Thanks in part to prestige television shows like “Breaking Bad” and high-profile public service campaigns, the massive amount of harm meth addiction does is well-known.
And yet, meth use seems to be growing – or becoming more dangerous. In 2020, the CDC cited multiple studies showing overdoses from stimulants like methamphetamine were increasing. Like other illicit substances, meth use increased during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Finally, a study seems to show meth use carries with it an increased risk of chronic, long-term diseases.
Meth Risks Include Substance, Mental & Physical Disorders
In the study, researchers from New York University’s School of Global Public Health turned to data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) gathered between 2015 and 2019. Published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the survey tracks data about substance abuse and mental health in the US.
The research team looked at data from NSDUH respondents who reported using methamphetamine during the past year. Next, they estimated how common medical problems, the use of other drugs and mental illnesses were among those users.
The findings? Compared to non-meth users, methamphetamine users were:
- More than four times as likely to have a substance use disorder
- Over three times as likely to have mental disorders
- Almost twice as likely to have two or more chronic medical conditions
Additionally, many of the survey respondents examined by the researchers had combinations of substance and mental disorders. Known as a dual diagnosis, the combination of addiction and mental issues presents a challenge for both patients and treatment professionals alike.
The methamphetamine users studied in the test were multidrug users, abusing every other drug studied in the NSDUH: heroin, prescription drugs, cocaine, and others. More alarmingly, the survey participants also reported a high rate of chronic conditions, including liver and lung diseases as well as HIV/AIDS.
Meth Use Creates Complex Challenge For Healthcare Professionals
In a NYU press release, the researchers cautioned the public about assuming methamphetamine use causes most of these diseases. Although methamphetamine’s dangerous effects on health are well known, the study doesn’t implicate the substance as a cause of diseases such as cirrhosis or AIDS.
Rather, the data shows the methamphetamine-using population is at a greater risk for chronic illness, presenting a complex management situation for health and drug treatment professionals.
“Methamphetamine use adds complexity to the already-challenging care of adults who have multiple chronic conditions. Integrated interventions that can address the multiple conditions people are living with, along with associated social risks, are needed for this population,” said UC San Diego’s Benjamin Han, MD, study author.
What Is Methamphetamine?
A powerful, addictive chemical stimulant, methamphetamine has become an infamous drug in recent decades. Long associated with outlaw biker gangs and exploding “one-pot labs,” the U.S. Justice Department states most meth on the streets now comes from so-called “mega-labs” run by criminal gangs in Mexico. These labs produce a pure and exceedingly powerful form of an already strong drug.
Like most abused drugs, methamphetamine’s roots go back to the early days of the drug industry. Methamphetamine was synthesized for the first time in Japan in 1893. Created from the chemical ephedrine, meth did not enter wide use until WWII, when both Allied and Axis governments began offering methamphetamines to their troops to keep them alert and awake.
After the war, methamphetamine was a prescribed drug for everything from obesity to depression. Drugs containing meth were so widely used, the increased consumption gave birth to a new (and unfortunate) term: “speed freak.” Eventually, legislation starting in the 1970s attempted to control methamphetamine by making its ingredients harder to get. Unfortunately, chemists discovered household products like acetone and sinus remedies could serve as substitutes.
Meth is commonly available in a crystalline form that can be smoked, inhaled, injected, or even swallowed. When used, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) describes euphoria, increased activity, and decreased appetite as among its immediate effects. Meth also can cause hyperthermia and a rapid heartbeat.
The drug is truly devastating over longer periods of time. NIDA warns long-term effects include:
- Memory loss
- “Meth mouth,” severe dental problems
- Changes in how the brain functions
This is to say nothing of the increased risk of chronic disease the NYU study uncovered. While it’s unclear if that risk results from activity around the drug, the behaviors long-term use causes or some other reason, it’s yet another reminder that the dangers of addiction come from many directions.
Fortunately, methamphetamine addiction is treatable.
How Sober Living Helps Treatment For Meth Addiction
Drug and alcohol treatment facilities like drug rehabs and addiction centers are where people learn how to live a new, healthy life free from compulsion and addiction. After the substance is safely allowed to leave their systems during detox, patients enter a community of care, sharing experiences as they work towards the common goal of sobriety.
Sober living homes are a perfect example of a community of care. Living with a group of people devoted to recovery helps maintain accountability, avoid temptations, and resist drug cravings. Sober living homes are like safety nets – they’re places where residents can practice independent living as they recover from methamphetamine addiction.
Finding a sober home can be a challenge, however.
It’s why we created SoberLivingNearYou.com. With the internet’s largest collection of sober home listings available at your fingertips, finding a sober home has never been easier. We’ll help you find a sober living for your needs, personality, budget, and even help you decide how long you should stay.
Why run the risks of methamphetamine use? Search for a sober home with SoberLivingNearYou.com today!