Methamphetamine, simply referred to as meth, is a psychoactive stimulant that triggers the brain’s pleasure center by increasing heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration rates. In turn, this drug increases alertness, concentration, and energy. Additionally, high doses can induce relaxation, enhance self-esteem, and increase libido. The drug works immediately, creating a need for instant gratification. This drug is highly addictive because it activates the psychological reward system through increasing levels of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin in the brain. Dopamine increases cravings, leading to a strong addiction. For these reasons, many users are in need of meth addiction treatment.
Many commonly know methamphetamine as meth, speed, crank, crystal, or ice. Users usually smoke, snort, inject, or dissolve it in liquids. Besides the highly addictive nature of this drug, it is readily available and relatively inexpensive. A single puff of meth can keep a user high for 24 hours.
Meth Addiction Treatment
Statistics have shown that currently at least 1.5 million individuals are addicted to meth. Meth addiction is devastating to the brain and body. The classic physical look of meth abuse is a wounded face and a collapsed jaw. Meth also can lead to picking, which is anxious scratching. Additionally, rotten teeth is a very common physical symptom because meth dries out the gums, leading to teeth grinding and the jaw collapsing inwards. Other physical symptoms include:
- Severe weight loss,
- Excessive sweating, and
- Endless energy
Emotionally, meth addiction can lead to violence, paranoid schizophrenia, and suicidal tendencies. Methamphetamine drug addiction, similar to other addictive drugs, releases high levels of dopamine, which affects motivation, reward, and pleasure. With consistent drug abuse, users develop a tolerance, thus, making them increase their amounts or frequency of use. When using stops, abusers experience intense cravings. This inevitably leads them to the next high.
Prolong abuse of crystal meth can over-stimulate dopamine, leading to erosion of the brain’s nerve terminals. Brain imaging studies have shown that meth causes significant functional and structural changes in the brain, down to the molecular level. For example, fine motor control, speed, and impairs verbal learning are reduced with meth use.
Moreover, meth impacts the brain areas that control emotion and memory. These changes may include mood disturbances, aggressive and violent behavior, and severe psychotic episodes. In some cases, paranoia, visual and auditory hallucinations, and delusions can continue even after stopping abuse. Many of the damages to the brain are irreversible, but some effects can be reversed.