Chances are, if you’re reading this you’ve heard the horror stories. They’re easy enough to find. A guy in Arizona once put his 7-month-old baby in his freezer – the baby survived – when he was on meth because his floor was too dirty. Or more recently, the woman in Fresno who after days on a meth binge, shot and killed her two toddlers and a cousin, then critically wounded her husband before shooting herself.
Or you’ve seen the pictures. Meth mouth. Scabs. That distinct premature aging.
True, not every meth user goes crazy and not every meth user looks like the faces seen in those before-and-after galleries. But every meth user runs that risk. One hit turns into multiple hits, which turn into a binge, which turn into the sort of things mentioned in the first paragraph.
Sovereign Health can stop it.
Meth use shatters lives
Crank. Crystal. Tina. Speed. Ice. Meth has about as many names as it does victims.
First synthesized from amphetamine in the early 20th century, methamphetamine was originally used in decongestants and nasal inhalers. Meth is still used in some prescriptions for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, ADHD, but those prescriptions are short-term, rare and at lower doses than street meth.
When abused, the effects of methamphetamine are similar to its parent drug: increased energy, decreased appetite and a feeling of euphoria. However, due to its chemical makeup, meth is able to get into the brain in greater amounts, and its effects on the nervous system last longer.
Like many drugs, meth works by causing the body to release massive amounts of a neurotransmitter called dopamine, which plays a role in the brain’s reward system. When we engage in pleasurable activities, dopamine is what makes them feel good.
A natural release of dopamine is like a dripping faucet – meth turns the faucet’s knob to maximum. This flood of dopamine changes how the brain functions. Studies cited by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, NIDA, have shown meth’s effects on the dopamine system causes changes in the brain which damage movement and the ability to learn. Additionally, studies by NIDA of long-term meth users have showed severe changes in areas of the brain governing emotions and memory.
Meth use does produce a sensation of euphoria, but at a heavy cost. Users develop tolerance to meth, requiring them to purchase and use larger and larger amounts of the drug to achieve the same effect. Its ability to reduce appetite gives meth addicts their distinct skin-and-bones look.
Users often neglect their health; this, along with bad diet and teeth grinding can cause “meth mouth,” the infamous oral problem seen in many meth users. Additional effects of meth use include increased anxiety, confusion and most notoriously, violent behavior. Some long-term users experience psychotic symptoms like paranoia and hallucinations like so-called “meth bugs,” users insatiably pick at in the skin, causing sores.
Meth addiction is powerful but can be treated
Treating meth addiction is tough. In some recovery circles, meth has a reputation of being an easy drug to detox from, especially when compared with opiates and benzodiazepines. Now, while heroin detox truly occupies its own category of withdrawal, meth addiction is still a difficult drug to quit using, particularly on one’s own.
That’s due to the effects the drug has on the brain’s dopamine system. Meth releases massive amounts of dopamine into the body’s system and when a person stops using meth the amount of dopamine decreases sharply.
Addiction expert Adi Jaffe, M.D., writes in Psychology Today that long-term meth use decreases the amount of dopamine receptors in the brain. This, coupled with a decrease in dopamine, can create a condition in recovering users called anhedonia, which is an inability to experience pleasure. This lack of sensation is shattering for some people: imagine looking at an ocean sunset, a friend’s face or a favorite movie and feeling nothing. Prolonged anhedonia unsurprisingly causes depression, which can make meth users relapse, if only to feel something again. This is in addition to physical symptoms like exhaustion, severe hunger and nausea –users don’t eat or sleep much on meth.
Unfortunately, there’s no medication to help users recovering from meth abuse or to counteract the drug’s effects. NIDA recommends a combination of behavioral therapy, individual, family and group counseling and even 12-Step groups as the best tools for recovery.
Sovereign Health in San Clemente, California, offers all this as well as natural assisted detox. Natural assisted detox includes therapies like neurotransmitter restoration, NTR, and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, or NAD, infusions; which can accelerate the healing process and restore brain function.
Detoxing and recovery from any drug is much more difficult when done alone. Sovereign Health of California will be with you – and yours – every step of the way through this process. Please call our 24/7 helpline for more information on treatment therapies, programs and options.