Drug Use

Your Brain and Body on Meth

The last time Sam used meth was following a breakup. She was terribly depressed and lonely, and she thought that meth would help her feel better. Instead, she said, it turned her into a “monster.” She recalls that when she was using meth she felt invincible and like she could do no wrong. In reality, she says, she was letting down the people she loved. The high she had experienced didn’t last and became more and more elusive.

In reality, she explained, meth turned her into a selfish, horrendous person. When you are high on meth, you can go for several days without sleep or food. You can’t hold a job when you use meth, she says, because your thinking and behavior becomes completely erratic and frequently violent. When your high wears off, you frequently feel depressed, anxious, extreme fatigue, and intense cravings for more meth so you won’t feel depressed, anxious, and exhausted. And so the cycle continues. Also, meth users can lose the ability to feel pleasure from daily activities. The only thing that brings them pleasure is the drug.

What Is Meth?

Meth, short for methamphetamine, is a synthetic drug made from pseudoephedrine, a nasal decongestant used in cold and allergy medicine, and common household substances like acetone, drain cleaner, brake cleaner, battery acid, lithium, and others. According to the Department of Justice, meth can be produced in two types of labs: “superlabs,” which produce large quantities of the drug and supply organized drug traffickers or small labs that can be in homes, motel rooms, and cars, among other locations. (Meth labs also produce incredible amounts of toxic waste and are an environmental hazard.)

Methamphetamine comes in several forms (crystal, rocks, powder, and tablets) and can be swallowed, snorted, smoked, or injected. According to the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the drug goes by a number of names on the street including meth, speed, ice, shards, bikers coffee, and crank, among others. Meth is also referred to as “poor man’s coke.”

Scope of the Problem

Meth use is prevalent in the United States. According to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), more than 14.7 million people, or approximately 5.4% of the population, have tried meth at least once, 1.6 million people actively used meth in the year before the survey was conducted, and 774,000 people used in the past month. Meth is more widely available in the West and Midwest. The NSDUH is directed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the information gathered is used to guide public policy concerning drug use. According to staff members at Enlightened Solutions, a drug and alcohol rehab center located in New Jersey, meth addiction frequently co-occurs with depression and anxiety.

Meth’s Effect on the Body and Brain

According to a report published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the effects of meth on the body and brain can be devastating and long-term. 

Perhaps the most common physical problem associated with meth use is the severe dental problems that can accompany the addiction. Commonly known as “meth mouth,” meth users frequently experience severe tooth decay and tooth loss. Meth users are frequently malnourished and lose unhealthy amounts of weight. In addition, meth users frequently have sores and scabs on their face, arms, torso, and legs. These sores come from users scratching nonexistent insects that they imagine crawling under their skin. Meth also leads to cardiovascular problems including rapid and irregular heartbeat and elevated blood pressure. In addition, meth users are at an increased risk of having strokes or developing Parkinson’s disease.

Meth’s effects on the brain are damaging as well. People who use meth experience severe anxiety, confusion, insomnia, and mood disturbances and can become violent. People who use meth can develop psychotic features including paranoia, visual and auditory hallucinations, delusions, and the sensation of insects crawling under their skin. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, these psychotic symptoms can occur months or even years after the person has stopped using meth.

Research discussed in the report has shown that meth causes structural and functional changes in parts of the brain. Imaging studies have shown changes in the dopamine system associated with “reduced motor speed and impaired verbal learning.” These studies have also shown that there are changes in areas of the brain associated with emotion, memory, decision-making, and the ability to stop engaging in “behaviors that have become useless or counterproductive.”

Signs That Someone May Be Using Meth

If you think that someone you love is using meth, there are indicators to watch for. Overall, he or she will lose interest in activities and people that used to be important, like career, family, and hobbies. Signs to look for include the following:

  • Insomnia
  • Periods of no sleep followed by periods of excessive sleep, like 24-48 hours
  • Profuse sweating
  • Sores that won’t heal
  • Skin breakouts
  • Visible dental problems 
  • Non-stop or rapid talking
  • Short temper
  • Irritability
  • Paranoia
  • Shaking
  • Twitching
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Repetitive, compulsive behavior

Help for Meth Addiction Is Available

While meth is a very dangerous drug, the good news is that treatment is available. Treatment begins with detox. It is best if detox from meth is done in a treatment facility so the user will have medical supervision and be away from the environment where he or she was using. Following detox, treatment can begin. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been found useful for meth recovery. CBT focuses on learning new ways to think about and cope with environmental stressors.  A type of treatment called contingency management interventions is also helpful and involves providing incentives for people in recovery to stay in treatment and abstain from drug use. The woman mentioned in the opening paragraphs sought treatment for meth use. She says that recovery was difficult but worth it. She also says that she will never touch meth again.

