There are many different substances that can cause addiction, with some being more potent than others. One of the most powerful drugs currently on the market is crystal meth, with those who use it frequently going on to develop a crippling addiction. You may have thought about why crystal meth is so addictive –it is all to do with how this substance affects the brain.
Crystal meth is a synthetic central nervous system stimulant with an extremely high potential for abuse. As it is specifically created to make users feel alert and energetic, it is one of those drugs that can hook people after just one use.
Methamphetamine was first designed in Japan in 1919. It was a more potent and much easier to make a form of amphetamine. It was used extensively during World War II to help keep soldiers alert for hours at a time.
In the 1950s, it was used as a diet pill as well as a stimulant, and it was commonly taken by students, athletes, and truck drivers. However, abuse of methamphetamine quickly became a problem, and in the 1970s, the full extent of the addictive nature of the drug was understood and it was hence made illegal. In recent times though, drug gangs realised the potential for making large profits from this easy-to-make drug that can quickly cause addiction.
What is Crystal Meth Addiction Like?
Many people have wondered why crystal meth is so addictive and what addiction to this drug is like. As with any mood-altering substance, crystal meth can affect the way the brain functions. Because it has such powerful effects on the user, the temptation to take more of the drug to recreate the feelings of euphoria can be very strong.
Those who use crystal meth often feel an intense surge of pleasure as the brain releases an unnatural amount of feel-good chemicals such as dopamine and adrenaline. The part of the brain responsible for memory and emotion is deeply affected, making the user associate crystal meth use with pleasure and reward.
Now you know why crystal meth is so addictive, the following question might be what addiction to this drug is like. As with any drug addiction, there are some signs that you may have a problem. For example, taking more of the drug than you used to take to get high could mean that you have developed an increased tolerance for the drug. This could indicate that you are not achieving the results you desire from the drug and that you need to take more of it to achieve these feelings.
If you have tried to quit the substance but found yourself going back repeatedly, it is likely that you have developed a physical dependence. You may even notice withdrawal symptoms when you need a fix. These symptoms usually disappear when you take the drug.
Other signs of an addiction include preoccupation with the drug. If you spend most of your time taking crystal meth or thinking about doing so, then you more than likely have a problem. If the use of the drug is interfering with your ability to live a normal life, then you need some help as soon as possible.
Crystal meth addiction does not pass if you ignore it. If you are worried about your use of the drug and believe that you may have an addiction, getting help is your best option right now. Failure to reach out for help will probably mean that your situation worsens. While you should know that overcoming a crystal meth addiction will not be easy, it is very possible.
What are the Effects of Crystal Meth?
It is important that you are aware of the consequences of abusing a drug like crystal meth. You are more than likely already aware of the short-term effects of the drug; it is these effects that have led to your addiction.
For example, when you first began taking crystal meth, you probably experienced an intense rush of pleasure and a sense of wellbeing. It is these feelings that often encourage users to take more and more of the drug to prolong the pleasure. Nevertheless, when the effects of the drug wear off, it is not unusual to experience a severe crash or comedown. Some of the short-term effects of crystal meth include:
- increased blood pressure
- raised body temperature
- rapid heartbeat
- loss of appetite
- trouble sleeping
- erratic behaviour
Regular use of crystal meth can cause severe weight loss because feelings of hunger are reduced. Most crystal meth users rarely eat. They may also suffer sleeping problems, which can lead to irritation and agitation. In some individuals, this can then go on to cause aggression and violence.
As you might imagine, the long-term damage caused by crystal meth can be quite severe. Those who continue to abuse the drug may experience malnutrition issues due to not eating. The effects on the heart can be quite damaging too, and in some cases, it can be irreversible. Long-term consequences of crystal meth use can include:
- damaged blood vessels in the brain
- increased risk of stroke
- cardiovascular disease
- liver damage
- kidney damage
- lung disease
- memory loss
- extreme mood swings
- severe tooth decay.
How Crystal Meth Affects Your Life
If the above short- and long-term effects of crystal meth on health were not bad enough, use of this drug can lead to countless other problems. Many people wonder why crystal meth is so addictive; the reason is that of the effects it has on the brain. It affects the part of the brain that is responsible for good decision making, meaning that users become incapable of seeing how damaging the substance actually is to them.
The first time a person uses crystal meth will usually be a conscious decision to do so. The prefrontal cortex of their brain will have ‘made’ this decision. Nonetheless, continued use of the drug affects the brain in numerous ways; after prolonged use, the decision to take the drug moves to the part of the brain that is responsible for actions that are necessary for survival – such as eating and breathing.
