Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Contributors & Editors

Julie Miller

Addiction & Mental Health Writer

Last Update on June 12, 2023

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Methamphetamine, or meth, is a potent and highly addictive stimulant that can devastate individuals and communities.

But is it possible to overcome this debilitating addiction?

This article dives into the nature of meth addiction, the challenges it poses, and the resources and methods that real people who find themselves addicted to meth can be use to start the process of overcoming it.


Understanding Methamphetamine


Methamphetamine is a highly potent and addictive stimulant drug that directly affects the central nervous system.

It is often a white, odorless, bitter-tasting crystalline powder that easily dissolves in water or alcohol.

Meth can be smoked, swallowed, snorted, or injected.

The drug is synthetically derived, often created in illegal laboratories using inexpensive over-the-counter ingredients.

When consumConsumptiontly increases dopamine release in the brain, creating a rapid and intense high that makes it highly addictive.

The impacts of meth are severe, leading to devastating physical and psychological consequences, making it a significant public health concern.


Method Description Effects
Smoking Meth is heated in a glass pipe, and the vapor is inhaled. Rapid absorption through the lungs is intense and immediately high but lasts longer.
Injection (IV)  Meth is dissolved in water and then injected directly into a vein. Immediate and intense high, increased risk of overdose and transmission of infectious diseases.
Snorting Crystalline meth is crushed into a powder and snorted through the nose. High is slower and less intense than smoking or injecting but lasts longer. Damages nasal passages over time.
Swallowing (oral ingestion) Meth is swallowed in pill form or as a powder. The slowest onset of high, which tends to last longer. Lower intensity compared to other methods.


How Does Meth Affect the Body? 

Methamphetamine has extensive and harmful effects on both the body and brain.

Which by now is common knowledge. But sometimes, when people decide that they’re going to use meth, they don’t think about how bad it can get.

Physically, meth increases heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration while decreasing appetite and disrupting sleep patterns.

Long-term use can lead to significant weight loss, heart disease, lung damage, liver and kidney problems, and severe dental issues known as “meth mouth1.”

The impact on the brain is equally damaging.

Meth causes a surge of dopamine, a neurotransmitter involved in pleasure and reward, leading to intense euphoria.

However, chronic use can damage the dopamine system, leading to decreased natural production of the neurotransmitter and a reduced number of receptors.

This can result in anhedonia, the inability to feel pleasure without the drug, and intense cravings.

Meth use can also lead to cognitive impairments, including memory loss and difficulties with decision-making and learning2.

Furthermore, long-term meth use can result in psychiatric symptoms such as anxiety, depression, paranoia, and even psychosis.

The physical and neurological damage caused by meth uses underlines the severe health risks of this powerful drug.


Body System Short-term Effects Long-term Effects
Nervous System Increased energy, euphoria, increased heart rate, insomnia Memory loss, mood disturbances, paranoia, hallucinations, and delusions
Cardiovascular System Increased heart rate, blood pressure Irregular heartbeat, heart attack, stroke
Dental Health Dry mouth, teeth grinding Severe tooth decay and loss, gum disease (“meth mouth”)
Respiratory System Increased respiration rate Respiratory distress, lung damage
Integumentary System (skin, hair, nails) Pale or flushed skin Acne, sores, skin infections, premature aging
Gastrointestinal System Decreased appetite Extreme weight loss, malnutrition
Musculoskeletal System Increased physical activity Increased risk of injury, muscle wasting


Why Do People Use Meth?

The reasons people use methamphetamine are varied and complex, often stemming from a combination of social, psychological, and biological factors.

The initial allure of meth often comes from its ability to rapidly produce intense feelings of euphoria, increased energy, and enhanced focus, making it attractive to individuals seeking an escape from stressful or difficult life situations.

Some individuals may turn to meth as a means of self-medication, attempting to alleviate symptoms of depression, anxiety, or other mental health conditions.

Others might use meth in the context of social or peer pressure or influence by societal norms in specific communities or subcultures.

