Between 2015 and 2018, approximately 1.6 million American adults over the age of 18 reported methamphetamine use within a year of the date they filled out the questionnaire. Out of those individuals, 52.9% were diagnosed with methamphetamine use disorder. Private and community-based resources are available for people who need treatment to overcome methamphetamine use disorder.
Methamphetamine, or meth, is an addictive stimulant derived from amphetamine that profoundly affects the central nervous system. The United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) describes illegally manufactured methamphetamine as resembling white or blue-white “glass fragments,” which are “an illegally altered version of the prescription drug [Desoxyn] that is cooked with over-the-counter drugs in meth labs.” Common alternative names for methamphetamine include speed, shards, ice, tweak, chalk, crank, crystal, and shabu, to name a few.
Methamphetamine comes in a variety of forms. Sometimes meth is ingested as a pill, and the powder can be snorted or dissolved in water and injected. The most common way to use meth is through smoking which has one of the fastest reaction times, with side effects appearing within minutes.
Due to the effect of methamphetamine on the brain, you might notice changes in behavior and mood in people who have become addicted to the substance. If you see these signs in yourself or a loved one, you will want to speak with a medical professional about getting help:
A methamphetamine research report by the National Institute on Drug Abuse states that 15% of all overdose deaths result from methamphetamine. In addition to being a dangerously addictive substance, meth also causes side effects that can have a short- or long-term impact on the body.
Immediate and short-term effects can start to manifest within as few as 3 to 20 minutes and include:
Chronic or long-term effects are noticed for a period longer than two weeks and can include:
Methamphetamine is a potent drug and has a sizable impact on the central nervous system. A 2021 news release from the National Institutes of Health reported a new combination therapy successful in trials for treating methamphetamine addiction. The report states, “two medications, injectable naltrexone and oral bupropion, was safe and effective in treating adults with moderate or severe methamphetamine use disorder.” The new combination therapy could be used in “addition to current approaches to treatment, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and contingency management interventions.”
Currently, the medical treatment recommended for meth use disorder includes the following:
According to the National Insitute on Drug Abuse, cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy and behavioral therapy are the most common and effective treatment options for individuals recovering from meth addiction. Other therapies that have been successful include:
You can learn more about how psychotherapy and individual behavioral therapies can help by visiting our individual therapy page.
The detox and withdrawal period for individuals who have been using methamphetamine is highly dangerous, and side effects are often severe. Anyone wanting to get treatment should work together with a team of medical professionals at a private or community-based facility rather than attempting to go cold turkey at home alone. The timeline for recovery is different for everyone but generally follows these stages if you are cared for by trained nurses and care workers: