Although meth is not considered physically addictive, there are many physical and emotional withdrawal symptoms addicts go through during the meth withdrawal process. Meth withdrawal behavior is often characterized by constant jitteriness, listlessness, and/or severe depression. People going though meth withdrawal can alternate from wanting to sleep all the time to not being able to sleep at all. Additional symptoms may include depression, anxiety, fatigue, paranoia, aggression, and an intense craving for the drug. These withdrawal symptoms can last for several weeks.
Methamphetamine is a stimulant drug chemically related to amphetamine but with stronger effects on the user's central nervous system. The common street terms for the drug include "speed," "meth," "crystal," and "crank." This drug is taken in pill or powdered form by snorting or injecting the drug. Crystallized methamphetamine known as "ice," "crystal," or "glass," is a smokable and more powerful form of the drug. All methods of abusing the drug generate meth withdrawal symptoms.
Today's meth is far more potent than the meth sold years ago, and the infiltration of meth in society continues. The recipe for homemade meth is still in circulation and available over the Internet. It is cheap and easy to make, which when combined with the long lasting high makes meth a popular substitute for cocaine. A new generation of users has made meth their drug of choice, leading to an epidemic of meth and meth labs across the country.
In scientific studies examining the consequences of long-term methamphetamine exposure in animals, concern has arisen over its toxic effects on the brain. Researchers have reported that as much as 50 percent of the dopamine-producing cells in the brain can be damaged after prolonged exposure to relatively low levels of this toxic drug. Researchers also have found that serotonin-containing nerve cells may be damaged even more extensively. Whether this toxicity is related to the psychosis seen in some long-term meth abusers is still an open question.
It is important to remember that all drugs (but ESPECIALLY this one) change the chemistry of the user's brain. People who use meth habitually tend to develop a higher tolerance to the drug. This means that it takes more of the drug to get the same "high." Chronic meth users are subject to violent and self-destructive behaviors even if they do not intend to do such things. Once tolerance has commenced in a person's body, meth addiction is soon to follow.
Meth addiction has three patterns: low intensity, binge, and high intensity. Low-intensity addiction describes a user who does not have a psychological addiction to the meth but uses the drug on a casual basis. Binge abusers use a great deal of meth over a short period of time compared to high intensity users who abuse the drug at a constant rate for an extended time period. Both binge and high-intensity abusers have a psychological addiction to the drug and prefer to smoke or inject meth to achieve a faster and stronger high.
Meth withdrawal symptoms take place when the user is trying to stay off the drug or stops using the drug for an extended period of time. Once a person has stopped putting meth into their body, the body reacts because it is used to having the drug to function. Drug withdrawal can be a painful process and many people choose to continue doing drugs instead of going through the uncomfortable feelings of the withdrawal process.
Generally, meth withdrawal symptoms vary from person to person. This is because withdrawal symptoms are dependent on the length of time the user has been taking the drug as well as how much and how often they abused the drug. Typical meth withdrawal symptoms include: cravings, exhaustion, depression, mental confusion, restlessness, insomnia, and deep or disturbed sleep (which may last up to 48 hours).
Because of the severity of one's withdrawal symptoms, many people choose to enter addiction treatment programs to assist them in coping with meth withdrawal. In addition to meth withdrawal, methamphetamine affects many other areas of a person's life. People addicted to amphetamines tend to spend most of their finances on obtaining the drug. The often have difficulty maintaining employment due to their loss of concentration, motivation, and depression. Meth users also commonly experience deterioration in their personal relationships as their paranoia and need for isolation increases.
Meth addiction can be treated. Although acute meth withdrawal can be completed in a week without the drug, long term meth withdrawal symptoms will persist. Medical treatment can help with depression and coping skills. The risk for addicts is that they will think one round of withdrawal and suffering has somehow made them less likely to slide back into full blown addiction. This is not the case.
It has been shown that the changes meth makes in the brain can take up to a year to resolve, and that the psychological addiction will remain for many years. But addicts do recover and, with help, learn to live a drug-free life.
Those in meth withdrawal should be aware that the depression and inability to enjoy life is a temporary condition that will pass with time. However, continuing support and a program of therapy is essential for most addicts to stay clean in the long run.