Methamphetamine use has skyrocketed over the past decade, and risky use patterns and increasing diversity in the population using methamphetamine suggests that it will continue to grow. These trends have also produced growth in the number of people dying from overdose and developing addictions to methamphetamine. With all of methamphetamine’s harmful effects, why do people use methamphetamine and how do they become addicted?

Meth Addiction At a Glance

To understand meth addiction, we must first understand a crucial fact about all addictions: people do not choose to become addicted to any substance. A person may initially choose to use a substance, but the development of addiction is a chemical process and pressing health issue. That means that meth addiction is not an issue of morals, character quality, or personal flaw. Instead, addiction is a diagnosable illness that affects millions of people every year regardless of race, socioeconomic status, demographic, or lifestyle. 

Some people are more susceptible to meth addiction due to genetic traits that affect the way their brains experience chemical processes and produce dopamine. Others have personality traits that make them more prone to risky behaviors and can make them more likely to try meth or other substances. That means that addiction to meth can develop at different rates according to a person’s unique individual genetic patterns and brain activity.

Addiction isn’t a choice, so people addicted to meth usually cannot simply stop using the substance and “return to normal”. In fact, addiction essentially rewires the brain’s otherwise healthy compulsion to seek a pleasure-reward in the form of dopamine and other brain chemical releases. That means that recovering from addiction takes time and intentionality to rewire the brain again. 

Why Do People Use Meth?

People use methamphetamine for a variety of reasons to alter their brain chemistry. While methamphetamine is similar to some prescribed medications, the use of meth and other illegal substances (especially provided outside of medical settings) is highly dangerous. Using meth can lead to severe health complications of the heart, brain, and other parts of the body. Using meth can also lead to the loss of friends, family members, and others, and it almost always leads to addiction. So why do people use meth if it’s so dangerous (and even deadly)?

Many people start using meth to self-medicate mental health issues. These mental health issues are often undiagnosed, and the person using meth may not even know what mental health issue they are trying to treat. People who use meth often simply perceive that the substance use makes bad feelings go away and replaces them with an intense hyperactivity of the brain and body. As this feeling fades, many people who use meth often try to prolong the effects of the substance by binging the drug – often for several hours or even days at a time. The meth use becomes a compulsion that can lead to extremely dangerous physical consequences.

Because meth elevates the heart rate and, in some cases, can produce an appetite-suppressing placebo-like metabolism boost, some people start using meth because they think it will help them lose weight or maintain body image. Some people also begin using meth as a way to stay awake and alert for hours or days on end or because they think it can help them focus. All of these effects, however, lead to devastating effects on habitual users’ appearance and ability to think and focus – and every use leads to a physical crash that can be extremely dangerous for people using meth and those around them.

Often, a person’s first use of meth is accompanied by a purpose that seems reasonable to them. But using meth – especially provided by street dealers and manufactured using unsafe chemicals and processes – is never a good idea. If you or someone you know is considering using meth to self-medicate or provide some other benefit, consult a medical professional for a safe, regulated, effective alternative.

Finding Treatment for Meth Addiction

If you or someone you know is experiencing meth addiction, there is always hope for recovery. Treatment professionals are standing by to help with a variety of treatment options that are proven, safe, and effective. If you need help finding resources for treating meth addiction, call or visit Palmetto Addiction Recovery Centers today!