On a biological level, some people may have a genetic predisposition making them more susceptible to the addictive effects of the drug 3.

Another reality is that sometimes people try meth because they are curious and like to experiment with drugs, and it’s been widely documented that it’s totally possible to get addicted on the first try!

Over time, the initial voluntary choice to use meth can transition into a compulsive need, as the brain’s reward system is altered and the person becomes physically and psychologically dependent on the drug.


The Stages of Methamphetamine Addiction


The cycle of addiction, withdrawal, and relapse is a daunting process often faced by those struggling with methamphetamine addiction.

It begins with the drug’s initial use, which triggers an intense release of dopamine in the brain, resulting in a powerful euphoria.

Over time, this repeated flooding of dopamine leads to neuroadaptations, with the brain reducing its natural dopamine production and sensitivity – a phenomenon known as tolerance.

This means more significant amounts of the drug are needed to achieve the initial high, leading to higher frequency and volume of use, ultimately resulting in physical and psychological dependency.

When a person attempts to stop using meth, the reduced levels of dopamine lead to meth withdrawal symptoms.

These can include depression, anxiety, intense drug cravings, fatigue, and even physical discomfort, lasting for weeks or months.

This withdrawal period can be highly challenging, and without appropriate support and treatment, many individuals return to using meth to alleviate these symptoms, marking a relapse.

This cyclical process of addiction, withdrawal, and relapse can be arduous to break due to the physiological changes in the brain and the powerful withdrawal symptoms.

However, with comprehensive treatment and support, individuals can break this cycle and recover from meth addiction.



Methamphetamine use can lead to significant relationships and work issues and have serious legal consequences.

In relationships, erratic behavior, aggression, and prioritization of drug use over loved ones can erode trust and lead to the breakdown of social and familial bonds.

Professionally, cognitive impairments and unreliability stemming from meth use can result in poor job performance and even job loss.

Legally, possession or distribution of meth is a criminal offense, with penalties ranging from fines to imprisonment.

Additionally, the risky behaviors often associated with meth use, such as engaging in illegal activities to obtain the drug or driving under its influence, can lead to further legal troubles.

Meth use can have dire consequences on multiple facets of an individual’s life.


The Challenges of Overcoming Meth Addiction


Overcoming meth addiction presents numerous physical and mental health challenges for individuals in recovery.

Physically, methamphetamine use takes a toll on the body, resulting in various health issues such as cardiovascular problems, respiratory complications, dental decay, and a weakened immune system.

The detoxification process can be physically grueling, with individuals experiencing intense withdrawal symptoms, including fatigue, insomnia, muscle aches, and depression.

Additionally, the long-term effects of meth on brain chemistry and mental health can persist even after quitting.

Individuals may face psychological challenges such as anxiety, depression, mood swings, paranoia, and difficulties with impulse control.

Addressing and managing these physical and mental health challenges are crucial aspects of the recovery process, often requiring comprehensive treatment approaches that include medical support, therapy, and ongoing support systems.



Overcoming meth addiction is often accompanied by significant social and economic barriers.

Socially, individuals face stigma and judgment from their communities, which often leads to social isolation, strained relationships, and a lack of support networks, exacerbating feelings of loneliness and hopelessness.

The shame and isolation associated with addiction may lead to strained relationships with family, friends, and colleagues, challenging building a solid support system.

Economic barriers can also impede recovery, as the financial consequences of addiction, such as debt, job loss, or legal issues, can create additional stress and limit access to quality treatment options.

Limited financial resources may make it difficult to afford necessary medications, therapy sessions, or aftercare programs.

In addition, the cycle of addiction can perpetuate a lack of stable employment and housing, further complicating the recovery process.

Creating safe and supportive environments that foster compassion and acceptance is essential for individuals in recovery to feel empowered, encouraged, and less burdened by the weight of social and economic barriers, ultimately increasing their chances of successful and sustained recovery.


