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Methamphetamine, more commonly known as meth, was originally created as a medication for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and as a weight loss medication. This highly addictive stimulant become a recreational drug as people abused it for the effect it had on them. The dependence that forms to meth is so severe that without professional treatment, the dependence becomes progressively worse.
The rush produced from injecting or smoking meth speeds up the user’s heart rate and blood pressure. These effects can last as long as 30 minutes and the high as long as 12 hours.
Behavioral and physical signs of meth abuse include:
Meth causes increased levels of dopamine – the chemical that controls feelings of pleasure and euphoria. Scientists believe that the over-stimulation of the reward centers resulting in increased dopamine is a major cause of many addictions to drugs such as cocaine, meth and heroin. The abuser’s behavior is greatly rewarded by the release of dopamine. However, the heightened levels of dopamine are not natural and the body tries to combat it by shutting down receptors and producing less natural dopamine.
The end result of this change in the brain is a tolerance that forces the user to use increasing amounts of methamphetamine in order to get the same kind of rewarding feeling. This process increases the risk of overdose and damage due to the ever-increasing quantities of the harmful drug.
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Licensed and certified meth rehab facilities are equipped to handle addiction to meth and other hard drugs. The first step in the rehabilitation process is establishing the severity of the addiction and what congruent problems the user has that can be adding to their addiction. These can include any legal problems or co-occurring mental disorders. The assessment is important as there is not a single treatment approach that can work for all addicts; each person requires individualized treatment to achieve the best results.
Dealing with the withdrawal symptoms so that the person can be more receptive to the treatment is the next step. Withdrawal symptoms include:
- Severe depression
- Intense cravings
- Sleeping problems
- Severe anxiety
- Mood swings
- Psychosis and paranoia
These symptoms can be monitored at the rehab facility to ensure that a symptom like depression does not cause them to become suicidal.
Detox is just the first step to recovery. Behavioral therapies are used to help the patient alter their behavior and response to triggers and life stresses. Every addict has triggers to their initial drug abuse, whether it was peer pressure or just emotional stress that prompted substance abuse. If the patient is suffering from another mental disorder such as an anxiety or depression at the same time, this can be addressed through dual diagnosis treatment programs.
Steps to help the patient avoid relapse are then taken including proven relapse prevention strategies. They are taught to notice the different stages of relapse and act before it is too late. This includes going into therapy sessions and going to support group meetings at the first signs of the emotional relapse stage.
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2. Results from the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings [PDF]. (2014, September). Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Last updated on April 7th, 2017 at 08:25 pm