Methamphetamine is one of the hardest drugs to overcome and can lead to dependency after just one use. Recovery requires a comprehensive treatment plan with detoxification, therapy, and counseling.
Meth is an addictive drug that creates almost instant dependency. It is one of the most vicious and devastating drugs on the market. Each hit of meth can damage key receptors in the brain, causing users to feel incapable of experiencing pleasure without the drug.
All forms of methamphetamine are a Schedule II drug derived from its parent drug, amphetamine – both fall into the stimulant drug class.1 Meth was initially used in bronchial inhalers and nasal decongestants. It causes increased talkativeness and activity, a pleasurable sense of euphoria, and decreased appetite. Methamphetamine has more harmful and longer-lasting symptoms than amphetamines and many other drugs.2
Methamphetamine comes in many forms, including pills, which are ingested orally. Odorless powder forms can be snorted or dissolved in liquid and are commonly known as “speed.” Meth can come as an oily brown substance known as “base” or a more potent version known as crystal meth.
Crystal meth is a very strong form of meth. Crystal meth is purer than meth as it is manufactured in a distilled form. It looks different than standard meth as well with a rock-like appearance. Crystal meth has a higher risk of abuse and overdose, but both drug types are very addictive. Other common street names for meth include ice, blue, crystal, glass, and shards.3
Meth floods the nervous system while penetrating the brain. It forces the brain to pump out dopamine, which is the neurotransmitter that induces a sense of satisfaction or happiness. Although many activities can induce a sense of satisfaction, meth hijacks the system and pushes the brain to secrete a higher dopamine level than is healthy.4
Over time, meth can destroy dopamine receptors in the brain, causing users to become incapable of experiencing pleasure through any means aside from methamphetamine. Many users deem meth the center of their lives, exercising their energy, resources, and time on finding more.
Meth is typically smoked, injected, snorted, or orally ingested. The “high” from meth begins and fades rapidly, so people often take repeated doses in a pattern known as “binge and crash.” Sometimes people binge on the drug, which is referred to as a “run,” while giving up sleep and food and taking meth every few hours for several days in a row.
Methamphetamine addiction can be identified by multiple signs including:
If you suspect your loved one is experiencing meth addiction, knowing what meth smells like can be helpful. Meth smells like powerful chemicals. It has been described as having a strong paint scent or a hospital-like smell because it can smell like powerful chemicals used in sanitary settings. Meth can also smell like ammonia or vinegar.
When meth is smoked, however, it smells different. Smoked meth tends to have a lighter and sweeter smell than those described above.
Experimenting with methamphetamine can cause many of the same health effects as other stimulants.
Meth psychosis is a mental state where one’s perceptions and thoughts are distorted, making it difficult to perceive reality from what is not real. Meth users who experience meth psychosis may see things that are not there or believe untrue things.
Meth overdose occurs when a person uses too much methamphetamine and has a toxic reaction that results in harmful and serious symptoms – even death. Nearly 15% of all drug overdose deaths in 2017 involved meth overdose.5
Meth withdrawal symptoms vary from person to person. The side effects and severity depend on many factors, including the amount of time a person has used meth, how much meth they used, how frequently they used it, and whether they used any other substances.
Signs of meth withdrawal include:
Unlike other stimulants that are quickly removed from the body within an hour, such as cocaine, methamphetamine remains in the body much longer. After 1 hour, 50% of cocaine is removed from the body, whereas it takes 12 hours for just 50% of methamphetamine to be removed from the body. Meth‘s side effects can last anywhere from 8 to 24 hours.6
There are several questions people often have about meth. Three of the most frequent questions include:
Is meth an opioid? According to the DEA, methamphetamines are not narcotics but rather stimulants that act as “uppers.” Uppers work by increasing a person’s focus, alertness, energy, and wakefulness while offering a pleasurable sense of euphoria.
What is meth made of? Meth is commonly made in hidden laboratories, mixing a varied form of amphetamines or derivates with other chemicals to boost its potency, such as common cold pills, drain cleaner, battery acid, antifreeze, and lantern fuel.
Is Adderall a substitute for meth? While both substances are classified as stimulant drugs and Adderall is comprised of amphetamine, which sounds like methamphetamine, the two are different. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, methamphetamine is much more powerful because the drug gets into the brain and has more harmful side effects.
Meth addiction treatment has been effective for many people who want to stop using methamphetamines. Whether you or someone you know are using the drug, it is vital to understand that it can be challenging to stop using this drug without the proper help. Those who try to break the cycle of meth addiction on their own are prone to exhibiting extreme changes in behavior that can be difficult to handle.
Treatment is available for meth addiction, including behavioral therapies such as contingency management interventions and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Medication-assisted treatment may also be helpful, but to date, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has yet to approve any pharmacological solution that safely counteracts the effects of meth. However, there are medications available to treat co-occurring disorders such as eating disorders and sleeping disorders, both of which are common to meth users.
Recovery is a lifelong process for methamphetamine users. Finding help from professionals and community-based support groups has proven to be beneficial for those struggling with meth addiction.
Iris Healing® is ready to help you or your loved one who is struggling with methamphetamine addiction. To take the first steps toward sobriety, reach out to us today to talk with a dedicated treatment provider.