Once you’re addicted to meth, getting sober may seem like an impossible feat. While meth is notorious for being one of the most difficult drugs to quit, it is absolutely possible to sustain a sober life in recovery with the right help and support.
If you’re addicted and starting to consider what it might be like to get sober, here’s what life can be like after methamphetamine addiction.
Ways Meth Can Ruin Your Life
If you’re in the trenches of meth addiction, you know far too well how it can ruin your life. For those on the outside looking in, these side effects might not always be as apparent. However, an addicted friend or loved one may be suffering in one of the following ways.
- Meth abuse causes extreme addiction.
Methamphetamine is considered one of the most addictive drugs, especially when it’s used in crystal form (also known as crystal meth). The high it produces is extremely powerful and euphoric. It can make users feel like they can be anyone they want to be, which is exactly what many addicts are searching for. Meth provides an escape from personal struggles, loneliness, and everyday life, but unfortunately, it also comes at a very high cost.
- Meth causes severe changes to the brain and body.
Heavy or long-term meth abuse damages the brain in three main ways: it kills brain cells, re-wires the brain’s reward system, and it alters the brain’s neurotransmitters. This leads to emotional problems, rapid and extreme mood swings, severe cravings for meth, inability to feel pleasure, loss of self-control, and psychiatric problems like hallucinations, neurological disorders, dementia, psychosis, and schizophrenia.1 Physically, meth addiction can cause increased heart rate and blood pressure, brain damage, stroke, liver, kidney, and lung damage, breathing problems, and increased likelihood of infectious diseases, among many other negative effects.2
- Meth abuse often leads to serious financial problems.
Crystal meth becomes many peoples’ drug of choice because it produces a powerful high, is easy to get, and is cheap. People who are severely addicted to meth prioritize it above everything else; even food, shelter, and other necessities. As a person becomes more and more dependent on meth, he or she will need more and more of it to achieve the same effects. The cost of meth addiction quickly increases as the person needs larger doses to get high, which can contribute to crippling debt, homelessness, and criminal behavior, such as theft.
- Meth abuse results in severe changes to appearance.
Long-term and chronic meth abuse can cause many severe changes to a person’s physical appearance. Most commonly, meth abusers experience extreme weight loss and malnutrition, skin sores, severe tooth decay, and dental problems.3
- Meth abuse destroys relationships.
Meth abuse and addiction can sever relationships in several ways. Not surprisingly, severe personality and behavioral changes caused by meth can put close relationships under extreme stress. Drug abuse also leads to a serious loss of trust between drug abusers and their loved ones, often leaving the addicted person isolated and alone as a result of their behavior.
Recovering From Meth Addiction
The early stages of recovery from meth addiction consist of detox and withdrawal. A period of safe medical observation is highly recommended for meth detox, as withdrawal symptoms can be severe.
Most often, people detoxing from meth are very exhausted and may experience deep bouts of depression. Other common meth withdrawal symptoms include:
- Severe mood swings
- Strong cravings for meth
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Increased appetite
People who attempt to detox alone may also be more likely to experience suicidal thoughts without clinical support and treatment. For this reason, clinical and medical observation for meth withdrawal often lasts anywhere from 24 hours to 72 hours or longer if necessary.
The physical and psychological discomfort caused by meth withdrawal symptoms contributes to high rates of relapse in the early stages of recovery, but medical detox and ongoing treatment with rehab and sober living programs can help prevent relapse with medical treatment, clinical therapy, relapse prevention education, and peer support.
Dental care is also an important aspect of meth addiction recovery, as “meth mouth” will not just go away on its own once a person stops using. Unfortunately, meth can cause severe damage to the teeth, mouth, and gums, which will need immediate and ongoing attention in early recovery.
Depression and feelings of hopelessness may also linger after detox is over and the brain will take time to heal from the damage caused by methamphetamine. Although climbing the wall after detox can take weeks, months, or even years, it is an uphill battle that is well worth the time and effort spend to win it.
What is Life Like After a Methamphetamine Addiction?
Life after methamphetamine addiction can be challenging but it is also extremely rewarding in so many different ways. First off, it’s important to remember that the way your life looks after addiction is highly dependent on the time and effort you put into your recovery as well as your mindset. While it may take time for you to find a job, establish a routine, and build healthy relationships with non-drug abusing friends, you will eventually reach the point where you feel established and stable in your sobriety.
During the early stages of meth addiction recovery, you may experience some emotional difficulties, including bouts of depression. With time, physical withdrawal symptoms will dissipate and you should experience psychological improvements such as less depression and anxiety, fewer mood swings, and an increased ability to focus and pay attention. As the neurotransmitters in your brain return to their normal activities, your personality will become more stable and you’ll likely also have fewer strong emotional explosions.
The process of recovering from meth addiction is less about not using meth and more about learning how to deal with your personal issues and circumstances without relying on meth. As you continue to address the deeply-seated causes of your drug abuse, you can also work on making positive behavioral changes in your life that will lead to lasting sobriety.
Ultimately, life after methamphetamine addiction can be rewarding, exciting, and much better than your life before. All you have to do is dedicate yourself to the process and accept the help that you need to change.
Preventing Meth Relapse
As a person in recovery, you will also need to actively choose to avoid meth relapse and work your recovery program to stay sober. The following strategies will help you do that.
- Understand your triggers: Be aware of what people, places, situations, smells, etc. make you want to use meth. Additionally, if you know that feeling lonely, stressed, or overwhelmed also makes you want to use, work diligently to combat those emotions with positive behaviors like meditating, sober socializing, and having a structured daily routine.
- Have a plan: At some point, you may find yourself in a difficult or tempting situation, but if you have a plan for how you will handle it, the whole thing will seem less stressful. You’ll also be much less likely to give in and use meth even when it’s convenient, easy, or tempting.
- Establish healthy relationships: Building relationships with non-drug-using peers is essential to sustaining life in recovery. Having people who understand the struggle, have been where you’ve been, and who are there to support you and encourage you will help keep you accountable and motivated even when it gets tough.
- Spend time pursuing hobbies or activities you enjoy: Meth addiction takes over your life, leaving you with nothing else to care about. Getting sober is an opportunity to live your life to its fullest by trying out new activities and hobbies to figure out what you really enjoy. These things will help give your life meaning and purpose, especially during the early stages of recovery when things can sometimes feel uncertain and unnatural.
- Continue working your recovery program: Even if you think you’re fully recovered, continue working your program by attending regular IOP meetings, 12-Step fellowship groups, or aftercare meetings. You may also want to consider enrolling in a sober living program if you don’t have a safe, stable, and sober place to live.
When it’s all said and done, meth addiction is a very difficult condition to overcome, but it’s not impossible. A long-term approach to meth addiction treatment can provide you with adequate time to get sober and internalize important life skills and lessons you’ll need to stay that way.