Crystal meth addiction has become one of the fastest-growing drug problems in the United States. Crystal meth, also known as methamphetamine, is a potent stimulant with a highly addictive nature. It’s not difficult to manufacture crystal meth: The substance can be synthesized from widely-available ingredients available in most households and drugstores. The easy availability of the drug has contributed to the epidemic of meth addiction that has swept the nation; in fact, meth addiction is one of the most common reasons that individuals enter drug treatment.
Not only are the effects of crystal meth powerful, but they’re also long-lasting. Just one dose of the drug can stay in a user’s system for 12 hours; during this period of time, users will experience feelings of euphoria, increased energy, improved focus and decreased appetite. As the drug begins to wear off, these good feelings subside and negative effects take their place. Irritability, depression and paranoia are common, and intense cravings for the drug occur. The cycle of behavior that results from crystal meth use enables a dependency to develop rapidly. Over time, higher doses of the drug are needed to achieve the same euphoria and energy, and overdose becomes a significant risk. Methamphetamine is more powerful and harmful than amphetamines, and it can cause serious damage to long-term users. Early treatment is essential to avoid these debilitating consequences.
All drug addictions are dangerous, but crystal meth abuse can pose risks that are different from those of other substances. One of the most serious risks of meth abuse is an increased risk of Parkinson’s disease. A study by the Center for Addiction and Mental Health states that people who abuse meth have a 76 percent higher risk of developing Parkinson’s than a non-drug user. Meth abusers also have a higher risk of contracting HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C, even if they don’t inject the drug. Although sharing contaminated needles is the most common way for meth addicts to contract these diseases, unsafe sexual behavior that occurs under the influence of meth also spreads the viruses. In addition to these health risks, suicide is also a danger for meth abusers. Severe depression is a common symptom of crystal meth withdrawal, and 24-hour supervision is essential during detox.
The intense cravings and acute depression that accompany meth withdrawal can be difficult for individuals to endure. Recovery from an addiction to crystal meth is slow, and users may be hit with cravings several months after successfully quitting the drug. Addiction is a chronic and relapsing condition, and the recovery rate for crystal meth addicts is lower than average. A study by the Foundation for a Drug-Free World reports that up to 93 percent of recovering meth addicts will suffer a relapse at some point.
Despite these discouraging statistics, it’s possible to achieve long-term recovery after a methamphetamine addiction. The right treatment plan is critical: Cognitive-behavioral therapy has been proven to be an effective element of treatment for this addiction. Many drug treatment centers use a framework known as the Matrix Model in their treatment strategies. This model requires 16 weeks of intensive therapy and emphasizes relapse prevention and social support.
Once rehab is complete, aftercare services can help a recovering meth addict stay on track and avoid a return to drug use. Individuals who participate in aftercare programs tend to have a lower rate of relapse and have fewer difficulties managing the challenges of recovery. Many recovering individuals choose to continue counseling after they leave rehab; support groups are another aftercare service that can provide the motivation and encouragement needed to stay drug-free.