Methamphetamine–also known as speed, meth, or crystal–boosts chemical receptors, such as dopamine, and inhibits the destruction of other chemicals, such as acetylcholamine, in the brain. The result is an addicting euphoria.
Sleep deprivation and nutritional deficiencies occur and over time, good feelings turn into abnormal thoughts, users focus on irrelevant objects or tasks, and drug tolerance develops so that increasing amounts are needed to gain the desired effects.
When the addict runs out of their drug supply, lethargy, irritability, and flu-like symptoms are experienced. Cravings for the drug become very strong. Physical detox takes five to seven days. Normalization of brain chemistry may take weeks or months after drug use stops.
Methamphetamine-induced psychosis, in which the user has delusional thoughts and may even hear voices, is exactly like some schizophrenic conditions except it is exaggerated and more intense. Drug-induced psychosis goes away when drug use is stopped; usually a great improvement can be seen within a few weeks.
Treatment offers the best solution for methamphetamine addicts and their families. Afterward, addicts can take responsibility for avoiding the behaviors that lead to active addiction and for taking actions that will keep them clean, such as attending meetings, working steps of recovery, and helping others. A social support system of friends in recovery is very important. Places of worship, family members, and co-workers may be very supportive, but they cannot substitute for the fellowship of other recovering addicts who understand the unique conditions an addict must face.
Those who want to help a meth addict should understand that relapse is part of addictive disease, as are denial and compulsions. It does no good to nag or check up on the addict. A relapse can occur without warning, and the person who wants to help would be wise to incorporate the concept of One Day at a Time, otherwise they will become too ill and stressed out to think clearly when relapse does happen. Addicts often learn from relapses to respect the seriousness of the disease and how to avoid future slips. In any case, help comes in the form of natural consequences (job loss, finding oneself out on the street) that compel the addict to get back into recovery.
Since 1972, the renowned Clearbrook Treatment Centers have been providing effective treatment programs for adults and adolescents who suffer from alcoholism and/or chemical dependency. Clearbrook’s rehabilitation program is based upon the belief that alcoholism and chemical dependency is a primary disease and that the suffering addict and his or her family members deserve immediate help.