Why is Meth So Addictive?
Is meth additive? Yes, extremely so. Can meth’s addictive properties devastate a person’s life? Again, yes. Can you escape the pull of meth addiction and achieve a drug-free future? Thankfully, the answer to this question is also yes. Educating yourself about meth addiction and treatment can help you make the best decisions for yourself or on behalf of a loved one.
What Is Meth Made Of?
Meth, which is short for methamphetamine, is a powerful stimulant that is derived from amphetamine. Both amphetamine and methamphetamine are synthetic substances. Unlike other substances of abuse, such as heroin and cocaine, neither amphetamine nor methamphetamine originate from plants or other natural sources.
In the United States, methamphetamine is approved for use to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This legal methamphetamine, which is available only by prescription, is sold under the brand name Desoxyn.
Most of the methamphetamine that is abused for recreational purposes throughout the nation is illegally manufactured in covert “meth labs” that are often set up in houses, garages, or backyard sheds. This version of meth is typically made from ephedrine or pseudoephedrine.
As might be expected from such illicit sources, the meth that these labs produce may include a variety of additional chemicals, which may be incorporated into the manufacturing process either to create more powerful effects or to increase profit margins.
Examples of the many substances that may be added to meth include:
- Baking soda
- Powdered milk
- Red phosphorous
Some of these extra ingredients in meth are relatively harmless, while others are quite hazardous. One of the many dangers of meth abuse is that it increases a person’s risk for also ingesting other potentially deadly substances.
Why Is Meth So Addictive?
Two common questions about meth are, “Is meth addictive?” and “How quickly is meth addictive?”
We’ll answer the first question here, and the second one in the next section.
When a person uses meth, the drug triggers a powerful, euphoric sensation along with an intense energy boost. When this effect wears off, a person may “crash” into exhaustion or depression. To avoid this crash, they may take meth over and over again, which can quickly turn from a dangerous behavior to an addiction.
Meth’s addictive properties may also be related to functional and structural changes that this drug causes within the brain and other parts of the central nervous system (CNS).
For example, meth use triggers the release of three neurotransmitters: serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. Continued exposure to meth can damage the body’s ability to naturally produce and disseminate these neurotransmitters. This can mean that the only way a person can continue to feel the pleasurable effects that serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine produce is to continue abusing meth.
Also, meth use can also cause cognitive impairments. A person who is not capable of thinking logically and making healthy decisions may not be able to resist the cravings that can be characteristic of meth addiction.
How Long Does it Take to Get Addicted to Meth?
Contrary to a persistent myth, you can’t get addicted to meth after using the drug just once. However, as we discussed in the previous section, many people use meth multiple times in a brief period in order to maintain the high that this drug provides, and to avoid the physical and emotional crash that can occur when its effects wear off.
This means that meth addiction can occur within a matter of a few days or a few weeks, depending on factors such as how much meth a person has been using, how often they have been using it, and how their body responds to the presence of this drug.
Can Meth Addicts Ever Recover?
We know meth is addictive. But once a person has developed a meth addiction, can they ever get better?
Yes, people who struggle with meth addiction can recover.
Most reputable experts view addiction as a chronic, progressive disease. This means that it will likely get worse over time if a person doesn’t get effective help. It also means that the goal of treatment isn’t to cure the person, but rather to empower them to manage their symptoms and remain in recovery.
This applies to all substance addictions, including meth addiction. As we have discussed, meth is a powerful, highly addictive substance. But a diagnosis of meth addiction is not a death sentence. When you get the care you need, you can stop using meth and start living a healthier and more hopeful life in recovery.
What are the Best Treatment Options for Meth Addiction?
When you are evaluating meth addiction treatment options, one of the first points to consider is which levels of care are right for you. At Sanctuary Treatment Center, we offer the following programs for people who have become trapped by meths’ addictive properties:
Depending on which program you are in and other individual factors, your care may include elements such as the following:
- Individual, group, and family therapy
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
- Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)
- Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy
- Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) treatment
Some of these services may focus directly on your struggles with meth addiction. Others may address the underlying causes or co-occurring disorders that may have contributed to your meth addiction or prevented you from getting help sooner.
Contact Sanctuary, Our Meth Addiction Treatment Center in California
Sanctuary Treatment Center is a trusted provider of life-affirming care for adults whose lives have been harmed by the addictive nature of meth. With our help, you can end your meth abuse and build a healthy life in recovery. To learn more or to schedule a free assessment, please visit our Contact Us page or call us today.