What causes meth addiction? All addictive drugs have two things in common. Number one – they produce an initial pleasurable effect. Number two – they are followed by a rebound unpleasant effect. Methamphetamine, through its stimulant effects produces a positive feeling, but later leaves the user feeling depressed. This is because it suppresses the normal production of dopamine in their brain creating a chemical imbalance. The user’s brain demands more of the drug to return to normal. This pleasure vs. drug craving cycle leads to a loss of control over one’s drug use and quickly develops into an addiction problem.
Meth addiction short-circuits a person’s survival system by artificially stimulating the reward center, or pleasure areas in the brain. This leads to increased confidence in meth and less confidence in the normal rewards of life. This happens on a physical level at first; then it affects the user psychologically. The result is decreased interest in other aspects of life while reliance and interest in meth increases. In one study, laboratory animals pressed levers to release methamphetamine into their blood stream rather than eat, mate, or satisfy other natural drives. The animals died of starvation while giving themselves methamphetamine even though food was available.
Beyond the social damage meth addiction causes, there are well known physiological effects that may take a year or more to heal once use has stopped. This includes changes in the dopamine pathways in the brain that alter how an addict is able to feel pleasure. Without the drug to stimulate these damaged areas of the brain, addicts will be unable to feel normal pleasures and subsequently fall into depression.
Meth addiction leads to withdrawal when users stop taking the drug. The severity and length of symptoms vary with the amount of damage done to the normal reward system through methamphetamine use. The most common symptoms are: drug craving, extreme irritability, loss of energy, depression, fearfulness, excessive drowsiness or difficulty in sleeping, shaking, nausea, heart palpitations, sweating, hyperventilation, and increased appetite.
Is recovery from meth addiction possible? Yes! However, retuning to a “normal” state of being takes time. Some deem the time in the interim between discontinuing meth use and feeling normal as the “wall” period. This period lasts 6-8 months for casual users and 2-3 years for regular users. This is a period of prolonged abstinence during which the brain recovers from the changes resulting from meth use. During this period, recovering addicts feel depressed, fuzzyheaded, and think life isn’t as pleasurable without the drug. Because prolonged use causes changes in the brain, willpower alone will not cure meth addicts. Entering a long-term drug rehab program is crucial to achieving lasting sobriety.
Narconon Fresh Start drug rehab centers are able to help put an end to meth addiction. Their holistic treatment methods and long-term program address meth addiction for what it really is; a mental and physical problem with underlying issues that must be resolved. During a client’s time in a Narconon Fresh Start program they will handle their addiction problem as well as the personal issues that drove them to abuse meth in the first place. This drug rehab program goes beyond helping the addicted person get off meth, it helps them develop a wide range of necessary life skills to aid them when they return to their daily life. Instead of turning to meth or other substances to handle stress, boredom, relationship issues, etc. the recovered individual now has all the tool and resources within in themselves to resolve their problems.