Heroin may have been the most-discussed drug of 2015—and for good reason, as rates of deaths from heroin overdose rose dramatically across the US.
One of the main reasons the heroin epidemic is so shocking? The user demographic for this drug has dramatically expanded to include “normal” suburbanites and rural dwellers.
There’s another drug that’s far less sensational, yet staying steady in the US. In 2015, a report by the DEA showed that methamphetamine continues to be “readily available” throughout the US, and there has been a small steady increase in users during the past four years.
Unlike heroin users, meth users are portrayed mainly in mug shots or under sensational headlines. Even with the advent of a meth-based popular TV show, meth is frequently viewed as a drug for the poor and desperate. This leaves “seemingly normal” users with jobs and families to struggle with a closeted addiction due to a fear of being labeled.
Read on to discover 4 myths about meth that can delay the journey to recovery for any meth user.
Meth Myth #1: People get addicted to meth instantly.
You’ve seen the ads: “Meth—not even once.” At the baseline level, we all know that if you don’t start a drug, you won’t get addicted. It’s a total impossibility.
However, the actual time it takes to become addicted to meth varies by the user. Some get hooked quickly, and some use for years without getting addicted. The bottom line is this is a false statement, but it would be foolish to believe you can try meth just once, or use meth recreationally for an extended period of time.
Why? First of all, meth introduces a user to 10 times the normal amount of “dopamine,” the brain’s pleasure and happiness chemical. It’s an intense, long-lasting high, which eventually reshapes your brain to need the drug like any human necessity. Secondly, when an individual chooses to try meth, there is often an underlying reason—whether it’s because he wants to lift depression, focus, or simply reduce boredom. If the underlying issue isn’t handled properly, it’s likely a first-time user will start to rely on the drug to solve it temporarily. That’s why, at Pat Moore Foundation, we always start with a holistic plan for recovery.
Meth Myth #2: Meth addicts all look terrible.
The symptoms that occur in advanced users have become the face of meth addicts: gaunt, acne and scar covered people with “meth mouth.” Even among drug users, “meth heads” are seen as disgusting and desperate. Why is this a problem? Well, if we don’t understand the subtleties of this addiction, it’s likely we may miss the signs in loved ones who are struggling with it.
There are regular meth users you might see and consider “normal,” with a good family and a successful career. Just read through online drug forums and blogs, where both moms and high-powered executives admit to relying on meth to get through the day.
If you don’t know a meth user before they start, you might just notice they’re more bubbly, upbeat, outgoing, and full of ideas. If you knew that same person well before they used meth, you might notice the subtle differences—perhaps he’s abnormally energetic and talkative, or she’s nearly stopped eating.
Those symptoms, as easy as they seem to hide at first, will gradually advance if the user becomes dependent. Sleepless nights may result in paranoia, delusional thinking, and hallucinations. A short temper might emerge in a usually peaceful person. As dehydration and malnutrition takes its toll, a svelte happy person could develop visible physical symptoms—acne and other skin problems or a dramatic decrease in weight.
To sum it up, no, meth addicts may not be easy to recognize by how “terrible” they look or act. However, as drug dependency increases, it’s likely that physical maintenance and the ability to control erratic behavior will decrease. Pay attention, and you could help an early user get the treatment he needs.
Meth Myth #3: Meth creates more violent people than any other drug.
Frequent use of meth will alter the user’s personality. It may make a person more likely to steal and lie in order to get more of the drug. As we stated before, people who knew a meth user before they became addicted may notice a shift in their behavior. But will it make them more violent? The answer is not so simple.
In a 2010 study conducted by the Grand Valley State University School of Criminal Justice, researchers studied the supposed link between “Methamphetamine Use and Criminal Behavior” at jails in western Colorado. Researchers divided common meth user crimes into three groups: non-meth users, regular meth users (started using at 14.45 years), and lifetime meth users (started using at 13.51 years). Common crimes were separated drug charges (such as possession or trade), property crimes (such as theft), violent crimes, and crimes related to alcohol. Researchers discovered that drug and property charges were the most common. In fact, there were “very few violent offenses described by the participants.”
There have been other studies that contradict this finding, and more studies must be conducted for a conclusion to be made. The main thing to keep in mind: if a person is prone to fits of rage, meth can worsen it. If another person veers toward schizophrenia or another psychological disorder, again, meth won’t help. If yet another individual mixes insomnia, meth, flakka, and vodka—the results won’t be pretty. Meth may not turn a nice person into a violent maniac, but it can certainly magnify the symptoms of sleep deprivation and preexisting disorders.
Meth Myth #4: Once you’re addicted to meth, it’s basically impossible to quit.
If you’re addicted to meth, and you want to quit, don’t let this myth deter you. Yes, chronic and prolonged meth abuse means a more difficult detox process, and potentially, both short and long term neurologic issues. However, it is not impossible, and studies have shown that the long term success rates for meth addicts are similar to those of other hard illegal drug abusers.
It’s a common misconception that meth users can’t quit. Is it difficult to quit? Yes. Is it likely that a recovering meth addict will relapse? Yes. Is it impossible? No, particularly not with the help of professionals during the detox and recovery process.
Are you or a loved one struggling with a meth addiction? It’s not too late to start recovery. At the Pat Moore Foundation, we offer a safe place to get away, a comfortable detox experience, medical assessments, counseling sessions, and more along the journey to recovery.
Get in touch with us today—we will explain everything you can expect during drug recovery. It’s time to dispel myths, overcome your addiction, and discover hope at last.