Meth Addiction Treatment Centers
Methamphetamine, known also as ice, tweak, speed, tina, crystal, or crystal meth, is a very powerful and highly addictive stimulant drug, that is functionally similar to the class of drugs – the amphetamines – that have seen limited use in the medical community as a treatment for obesity, attention deficit disorders, and narcolepsy. Because of its highly addictive potential, amphetamines are seldom prescribed by doctors and are only indicated as a measure of last resort, under strict medical supervision.
While reports suggest that the rate of which methamphetamines are being abused today is significantly lower than it was 10 to 15 years ago, the total number of methamphetamine users and addicts is still substantially large. In 2012, the National Survey on Drug use and Health reported that about 1.2 million individuals are known to have taken methamphetamine in the preceding year while 440,000 reported a past-month use of the substance. It was also reported that more than 550,000 Americans were known as methamphetamine addicts with an estimated 120,000 additional new meth users every year. The number of emergency room visits because of methamphetamine overdose was also reported at 103,000 and was considered as the 4th leading cause of substance abuse-related emergency room visitations after marijuana, cocaine, and heroin.
Like most psychotropic substances, methamphetamines changes the way the brain interprets pleasurable sensations. It stimulates the brain into releasing massive amounts of dopamine which acts on the limbic system producing a brief yet very intense “rush” that the brain interprets as something 12 times more pleasurable than sex or food. Unfortunately, because of the sudden surge of dopamine, not the normal gradual release, the effects are described as momentary. Once the initial “high” effects are achieved, the loss of dopamine plunges the individual into greater depths. This result causes the brain to require the individual to inject, sniff, smoke, or even orally ingest additional methamphetamines.
Brain imaging studies now show that areas of the brain that are involved in decision-making are unfortunately altered by crystal meth. The structural alterations in these brain areas also result in an impairment of the ability of the brain to suppress behaviors that have become habitual and which are considered useless or counterproductive. These result in a decline in the brain’s cognitive or mental flexibility. This is the reason why individuals who are addicted to methamphetamines continue taking the drug even though they know of its detrimental health and social effects. Scientists now suggest that because of the loss of inhibitory control, the individual is showing difficulty quitting.
The immediate effects of meth include decreased appetite and increased activity because of its primarily euphoric effects. Because it is a stimulant, almost all bodily processes go into hyperdrive, including the following:
Visual and auditory hallucinations, paranoia, delusions, and psychosis.
Chronic use of methamphetamines have been shown to produce a variety of manifestations in addition to methamphetamine addiction. Severe malnutrition can occur because of an imbalance between energy expenditure and energy replenishment. Heart failure has been documented in a lot of cases because of tissue hypoxic episodes. There is also an increased risk of Parkinson’s disease, cognitive decline, motor impairments, and memory loss. There is also the classic meth mouth characterized by severe tooth decay as well as other structural abnormalities of the teeth and eventually tooth loss.
Unlike heroin or alcohol, there are no medication protocols for the management of the detoxification of methamphetamines. However, supportive care is very important especially in the management of malnutrition and the psychosis-related manifestations of methamphetamine addiction. Because methamphetamine floods the brain with dopamine and its removal will result in the absence of this neurotransmitter, the individual is often left in a very depressed state. They are no longer capable of feeling pleasure and for some people, this can be particularly damaging.
Nutrition is important to help the body heal properly. Medications may be administered in order to address some of the symptoms. More importantly however, is the use of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy as well as experiential therapies to help the individual to rediscover life’s simple pleasures. The individual must be assisted into rediscovering the joys of life through a variety of activities. Individual counseling sessions coupled with group and family therapy workshops can help facilitate the individual’s realization of the artificial benefits of methamphetamines and that the real, permanent, joys of living are in the different people and things that surround the individual.