Meth is a dangerous drug that can destroy lives because of its devastating physical and psychological effects. Enlightened Solutions is licensed to treat co-occurring disorders, which means that we can treat the anxiety and depression that frequently accompanies meth addiction. One of the treatment modalities we offer is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which has been shown to be one of the effective treatments for meth addiction. We also offer a range of holistic treatment modalities including art and music therapy, equine therapy, family constellation therapy, yoga and meditation, acupuncture and chiropractic care, and sound therapy. In addition, we offer traditional psychotherapy and support groups rooted in the 12-Step philosophy. We develop a treatment plan for each individual client. If you are struggling with a meth addiction and the devastation that it causes, please call us at (833) 801-5483. We are located on the picturesque New Jersey’s southern shore for optimal healing and relaxation.


The Unseen Challenges in Recovery

The Unseen Challenges in Recovery

When we think about the challenges we face in recovery, the most obvious one is probably staying sober and resisting the temptation to use again. There are some additional, unseen challenges that we might not be aware of if we haven’t experienced them firsthand. These difficulties can be so overwhelming and disheartening that they deplete us of our willpower and contribute to our chances of relapsing. Many of these challenges are things people don’t necessarily want to talk about publicly, because there is still stigma surrounding them. People in recovery can suffer in silence and isolate themselves rather than seek out the help they need.

One unseen challenge that affects people in recovery is unemployment. Many of us lose our jobs because of our addictions or have to take time away from work to complete treatment. Once it’s time to reenter the workforce, we can find it harder than expected to pick up where we left off. Employers can be hesitant to employ us if they know of our history with addiction. Interviewers can take our lapse in work to mean we are undependable and not a good hiring choice. Even if we are working our recovery program successfully, hiring managers can assume we will fall off the wagon and be a liability. The stress that can come from joblessness can contribute to our inability to cope with the demands of life, leading us back to our drug of choice to try to escape that stress.

A harsh reality of unemployment is homelessness. We know that many addicts find themselves homeless because of their struggles with addiction, but what we may be less aware of is that many people still grapple with homelessness even when recovering. It can be tremendously difficult to get back on our feet after addiction has taken over our lives and totally destabilized us. If we can’t find work or if no one will rent to us, we can easily find ourselves homeless. Without the stability of work and shelter, we can become depressed and susceptible to relapsing.

When we are not financially independent, many of us find ourselves forced to be dependent on other people. Unfortunately for many of us, the relationships in our lives that developed out of our addiction are abusive, and in recovery we find ourselves dependent upon abusive partners. Domestic violence is a huge problem for people struggling with addiction and those already in recovery. When we can’t find the resources we need to make a life for ourselves and be independent, we are more easily caught in cycles of dependence and abuse.

The year following treatment is a vital time in our recovery. At Enlightened Solutions, we believe in supporting you after you’ve completed treatment. We have relationships with a number of sober living houses, and we also work with you on life skills and relapse prevention. Call us today: (833) 801-LIVE.


Why Are Synthetic Drugs So Dangerous?

Synthetic drugs can include popularly well known substances such as crystal meth, flakka, krokodil, and bath salts. Methamphetamines are central nervous system stimulant drugs. Compared to other substances, synthetics hit the system faster. With quicker access to the brain, synthetic drugs create a nearly instantaneous high which is powerful. Having direct impact on the central nervous system, synthetic drugs go racing through the nervous system and blood stream. Those who have abused synthetic drugs or have found themselves addicted report the sensations of euphoria firing on all nerves from brain to body. Unfortunately, the wild high of a synthetic drug does not last long. Synthetic drugs are cheap and sold is disguise in many easy to find places. Developing an addiction to synthetic drugs is easy when the drug is cheap, available, and ready to take one dose after another.

 

The Allure Of Synthetic Drugs

Powerful delivery of chemical substances to the brain results in a wide array of effects. Synthetic users report fantastical hallucinations, as well as severe paranoia. Crystal meth can keep someone up for ten days at a time in a blackout while simultaneously providing an excess of hormones and increasing sexual arousal. To those on the outside, the negative effects of synthetics would be a deterrent. For those who have experienced them, however, the positive is too good to pass up.

Problematically, continuing to use synthetic drugs is equivalent to gambling. Due to the chemical nature of synthetic drugs, the compound of one batch to the next will not be the same.

 

The Danger of Synthetic Drugs

Synthetics are made from an unpredictable variety of chemical substances from phosphorous to liquid drain cleaner. In an ongoing effort to fly under the watchful radar of local enforcement agencies, manufacturers of synthetic drugs are constantly changing the chemical recipe. As a result, synthetics addicts or those who recreationally experiment with them, are at risk.

At its worst, synthetic drugs can cause paranoia, elevated heart rate, high blood pressure, and overheating. While some report seeing God on synthetic drugs, many others report seeing the devil, from whom they run for their lives. Synthetics can cause stroke and cardiac arrest as well as permanent psychosis.

 

Enlightened Solutions is a coed treatment facility for men and women who want to heal and be liberated from their abusive relationship with chemical substances. We provide multiple levels of care and take insurance. For more information, call 833-801-5483.