ARTICLE SUMMARY: Yes, it is difficult to quit meth. However, professional help can make the process more manageable. This article reviews the common side effects and dangers of quitting. Finally, you’ll learn about the best and safest practices for getting off meth…for good.
ESTIMATED READING TIME: 10-15 minutes.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Addictive Qualities
- Brain Chemistry
- Side Effects of Quitting
- Why It Is So Hard
- Main Dangers
- Getting Off Meth Safely
- Your Questions
Methamphetamine (meth) is one of the most addictive substances in the world. This is why it is classified as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). This law categorizes both prescription and illicit drugs, and rates them according to a drug’s addictive qualities, medical use, and relative benefit. In this case, meth has been categorized as a drug with a high potential for abuse and limited medical use.
So, why is this drug so addictive?
Mainly, meth is super addictive because it is very effective. It gets you high for a long time. In fact, meth is a stimulant that induces euphoria, or a feeling of extreme well-being. Anyone who takes meth will feel high, and for long periods of time. This is because methamphetamine has a long half-life of about 10-12 hours, especially when compared with other drugs like cocaine. This means that meth effects can last for up to 12 hours after you take it…making it a cheaper and more effective drugs.
So, how does meth work in the brain?
When meth is taken, it travels through the bloodstream to the reward center in the brain where it occupies the sending neurons. Meth causes a chemical release of the neurotransmitter called “dopamine” into the gap between neurons. As a result, your dopamine levels raise abnormally high. The effect is over stimulation in your brain and a powerful wave of pleasure ,which lasts from 8 to 12 hours from a single meth dose.
When meth is used for a longer period of time, however, dopamine supplies become exhausted. As you continue to take meth, previous doses become less effective. This phenomenon of physical tolerance means that no matter how much meth you take, you can never recapture the initial rush. This is the reason why you become motivated to take more. In fact, chronic meth abusers have a lot less dopamine in their brain as they take meth over and over again… until they reach a point when their neuro transporters are destroyed and opioid receptors withdraw.
Over time, meth negatively affects brain centers responsible for:
- Emotions, by causing aggression and depression.
- Judgment, by dulling and over-riding the ability to think rationally.
- Memory, by affecting a person’s ability to recall events.
- Movement, by causing tremors and convulsions.
Side Effects of Quitting
Long term and chronic meth users develop both a physical and psychological dependence on the drug, which makes quitting difficult due to withdrawal symptoms. How is dependence related to withdrawal? Basically, anyone who becomes physically dependent on methamphetamine must go through withdrawal before s/he can quit for good.
Firstly, it’s important to know that meth dependence can develop in as little time as a couple of weeks or regular dosing. Dependence is actually a state of brain adaptation. In order to balance out the stimulant effects of meth, the central nervous system “slows down” body functions and responses so that it can continue to survive. Take away the drug, and the “slowed down” functions manifest…resulting in withdrawal.
Common meth withdrawal symptoms include:
- Anhedonia, the inability to feel or experience pleasure
- Appetite changes
- Concentration problems
- Muscle weakness
- Paranoia and psychosis
- Suicidal thinking
Why It Is So Hard
Meth is hard to quit for a few reasons:
1. Nothing compares to the high.
The extreme pleasure it triggers in your brain makes other experiences seem lifeless. Once experienced, these excessive amounts of dopamine set a new standard for pleasure which your brain continues to look for.
2. People want to avoid withdrawal.
High levels of psychological and psychological distress felt during withdrawal drive people to keep using. Withdrawal can be an awful experience. Meth withdrawal can be dangerous. So, to avoid the pain…people simple keep using without much hope or plan for the future.
3. Meth temporarily alters your ability to make rational decisions.
Meth affects our brain’s ability to make decisions or to practice good judgment. It actually can neutralize or dull the executive control centers in the brain. In this way, the brain is “hijacked” and meth use does not seem like such a big deal.
So, when is quitting meth dangerous?
