Methamphetamine Addiction Treatment



Methamphetamine (C10H15N) is an extremely addictive stimulant drug that is chemically similar to amphetamine. It is also a powerful, highly addictive stimulant. It is colloquially known as meth, crystal, crystal meth, ice and batu (in Hawaii).  Methamphetamine takes the form of a white, bitter-tasting, odorless, crystalline powder that easily dissolves in water. It is typically consumed via smoking into the lungs, snorting into a nasal cavity, or injection into a vein.



Methamphetamine is a “neurotoxin” and as such is destructive to nerve tissue.  Scientific research shows that methamphetamine use causes extensive neurological damage across the Central Nervous System. Unfortunately, this type of nerve damage is commonly associated with persistent forms of cognitive impairment.  The greatest impact on brain function is observed as weakness in mental skills and more specifically as deficits in attention, memory and learning.


Methamphetamine Use Disorder

Meth use causes hyper-alertness, over-confidence, talkativeness, increased activity, decreased appetite and euphoria.  Methamphetamine differs from its parent drug amphetamine in that, at comparable doses, much greater amounts of methamphetamine gets into the brain, making it a much more potent drug than amphetamine.

Craving Meth

Methamphetamine produces intoxication by causing a buildup of dopamine across the synapse cleft. The more dopamine that builds up the more dopamine that’s available for post synaptic receptors. The more dopamine absorbed by post synaptic receptors the greater the overall drug effects.


Synapse cleft

The microscopic space, approximately 10-20 nm wide, that separates the presynaptic neuron (axon) and the postsynaptic cell (dendrite). Nerve impulses are transmitted across the synapse cleft by neurotransmitters such as dopamine.

Addiction Liability

Methamphetamine’s addiction liability refers to its tendency to produce addiction. The likelihood that methamphetamine abuse will lead to addiction is linked to the speed with which methamphetamine gets into the brain, the amount of dopamine produced and the reliability that methamphetamine will produce a drug effect. In the case of methamphetamine, we know it crosses the blood brain barrier very quickly, produces copious amounts of dopamine and works nearly 100% of the time. This means that methamphetamine use is very likely to lead to addiction.

Meth Addiction

Meth addiction is tenacious seeking and compulsive use of methamphetamine despite harmful personal consequences. In all cases of habitual methamphetamine addiction the body builds up tolerance to both methamphetamine and to dopamine. Over time a methamphetamine addict must use larger and larger amounts of methamphetamine to achieve the same intensity of effect (methamphetamine tolerance).


How To Treat Meth Addiction

Meth addiction treatment is very complex and must be individualized for each patient. Mental health disorders are frequently present among meth abusers, which makes treatment more complex.  A common problem is that meth addicts are misdiagnosed. Treatment providers must determine if the current mental health issue is drug induced, or not, and the severity and duration of any mental health needs. Oftentimes, prolonged detoxification is necessary in order to make an accurate diagnosis.



Methamphetamine and other stimulant drugs tend to increase libido, which means that methamphetamine abuse is often associated with risky sexual behavior. Paradoxically, long-term methamphetamine abuse is often associated with decreased sexual function, especially in men.


After Effects

Methamphetamine abuse results in many destructive side effects, including aggression, violent behavior, paranoia, insomnia and addiction. High dose abusers often display mood disturbances, mistrust psychotic behavior, auditory hallucinations and delusions.


Metamphetamine Toxicity

Men and women suffering with methamphetamine toxicity can become extremely agitated, impulsive, irrational, paranoid and psychotic.  Toxicity can lead to a person behaving in an uncontrolled, aggressive and/or violent manner.


Things to look for when treating meth addiction:

  • Meth abusers often exhibit anxiousness, nervousness, incessant talking, extreme moodiness and irritability, repetitious behaviors – such as picking at skin or pulling out hair, sleep disturbances, false sense of confidence and power, aggressive or violent behavior, disinterest in previously enjoyed activities and severe depression.
  • A person on methamphetamine, during the ‘tweaking’ stage, can be identified by looking at their eyes.  Their eyes will jerk back and forth while they look out of the corner of their eyes (a horizontal-gaze – nystagmus).
  • The chronic meth abuser is often under-nourished with a gaunt appearance, poor hygiene, and bad teeth.  Chronic abusers are sometimes violent and suffer rapid mood swings; with behavior going from friendly to hostile in seconds.
  • If a crystal meth abuser takes a lethal dose of crystal methamphetamine, the heart rate rapidly increases and the user suffers a heart attack or stroke. The only overt sign of a crystal meth overdose is an abnormally high temperature.


Categories of Methamphetamine Users

  • Naive users (experimental users)
  • Irregular users (recreational social-setting users)
  • Binge users (on again and off again users who use moderate to large quantities)
  • Daily users (chronic users)


Glossary: Methamphetamine Terms

Amphetamine (C9H13N) is a Central Nervous System stimulant and appetite suppressant.