What Is the Methamphetamine Addiction Process?

Methamphetamine or meth use and overdoses have steadily increased over the last several years in the United States, according to the NIH.¹ The use of this stimulant can quickly lead to an increase in tolerance and as a result it can become very difficult to stop using the drug, no matter how hard someone may try. Getting professional treatment for methamphetamine use is an essential step in the process of achieving abstinence and beginning your recovery journey.

At Hammocks on the Edisto near Charleston, SC, we specialize in treating methamphetamine use disorder, and we focus on the underlying cause for the addiction and facilitate real-life coping skills to help enhance recovery. Through a combination of therapies, our team will work to ensure all avenues are addressed to help our residents become successful. If you or someone you know is suffering from meth addiction, please call 833.793.0191 today and schedule a consultation.

Stages of Addiction

Methamphetamine is a stimulant that gives you energy, allows for a heightened sense of awareness, and can be highly addictive psychologically. The dangers of overdosing have led to the popularity of “micro-dosing,” which is taking small amounts of the drug throughout the day to maintain the effects of the substance. This is just as dangerous and can have the consequences of use in shorter periods with high amounts.

Even with just one use, there is an intense effect on the brain. Methamphetamine floods the brain’s dopamine receptors, causing a massive release of dopamine, which gives you that pleasurable feeling. It also affects the serotonin receptors, which is why users are unable to sleep normally, amongst other negative consequences.

Most people progress through various stages on their way to a moderate or severe substance use disorder or methamphetamine use disorder.

1. Experimental Use

Many first-time users try methamphetamines because they heard of the intensely pleasurable effects that it can cause. They do not consider that damage to the brain can occur even with one use, and those genetically inclined toward addiction can form a powerful connection in the brain with just one use.

Experimental use is not habitual and might be a single event or a few, then does not occur again. This is not addiction.

2. Recreational or Social Use

Social pressure among friends can lead to poor decision-making as peer pressure can be hard to resist. This can become very dangerous. Unfortunately, you do not realize how quickly you can go from just once or twice to using more regularly throughout the month and eventually the week. You need more to get the same effect. What may start out being an infrequent event starts to become more regular through time, and negative consequences start to occur.

3. Abuse (Methamphetamine Use Disorder, Mild)

As you continue to use more and more to maintain the feeling that the drug provides or to feel normal, the need for the drug is so powerful that the search for it interrupts your daily life. Your body has stopped producing dopamine and serotonin at levels that would occur naturally without the drug present, and you are preoccupied with the search, the use, or recovering from the effects of the drug. Brain damage is becoming more significant, and the lack of impulse control can lead to dangerous situations. Additionally, negative consequences are already starting to occur more regularly.

4. Addiction (Methamphetamine Use Disorder, Moderate or Severe)

Addiction is the last phase. This mental health condition causes the user to continue using despite the harm it creates. Their life becomes a never-ending search for methamphetamine. Furthermore, they may be using the substance to feel normal or to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Other mental health issues may also become more prominent, like depression, anxiety, and psychosis.

Finding Treatment at Hammocks on the Edisto

At Hammocks on the Edisto, we are a women’s-only rehab center near Charleston, SC. Through working with our therapists and other staff, we provide treatment for your addiction and any underlying mental health concerns. We will use a combination of holistic and evidence-based therapies in order to get your life back. Please contact one of our therapists at 833.793.0191 and start your recovery journey.

¹ U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2021, January 21). Methamphetamine Overdose Deaths Rise Sharply Nationwide. National Institutes of Health. https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/methamphetamine-overdose-deaths-rise-sharply-nationwide.

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