Meth comedown is risky when done cold turkey, without doctor’s clearance or medical supervision. and when you lower doses abruptly. All of these methods are NOT advised when you are thinking about quitting meth. Here is more on why these methods are considered unsafe.
1. Cold turkey meth is dangerous.
Cold turkey means quitting meth without any help or formal treatment. This method involves quitting the drug totally and all at once. You should know, however, that this drastic method has serious consequences and it’s very risky. During a meth cold turkey you will experience extreme withdrawal symptoms.
Cold turkey meth is characterized strong physical and psychological discomfort, feelings of hopelessness and suicidal tendencies. These are the reasons why you SHOULD NOT consider this way of quitting meth because it can be extremely uncomfortable and it increases the possibility of relapse which can only make you feel worse.
2. Stopping meth without medical supervision is dangerous.
This way of cessation is NOT recommended due to the necessity of medical monitoring during meth withdrawal. Meth withdrawal is not like other types of drug withdrawal because of the severe psychological symptoms. During detox you can expect symptoms such as: depression, hallucinations, and frequent mood disturbance. In other words stopping meth without medical help is not advised, because you may not be able to control your emotions and behavior. Doctors at detox clinics / treatment centers can monitor your state and manage withdrawal symptoms using pharmacotherpay.
3. Lowering doses of meth suddenly and abruptly can trigger extreme withdrawal.
Stopping meth suddenly or abruptly can trigger an enormous shock to your system. Furthermore, this state can intensify the withdrawal symptoms and put you in life threatening situations. Instead risking your life and well-being, look for medical assistance.
Getting Off Meth Safely
Despite all the challenges, it is possible to quit using meth once you strongly decide to. Because meth is a drug with strong psychological influence it requires a strong will, devotion, and medical professionals that will guide your during all stages of treatment. Here is how you can get off of meth safely.
1. Quitting meth with a doctor’s supervision can help you better cope with withdrawal.
This method not only is it considered safe, but it is a necessity when you consider coming down from meth. When under medical supervision, doctors can prescribe medications that will address withdrawal symptoms as they occur. These can include:
- Wellbutrin and Paxil prescribed to reducing the cravings.
- Provigil prescribed to help you with sleep disorders, increase your energy and level of concentration.
- Remeron prescribed for relapse prevention during meth withdrawal.
If you are dealing with severe depression, anxiety, psychosis, suicidal thoughts, or sleep problems that last longer than one or two weeks, your doctor may prescribe you with antidepressants, anti-anxiety medication, anti-psychotic medication, or sleep aids.
2. Tapering meth can prevent relapse and lessen withdrawal.
As an alternative to quitting meth cold turkey, consider tapering under a doctor’s supervision. For some people it may be best to try cutting back meth use in steps. Try lowering your use to twice a week instead of every day, or twice a month instead of every weekend. You can also cut down on quantities. Use 1/4 gram instead of 1/2, or use 1/8 instead of 1/4. Regulating the use of meth frequency and lowering quantities can help with withdrawal as well!
3. Meth detox clinics provide you with a safe environment and psychological support
The best way to come down from meth is to detox in the safety of a medical center. Meth withdrawal is mostly psychological. Detox centers can provide you with a supportive atmosphere and medical care. In case you’ve mixed meth with other drugs the medical staff within the detox clinic will help you withdrawal from other substances as well. Use SAMHSA online treatment locator to find a detoxification clinic close to your living area, or ask your physician for a referral.
4. Inpatient rehab for long term meth recovery.
Successful recovery from meth addiction often requires checking into a residential facility. In a recovery program, you’ll have the chance to receive regular psychological counseling, social support, and group therapy will help you overcome your addiction difficulties. A 30-60 or 90 DAY inpatient treatment program will help you create a whole new lifestyle away from the meth which previously controlled your life. Meth residential treatment centers offer personalized treatment programs to address your specific needs.
Still have questions about quitting meth? Please post your questions in the comments section below. We try to respond to all legitimate inquiries personally and promptly. In case we don’t know the answer to your question, we will gladly refer you to someone who can help.