Treatment Options to Overcome Meth Addiction

Cornerstone Healing Center offers various treatment approaches to help individuals overcome meth addiction.

Here are a few treatment options that we offer and their detailed descriptions:



Medically assisted detoxification is a beneficial treatment approach for individuals seeking to overcome meth addiction.

This process involves the supervision and support of medical professionals who help individuals gradually reduce their methamphetamine use while managing the associated withdrawal symptoms.

Medically assisted detoxification ensures the safety and well-being of the individual throughout the detox process, as withdrawal from meth can be intense and challenging.

Medications may be administered to alleviate withdrawal symptoms and cravings, enabling a more comfortable and manageable detox experience.

Additionally, medical professionals can monitor vital signs, address any complications that arise, and provide necessary support during this critical phase of recovery.

Medically assisted detoxification sets the foundation for further treatment and rehabilitation, allowing individuals to transition into comprehensive therapy and counseling programs to address the underlying psychological and behavioral aspects of meth addiction.



Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a highly effective psychological treatment approach for individuals grappling with meth addiction.

CBT focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns, beliefs, and behaviors associated with substance abuse.

It helps individuals develop coping strategies, enhance problem-solving skills, and improve self-control.

By addressing distorted thinking patterns and teaching individuals to challenge and replace unhealthy thoughts and behaviors, CBT empowers them to make positive changes and resist relapse.

Other psychological treatments for meth addiction may include motivational interviewing, which helps individuals explore their motivation for change, and contingency management, which provides incentives or rewards to reinforce abstinence and positive behaviors.

These psychological treatments create a supportive therapeutic environment, equip individuals with crucial skills and tools for recovery, and address the underlying psychological factors contributing to meth addiction.



Holistic and alternative treatment methods provide complementary approaches to support individuals in their journey to overcome meth addiction.

These methods recognize the importance of addressing the individual’s overall well-being, including their physical, mental, and emotional health.

Holistic approaches often incorporate nutrition, exercise, mindfulness techniques, meditation, and alternative therapies like acupuncture or yoga 4.

These practices promote overall wellness, reduce stress, and improve self-care.

Alternative therapies can help individuals manage cravings, alleviate withdrawal symptoms, and enhance emotional resilience.

By taking a holistic approach, individuals are encouraged to adopt healthy lifestyle habits and develop positive coping mechanisms, which can contribute to their overall recovery and well-being.

These methods can be used with other treatment approaches to provide a comprehensive and well-rounded approach to meth addiction recovery.



Support groups, such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA), offer valuable benefits in treating meth addiction.

These groups provide a safe and non-judgmental space where individuals can connect with others who have similar experiences and challenges.

The support and understanding from peers in a support group can be immensely comforting and empowering.

Sharing stories, struggles, and triumphs allows individuals to feel less isolated and more supported in their recovery journey.

Support groups offer a sense of community, encouragement, and accountability, promoting a sense of belonging and reducing feelings of shame or stigma.

Members can gain valuable insights, coping strategies, and practical advice from those who have successfully navigated the path of recovery.

Support groups foster a sense of hope, motivation, and solidarity, playing a crucial role in the treatment and long-term recovery from meth addiction.


Treatment Approach Description
Medically-Assisted Detoxification A process supervised by medical professionals to gradually reduce methamphetamine use and manage withdrawal symptoms.
Behavioral Therapies (e.g., CBT) Therapeutic approaches like Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) focus on identifying and changing negative thought patterns, beliefs, and behaviors associated with meth addiction.
Motivational Interviewing A counseling technique that helps individuals find internal motivation to change addictive behaviors by exploring their goals, values, and concerns.
Contingency Management A behavioral intervention that provides rewards or incentives to encourage positive behaviors and abstinence from methamphetamine use.
Support Groups (e.g., Narcotics Anonymous) Peer-led support groups, such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA), offer a supportive and understanding community for individuals in recovery to share their experiences, seek guidance, and build a support network.
Residential Treatment Programs Inpatient programs provide a structured and immersive environment, offering therapy, counseling, and support to individuals in a drug-free setting.
Outpatient Programs Flexible treatment programs that allow individuals to receive therapy and counseling while maintaining their daily routines and responsibilities.
Holistic Approaches Complementary approaches focusing on overall well-being, including nutrition, exercise, mindfulness techniques, and alternative therapies like acupuncture or yoga, support recovery from meth addiction.


