Phoenix, AZ was the fifth largest city in the country according to the population growth measurement from 2010 to 2019 by the U.S. Census Bureau. Unfortunately, with population growth comes a rise in methamphetamine addiction necessitating the availability of rehab. With the 2021 Census currently being established, it again is being predicted to have exponential population growth. Despite the notoriety of being ranked so highly in population, Phoenix has also been ranked as a major transportation hub for methamphetamine where it is trafficked in bulk and distributed across the country.
The reason for this, according to DEA officials, is because nearly all meth comes from ports of entry along the Southwest border of the country and Phoenix’s close proximity and population ranking renders it a suitable reception center. Methamphetamine is highly addictive, requires frequent redosing, causes extreme weight loss, loss of sleep, it is inexpensive, easily accessible, unforgiving, and a death sentence if not treated. Thankfully, Phoenix is equipped to help people who are addicted to methamphetamine with the availability of treatment.
Meth Addiction in Phoenix, AZ
According to the DEA, methamphetamine confiscation has risen 78% in Phoenix in the past year. This is likely attributed to the launch of Operation Crystal Shield, a DEA initiative introduced in 2020, targeting the eight major hubs of distribution of methamphetamine of which Phoenix, AZ is one of the largest. Seizures of this magnitude are monumental as they equate to addictions prevented and lives saved.
Methamphetamine alone is highly addictive and extremely dangerous. It is not uncommon for it to be used in conjunction with other lethal drugs like opioids, fentanyl and heroin. Methamphetamine dosages are unpredictable, a fine line between a small dose and an overdose.
An Introduction to Methamphetamine
Methamphetamine is a synthetic drug manufactured from common chemicals. It is a chemical compound that was originally intended for medicinal purposes much like its parent drug form, Amphetamine, from which it was derived. Amphetamine has been used for conditions such as:
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
- Narcolepsy, a condition that makes it difficult for people to stay awake during the daytime
- Weight Loss
Methamphetamine, in its medicinal state, has been used for:
- Nasal Decongestants
- Bronchial Inhalers
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
- Weight Loss
Both chemicals are stimulants, speeding up information traveling between the brain and the rest of the body. They have similar effects on the body in that they:
- Cause increased activity and talkativeness
- Provide an intense feeling of well-being and euphoria; happiness, pleasure, excitement
- Suppression of appetite
Both drug forms are legal if prescribed by a doctor, illegal if taken without a prescription, and are considered schedule II controlled substances; defined as drugs with a high potential for abuse, considered dangerous, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence. The difference; however, is that given in doses of similar amounts, methamphetamines are much more powerful. The effects last longer, are potentially more harmful to the body and possess a higher propensity for misuse. Prescribed doses are much lower than doses that are misused and are nonrefillable.
Pseudoephedrine, an ingredient in decongestants, was once available over-the-counter, but The Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005 by President George W. Bush in 2006 restricted the sale of decongestants containing pseudoephedrine by requiring record-keeping and identification to purchase the medication. This has caused the number of domestic methamphetamine labs in the U.S. to practically disappear. Pseudoephedrine is not restricted in Mexico and therefore allows for the manufacture of methamphetamine in unlimited quantities across the southern border.
Meth Misuse and Abuse
Methamphetamine can be misused by various routes:
- Oral ingestion
- Venous injection
As is the case in medicine use, the method of intake determines the time of onset and intensity of the effect. When ingested it takes longer to realize the effects and may be perceived differently than if it is taken by the other routes. A venous injection is clearly the fastest introduction to the body as it is delivered directly into the bloodstream and transported throughout the body and brain. Its effect is almost immediate, more powerful, short-lived, and is the most probable to cause addiction and detriment to the body. Regardless of the route of intake, the effects are short-lived and addictive behaviors require repeated dosing, sometimes for days at a time, known as a “run.”
Meth in Comparison to Other Dangerous Drugs
Although methamphetamine has similar stimulant effects as cocaine, another highly addictive, highly misused, dangerous drug, their chemical make-up and mode of action is quite different. Cocaine has a shorter mechanism of action, its effects are shorter lasting, and its residual in the body is shorter-lived. Methamphetamine remains in the brain longer leading to longer stimulant effects compared to cocaine. Cocaine has become less available in the U.S. and methamphetamine is a popular alternative because of its similar stimulant effects.
