Meth‌ ‌Addiction‌

Treatment at White House Recovery

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.

What is Meth?

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. 


Signs of Meth Addiction

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: 

  • Unusual increase in hyperactivity and talkativeness
  • Decreased appetite or other appetite changes
  • Problems sleeping or strange sleeping patterns
  • Twitching or jerky repetitive movements
  • Paranoid behaviors or ideas
  • Unusual confusion
  • Dilated pupils and rapid eye movement
  • Sudden and unexplained weight loss and reduced appetite
  • Skin sores
  • Severe agitation
  • Burns to the lips or fingers
  • Mood swings that include angry or violent outbursts

Long- and Short-Term Health Effects of Meth Use

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:

  • Hyper-focused with increased attention and activity
  • Decreased levels of fatigue despite increased activity
  • Changes in appetite
  • Increased respiration
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat and chest pain
  • Insomnia
  • Flushed skin that may feel itchy
  • Uncontrollable twitching
  • Hyperthermia
  • A feeling of euphoria or a positive rush
  • Anxiety
  • In some cases, paranoia or hallucinations may manifest quickly 

Chronic or long-term effects are noticed for a period longer than two weeks and can include:

  • Psychosis such as paranoia or hallucinations
  • Addiction
  • Repetitive movements that serve no purpose
  • A change in brain structure 
  • Memory loss
  • Changes in behavior, including new aggressive or violent behavior
  • Decrease in motor skill and cognitive function
  • Unusual mood swings
  • Dental issues
  • Significant weight loss due to prolonged lack of appetite
  • Convulsions
  • Possible death
  • High risk of overdose


Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

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: 

  • Naltrexone therapy for relapse prevention and to reduce cravings 
  • Benzodiazepines to help with side effects like anxiety, depression, or co-occurring mental health disorders


Available Therapy Options

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: 

  • Family education 
  • Relapse preventative education 
  • Individual therapy 
  • Motivational incentive therapy

You can learn more about how psychotherapy and individual behavioral therapies can help by visiting our individual therapy page.  


What to Expect During Meth Detox and Withdrawal 

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: 

  • Days 1-2: Flu-like symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, exhaustion, weakness, headaches, and lack of energy are common.
  • Days 3-14: The most severe symptoms usually manifest during this period and can include hallucinations, high paranoia, and increased anxiety. 
  • Days 14-20: Physical symptoms begin to decrease while cravings and mental health conditions like depression increase. The third week is the period where relapse is most common, and having a solid medical and mental health support structure in place is essential. 
  • Days 20-30: Most people notice that most symptoms diminish and fade towards the end of the first month.

We are here to help you

Community-based, private, and partial in-patient hospitalization options can help those needing assistance recovering from methamphetamine use disorder. Being treated in-person during the detox and withdrawal stages can decrease the risk of injury or relapse. White House Recovery and Detox is a private care facility with trained nurses and care management to help create a personalized treatment plan to help anyone with methamphetamine use disorder get the help they need. If you or a loved one are looking for more information, we can help you find resources to aid your recovery.