Methamphetamine is a stimulant drug that causes feelings of alertness and euphoria. It is used as a second-line treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and it is also abused as a recreational drug. Chronic meth abuse is particularly damaging and can lead to paralysis, chronic anxiety, severe tooth decay (meth mouth), high blood pressure, and kidney failure. Using the drug also brings with it the risks of methamphetamine toxicity.
It is a good idea to reach out to a medical professional if you are using meth recreationally. The risk of a methamphetamine overdose is ever-present due to the difficulty of judging the dose size. Recovery from meth addiction is possible and getting the right support could save your life. Read on to find out more about methamphetamine use disorder and the route to recovery.
What Is Meth?
Meth is a synthetic stimulant drug that is usually made from a mixture of ephedrine or pseudoephedrine with other chemicals. Since ephedrine and pseudoephedrine can be bought in over-the-counter cough and cold medicines, meth is often made illegally in home labs. When it is produced for authorized medical purposes it is manufactured in pharmaceutical laboratories.
Meth works by increasing dopamine and adrenalin, affecting areas of the brain involved in reward, learning, and motor function. In low doses, meth can increase attention and in high doses it causes euphoria.
Meth is a Schedule II drug which means that it can quickly lead to dependence and addiction. However, unlike Schedule I drugs there are some medical uses for it, such as for ADHD. The illicit drug is usually found as a powder or crystal. Crystal meth tends to be clear or blue. The powder can be white, yellow or brown, or a variety of other colors. It is also possible to get meth pills, but this is not as common.
Cases of meth overdose deaths nearly tripled between 2015 and 2019. By 2020, overdoses involving psychostimulants, primarily methamphetamines, reached 23,837.
Meth Abuse and Addiction
Methamphetamine abuse can rapidly lead to dependence and meth addiction due to the drug’s potency. Dependence is when your brain changes chemically in response to the drug, coming to a new balance. When you stop taking meth you experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms as you disrupt the balance in your brain. This makes it very difficult to quit because if you do try it can be tempting to take meth again to stop withdrawal symptoms.
Meth addiction is usually close behind dependence. Any drug addiction is a brain disease that causes you to lose control over your substance abuse, and meth addiction is no different. The substance becomes your priority in life. This prioritizing can lead to the breakdown of relationships as well as behavioral changes such as risk-taking, secretiveness, and social withdrawal. In 2019, 964,000 people reported having a methamphetamine use disorder.
If someone has a substance use disorder it means that they can not control their relationship with drug abuse. While it can be difficult to quit chronic meth abuse, it is possible. Getting support from an addiction treatment center helps many meth users to recover.
Risk Factors for Addiction
Not everyone has the same chance of developing a substance abuse problem. There are particular factors that make you more likely to abuse substances and become addicted. Risk factors include the following.
- Genetics – Up to half your risk of developing an addiction is due to genetics.
- Mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety – Some people use substances to self-medicate.
- Childhood trauma – This includes neglect and other forms of abuse
- Environmental factors – Exposure to substances as a child or in early adulthood can increase a person’s risk.
A methamphetamine overdose, otherwise known as acute methamphetamine toxicity, is when you take too much meth so that some parts of your body stop functioning properly. General drug overdose deaths have been rising in the US, with stimulant and opioid mortality among the highest numbers. In the 12 months leading up to April 2021, there were over 100,000 drug overdose deaths.
Meth Overdose Symptoms
It is important to be able to recognize the signs of a meth overdose as it could help to save someone’s life. The following symptoms suggest that a person’s body is struggling with methamphetamine toxicity. If you see these symptoms of a meth overdose in yourself or another person it is important to seek medical attention.
- Chest pain
- Severe abdominal pain
- Difficulty breathing
- High blood pressure
- Loss of consciousness
- Bluish fingertips and lips
If you see someone experiencing these symptoms you should call 911 immediately. These symptoms are not only signs of a methamphetamine overdose but also of other major medical conditions. It is important to seek help from medical professionals as soon as possible.
Risk Factors for Methamphetamine Overdose
Mixing meth with other drugs increases the risk of a meth overdose. This is because street meth is an illicit substance and there are no quality controls over its production. Meth users can never be sure whether they are buying a pure dose. Street meth is sometimes mixed with other drugs such as antidepressants and opioids such as fentanyl. The buyer is not only exposed to the risk of meth overdose but also to the danger of taking too much of other substances.
If a person takes a purer dose than they usually do, this increases their chance of having a meth overdose. Taking a purer dose than usual is the equivalent of taking a larger dose. When meth users take a larger dose than they are used to, this increases the chances of methamphetamine toxicity.
Mental health suffers when people use meth. A person who has taken meth for a long time could experience paranoia, mood swings, hallucinations, and psychotic symptoms. This impairs the person’s judgment and means they may be more likely to have a meth overdose due to deliberately or accidentally taking too much meth.
The emotional difficulties caused by taking this drug could damage a person’s ability to cope with major stressors such as bereavement. This in turn could lead a person to take a higher dose than usual and expose themselves to the risks of a meth overdose.
If you have a problem with chronic meth abuse or want to avoid the risks of methamphetamine toxicity, you may want to consider getting substance abuse treatment. With the support of medical professionals, you can develop the tools to overcome meth addiction.
It is important to be aware that coming off meth will reduce your tolerance to the drug. To avoid the risk of having a meth overdose in the future, you will need to make a commitment to stay off the drug.
The only sure way to avoid having a meth overdose is to stop taking meth completely. Addiction treatment starts with recognizing that you have a problem and that you want to do something about it. The first step to recovery is detoxing.
Detoxing is when you stop taking a substance and allow your body to recover and flush itself free of toxins. This is when you will have withdrawal symptoms. Every person is different, and your experience of withdrawal will be shaped by factors such as your age, how long you have been taking meth, and the general state of your health.
- Extreme tiredness
- Chronic anxiety
Acute withdrawal often lasts about seven to ten days. However, you may experience post-acute symptoms that last for three to four weeks and sometimes months. These are usually psychological symptoms such as depression and cravings. Your experience of detox will be unique to you.
It may seem daunting to think about detox and experiencing these withdrawal symptoms. However, at an addiction treatment center, you will be taken care of to make sure that the process is as easy for you as possible. Due to how difficult detoxing can be it is not recommended that you do it alone. Seeking treatment from medical professionals will give you your best chance of saying goodbye to meth use and associated risks such as meth overdose.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It aims to make accessing necessary addiction treatment support easier. Visit its website to find out more about drug abuse, how it affects people nationally, and what treatment options are available.
Treatment at Ebb Tide
At Ebb Tide, we are an addiction treatment center that works with you to create a treatment program that fits your needs. Some treatment options at Ebb Tide include:
- Medically supervised detox
- Therapies including cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, and acceptance, and commitment therapy
- Nutritious meals, gym workouts, yoga, swimming, volleyball, and more
- Intensive outpatient treatment
Please feel free to contact us today to find out more or to start your recovery journey. We would love to welcome you to our community. You can find out more about us and reach us through our website.