Methamphetamine Addiction Treatment Los Angeles
Methamphetamine, often shortened to “meth,” is a major recreational drug in the United States that inflicts enormous damage on people’s lives. The drug, which often comes in the form of bluish-white rock-like shards, is not only physically addictive, but it harms users’ physical and mental health. Methamphetamine is a central nervous system stimulant. It is closely related to amphetamine, a medication often used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), narcolepsy, and other conditions. Methamphetamine, however, is rarely prescribed as a legitimate medication due to its neurotoxicity and high potential for addiction. However, the demand for methamphetamine among recreational drug users has remained high and is currently on the rise.
People take methamphetamine to get high. While the various possible routes of administration, which include smoking, snorting, and injecting, alter the speed and intensity of the high, the side effects of methamphetamine are relatively consistent. The effects of meth include euphoria, improved focus, energy, and concentration. Many people also experience surges in libido while intoxicated on methamphetamine. As a result, the drug has long been a popular party drug used to improve sexual performance. Others use it for its perceived cognitive-enhancing effects. However, because methamphetamine use so quickly turns to addiction, the vast majority of methamphetamine users take it simply to ward off withdrawal symptoms.
People addicted to meth suffer painful side effects very quickly after they stop taking the drug. For this reason, people suffering from substance use disorders are often unable to stop taking the drug on their own no matter how determined they are. Drug addiction, especially methamphetamine addiction, also exerts chemical changes in users’ brains that make it difficult for them to remain drug free without outside intervention. Fortunately, a wide variety of treatment programs exist to help people who suffer from crystal meth addiction. Addiction experts recommend that any person hoping to treat meth addiction first reach out to a medical detox center where they can safely withdraw from the drug in a safe and supportive environment. After that, they can attend a treatment center, such as an outpatient program or inpatient rehab center, where they can tackle the underlying issues behind their addictions and develop new coping strategies.
It is important to understand that methamphetamine addiction is not a failure of willpower. It is a legitimate and serious mental health condition that is impossible to eradicate without outside help. Methamphetamine addiction is also a progressive illness that is likely to inflict increasingly severe personal and health consequences as time goes on. However, methamphetamine addiction is treatable. By taking advantage of formal treatment options and developing a sober social support system using support groups, individuals can successfully put their substance use disorders into remission.
Signs of Methamphetamine Abuse
Individuals who suffer from a methamphetamine addiction are often diagnosed by psychiatrists and other mental health professionals with a substance use disorder, an umbrella term that covers addictions to all drugs. Substance use disorders, which exist on a spectrum, are extremely diverse in terms of their consequences. However, any individual with a substance use disorder finds it difficult to control their substance use. They may also find their quality of life deteriorating as a result of continued use. While not everyone suffers from methamphetamine addiction to the same extent, these common traits make a substance use disorder easily identifiable.
Psychiatrists use a book called Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is published by the American Psychiatric Association, to diagnose mental health disorders. The DSM-5, the latest edition, categorizes methamphetamine addiction as a variety of substance use disorder called stimulant use disorder. Since substance use disorders exist on a wide spectrum, the DSM-5 lists eleven common symptoms and only requires an individual to suffer from two of them to qualify for a diagnosis. If an individual suffers from two to three, they can be said to suffer from a mild stimulant use disorder. Experiencing four to five symptoms implies a moderate disorder. Exhibiting six or more symptoms is a sign that a person’s disorder has progressed to a severe level. The eleven symptoms of a stimulant use disorder are as follows:
Risks of Methamphetamine Addiction
Methamphetamine poses a number of risks to mental and physical health. Over the short term, it can lead to a number of symptoms, including loss of appetite, increased heart rate and blood pressure, nausea, problems with sleep, unpredictable violent behavior, mood swings, irritability hallucinations, panic attacks, psychotic episodes, and even seizures.
Many of the long term effects are the result of experiencing the short term side effects of this highly addictive drug over a sufficient period of time. Methamphetamine addiction can lead to dangerous weight loss and malnutrition due to the drug’s appetite-suppressing effects. Meth abuse can also lead to high blood pressure and cause permanent damage to blood vessels in the heart and brain. People who inject crystal meth are at a higher risk for infectious diseases, and those who smoke it often suffer from respiratory ailments. Most meth users suffer from extreme tooth decay, known as “meth mouth.” Regular methamphetamine use also leads to brain damage that can take years to heal even after getting sober.