Because opioids make headlines frequently, methamphetamine tends to be less visible, but deadly nonetheless. Some patients reportedly try methamphetamine because they think it is a safer alternative to opioids. The danger with this train of thinking is that when one drug is deemed so extremely dangerous it tends to lessen the concern for another drug that is equally as dangerous.
Short-term Effects of Meth Misuse
The short-term effects of meth abuse include:
- Bizzare, erratic, aggressive, irritable, or violent behavior
- Increased wakefulness and physical activity
- Decreased appetite
- Disturbed sleep patterns
- Rapid and or irregular heartbeat
- Increased blood pressure
- Faster breathing
- Elevated body temperature
The last two listed could indicate overdose and if not treated immediately, could result in death.
Long-Term Effects of Meth Misuse
The long-term effects of meth abuse include:
- Permanent heart and brain damage
- High blood pressure potentially leading to heart attack, stroke, or death
- Damage to liver, kidneys, or lungs
- Anxiety, confusion, or insomnia
- Paranoia, hallucinations, mood disturbances, delusions, or violent behavior
- Skin sores from intense itching
- Dental problems, otherwise known as “meth mouth”
These persistent effects may be irreversible, even when the user stops misuse.
Street Names for Methamphetamine
The street names for meth include:
Signs of Addiction
Methamphetamine’s mechanism of action is through its manipulation of the chemical dopamine which is found in the brain. Dopamine is released in the brain after certain natural activities are performed. The release of dopamine causes short-lived feelings of pleasure by stimulating other cells in the brain, motivating people to repeat the activities.
When a person uses methamphetamine it causes an overload of dopamine. At first, pleasant experiences are perceived, but because of the overload, it also causes negative effects. Upon continued use, the dopamine system is damaged. As the damage continues, pleasurable feelings are still experienced, but negative effects increase substantially.
When the methamphetamine and pleasant feelings wear off, dopamine levels drop to below normal and there is a sudden drop in mood and energy level causing a state of depression. These negative feelings cause a strong desire to take the drug again. Over time, this use-depression-craving-use cycle leads to addiction. Repeated use of methamphetamine leads to tolerance to the drug requiring higher doses to achieve the desired effects.
Being addicted to any drug would be something akin to being held captive against a person’s will. They can not stop their use despite the harm it is causing. At first, they may have taken the drug under their own free will, but as the use progressed it became a craving that could not be controlled. If a person finds themself in a position such as this and they truly want to be free from the addiction, there is help that can free them from the bondage of their addiction.
Is quitting methamphetamine cold turkey an option? Although it may seem reasonable that a person could get themself out of the very situation that they got themself into, it not only is unlikely, it can be dangerous. The symptoms encountered during withdrawal can be severe and excruciating. Withdrawal symptoms are generally experienced as soon as the craving for the next use sets in. The severity increases over time, usually peaking within 24 hours and the most severe symptoms can last for 7 to 14 days. These severe symptoms include:
- Sleeping problems
- Terrifying hallucinations
- Extreme agitation
- Intense cravings for methamphetamine
- Suicidal thoughts
Cravings usually start to lessen after the one-month mark; however, they can return at any time.
Seeking Treatment in Phoenix
Treatment is possible, but the nature of addiction makes relapse highly probable without the proper treatment plan. Every individual is unique and every treatment plan has to be tailored to the individual. There are many considerations when choosing the best treatment option. Some factors that determine the appropriateness of treatment would be:
- Length, amount, and strength of methamphetamine use
- Co-occurring disorders
- Cross addictions
The likelihood of co-occurring disorders and cross addictions among methamphetamine users is extremely high. This sets the tone for the necessity of mental health providers, as well as, addiction and other health care providers to be involved in the methamphetamine treatment plan.
Fortunately, the Phoenix area has many options available for people in need of methamphetamine addiction treatment. In fact, according to the SAMHSA treatment locator, there are about 40 options within 5 miles of the city.
By definition, detoxification of methamphetamine would be the abstinence and clearing of the bloodstream and body of the toxins incurred from the abuse of the drug. This can and should be a highly comprehensive process that involves:
- A thorough evaluation of drug testing, measuring of drug concentration and screening for mental and physical conditions. Among other considerations, methamphetamine addiction can lead to nutritional and dental deficiencies that need to be addressed.