The way in which crystal meth affects the brain, then, is to make it believe that use of the drug is a survival issue. Users, therefore, have no conscious choice but to continue using the substance. They are powerless to fight the compulsion to use, even when doing so is having a severe negative impact on their life.
While crystal meth use can have devastating implications for both physical and mental health and can have a dramatic effect on the physical appearance of the user, it can also decimate lives in other ways. For example, crystal meth use will severely affect relationships.
The behaviour of crystal meth users is often described as erratic and chaotic. When on the drug, the affected person might be hyperactive and euphoric, but when the effects wear off, he or she may show signs of irritation and agitation. Some will become aggressive and violent, and these extreme mood swings will no doubt affect their ability to maintain healthy relationships with those they know and love.
Crystal meth addiction can be very intense and can progress quite quickly. Users often mix the drug with other substances such as opiate drugs and alcohol, especially when the effects of it are not as powerful as they initially were. The impact of crystal meth on the brain can result in users being unable to experience a high because their dopamine receptors have been damaged. Chasing that elusive high can result in polydrug use, which can have additional devastating consequences.
As a crystal meth addiction progresses, the need for the drug intensifies and users often become consumed by it. They can think of nothing but the drug and how they are going to get it. They will spend every penny they have on it, and when that money runs out, they could become desperate enough to beg or steal from loved ones. Some will take more risky measures in their quest to get the drug and will turn to criminal activity. This can lead to arrests and prison time in extreme cases.
Treatment for a Crystal Meth Addiction
Although crystal meth is a very powerful drug and addiction to it can be severe, treatment is available. You should be aware that the nature of this drug makes it difficult to break free from it, but with the right treatment, it is possible to get clean and stay that way.
As you are likely to have a physical addiction to the drug if you abuse it, you will need to have a detox in the first instance. This process will help you to quit the drug and allow all remaining toxins and chemicals to be flushed from your body.
It is important that this process takes place in a dedicated detox facility because the risk of complications will be very high, particularly if you have been mixing crystal meth with other substances such as alcohol or opiate drugs.
About twenty-four hours after your last drug use, you will probably see the first signs of withdrawal; these usually present in the form of a deep unhappiness or depression. You might become agitated, and it is likely that you will be feeling an intense craving for the drug. These feelings of depression tend to last for a few days and you may start to feel very fatigued as well. However, as tired as you might be feeling, you might also be unable to sleep.
It is common for crystal meth addicts to feel suspicious of everyone and paranoid, and some will even experience suicidal thoughts. Around-the-clock care and support are therefore vital during a methamphetamine detox.
As the treatment progresses, you are likely to notice a return of your appetite after having spent so long not needing to eat very much. Nevertheless, you may then notice symptoms such as bloating and indigestion as you start eating normally again; this is due to the impact the drug has had on your gastrointestinal tract.
Occasional, very strong urges to take the drug occur among crystal meth addicts trying to detox. These strong cravings can, in some individuals, lead to violent outbursts or aggressive behaviour. This nagging craving for the drug can continue for many months.
The good news is that in a supervised facility, a crystal meth detox is safer and much more comfortable than trying to go it alone. For most, a supportive environment is enough to help them get through and medication is therefore not usually required.
Overcoming the Psychological Addiction
While a detox is designed to address the physical addiction, it does not help to tackle the psychological addiction. To do this, you will need to continue your treatment with a programme of rehabilitation. Rehab is very important in terms of identifying the underlying cause of the illness and then dealing with this effectively to prevent a relapse going forward.
Rehab programmes involve a series of psychotherapeutic treatments, such as individual counselling and group therapy. These treatments will be used to help you understand more about your addiction and what caused it. Behavioural treatments will help you to develop new positive methods to deal with life situations so that you do not return to drug use in the future.
You may also find that your treatment plan includes a range of holistic therapies. The use of such treatments can work extremely well with traditional methods. Examples of holistic treatments include:
- art therapy
- music therapy
- sports and nutrition.
Holistic therapies have been known to reduce stress levels and are therefore the perfect complementary therapy for treating those with symptoms of depression and anxiety. They help to improve your overall sense of wellbeing and can be used to reduce cravings and prevent relapse when you return to everyday life.
For more information about any aspect of crystal meth addiction, please call us here at Sanctuary Lodge. We are experts in treating all types of addiction and can provide you with helpful information on how to get your life back on track.
Our programmes are inpatient based to give you the best chance of permanent sobriety in the shortest amount of time. We are regulated by the Care Quality Commission and offer a high standard of care for all patients. To find out more about us and what we do, please do not hesitate to call today.