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Shame Surrounding Meth Addiction

Methamphetamine (meth) is a very popular drug because it causes people who use it to feel euphoric. Meth is fast-acting, easy to get, and can be smoked, snorted, swallowed, or injected. When addiction to meth sets in, meth use can become difficult to manage and hard to overcome. In addition, meth addiction comes with a significant stigma attached, perhaps more than any other drug.

Stigma Surrounding Meth Use

According to a study done in Australia, people who use meth are considered criminal, deviant, and dangerous. Using meth is viewed as a personal weakness. It is associated with risky sexual behavior as well as being from a lower socio-economic class.

The truth is that meth addiction can affect anyone. The stigma surrounding meth addiction can result in feelings of low self-worth among individuals and can prevent people struggling with meth addiction from seeking help.

Why Is Meth Addictive?

Meth creates good feelings by causing the brain to increase dopamine release. According to the Methamphetamine Research Report published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), dopamine is one of the brain chemicals involved in the reward circuit. Hence, meth use “[T]eaches the brain to repeat the pleasurable activity of taking the drug.”

The more people use meth, the more they need. A person who casually tries meth finds themself very quickly in need of it and realizes that the need for the drug outweighs the need for anything else; the drug gains control, and the person is at its mercy.

While meth causes the brain to produce more dopamine, with long-term meth use, structural and functional changes in the brain occur. The damage to the brain causes a person to lose the ability to feel okay; meth creates permanent damage, which causes a person to not respond normally in everyday situations. The use of meth creates a need for a person to take it just to feel normal.

Effects of Meth

Initially, meth use can feel great. People who have used meth report feeling euphoric, more awake and alert, and have a greater ability to focus. Their appetite may decrease, and they may feel more energetic.  However, some of their experiences are not so pleasant and can include:

  • Increased respiration rate
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Hyperthermia

Long-term meth use can cause numerous physical and mental health problems, including psychosis. Individuals who use meth may become paranoid, experience hallucinations, or exhibit what NIDA calls “[R]epetitive motor activity.” Individuals frequently have scabs and scars from scratching imaginary insects that they believe are crawling under their skin. A common trait of long-term meth use is serious dental problems, including tooth decay and loss, frequently referred to as “meth mouth.”

Other adverse side effects of long-term use include:

  • Impaired cognitive and motor skills
  • Unhealthy weight loss and malnourishment
  • Memory loss
  • Mood disturbances
  • Violent or aggressive behavior

Fortunately, treatment for meth addiction is available; don’t let the stigma surrounding meth prevent you from seeking the care you need.

Methamphetamine is a drug with a significant stigma surrounding it. Despite meth’s dangers to physical and mental health, It is popular and widely used. Meth becomes life-consuming for many individuals and can cause severe changes in a person’s personality and appearance. While recovering from substance use disorder (SUD) can feel overwhelming, proper treatment can make recovery a reality. The Guest House offers programs that combine traditional talk therapy with holistic treatment modalities that address the needs of the whole person. To learn more, call us today at (855) 483-7800.