Aftercare and Relapse Prevention


Aftercare programs play a vital role in maintaining long-term recovery from meth addiction.

These programs provide ongoing support and guidance to individuals after completing primary treatment.

They typically include relapse prevention strategies, support group meetings, individual counseling sessions, and access to resources and referrals.

Additionally, they promote accountability, as individuals are encouraged to stay connected, attend meetings regularly, and engage in ongoing therapy.

Transitioning back into everyday life can be challenging, and aftercare programs offer a continuum of care that helps individuals navigate this process.


Achieving Long-Term Recovery

While overcoming meth addiction is undeniably challenging, it is crucial to emphasize that it is possible with the proper support and treatment.

With evidence-based therapies, medical interventions, strong support networks, and ongoing care, individuals can successfully recover from meth addiction.

If you or a loved one is struggling with meth addiction and needs to enter a meth rehab program, one of our many available professionals here at Cornerstone!

We are an Arizona drug rehab program ready to guide you toward a healthier, brighter future.

Stay strong, stay committed, and embrace the possibilities of a life free from meth addiction!


Lionels’ Story of Recovery From Meth

After nearly a decade of committed membership in Alcoholics Anonymous, Lionel decided to try to do recovery on his own, mistakenly believing he no longer needed the supportive community and guiding structure that had initially been rescued him from his downfall.

He found himself succumbing to the temptations of alcohol one night, and within a week, he was back to daily drinking, this time coupled with cocaine use.

This destructive cycle persisted for 12 painful years, completely devastating his life and eventually leaving him homeless, entangled in a daily battle with crystal meth addiction.

On a chilly night, he was wounded by the roadside following a bicycle accident. It was then that he had a profound spiritual experience.

The grim realization of facing death alone, shattered and abandoned, pushed him to seek help again. This powerful awakening propelled him back onto his path to recovery.

He joined a treatment center and reconnected with Alcoholics Anonymous, faithfully following their guidance.

He renewed his bond with God and vowed not to waver from this path. Six years later, his life had transformed in ways he couldn’t have imagined.

He now found himself in a fulfilling career, offering assistance to those entangled in the same struggles he had once faced.

Blessed with a loving fiancee, he embraced the chance to be a father again and the joy of being a grandpa.

All these remarkable changes were made possible through his journey to recovery, an available path. In his life, the benevolent workings of God had indeed been miraculous.



[1] Understanding the Basis of METH Mouth Using a Rodent Model of Methamphetamine Injection, Sugar Consumption, and Streptococcus Mutans Infection

[2] Cognition and Related Neural Findings on Methamphetamine Use Disorder: Insights and Treatment Implications From Schizophrenia Research

[3] Genes matter in addiction

[4] A Narrative Review of Yoga and Mindfulness as Complementary Therapies for Addiction

Published: June 12, 2023

Contributor: Julie Miller


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Author & Reviewers

julie miller recovery writer and author
Julie is a recovery advocate, with over two years sober. She is a recovery speaker who believes people can change for the better. Her mission is to write factual, helpful information about addiction, treatment, and recovery. She believes that no one should be left in the dark about the process at any stage of their recovery.
lionel estrada lisac clinical director

Lionel is the Clinical Director of Cornerstone’s treatment facilities in Arizona. He has had over 4 years at Cornerstone. He is personally in recovery and passionate about helping others overcome substance abuse and mental health challenges, he is trained as an EMDR, adopting a trauma-informed approach to treat the underlying issues of conditions.

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