Meth is a potent stimulant drug that quickly binds to receptors in the brain and releases a flood of dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. It is most commonly found as a powder or a pill, which is snorted, smoked, or injected intravenously.
Although there is a prescription version of meth called Desoxyn, this drug is rarely prescribed. The bulk of illicit meth abuse in the United States does not involve prescription diversion; it is the abuse of stronger, illegally made versions of the drug.
These are increasingly produced in super labs in Mexico or China and then shipped into the U.S. Meth production is inexpensive, so drug manufacturers and sellers make a lot of money on this harmful substance.
Anecdotally, meth is so strong that one dose can immediately cause addiction. This is not true, but the drug does cause such a large surge of mood-elevating neurotransmitters that you are likely to experience a comedown, which is similar to a hangover, the next day.
Cravings are symptoms of a comedown. For many people around the world, they may be so tired, depressed, and craving the drug so much that they take another dose to feel normal. Over time, being unable to control cravings for the drug leads to addiction.
Meth addiction often occurs quickly, but it can occur in a few distinct phases. The best way to avoid becoming addicted to meth is never to try it.
If you have tried meth and find that you are using more than you expected, learning the general phases of addiction can help you identify your problem. This can motivate you to stop abusing this drug and get evidence-based treatment.
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There are five overarching stages of addiction.
Although it becomes more difficult to stop abusing meth at each stage of the addiction process, you can seek help for meth addiction at any time.
If you have tried meth once, you may want to ask an addiction specialist for help with finding counseling to understand the risky behaviors around substance abuse and what put you at risk for taking meth the first time.
If you have struggled with addiction to meth for months or years, you should still seek help from an addiction specialist. You will likely be diagnosed with a stimulant use disorder, per the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). With evidence-based treatment, you can leave meth addiction in your past.
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