Methamphetamine addiction and treatment

Methamphetamine addiction and treatment

Table of Contents


Methamphetamine, commonly referred to as crystal meth, is a synthetic psychostimulant, which is very potent in stimulating the central nervous system. It is cited as the second highest used drug after cannabis, indicating that it is currently a major problem in various parts of the world. The harms caused by the drug include unacceptable social practices, spiritual detachment, neurological and medical complications, as well as psychiatric and psychological morbidity. There currently lacks FDA approved medications to treat meth addiction, and behavioral therapies are only partially helpful in the long term rates of abstinence from the drug. This necessitates multiplicity of approaches in treatment to avoid neglecting some aspects of the disorder. It is thus important to utilize multi-faceted models of addiction in evaluating the causes and also formulating the treatments for the addiction.

Methamphetamine Addiction and Treatment

  Davis, Patton & Jackson (2017) describe addiction as a chronic condition where one is repeatedly compelled to engage in a rewarding behavior after having engaged in it before, regardless of some unintended negative consequences. This definition indicates that addiction entails some psychological lack of control. The factors that predispose one to substance use and addiction are biogenetic, psychological, environmental, and social. The use of meth results in alterations in the chemistry of the brain, making it necessary for the user to need more doses to maintain the feeling of reward. This paper analyzes the methamphetamine addiction as a multifaceted disease of the brain, requiring complex treatment based on both physical and spiritual healing methods.


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Background on Methamphetamine

 Methamphetamine, also common referred to as crystal meth, operates by inducing the brain to secrete excessive dopamine, a neurotransmitter which brings about the sense of satisfaction (Hedges et al., 2017). The drug affects the parts of the brain associated with cognition, reward, pleasure, and memory. The rewarding feeling that comes with the first time use of the drug compels one to reuse it in search of the same feeling, causing the addiction. The surge resulting from excessive secretion of dopamine means that there is momentary depletion of dopamine. Since the neurotransmitter is responsible for pleasure, its absence leads to a craving that leads the individual to reuse it, so as to maintain the high (Berridge, 2016).
       Continuous use of the drug interferes with the dopamine receptors in the brain, making the individual unable to experience pleasure without the use of crystal meth. This condition is referred to as anhedonia, which is the inability to derive pleasure from activities that formerly resulted in pleasure (Fonseca et al., 2016). The chemistry of the brain also becomes altered in a way that even high doses of the drug fail to produce the amount of dopamine that would result in the desired pleasure.

Predisposition to Methamphetamine Addiction

 Skewes and Gonzalez (2013) present the compensatory model of cause and effect in addiction which posits that an individual is not responsible for developing an addiction, but it is up to them to find a solution for it. The model recognizes the significance of other factors such as genetic predisposition, early experiences, and sociocultural factors. They also introduce the biopsychosocial model of addiction, noting that social, cultural, environmental, genetic, biological, personality and cognitive factors combine in creating the disorder of addiction, and thus multiple factors have to be addressed in treatment programs for addiction.

       The biological factor of addiction is where an individual’s genetic constitution predisposes them to addiction in the event that they use drugs. It is in many cases related to heredity of substance use disorders from dependent parents to their children. This genetic predisposition is not substance-specific, but rather the child is prone to addiction in general. The genetic factor is by itself insufficient to result to an addiction, or even substance use. This introduces the environmental factor, which is crucial in determining whether the genetic predisposition leads to an addiction. The availability of the drug in one’s surroundings significantly determines the probability of them using the drug in the first place. One is unlikely to use a drug in the United States if it is only found in Asia.

       There is a link between psychological disorders and substance use, either as a cause or as an effect. Many drug users may display deviance, low self esteem, antisocial behavior, impulsivity, and nonconformity. They may also suffer from psychiatric problems such as anxiety and depression. Such characteristics may either predispose them to substance use, or be as a result of it. Further, children from abusive backgrounds are prone to addictions later in life. The temperament or personality of an individual may determine their likelihood to suffer from drug addiction (Skewes & Gonzalez, 2013). This is further reinforced by the model of self-efficacy where one takes up a habit of substance use due to observing an individual they admire do the same thing. This means that children growing up in households of meth dependency may be likely to deal with addiction later in life. The social learning theory indicates that behavior is influenced by modeling. Therefore, the behavior of substance use can be copied from spouses, parents, and even peers.

        Doweiko (2014) introduces another angle of addiction which is spiritual, positing that individuals with a strong spiritual background are less prone to substance addiction. He indicates that addiction is not only supported b the mind and body, but also by the spirit. The spiritual aspect creates another way of evaluating and treating addictions that may not be widely embraced scientifically.

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    Theories of Addiction

     Newton et al. (2009) provides five theories of addiction that can be used to explain the continued use of meth and relapse. The first is Negative Reinforcement (NR), meaning that the drug alleviates the dysphoria that comes with withdrawal. This means that the addict uses the drug to avoid the negative impacts of abstaining from it. Positive Reinforcement (PR) is where the addict takes the drug because they seek pleasure from it. The Incentive Salience (IS) theory attributes the use of drugs to craving. IS is a form of motivation stemming from the brain’s association of a particular stimuli to reward, regardless of the absence of remembered or experienced utility. Continued use of the drug sensitizes the brain to the substance, linking it to reward, and resulting in the compulsion to use it.