However, some of the greatest risks of methamphetamine addiction are interpersonal in nature. Methamphetamine provides people with a false sense of confidence and a feeling of unlimited energy. As a result, many people push themselves and their bodies beyond a healthy point. The result is often extreme withdrawal symptoms, or a “crash,” that can cause methamphetamine users to either seek more of the drug or withdraw from life completely. Their unpredictable and often psychotic behavior can alienate others. Many end up destroying important relationships, losing their jobs, and dropping out of life completely. As a result, they may lose access to their social support system financial resources. This can make it more difficult for an individual to get access to treatment resources. It can also make people less likely to want to get sober at all, especially once they no longer have any meaningful activities or relationships left in their life to return to.
Methamphetamine users, whether they have spent years taking the drug or only just began, are all risking their lives. Far worse than the interpersonal tragedies and the long-term physical and mental health consequences, an overdose on crystal meth can cut a life short prematurely. The risk of an overdose increases when methamphetamine is used alongside other drugs, because drug interactions can make the central nervous system more vulnerable. Unfortunately, methamphetamine purchased off the street is often mixed with other drugs, including dangerous synthetic opioids.
The Physical Dangers of Methamphetamine Abuse
The physical effects of crystal meth overdose are numerous and unpredictable. Moderate overdoses can produce the following effects:
- Changes in heart rhythm
- High or low blood pressure
- High body temperature
- Severe agitation
- Rapid breathing
- Inability to urinate
However, more severe overdoses can lead to more dangerous symptoms. These can be life-threatening and include:
- Methamphetamine-induced psychosis
- Cardiogenic shock
- Circulatory collapse
- Hyperpyrexia (dangerously high temperature)
- Kidney failure
- Serotonin syndrome
- Pulmonary hypertension
- Rapid muscle breakdown
It is possible to die during a methamphetamine overdose, often due to convulsions or coma, but also as a result of interactions among the above-listed symptoms. Individuals with poor health or pre-existing conditions are more likely to suffer fatal consequences during a methamphetamine overdose. Even those who survive are likely to suffer from brain damage as a result of the drug’s neurotoxicity.
Long-Term Use and Severe Methamphetamine Addiction
Meth addiction entails a number of issues with physical health. Many methamphetamine users experience extreme weight loss due to the appetite-suppressing effects of the drug. They may get skin sores from the intense itching that chronic methamphetamine use causes. One of the most visually obvious symptoms of meth addiction is a condition often known colloquially as “meth mouth,” a condition characterized by extreme tooth decay that is common among chronic methamphetamine abusers.
However, the dangers of methamphetamine abuse extend beyond physical health. Mental health generally suffers enormously. Long term methamphetamine use can cause anxiety, confusion, memory loss, sleeping problems, and even change the personalities of those suffering from addiction. The behavior of a chronic methamphetamine user can be unpredictable. Many engage in erratic and violent behavior. Paranoia is common as well. In extreme cases, some methamphetamine users experience hallucinations and have full-blown psychotic episodes. Most tragically, methamphetamine use leads to semi-permanent changes in individual’s brains on the neurological level. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, changes in the brain’s dopamine system can impair verbal learning, motor coordination, and the brain’s emotion and memory centers. Even after getting sober, it can take years for the brain cells to repair themselves and return to normal.
The long term dangers of methamphetamine also greatly depend on the route of administration used. People who inject methamphetamine are at a far greater risk of contracting blood-borne diseases. These include HIV, Hepatitis B and C, and other infectious diseases. Sexually transmitted diseases are also far more common among methamphetamine users than the general population. Not only does methamphetamine use lead to decreased inhibition and risky behavior, but it is also often used in sexual circumstances to improve performance. As such, unprotected sex can lead to illness, pregnancy, and other complications. For those with pre-existing conditions like AIDS, methamphetamine use can exacerbate symptoms and make the progress of the illness more rapid and debilitating.
Chronic methamphetamine abuse can destroy a person’s mental and physical health. However, many users are forced to undergo this suffering in isolation, since meth use causes people to drop out of their own lives. People addicted to meth often damage their relationships with friends and family. They are far more likely to get divorced, lose custody of their children, and become estranged from loved ones in general. Most are unable to keep a job or remain in school due to the psychotic symptoms of methamphetamine use. As relationships and resources disappear, addiction often gets worse and it can be more difficult for an individual to get access to proper treatment.
