In conversations about addiction, we hear a lot about alcohol and the opioid crisis. These are both pervasive and systemic problems that need to be talked about openly—and frequently. But it’s rare you hear anything about meth. According to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, that year, 1.6 million people had used meth.
Today is Meth Awareness Day, a good time to shed light on how meth affects these 1.6 million people and their families. Meth use can be almost instantly addictive for people, because it enters the brain and bloodstream very quickly, causing an immediate rush before quickly wearing off.
This makes it more likely for people to take the drug again in the hopes of obtaining that same feeling. Chronic use of meth can cause psychotic symptoms—including hallucinations, paranoia, and delusions—that can last months to a year after the person has quit using.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Neuroimaging studies [of long-term meth users] have demonstrated alterations in the activity of the dopamine system that are associated with reduced motor speed and impaired verbal learning.”
Research has also shown that meth alters brain structures involved with decision-making, and impairs the ability to stop engaging in counterproductive behaviors. This makes meth addiction difficult to treat—as people addicted to meth have changed brains that make it hard to stop using—and underscores the importance of breaking the stigma about meth addiction.
In the absence of stigma, people may seek treatment earlier. More research may be devoted to how best to treat meth addiction. More people may seek to study how meth addiction works, in order to treat it. The friends and families of people with meth addiction might learn more about how to support them.
Long-term meth users can engage in violent behavior. This affects not only the people with addiction, but everyone in their inner circles. Family members or friends may be afraid to talk to them about their addiction for fear of violence.
This all may sound scary, but there is always hope for recovery. After medically detoxing, people with meth addictions can work on the underlying issues that led to their addiction—and improve their physical and mental health.
If you know someone struggling with meth addiction this Meth Awareness Day, reach out and remind them you support them. Educate yourself about meth addiction, so that you can offer the best support possible.
If you are struggling with meth or another addiction, there is hope. TruHealing Centers across the country offer high-quality treatment for substance use and mental health disorders. Our staff—many of whom are in recovery themselves—will help you work on the root causes of your addiction and build towards long-term recovery. Call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005.