It’s been said that no one should try meth – not even once. It is a highly addictive drug that is as dangerous to the human body as it is to make. The root of meth, amphetamine, was first synthesized in 1887 and meth was discovered by 1919. During World War II, meth was actually used to treat everything from obesity to ADHD. It only became illegal when in 1971, Congress passed the restrictive categories for drug control.
Facts About Meth Addiction Recovery
1. 93 percent of those in treatment end up relapsing, either back to a meth or a different drug that can add stimulation to the body.
2. The national rate of meth addiction recovery is between 16 and 20 percent.
3. Meth addiction is very difficult to treat because of the constant cravings for the drug.
4. It can take more than one year for meth users to regain various functions in their brain, including focus and impulse control.
5. The Matrix Model, which requires 16 weeks of in-depth treatment, including intense counseling and support group attendance, has shown to be extremely effective in meth addiction recovery.
6. The chances of a recovery happening without some form of addiction therapy: 3%
7. The chances of a meth addiction recovery happening with the Matrix Model: 50%
8. Some state-sponsored residential programs have had 60 to 80 percent recovery rates after 6 months.
9. Only 600,000 Americans used methamphetamine in the past month compared to a total of 19.2 million who consumed some illicit drug and half of Americans over age 12 who reported past month alcohol consumption.
10. Methamphetamine is identified as a primary or secondary drug among only 12% of those entering addiction treatment in the United States.
11. The prevalence of past month methamphetamine consumption among 12-17 year old is declining, with its current level at 0.7 percent.
12. It generally takes 2 to 5 years to establish methamphetamine dependence.
13. The average is 7 to 13 relapses before success in quitting takes hold.
14. Meth has been known to cause addiction in nearly half of first time users and almost 75% of second-time users.
15. Meth can cause a severe “crash” after the effects wear off and can cause irreversible damage to blood vessels in the brain.
16. The estimated cost of crystal meth use in America is a staggering $484 million, based on increased healthcare costs, lost job wages, crime, legal costs and traffic accidents.
17. Methamphetamine can be swallowed, snorted, smoked and injected by users.
18. The effects usually last from four to eight hours or more, depending on dosage.
19. Prolonged use of methamphetamine can cause sleeplessness, loss of appetite, increased blood pressure, paranoia, psychosis, aggression, disordered thinking, extreme mood swings and sometimes hallucination.
20. Pharmaceutical methamphetamine is still available legally under the brand name Desoxyn.
21. Most people who use methamphetamine do not develop an addiction.
22. Almost 11 million Americans have tried methamphetamine at least once.
23. Only 512,000 people have used it within the last 30 days.
24. Long-term methamphetamine use has many negative consequences for physical health, including extreme weight loss, severe dental problems, and skin sores caused by scratching.
25. Methamphetamine use also raises the risk of contracting infectious diseases like HIV and hepatitis B and C.
26. Meth comes in powder or rock form.
27. Because meth has trained them to associate all pleasure with the drug, they need to learn to modify their thinking and expectations.
28. Meth can release up to 1,200 dopamine units per dose, which is 4x the amount of crack cocaine.
29. Between 1992 and 2002 the SAMHSA Treatment Episode Data Set went from having one state reporting more than 40 admissions for meth addiction per 100,000 residents, to 18 states reporting this rate of admissions.
30. One hit of meth is about a quarter of a gram and will cost a user about $25.
31. An ounce of meth costs nearly 10 times as much as an ounce of gold.
32. More than 35 states have passed legislation that in some way restricts sales of products containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine to prevent home cooking.
33. An overdose of meth can result in heart failure.
This is why helping someone get off of meth is so important.
Effects and Impact of Meth Addiction
Because meth acts as a stimulant, the body’s metabolism begins going into overdrive. It’s the same kind of effect that smokers get with nicotine, but 100 times greater, so people feel energized without the need for food. The only problem is that the high one gets from the first time they use meth is one that can never be reproduced. Addicts can try and try to replicate that high, but it will never be as good or last as long.
Recovery from a meth addiction follows the same patterns that other highly addictive and highly stimulating drugs. Although a few people are able to quit “cold turkey” and never look back, most people will suffer from cravings and flashbacks for years. Sometimes all it takes to create a craving is reading the word “meth.” That’s how serious this drug is. It might seem like a good idea at the time to take meth, but the facts about meth addiction recovery say otherwise.
The problem is relatively simple: because methamphetamine creates a stimulating, pleasurable effect on the user’s mind, it seems like the world melts away for a long period of time. As this develops into a need, people become more desperate to achieve their next high. This creates a need to take more meth every time and eventually the body wears out because it has become mentally dependent on needing meth to function. That’s why recovery times, when successful, can be as long as 5 years before there is true freedom from this drug.
That’s also why meth addiction recovery can be so difficult. It isn’t the physical dependence on the drug that is the issue. It’s the mental addiction to the amounts of dopamine that flood the body, making someone feel good, that creates a huge barrier for everyone who has become addicted to the drug. Although not everyone becomes addicted on their first use of meth, it has been known to happen. That’s why this drug is so dangerous… and why these facts about meth addiction recovery are so important to know.
What the Statistics Mean
Meth addiction is not something that any society would consider to be pandemic. In looking at the drug use, it is a small minority of people who use meth as a first or second choice drug. Of course this data doesn’t include third choice drugs, which if known might include a lot more of the population, but the bottom line is that meth addiction is affecting as many people as some are led to believe.
It’s also important to note the eventual recovery rates, especially under some models of treatment. In 2003, Rolling Stone published an article that stated only 6% of meth users would ever recover. If all they were looking at was the relapse data, then this makes sense. On the other hand, with 1 in 2 meth addicts in the Matrix Model finding relief from their addiction, it does seem possible that the internal battle against meth can be won.
In looking at the Matrix Model specifically, some programs have seen a tremendous amount of success. In Southern California, for example, there are over 20,000 graduates of their program that have stayed clean. Although the physical scars of using meth, like having the typical “meth mouth,” might remain, the body can recover from using this drug, even in massive amounts, if long-term supports, counseling, and regular monitoring for drug use are put into place.
So how can more people get put into treatment programs? This is where the War on Drugs becomes part of the conversation. Are meth addicts breaking the law by securing the drug they need to function? In the United States, this is generally true. Do meth addicts also commit other crimes when they are high on the drug? Sometimes. The question is this: would it be more effective to place people into treatment programs like the Matrix Model? Or is it more effective to place people into a jail cell and let them go through withdrawal with minimal supports?
There is no easy answer to solving meth addiction. People must want to change in order for change to take place. They must also be willing and able to seek out new coping skills and find new joys in life in order for real change to take place. Until those circumstances are in place, meth addiction is going to take a precedence in the addict’s life and they will see the risks of taking meth as a small consequence to the joys they experience with this drug.
These meth addiction statistics should serve to do two things: 1) help you understand that meth is not something you probably want to start taking any time soon; and 2) that with consistent, individualized help, an addiction to meth can be beaten.