Methamphetamine, also known as meth, is a dangerous drug that has been used since the early 20th Century. When its potency was increased, the rates of addiction soared. It has ravaged families, relationships, and communities from coast to coast. In fact, the United Nations’ World Drug Report declared that meth is the most abused hard drug on Earth, claiming 26 million addicts worldwide.
When a drug is so potent and so addictive, it is hard to imagine why a person would ever use it. However, there are a few pernicious inroads for meth to enter a person’s life:
- Amphetamines have long been used to fuel all-night work sessions.
- Meth is a good replacement for prescription drugs like Adderall and Ritalin.
- It may be used to ″keep the party going″ in the wee hours.
- Meth is often used to enhance sexual activity.
Meth is used in three primary ways, each of which has its own dangers and damages:
Injection: due to the intense euphoria of this method, injection poses the highest threat of addiction
Snorting: damages sinus cavities
Smoking: the acidity of the chemical causes teeth to decay at a rapid rate
Signs of Meth Addiction
A full-blown methamphetamine addiction poses many grave threats to a person’s health and well-being. While a meth addict may be extremely productive during the early stages of addiction, this seeming upside turns bad in short order. Soon, the addict finds that his life revolves around the drug and the culture that it fosters. He will stay awake for days on end, unable to discern how time is passing. Some meth addicts have been known to spend whole days cleaning a kitchen floor with a toothbrush or wracked in a paranoid fear.
Here are a few behavioral signs of meth addiction:
- Erratic thoughts
- Delusions of grandeur
- Financial Problems
- Avoiding friends and family
- Loss of appetite
- Dramatic weight loss
- Extreme tooth decay
- Obsessive-compulsive behaviors
- Psychotic behaviors
Physical Costs of Meth
Perhaps even more dramatic is the physical toll meth can take on a person. This is a little ironic, in that similar amphetamines have been used in the past to stimulate weight loss and to thus enhance beauty. While many meth addicts are quite skinny, when their body starts to deteriorate, they will quickly lose any attractive features they may have once had. A few physical symptoms of meth abuse are:
- Open wounds which won’t heal
- Skin loses elasticity
- Rapid aging
- ″Meth Mouth″ – dramatic and extensive tooth decay and loss
Recovery from Meth
Recovery from a meth addiction is not an easy path. The intense euphoria that meth induces results from a massive release of dopamine. As the addiction prolongs, meth will eventually destroy the dopamine receptors in the brain. So, when the addict starts to get sober, he may be unable to feel a normal dopamine response which might usually result from seeing a good friend, eating a nice meal, or spending time with a lover. In essence, meth can rob a person of the very things that make life enjoyable. In the absence of a way to enjoy life, the addict may relapse.
Despite the grim picture meth addiction paints, recovery is possible. The sufferer must be ready to endure cravings that persist for weeks or months. The addicts physical brain may take up to a year to recover, depending on the damage it has incurred. Still, recovery is possible with the following:
- Social Support
- Individualized treatment plans
- A variety of treatment methods to address each part of the drug’s devastation
- Medical and Dental care to help restore the body to fitness
There is no “miracle cure” or medication that makes meth come-down easy or instantly erases the effects. It takes time and effort for an addict to recover.
Tips to improve an individual’s overall health and nutritional status in early recovery:
- Stay hydrated. An increased intake of water and other fluids is recommended to help fight fatigue and maintain body temperature. Carbonated drinks should be avoided as they are dehydrating and can cause fluctuations in blood glucose levels.
- Eat healthy. Fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain foods supply necessary nutrients to help speed up recovery.
- Take a multivitamin. Vitamin pills can help replenish nutrients in the body that are important in recovery.
- Get plenty of rest. Quality sleep is essential to calm down the overstimulated brain. If it is difficult to fall asleep, consider taking some over-the-counter sleep aids, read a book or watch a movie on television.
- Stay active. Exercise is helpful in coping with irritability and low moods. However, it is important for the recovering addict to avoid overdoing it. Light exercises such as walking or low-impact cardio are recommended.
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