The Dangers of Quitting Methamphetamine by Yourself
Individuals who abuse methamphetamine often discover that it is very difficult to stop using methamphetamine without outside help. People who try to stop using methamphetamine on their own, a method known as “cold turkey,” generally find that they are unable to follow through with their plans. Even if they do succeed in attaining abstinence, it is common for people who quit on their own to relapse within a matter of days, weeks, or months. A return to substance abuse is not only dangerous, it is also demoralizing for individuals who have already suffered through the withdrawal process only to return to old habits shortly thereafter. It is crucial for people to understand that tackling drug addiction requires an individual to address the causes and conditions that led them to turn to crystal meth abuse in the first place. While physical abstinence is a necessary condition for sobriety, people who pursue physical abstinence without developing a plan to tackle addiction are likely to relapse.
One of the primary reasons methamphetamine is so difficult to quit without outside help is that regular methamphetamine abuse actually causes permanent changes in brain chemistry. Tolerance to dopamine can drive users to take larger amounts of the drug. When the brain is accustomed to the high levels of dopamine that methamphetamine provides, users often find that they cannot experience pleasure while engaging in any other activity. Moreover, methamphetamine use leads to lasting changes in the very structure of the brain. Methamphetamine damages areas of the brain associated with emotion and memory. Even after quitting methamphetamine, many of these changes take years to heal. Given that methamphetamine inflicts brain damage and causes a variety of other mental health conditions, it is no surprise that most people are unable to stay sober without the help of treatment facilities.
It is essential that anyone considering quitting methamphetamine enroll in a medical detox center. The withdrawal process for methamphetamine is very arduous. The signs of symptoms of meth withdrawal include paranoia, psychosis, fatigue, anxiety, severe depression, and strong drug cravings. Many people also experience health complications while undergoing the detox process. Detox centers offer safe and supportive environments to go withdraw from meth while receiving medical assistance for any physical or mental health problems that may arise. A medical detox facility can also help individuals connect with other treatment facilities so that get further support after the withdrawal process ends. By taking advantage of a variety of treatment options, it is indeed possible for even the most seemingly hopeless individuals to overcome a methamphetamine addiction and stay sober for the rest of their life.
Symptoms of Methamphetamine Withdrawal
- Fatigue and sleep problems
- Extreme depression
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Increased appetite
- Intense drug cravings
It should be noted that mothers who take methamphetamine can pass the drug to a fetus through the bloodstream. It can also be present in breast milk. As a result, infant children of addicted parents often suffer from methamphetamine withdrawal. Infants experiencing withdrawal often suffer from poor sleep and feeding habits, tremors, and spasticity.
Methamphetamine abusers who are ready to tackle their meth addiction should not withdraw from meth alone. Seeking proper addiction treatment at a medical detox center is both the safest and most effective way of getting through this difficult period of time.
Best Options for Methamphetamine Treatment
Medical DetoxMedical detox centers help individuals deal with the arduous process of withdrawing from stimulants, and they are especially crucial for methamphetamine addiction, which is faster-acting and therefore more addictive than most central nervous system stimulants. Medically supervised detox can provide crucial resources as well as medications like benzodiazepines that alleviate side effects of withdrawal.
Inpatient Treatment ProgramsInpatient treatment facilities allow individuals to treat the underlying reasons behind their addiction after they’ve detoxed. These live-in programs offer 24 hour care along with a number of resources, from individual counseling to skill-building workshops. Meth rehab also helps residents develop a sober social support system that will aid them over the long term.
Outpatient Treatment ProgramsOutpatient treatment centers are often recommended for the transitional phase after graduating from an inpatient treatment program, but they can also be used by individuals who require a higher degree of flexibility from their treatment program. Requiring only a few hours a week, these treatment facilities offer individual counseling, group therapy, and treatment plans for long term recovery.
Aftercare Treatment ProgramsSupport groups and 12-step programs, which many individuals get involved in during formal treatment programs, are often utilized for many years after graduation. These programs offer services for continued recovery as well as social support systems. At a formal treatment center, case workers can help individuals plan ahead to develop an appropriate aftercare plan for long term sobriety.