Meth addiction takes a major toll on your body, mind, and spirit. Here are three myths about meth addiction and the truth behind them.
Meth addiction is characterized by the inability to stop using meth despite the negative consequences it causes in your life. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, around 1.2 million people used meth in the past year in 2012, and 440,000 used it in the past month. The good news is that overall, meth abuse by adolescents has significantly declined since 1999. A number of myths about meth addiction persist, so let’s set the record straight.
Myth: Meth addiction happens instantaneously the first time you use.
Addiction is the result of changes in the physical structures and chemical functions of the brain, and these changes don’t occur overnight. But while it takes time to develop an addiction to any substance, meth, in particular, is highly addictive. That’s because it produces a massive dopamine rush in the brain.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, or brain chemical, that produces feelings of pleasure. The brain naturally releases dopamine when we do enjoyable activities, but how much dopamine is carefully regulated by the body. The large dopamine release caused by meth leads to intense feelings of euphoria that users want to experience again and again.
Dopamine plays an important role in the learning, memory, and motivation centers of the brain. Each time you use meth, the brain records a memory of the pleasure it produces, and this motivates you to seek out that pleasure again and again. But over time, brain regions begin to communicate in a way that equates enjoying meth with wanting and needing it. Cravings begin to occur, and at some point, use becomes compulsive.
How quickly someone becomes addicted to meth depends on a variety of factors, including genetics, how much and how often meth is used, and one’s general state of physical and mental health. Meth addiction signs include:
- Intense cravings.
- Wanting or trying to quit but finding you can’t.
- Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy.
- Using more meth than you intended or for a longer period of time than you meant to.
- Neglecting duties at home, work, or school.
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you stop using meth.
Myth: Everyone who is addicted to meth has serious dental and skin problems.
There’s no doubt that meth, due to the heavy-duty toxic chemicals it contains, can do a number on your physical appearance. “Meth mouth” is marked by severe tooth decay and gum disease, and this causes the teeth to rot or fall out. According to a study of 571 meth users, 96 percent had cavities, 58 percent had tooth decay, and 31 percent had six or more missing teeth. The more meth the participants used, the worse the state of their oral health.
A variety of factors contribute to the development of dental problems associated with meth use. In addition to the harsh chemicals in meth, this drug causes dry mouth, and many who chronically use meth have poor dental hygiene. Meth is also acidic, which promotes tooth decay.
Meth addiction and heavy abuse can also lead to sensations of bugs crawling on the skin, which leads to picking. Skin sores are common among meth users, but not everyone who uses meth will experience these lesions.
Myth: Once you become addicted to meth, quitting is nearly impossible.
Many people believe that meth addiction is untreatable, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Meth addiction treatment can help people with even a severe meth addiction recover for the long-term.
Recovering from meth addiction isn’t easy, and the majority of people who try to quit on their own without professional help will return to using fairly quickly. But with professional help, meth addiction can be sent into long-term remission. High quality meth addiction treatment involves a variety of traditional and complementary therapies that help individuals develop essential coping skills, address underlying issues behind the addiction, and learn to have fun and relax without meth.
Treatment works for most people who engage with their treatment plan. If you or someone you love is addicted to meth or shows some meth addiction signs, WhiteSands Treatment offers a holistic treatment program with a proven track record for helping people end their addiction once and for all. Holistic treatment promotes whole-person healing and leads to better health, a higher quality of life, and a greater sense of wellbeing for a happier, more purposeful life.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.