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Methamphetamine Dependence – Signs of Methamphetamine Use Vs. Abuse, Tolerance

Methamphetamine is a highly addictive drug related to the natural biochemical amphetamine. In some cases, small doses of methamphetamine are prescribed by a doctor to treat certain medical conditions. Methamphetamine usage other than under the care of a physician is considered substance abuse and is illegal. Legal methamphetamine is typically taken in pill form, while people using it illicitly may take it orally or may inject, smoke, or snort it. Methamphetamine is often created in large illegal laboratories in the U.S. or abroad, but it can also be created in small home laboratories. These home laboratories are dangerous to residents, neighbors, and the local environment.

Is Methamphetamine Addictive?

How addictive is methamphetamine? Methamphetamine is extremely addictive. Users typically develop intense cravings for the drug and may do unhealthy or illegal things in order to get and maintain access to methamphetamine. If you or someone you know needs help stopping methamphetamine use or dependency, contact us at 1-888-803-9961 Who Answers? or fill out our short information form to get more details on recovering from methamphetamine addiction.

Understanding Methamphetamine Dependency and Tolerance

Methamphetamine dependence develops as a result of the brain changes that take place when a person uses the drug. Methamphetamine abusers often display both physical and psychological dependence. Although physical dependence on methamphetamine can develop after a single use, it may take multiple uses to alter the brain enough to cause physical cravings. Psychological dependence develops because the user associates the drug with certain people, places, and events. If many of the user’s friends also use methamphetamine, it can quickly become part of the social experience. The user may develop a habit of using the drug in certain situations or when with certain people.

Effects/Side Effects

Methamphetamine, like many stimulants, causes a euphoric high that makes the user feel completely awake and full of energy. This high occurs because methamphetamine boosts the release of the brain chemical dopamine and prevents neurons from recycling dopamine after release. When the neurons don’t remove it from the space between cells, dopamine continues to stimulate neurons, and the feeling of euphoria persists for a long time.

Drug Addiction Symptoms and Signs

Drug-Addict Addiction to drugs, whether legal or illegal, causes various behavioral, social and health changes as the addict needs to obtain larger and larger quantities of the drugs or drugs to which he or she is addicted in order to satisfy increasing physical and psychological drug dependence. The stereotype of an emaciated, exhausted drug addict who resorts to violent crime in order to obtain drugs is often very far from the real picture that an addict presents, but nevertheless there are clear signs and symptoms to look for in cases of drug addiction.

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Other effects of methamphetamine on the body include a loss of appetite, excess energy, fidgeting, rapid breathing, rapid heart rate, irregular heartbeat, a rise in blood pressure, and overheating. An overdose can result in a heart attack, stroke, seizure, coma, or death. Coming down from methamphetamine can feel unpleasant, especially if it occurs rapidly. This crash feeling can make the user crave more of the drug immediately, and some users take repeated hits of methamphetamine to avoid the crash and continue the high for a longer period of time. The long-term effects of methamphetamine can be extremely serious.

Methamphetamine can cause irreversible changes in the brain. The portions of the brain involved in memory and emotion may undergo permanent structural changes. Other brain changes may reverse themselves after treatment, but this reversal often takes a year or more.  Long-term use can also lead to weight loss, dental decay, mood disorders, and insomnia.

Methamphetamine users may become anxious or experience mental confusion. They may also exhibit violent behavior. Hallucinations, paranoia, and delusions are common side effects that can develop in long-term users. Motor skills and verbal learning may also be affected by long-term methamphetamine use.

Withdrawal and Detoxification

Withdrawal from methamphetamine may result in different symptoms in different people. The specific withdrawal symptoms and their severity depend on how much the brain has been altered by methamphetamine use. Common symptoms include drug cravings, difficulty sleeping, depression, irritability, uncontrollable shaking, and a loss of energy. Because severe depression is possible, people who are experiencing methamphetamine withdrawal should be monitored for suicidal behaviors.

Treatment for Methamphetamine Addiction

Methamphetamine abuse treatment usually requires an intensive program that takes into account the many physical and psychological factors involved in addiction. Some of the options that may be included in a treatment plan for methamphetamine addiction include individual behavioral therapy, family counseling, individual counseling, and the use of a 12-step program. Plans that include tangible rewards for avoiding methamphetamine use are also useful for recovering methamphetamine users. Treatment may take place on an inpatient or outpatient basis. The goal of treatment is to teach the user to live without the drug and to establish alternative behaviors and habits.