiction treatment support, we’re here to help. We offer a range of options designed to meet your personal needs.