Rates of methamphetamine addiction are skyrocketing. The stimulant is available by prescription but is more commonly sold as an illicit street drug. The substance has been growing in popularity for the past several years, causing large increases in overdose death rates throughout the country. If you or a loved one struggle with methamphetamine use, it is critical to know how to get help.
What Is Meth?
Methamphetamine, or meth, is a Schedule II controlled substance, meaning it has a high risk of addiction, abuse and dependence. This stimulant can be prescribed under the brand name Desoxyn to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). However, meth can also be synthesized on the black market, often from pseudoephedrine found in over-the-counter drugs like Sudafed. Although meth is a legitimate treatment for ADHD, it can be abused by people seeking to overcome heroin withdrawal symptoms or as an alternative to opioids. Like other amphetamines, some people take meth in an attempt to improve concentration, lose weight, stay awake or enhance a high from other drugs.
When meth is bought on the street, it may come in a pill or powder form. Another form called crystal meth looks like fragments of glass or shiny rocks.
Meth Trends in New Jersey
Meth misuse is common. As of 2017, just under one million Americans had a methamphetamine use disorder — an increase from 2016. Meth is also a growing problem in New Jersey, especially in the southern part of the state. Although there is no conclusive data yet for 2020, it is believed that meth may be one of the most common causes of overdose and death for the year.
The COVID-19 pandemic may only compound problems created by meth use. Because meth can cause lung and heart damage, doctors are concerned that people who struggle with meth use might be prone to complications from COVID-19, which also affects the heart and lungs.
Methamphetamine Side Effects
Side effects of meth are similar to other stimulants, and they can occur even if you only take a small amount of the drug. These side effects include:
- Decreased appetite
- Increased breathing rate
- Increased heart rate
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased wakefulness
- Increased physical activity
- Irregular heartbeat
Over the long term, complications from chronic meth use include:
- Violence or aggression
- Trouble sleeping
- Mood changes
- Sensations on the skin
- Dental problems
- Extreme weight loss
- Memory problems
Someone coming down from a meth high may experience a crash as the drug wears off. Symptoms of a crash often include mood changes like anxiety and agitation and are followed by cravings for more meth.
These side effects are not the only way to tell if someone is struggling with meth use. Meth can be swallowed, snorted, injected or smoked, and you may find a variety of paraphernalia if someone in your life is using meth. These can include syringes and pipes.
A meth overdose can be deadly. During an overdose, body temperature can become dangerously elevated. Seizures and the collapse of the cardiovascular system can also occur. Additionally, strokes, heart attacks or organ damage from overheating can lead to death.
Unfortunately, meth overdose is becoming increasingly common. Between 2012 and 2018, amphetamine overdose death rates increased by a factor of five. In 2017 alone, meth overdoses were involved in 13.3% of overdose deaths.
Meth withdrawal goes through several distinct phases:
- Early crash: Symptoms like mood changes, agitation and anxiety are common and occur within 24 hours. Intense cravings are also common.
- Middle crash: Fatigue, depression, listlessness and a lack of energy are common. At the end of the middle crash phase, the person may become extremely drowsy and sleep for 24 to 36 hours.
- Late crash: After awakening from their long sleep, the person is often extremely hungry.
- Protracted withdrawal: This phase can last for weeks to months, and symptoms may improve at times and worsen at others. Symptoms can include fatigue, lack of energy, depression and a lack of interest or pleasure. Drug cravings may still be present, especially when the person encounters triggering situations.
Because of the long-lasting and unpredictable symptoms of meth withdrawal, it is often best to come off the drug under medical supervision. Medical detox centers can arrange for you to detox with round-the-clock medical supervision and care. These facilities can help ease you off meth while managing any withdrawal symptoms so that you can be as comfortable as possible. Treatments can involve a variety of options, including:
- Water, vitamin B complex and vitamin C to promote overall health
- Medications like diazepam for anxiety
- As-needed medications and treatments for aches and pains
When you are looking for meth addiction treatment, it is important to choose a rehab facility that offers a full continuum of care. This includes medical detox to help you safely and comfortably remove meth from your system, followed by both inpatient and outpatient rehab to help you learn the coping skills needed for a drug-free life. Because mental health conditions are common among those with addiction, a dual diagnosis program that addresses underlying concerns may also be useful. Lastly, an aftercare program will set you up for a lifetime of sober living by keeping you involved in support groups and relapse prevention.
The Recovery Village Cherry Hill at Cooper offers a variety of treatment choices that can help you overcome a meth addiction. Contact us today to learn more about recovery plans and programs that can work well for your situation.
Methamphetamine is a type of stimulant drug that is FDA-approved for ADHD treatment. However, it can also cause abuse, addiction and dependence. It is chemically related to amphetamine, which is also FDA-approved for ADHD.
Street names for meth include:
- Bikers Coffee
- Black Beauties
- Chicken Feed
- Methlies quick
- Poor man’s cocaine
- Stove top
- Yellow bam
Meth can cause a variety of effects, including increased wakefulness, decreased appetite, irregular heartbeat, and increased breathing, heart rate and blood pressure.
Meth is often swallowed, snorted, injected or smoked. Crystal meth tends to be smoked.
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National Institute on Drug Abuse. “What is the scope of methamphetamine misuse in the United States?” October 2019. Accessed October 26, 2020.
Drug Enforcement Administration. “Meth on the rise in New Jersey.” February 1, 2019. Accessed October 26, 2020.
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Volkow, Nora D. “Collision of the COVID-19 and Addiction Epidemics.” Annals of Internal Medicine, April 2, 2010. Accessed October 26, 2020.
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Hedegaard, Holly; Bastian, Brigham A.; Trinidad, James P.; et al. “Regional Differences in the Drugs Most Frequently Involved in Drug Overdose Deaths: United States, 2017.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, October 25, 2019. Accessed October 26, 2020.
Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.