Why is Meth So Addicting?
Meth is almost instantly habit forming it is so powerful. Key receptors in the brain are damaged with each hit. The damage can get so bad that users become incapable of feeling pleasure without using meth. To recover from meth addiction a medical detox is required. In-depth therapy with a certified professional follows the detox.
“Meth”, methamphetamine common name, overwhelms the nervous system and infiltrates the brain to a much greater degree than amphetamine. When meth is inhaled the euphoric burst it causes stays in the user’s system for much longer, rewiring the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. Dependent on the individual, a meth addiction can happen after one dosage.
The PBS documentary series Frontline explains meth derives its effectiveness from forcing the brain flood a user’s reward center with dopamine. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that induces a sense of satisfaction from a job well done. A normally functioning brain will release dopamine during any number of activities. Meth seizes control of an individual’s dopamine reward system, causing the brain to secrete more dopamine that what is normal. Meth is so powerful it is instantly habit forming, sending the user down a cruel path of meth addiction.
After repeated meth use dopamine receptors in the brain are destroyed.
This renders the user unable to experience pleasure from any other source except meth. In the depths of a meth addiction the drug becomes the center of the user’s life. All resources including energy, time and focus are spent on obtaining meth. Constant meth use will ruin a user’s involvement with family, social circles and social obligations. This is because the desire to succeed in these areas have become less important because a broken dopamine system renders those once pleasurable activities hollow. There is good news, treatment and rehabilitation can bring some reservation, although there is a significant risk of permanent cognitive damage if meth use is allowed to continue unrestricted.
Methamphetamine use affects the addict in many more ways than psychological. The following are physical effects of meth use compiled by Arizona State:
- Weight loss (meth shuts down the brain’s hunger centers)
- Sleep deprivation (the constant stimulation shorts out the need for sleep)
- Skin abscesses (caused by injecting meth into the skin, instead a vein)
- Decreased libido
- Osteoporosis (teeth and bones become easily breakable)
- Elevated body temperature
Sadly, a meth user will undergo drastic behavioral changes.
This is because meth wholly alters an individual’s brain chemistry. Meth addicts experience hallucinations, aggressive behavior marked by aggressive mood swings and severe paranoia (followed by social isolation). Due to the stimulant nature of meth users are more likely to engage in risky, impulsive behavior. This is also a sign of a possible meth addiction.
When an individual tries meth for the first time they most likely will not experience the negative side effects mentioned above. Their high often makes the user euphoric, hyper alert, talkative and physically active for 6-12 hours.
These are simply behaviors, what is happening in the brain itself it quite sad.
Normal activities an individual finds pleasing leaves something like a fingerprint on the brain’s reward system. Meth cuts a gorge in the brain’s reward system. A doctor speaking to Frontline explains that meth forces the brain to produce as much as 1,250 times the dopamine it produces during an activity like sexual intercourse.
No subsequent meth use will compare with the first exposure. This is because the mind has not been forced to adapt to meth use yet. Once the first impression is made it lasts forever. Sadly, users feel compelled to experience the euphoria of the first use, this seeking behavior is commonly known as “chasing the dragon.” Unfortunately all this type of behavior accomplishes is to deepen the meth addiction.
Anhedonia, per Psychology Today, is the “inability to derive pleasure from activities that were once enjoyable: hobbies, recreational pursuits, sexual activities, or even something as simple as listening to music.”
Damage caused by meth use can lead to this state of mind. Not only do addicts begin to be unable to experience pleasure from typically pleasurable activities, anhedonia has other symptoms such as fatigue, hopelessness and loneliness. Sadly, those who try to beat a meth addiction without proper rehabilitation are at high risk of relapsing.
The journal Addiction performed a study on meth addiction with 56 patients. These patients had previously been addicted to meth but had to remain abstinent for 5 weeks during the study to be observed. The study found that in addition to symptoms of major depression, patients also showed signs of psychosis as part of their withdrawal from meth during those 5 weeks. The first week was marked by the worst of the depressive and psychotic issues. These issues abated as the weeks wore on and eventually the patients were able to rest soundly. It should be noted that the cravings for meth persisted the full 5 weeks after their last use.
At Elevate Recovery we understand that treating an addiction to meth requires a robust course of detoxification. Treatment will involve ridding the client’s body of methamphetamine in addition to helping their bodies acclimatize to operating properly. Treatment will also focus on the psychological damage caused by meth use. Rehabilitation will focus on the mind, showing our client how they can achieve lasting peace and a full happy lifestyle.