Methamphetamine is a chemical derived from amphetamine. It was first synthesized in 1919 in Japan. Both were used as bronchial inhalers and nasal decongestants. It was later discovered that they also work to treat obesity. Meth is a very strong stimulant that works on the central nervous system. As a drug, it is snorted, ingested, smoked or injected. One of the reasons why it is so popular is because it effects are noticed for a very long time. It damages the serotonin and dopamine receptors in the brain, which can still be seen in people who have been clean for more than nine months. Indeed, some of the changes in the brain, in particular memory and motor skills, can be irreparably damaged.
The effects of meth can be incredibly attractive. They provide a great deal of energy and stop people from feeling hungry. Furthermore, they create a sense of euphoria. However, it also has numerous negative immediate effects, including insomnia, paranoia, confusion, irritability and hypothermia.
Tweaking happens when meth has been used for a very long time. Because meth stops people from sleeping, it has been known for people to remain awake for as much as two weeks, during which time they become more and more paranoid and irritable. Once they get to this point, they are known as having “tweaked”. They then continue to crave the drug, but find it impossible to achieve the sensations they are looking for, which leads to extreme bitterness and frustration. On inspection, a tweaker is moving very rapidly, often jerking, and their voice may quiver as well. A tweaker can be incredibly dangerous not just to themselves, but to others as well.
Meth Addiction and Treatment
Meth is incredibly addictive and it is not unheard of for people to become addicted after their very first use. This is why it is so important to have proper treatment in place as well. Rehabilitation will offer things such as therapy and counseling. We know that there are high rates of relapse with meth addiction, and only those who receive the right treatment over the right period of time tend to be successful.
One of the reasons for this is because meth affects the brain’s reward system. This means that, although the initial decision to take meth is one of choice, people are no longer able to make this decision. Chronic abuse leads to very serious withdrawal symptoms that have the potential to be fatal.
It is also known that some people enter a meth psychosis with prolonged use. The symptoms of this are very similar to those of schizophrenia and various conventional treatments are ineffective with this type of psychosis. However, at Creative Care, we specialize in dual diagnosis as well, which means that we have the resources required to treat people who are also struggling with some form of mental illness, whether or not this was drug-induced.
Meth Withdrawal and Detox
Detoxing from meth can lead to serious psychological problems. However, it is the physical symptoms that people worry about the most. Those who have abused the drug for longer periods of time are often significantly underweight and malnourished. They also often have meth mouth and other dental problems. Because of the severity of both the physical and emotional withdrawal symptoms, most people try to avoid withdrawal if they can. It is also because of these symptoms that it is so important to only detox from meth under close supervision.
Some of the immediate symptoms you can expect when going through meth detox include:
- Psychological problems, including severe distress, suicidal thoughts, irritability, paranoia, aggression and extreme depression. This is often managed by providing other medications in order to make the withdrawal symptoms more manageable.
- Physical symptoms, including flu, vomiting and fatigue. Generally, medication such as benzodiazepines can help with the immediate physical problems. However, these drugs are addictive as well, so we will try to avoid them as much as possible and offer alternative treatment as well. We will offer you medication such as Zophran to deal with the nausea you can expect as well. Furthermore, it is likely that you will be placed on a vitamin and mineral drip in order to help combat the symptoms of malnutrition you are likely to have.
Unfortunately, prolonged withdrawal symptoms are also possible, particularly in the form of meth psychosis. This can last for as much as six months after having gone through detox. Some of the symptoms include delusions (paranoid and physical), hallucinations (visual and audio) and feelings of grandeur. Most people who go through this will feel as if everybody is out to get them. This can make treatment incredibly difficult, as they are often suspicious of their care-givers as well. Although this psychosis closely resembles schizophrenia, treatment has to be very different.
Finally, there are some other long term withdrawal symptoms, which are known as post-acute withdrawal symptoms. These can last for over one year after going through detox and include such things as anxiety, chronic fatigue, increased appetite, depression, headaches and irritability. It is for this reason that it is so important to offer people the right length of treatment in order to avoid relapse after detox.
Meth detox is a long, painful and complicated process. However, it is one that you can go through with the right support.