           The next theory is Stimulus Response Learning (SRL), and it attributes addiction to learning habits. In this model, the significance of the outcome of the stimulus for future reference becomes diminished. Despite the outcome of drug use, the addict continues to use it, and the drug creates a habitual response. The final one is the Inhibitory Control Dysfunction model, and it states that addiction is caused by impulsivity or perseveration. The latter refers to the repetition of a response, even when the stimulus is no longer present. These theories show the interplay between the presence of a brain dysfunction and psychological disorders.

    Seven facts about Methamphetamine

    Methamphetamine is a synthetic drug that falls under the category of potent stimulants to central nervous system. It is chemically related to amphetamine which belongs to the class of stimulants.

    Methamphetamine is sold by many street names such as meth, crystal ice crank and speed. It comes in various forms such as crystals, powder and pills.

    Methamphetamine increases the release of dopamine in brain that causes feelings of pleasure, increased energy and alertness. On the one hand, it can lead to agitation, paranoia and aggression.

    Those are short-term effects of using methamphetamine – increased heart rate, heightened blood pressure; suppression of appetite; hyperthermia and disturbed sleep patterns. One can develop severe dental issues, skin sores, weight loss and even damage to the nervous system due to long term use.

    Methamphetamine is highly addictive. If used continuously, it can lead to tolerance – higher doses are needed for the same effects and then dependence where withdrawal symptoms appear when someone stops taking them.

    Methamphetamine is a controlled substance and it’s illegal to possess, manufacture or distribute it without proper authorization. It involves the production of hazardous chemicals and carries serious risks, which leads to illegal drug trafficking.

    Treating methamphetamine addiction usually involves behavioral therapies, counseling and support groups. While there is no specific medication approved for treating methamphetamine addiction, Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can help address issues associated with substance abuse.

    Treatment of Methamphetamine Addiction

    Medical Treatment

           There currently lacks pharmacological treatments for crystal meth addiction that are approved by the FDA. However, patients may go through detoxification and receive some medications that help the individual deal with some ramifications of abstinence such as anxiety, cravings, depression, and fatigue. Collins et al. (2016), propose the introduction of a vaccine which would reduce the possibility of relapsing during the treatment process. This is vital, as the difficulty in treating meth addiction comes with the high probability of relapsing.

    Natural Recovery

           One of the most common approaches to treatment of substance use is through natural recovery. This process may be triggered by a spiritual encounter or by a sudden occurrence in one’s life. It may come with significant challenges, but support from the immediate social circles helps significantly. Such recovery can be facilitated by altering one’s social group, leaving an environment that constantly avails the drug, adopting new methods of coping and dealing with stress, and restructuring leisure time to include more constructive activities. Natural recovery is most successful I persons who are highly motivated and committed to making the necessary changes (Skewes & Gonzalez, 2013).

    The Psychological Aspects of Treatment

           Given the significance of psychological factors in the predisposition and effects of addiction, treatment must incorporate psychological interventions. These include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), counseling, support groups, and family involvement. The transtheoretical model of behavioral change posits that an individual with secisional balance, able to weigh between the advantages of changing, is more likely to follow through with treatment. Self-efficacy is as involved in treatment as it is in developing the addiction. In treatment, it refers to the understanding that one can deal with high pressure situations through other ways other than drug use (Skewes & Gonzalez, 2013).

    Spiritual Factor to Treatment

           May (2009) notes that divine love and empowerment is always available, and it is thus the responsibility of the individual to seek it. The author also mentions that God’s Spirit is the essence of transformation, thus linking recovery from addiction to developing a strong relationship with God. Such empowerment cannot be explained through physical, psychological, or social factors, for it is miraculous. Though one has to make the choice to receive God’s empowerment, this decision has to be accompanied by prayer and faith.

    Methamphetamine, also referred to as meth is a dangerous and highly addictive stimulant drug. It stimulates the central nervous system, causing more energy, awareness and pleasure. Methamphetamine is an illegal drug that has serious implications in regards to health, including addiction.

    Repeated use of the drug methamphetamine changes the brain’s reward system and leads to its addiction. Increased use can lead to tolerance, dependence and cravings which makes it hard for people to manage their drug consumption.

    Methamphetamine addiction leads to abnormally high energy levels, low or no appetite leading the user into some unhealthful eating habits such as taking food in an interval of thirty minutes and other results like sleeplessness among others is fast and intense focus on a task together with heightened euphoria. Physical changes can include weight loss , teeth issues especially known as “meth mouth”, skin sores and red flags in behavioural patterns or mood swings.

    Treatment for methamphetamine addiction usually consists of behavioral therapies, counseling and typically support groups. Software-behavioral therapy is often used to deal with the underlying issues and educate individuals in developing coping mechanisms. ” Currently there are no medications FDA approved detailed for the addiction of methamphetamine , but that research is ongoing.

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      The use of methamphetamine has been proven to cause brain dysfunction. This is accompanied b psychological effects such as anxiety and depression. The predisposing factors of methamphetamine addiction are social, psychological, environmental, and biological. The failure to inculcate all those factors into treatment is very likely to result in relapse. For instance, medical treatment devoid of dealing with the predisposing factors creates the chance of going back to drug use. Further, the treatment must deal with the psychological disorders that have resulted from are contributed to the addiction. Finally, a human being is a spiritual being, and it is thus crucial to seek spiritual help through the process of treatment.

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