Do I Need Crystal Meth Rehab?Anna Ciulla
Methamphetamine addiction and dependence on crystal meth may not be as headline-grabbing today as it was a few years ago, overshadowed by the deadly opiate epidemic that continues to rage. Yet, meth use is increasing worldwide, and, in some areas of America, crystal meth addiction is rampant. According to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, there were about 774,000 current (past month) meth users in the U.S. In 2016, that number was 667,000. Furthermore, an estimated 964,000 individuals met the criteria for methamphetamine use disorder (meth addiction) in 2017 (684,000 in 2016).
Government officials indicate that the across-the-board increase in crystal meth rates may be the result of people switching from opiates to methamphetamine and other drugs.
How Do I Know If I’m Addicted to Crystal Meth?
If you’re asking yourself whether you’re addicted to crystal meth, it’s important to be scrupulously honest in your self-assessment of crystal meth use. Typically, signs of addiction to crystal meth cluster together, although some happen periodically. If you’re experiencing any of the following, you may be addicted to crystal meth:
- Wide mood swings
- Increasingly erratic, aggressive behavior
- Engaging in high-risk activities that pose a danger to yourself or others
- Tooth loss and gum disease (a condition known as “meth mouth”)
- Excessive scarring and scabbing on the body, especially face, arms, neck, legs (called “formication”)
- Involuntary muscle and twitching movements
- Breathing problems
- Chest pains
- Frequent bloody noses
Another clear indication that you may be addicted to crystal meth is what happens and how you feel when you’ve been using the drug, as well as what happens when it wears off. If you’ve been using crystal meth on a regular basis for some time, you’ve probably come to require more and more of it to achieve the same effects. This is called tolerance, which can lead to dependence and addiction. You also need more of the drug and more often, just to try to recapture the same feelings of euphoria. This results in constant cycle of drug seeking and using.
During withdrawal—when you’re not able to obtain or use crystal meth—you may experience these symptoms:
- Periods of insomnia
- Emotional numbness
- Extreme fatigue
Long-term use of crystal meth often results in:
- Hallucinations – both auditory and visual
- Mental illness
- Memory loss – that may be significant
- Rapid unhealthy weight loss – which may lead to malnutrition and eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia
- Skin lesions and sores
- Infants of mothers who used crystal meth during pregnancy born with brain and heart disorders
Research published in 2017 in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry noted the significant stroke risk associated with meth use in young people: eight out of 10 strokes associated with meth use were hemorrhagic strokes. A quarter completely recovered following stroke, while a third died. Researchers said that rising meth use worldwide will lead to methamphetamine-related stroke increase, and a consequent increase in the societal burden of disease.
In addition to the frightening psychological, emotional and physical effects of crystal meth addiction, lives are often ruined by continuing use. It’s not just the user that suffers, as addiction affects the entire family. Your closest friends, co-workers, schoolmates, acquaintances, neighbors— everyone you know and interact with are touched by your addiction.
When your life spirals out of control, even though you probably deny your addiction, you have an inkling what’s going on and know that you have a problem. The harsh truth is that you can’t get over crystal meth addiction on your own. Without professionally administered detox and treatment, you’ll continue the predictable and inevitable binge and crash and drug seeking of methamphetamine addiction.
Can’t I Just Detox at Home?
While you may think you can just quit using crystal meth on your own, it’s not a smart choice and can be very dangerous to try. Medical detox is always recommended as the best way to begin overcoming an addiction to crystal meth. For one thing, when you are medically supervised, healthcare professionals are with you 24/7 to help you combat the intense psychological withdrawal symptoms as crystal meth leaves your body. You’re not equipped to deal with anxiety and depression, bouts of insomnia, confusion, paranoia and other signs of crystal meth withdrawal on your own. It would be too easy to just go back to using when you experience such withdrawal symptoms if you’re not in a medically-supervised crystal meth detox program.
Besides, crystal meth withdrawal is about 7-10 days or longer, depending on how severe the addiction and how long you’ve been addicted to the illicit drug.
How to Find the Best Crystal Meth Rehab Program
An inpatient or residential program to treat crystal meth addiction is the best way to ensure a more favorable outcome— getting clean of crystal meth and being adequately prepared to begin recovery. Not just any rehab program will do. You need a treatment facility that specializes in treating crystal meth addiction.
The best crystal meth rehab includes a thorough assessment, then medical detox followed by a formal and specifically tailored treatment program to meet your individual needs. This may include a short-term regimen of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to help you manage ongoing cravings and urges to use, while also addressing any physical and/or psychological symptoms that may persist following detox from crystal meth.
Research published in Biological Psychiatry in 2017 found that oxytocin therapy in animal models was effective in reducing meth cravings. The researchers suggested the oxytocin-based therapy development may show promise for the treatment of human meth addiction.
Overcoming dependence and addiction to any substance of abuse involves much more than simply detoxing from the drug. Research shows that 61 percent of meth users relapse within the first year following treatment. Effective long-term recovery is only possible when you engage in professional treatment to help you understand the addiction and how to manage your life without using drugs after treatment ends. Typically, while in residential crystal meth rehab, you’ll undergo individual and group therapy, as well as participate in 12-step groups, learn coping skills and life skills, create a relapse prevention plan and more.
It is important to become as knowledgeable about crystal meth addiction and feel well-prepared physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually before you leave treatment so that you have a better chance at ongoing sobriety. Participation in continuing care, aftercare and alumni groups following completion of crystal meth rehab will enhance your confidence and provide solid support in the months to come.
For related information, see these articles:
- How to Know if You Need Rehab Treatment
- The Benefits of Inpatient Rehab
- What to Consider Before Trying to Detox at Home
- Dangers of Drug Detox at Home and Quitting Cold Turkey
- What Does a Day in Rehab Look Like?
- Top 10 Signs of Addiction
Biological Psychiatry. “Oxytocin Acts in Nucleus Accumbens to Attenuate Methamphetamine Seeking and Demand.” Retrieved from https://www.biologicalpsychiatryjournal.com/article/S0006-3223(16)33055-4/fulltext
Drug and Alcohol Dependence. “Time to relapse following treatment for methamphetamine use: a long-term perspective on patterns and predictors.” Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4550209/
Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry. “Stroke and methamphetamine use in young adults: a review.” Retrieved from https://jnnp.bmj.com/content/88/12/1079
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “High rates of dental and gum disease occur among methamphetamine users.” Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/news-releases/2015/11/high-rates-dental-gum-disease-occur-among-methamphetamine-users
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Methamphetamine.” Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/methamphetamine
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