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Meth Addiction Treatment

Meth Addiction Treatment

An instant flooding of the nervous system paired with a burst of energy leaves people who try meth for the first time thinking about where they’ll get their next fix as soon as the high fades. Meth is an incredibly addictive drug that can have long-term consequences on both the brain and the body.1

For many people, meth, or methamphetamine, sparks addiction at first use. Using meth can damage the brain instantly, affecting receptors in the brain and making it impossible for users to feel good without using meth.

Meth: The Basics

Methamphetamine is classified as a Schedule II drug by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.2 The drug is available in a legal prescription form to treat ADHD and obesity. Typically, methamphetamine is prescribed at a much lower dose than that which is used to create a high. 

To understand how meth works, it’s key to understand the role that dopamine plays in the brain. This neurotransmitter provides the brain with a sense of accomplishment for a job well done. Social connections, sex, affection, love, good food, and exercise are all-natural ways to boost the dopamine output of the brain. 

When a person uses meth, the brain releases an abnormal amount of dopamine. Since the brain can’t release the same amount of dopamine naturally, many users find themselves constantly thinking about using meth, since they aren’t able to recreate the same level of good feelings in any other way. 

Meth doesn’t just act by allowing the brain to release dopamine – over time, it also destroys the brain’s dopamine receptors, making it impossible for people who use meth to experience pleasure through other means. Many people who use meth find that over time, their work/school performance diminishes, their relationships become troubled, and they find themselves in extreme financial duress. 

Meth comes as a pill or powder and may be altered into crystals (known as crystal meth) for illegal use.3 Crystal meth looks like small shards of glass and is created by altering the prescription form of the drug by cooking it with over-the-counter drugs.

Common street names for methamphetamine include: 

  • Trash
  • Stove Top
  • Tweak
  • Shards
  • Ice
  • Bikers Coffee
  • Meth
  • Speed
  • Shabu
  • Crank
  • Chalk

There are several ways that users consume crystal meth. Meth can be taken as a powder or a pill, or it may be injected, snorted, or smoked. Some users may vary the way that they take meth to intensify the drug’s effects. 

How Does Meth Affect The Mind and Body?

Many people who try crystal meth become addicted after the first use. Each time they begin to come down from the high, they may seek out more of the drug, before eventually falling asleep/crashing. 

Immediate effects of meth may include:4

  • Extreme energy
  • A false sense of well-being
  • Insomnia and hyperactivity
  • Hallucinations and delusions of power
  • Anxiety, aggressiveness, and irritability
  • Paranoia
  • Lack of appetite and nausea
  • Hyperactivity

What Are The Physical Signs and Symptoms of Addiction to Methamphetamine?

While the mental and psychological effects of meth addiction are intense, the drug also affects the body in several ways. 

Short-term physical effects of methamphetamine use include: 

  • Sleep deprivation
  • Dehydration
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Skin infections/ abscesses
  • Decreased libido

Long-term physical effects of methamphetamine include:4

  • Liver, lung, and kidney damage
  • Respiratory problems (for people who smoke meth)
  • Destruction of nasal tissue (for people who sniff or snort meth)
  • Severe tooth decay
  • Weight loss/ malnutrition
  • Osteoporosis
  • Damage to the heart and brain
  • High blood pressure/ heart attacks
  • Stoke
  • Death

Not everyone experiences addiction in the same way, and while some people experience many of these effects, some will only experience a few. The number of physical and psychological effects experienced doesn’t necessarily indicate the degree to which a person is addicted to a drug. 

Why Meth Is So Hard To Quit ?

Meth addiction sets in fast. As stated, many people are hooked after the first time they try the drug. During the first time using meth, many people find that they feel a sense of euphoria and hyperactivity for up to 12 hours. While they feel great, their brain is changing from minute to minute. During the first use of meth, the brain’s reward pathways change quickly. 

Healthy activities that release dopamine leave the brain with memories, much like a fingerprint left behind after someone has spent time in a room. Drugs like methamphetamine figuratively crush the brain’s reward systems. Research has shown that the dopamine produced by the brain after a hit of meth up to 1,250 times the amount of dopamine produced by the brain during sex.5

A user’s first experience with meth is always the most intense. Many users spend the rest of their lives “chasing the dragon.” This term refers to the relentless pursuit of the same sensation experienced during the first use. It’s impossible to recreate the initial flood of dopamine experienced at the start of meth use, and sadly, many people die trying. 

Psychosis and Anhedonia: The Scary Side of Meth Addiction

People who suffer from anhedonia struggle or are unable to experience pleasure.6 Activities that the brain once perceived as pleasurable no longer register in the same way. Meth addiction can cause anhedonia due to its effect on the brain’s dopamine receptors and may cause additional similar issues such as hopelessness, fatigue, and loneliness. Anhedonia is a key factor in relapse for many people who suffer from meth addiction. A recovery plan with a strong social support network can be helpful for people who suffer from this condition as a result of addiction. 

Research has shown that many people who are working to get off of meth experience psychosis as a part of their withdrawal.7 While these symptoms passed within about a week), this time can be difficult for people who are suffering from meth addiction to get through without professional and social support. 

You Can Recover From Meth Addiction – And We Can Help

If you’re searching for more information on treatment for meth addiction, you likely feel anxious, scared, and like you’re in over your head. At Better Choice Center, we understand, and we’re here to help. 


1National Institute on Drug Abuse. Methamphetamine Research Report.

2U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration. Drugs of Abuse.

3Drug Enforcement Agency. Methamphetamine.

4Foundation For a Drug-Free World. The Truth About Crystal Meth and Methamphetamine

5Frontline. How Meth Destroys the Body. 

6Gorwood, P. (2008). Neurobiological mechanisms of anhedonia. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience.

7Zorick, T., Nestor, L., Miotto, K. (2011). Withdrawal symptoms in abstinent methamphetamine-dependent subjectsAddiction.

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