Understanding Meth Addiction
Methamphetamine was first developed in 1893 by a Japanese chemist. It was used for narcolepsy, asthma, and as a weight-loss drug. Meth was also used during World War II to keep the soldiers awake by Allies and Axis powers. Meth was difficult to make until another Japanese chemist streamlined the process in 1919 and created the world’s first crystal meth. It wasn’t until 1970 that meth became outlawed in the United States.
Methamphetamine is a powerful stimulant drug sold as a powder or in a crystalline form. When someone uses meth, it triggers a similar response in the body as adrenaline. This heightens someone’s alertness and willingness to take risks. Meth is an addictive stimulant, but crystal meth is exceptionally addictive, causing people to become addicted after just one use. People who use meth over an extended period develop a tolerance to it, causing them to need more of the drug to achieve the same effects as when they first used it.
Over time meth can cause significant changes to the brain. It can cause paranoia, hallucinations, and delusions. Some common delusions are people believe bugs are crawling under their skin, people or police are chasing them, and they see and sometimes talk to shadow people who are not there. They become anxious and confused and can stay up for days at a time, causing them to suffer from hallucinations and act psychotic. The psychotic symptoms can last for months or even years after someone has quit using meth, leading to a state of psychosis.
One of our graduates struggled with meth addiction and tells his story of meth addiction.
“The thing with meth that hooked me was it calmed me down more. I had been on opiates for a couple of years, but the meth slowed my thought process and me down instead of feeling scattered. It made me feel good.
“I was nineteen the first time I saw meth, and that was the first time I used it. I had moved back home after being away for a couple of years. I went to my dealer’s house to get Xanax and Valium; his brother was there and had meth. So I decided to try it. I knew I liked it, but it didn’t interest me at the time. It wasn’t until years later that I picked up my addiction to meth.
“I was twenty-three and had just divorced my first wife. I was hanging out with my best friend and his girlfriend, and they used meth. At that time, it was a new thing in my area, so I didn’t know many people on it; after that, meth got ahold of me. I started hanging out with them more, and I smoked and snorted meth for years. A few years later, I started injecting it, and that’s where my meth addiction took off.
“After a while of using, I had completely shut out everyone and everything around me. My family and I didn’t talk. They knew I was messing up, but they didn’t know the extent of it. I then became a menace to society.”
“After a while of using, I had completely shut out everyone and everything around me. My family and I didn’t talk. They knew I was messing up, but they didn’t know the extent of it. I then became a menace to society. I got criminal charges and became a danger to myself and others. I lost my family, my son, and everything I cared about.
“Before coming to Narconon, I lived in a town in Louisiana, and the paranoia had started setting in. I was hanging around with bad people and feared people knew what I was doing. I was tired of being alone. Even if I had people around me, I felt alone. I didn’t have my family, and I didn’t want my son to lose his dad the way I lost mine. I pride myself on being a genuinely caring person, and I lost that. I knew I had to do something, so I called Narconon. They picked me up with just the clothes on my back. I had nothing except some health issues because of the meth.
“I used meth for six years, and now here I am, two years sober. Once I got sober, I realized you become the thing in the world you hate most. I never want to be who I was again and now see the consequences of my choices. However, over the past two years, I gained back a purpose. I’m no longer a thing that takes up space. I learned my purpose is to be the best father, son, brother, self-lover, and member of society that I can be. I’ve worked hard to get to this point. My family trusts me now more than ever before. My family is my world and knowing they can sleep soundly at night keeps me going in the right direction.”
—D.H. Narconon Graduate
Methamphetamine is potent and dangerous. It takes hold and doesn’t let go. If you or a loved one are struggling with meth addiction, know addiction doesn’t have to be a death sentence. There is a way out, and that is reaching for help.