Methamphetamine or Ice, as it is commonly known was originally synthesised by the Japanese and given to their infamous kamikaze pilots during the Second World War. With this sort of introduction to the world, it is hardly surprising that taking this substance has devastating effects. This drug is one of the most potent forms of amphetamine and the effects of taking it are hugely damaging not only to relationships and self-esteem but also physically and neurologically.
This chemical belongs to a group of drugs known as central nervous system stimulants and they trigger the serotonin and dopamine receptors harder and faster than any other substance. Meth is often created in makeshift laboratories by people with no real chemical knowledge and this results in an impure and toxic product. The consequences of using this substance are far-reaching and there are even reports of people suffering permanent brain damage or never being able to feel pleasure again.
Recovery from addiction to methamphetamine is usually seen as spanning 5 specific stages and it is possible to experience two stages at the same time. Recovery from any addiction is a process where the psychological, social, emotional, physical and spiritual aspects of the problem need to be dealt.
This initial stage lasts from the first day of detox up until two weeks is sometimes referred to as the ‘detox’ or the ‘eat, drink and sleep period’. It is common to feel anxious, exhausted and nauseous but remember this is the first step towards your body and brain healing.
The damage that Meth abuse causes to the serotonin and dopamine systems can lead to an imbalance in the stability of these systems and can affect the behaviour of chronic abusers. Serotonin plays an important role in a wide range of physiological systems from respiration to cardiovascular regulation and is involved in the regulation of functions from appetite to pain sensitivity and sexual behaviour.
Additionally, dopamine is crucial in other physiological functions and is involved in things from the regulation of emotional responses and the reward system to the cardiovascular, central nervous and hormonal system. Therefore using meth and then stopping using meth is going to potentially affect these all of these aspects while for the brains natural chemistry is being restored.
Frequently people struggle to be able to express their emotions and their minds feel like a maze of half-formed thoughts. Stage 1 is also when cravings and thoughts of using are particularly strong and when you are at your most vulnerable. This is all to do with the brain’s systems being jolted back to reality.
The best action that can be taken is to rest, eat well and drink lots of water. As far as the intense cravings and mixed up emotions talk about them or journal to help work your way through.
This stage lasts between 16 and 45 days and is sometimes called the ‘pink cloud’ because you are starting to feel so much better. Sometimes people feel so good they lose sight of why they stopped using Ice in the first place. It’s really important to stay grounded in the reality of what addiction has done to you, your life and the lives of those around you.
Another pitfall during this period is that people often try to sort out the consequences of their addiction all at once and end up taking on too much and becoming overwhelmed. Having said all this, people can also experience both highs and lows during this time and it takes a while to find some balance. Cravings are also a factor as are feelings of loneliness and boredom and also, strangely enough, tendencies towards compulsive sexual behaviour. Many people are looking to replace the high with something else.
It’s really important to stay focused during this time and talk about the way you feel with like-minded people. Engaging in recovery groups or committing to continuing therapy is an essential part of making it through this time if you are not in rehab. This is the beginning of learning to act and think in a different way.
Between 6 weeks and 4 months, people can often hit a wall and this stage is characterised by grief, boredom and pessimism. This is the stage where the risk of relapse is at its highest. Positive action is the only way forward. So, stick to a schedule, foster healthy relationships with people and try out new things.
Taking strong stimulant drugs means that life is pretty chaotic and difficult so it takes a lot of time to adjust to living at a different pace.
During 4months to 6months, the body and brain start to settle down and adjust to life without the drug. Moreover, there are fewer cravings and less depression. People start to develop their sense of self again and have had some time to truly build some self-worth and self-esteem. This is a consolidation stage where the seeds you have been sewing start to come to fruition. New goals, jobs or the prospect for further education begin to open up.
It’s still important to maintain a good support system despite the fact that you are growing in confidence. Be aware that there will still be new and uncomfortable emotions and not to get too overwhelmed. Stay connected to your recovery.
Maintaining recovery is essential and between 6 months and 1 year, it is essential to keep the focus on this. Keep up with counselling and support groups, try new things and develop this new concept of self. One of the keys is to learn to have fun again without drugs.
Up to 2 years for the brain to be restored
Shockingly, it can take up to 2 years for the meth user’s brain to completely restore the normal levels of dopamine and serotonin so it’s important to keep this in mind. This is one of the reasons that 90-day rehab programs followed by a transition program are recommended to Meth users. Although this model with its 5 stages relates specifically to Ice, there are lots of principles that are common to other substances and solutions which can be applied across to the board.
Are you ready to stop using methamphetamine? Call our expert team at Seasons Luxury Rehab today for a FREE, no-obligation consultation.