- Stabilization to attain a medically stable, substance-free state. The need for medications to assist in the process to lessen the severity of side effects and more success in end results is a viable consideration.
- Fostering the patient into the appropriate treatment.
This is a critical step in the healing process. A rapport of respect, compassion, and understanding can foster trust and compliance in treatment recommendations. The goal in detoxification is to attain a safe and smooth return to an internal, physical, and chemical condition of the body for optimal functioning.
What Are The Treatment Options Found in Phoenix?
This is not a one size fits all solution. Every individual is unique and presents their own unique treatment requirements. If the treatment is to be successful and foster compliance, it must meet the needs of the patient. There are various levels and types of treatment to consider. The following is a brief description of what is available:
- Inpatient Rehabilitation – can be long or short-term residential settings. This option would give the patient the best chance of immediate post-detox success due to the confinement, supervision, and personal accountability factors.
- Long-term – These are generally in a non-hospital type structure, utilizing the entire program community to reintroduce the patient to all aspects of society. These can be anywhere from 6-12 month stays that focus on intensive introspection to better understand the how and why of their methamphetamine addiction. It is all-encompassing to include employment training and individual support system needs.
- Short-term – In-depth, but shorter-term residential programs that can be more of a hospital-type setting. This is generally 3-6 weeks in length, focusing on programs such as the 12 step approach.
It is important to note that these treatment modalities are not the end of treatment and should be followed up by on-going therapeutic aftercare. The purpose of aftercare is to facilitate the transition to programs that help continue life-long success and prevent relapse. The odds of success without continued accountability are very slim. The craving for methamphetamine can reoccur at any time and the chance of overdosing at a point of relapse is significantly increased.
- Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) and Psychiatric Partial Hospitalization (PHP) – provide services similar to inpatient, but on a less than 24-hour basis. These are both extensive treatments and are considered “inpatient” due to the hospital-like setting, but the patient does not stay overnight. They are a highly structured environment to ensure continuity of treatment and safety. They require a full-time weekly commitment. They are a middle ground between inpatient and outpatient for patients who do not necessarily require constant observation but need more structure than what outpatient would provide.
- Outpatient Treatment – would be best utilized after the completion of inpatient rehabilitation due to the unforgivable addictive nature of methamphetamine. To move from detox straight to outpatient treatment would require special circumstances due to the significantly lower accountability and direct supervision factor. An incredible support system of family and social networks and an intensive treatment plan would be optimal.
The upside to outpatient treatment is the financial burden is usually less than inpatient rehabilitation and the patient is better able to meet the already established personal demands of life outside of a residential setting. Some outpatient settings can treat patients with medical or other health problems in addition to their methamphetamine addiction.
- Counseling and Individual or Group Therapy – are beneficial as they offer a higher degree of effectiveness and accountability outside of a residential setting. There are many components to these options that are beneficial to the ongoing support of abstinence. Education about drug addiction, employment support, individualized coping strategies and personal goal setting, as well as, participation in the 12 step program are some examples of beneficial activities to aid in the continuum of remaining free from addiction.
Health Insurance Coverage for Meth Rehab
Treatment is available to anyone, whether or not a person has insurance. There are funds available to help those without insurance. Methamphetamine addiction is a serious condition that requires and deserves treatment. No one should be turned away from seeking help for methamphetamine addiction treatment for any reason, especially because of a lack of funds.
Health insurers and group health plans are required by law to provide the same level of benefits for mental and substance use treatment and services as they do for medical and surgical care. Thanks to federal laws such as the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 and the Affordable Care Act, substance abuse is included in coverage on an insurance policy. Levels of coverage differ depending on the policy.
Treatment SpringBoard Arizona
Treating a methamphetamine addiction can seem like an insurmountable endeavor, but you do not have to travel the path alone. Here at SpringBoard Arizona, we are available to start you on your road to recovery with an evaluation to help you find a plan of action to get started right away. You can be free from the grip of this devastating drug. We can help you discover life-long success from this addiction.
SpringBoard Arizona offers a wide variety of treatment options to tailor to the individual needs of every unique situation. The clinical team of licensed professionals delivers high-quality, compassionate care to see each individual through their path to recovery.
If you have questions about meth addiction treatment in Phoenix, call us today. We are ready and available to help you.