Methamphetamine is a highly addictive stimulant drug that can cause intense withdrawal symptoms, overdose and death, and even mental illness, including hallucinations and paranoia. While prevalence of this drug decreased after crackdowns on domestic production in the early 2000s, the problem is growing again around the United States, including in Florida. This is largely because Mexican drug labs can make meth cheaply and quickly.
Meth Addiction: Making a Comeback in the US
Methamphetamine is a type of amphetamine, and it is a very addictive and illegal stimulant that can quickly lead to an overdose. The most infamous form of meth is crystal meth, which resembles glass fragments; however, there are also pill or powder versions of methamphetamines designed to resemble prescription stimulants.
The major difference between illegal meth and prescription amphetamines is the dose. With illegal drugs, you cannot be sure what you are taking or how much, which increases the risk of overdose, death, or long-term physical harm.
Since meth is a stimulant, it temporarily increases mental alertness and physical energy. This can feel good at first, as it creates a euphoric high because the brain’s reward center has been triggered. However, meth abuse can also cause paranoia, anxiety, insomnia, and similar negative, painful feelings.
As the high wears off, you might feel sluggish, exhausted, and depressed. These feelings might also lead to addiction because someone struggling with meth addiction will soon take more of the drug in order to avoid feeling down.
Long term, meth abuse can change the brain’s dopamine-releasing system, which is associated with the reward center. This can reduce memory, coordination, and learning ability, especially verbal learning.
The drug is also associated with higher risk of infectious diseases, especially from needle-sharing. There is a dental condition called meth mouth, in which teeth are damaged both from grinding and clenching during highs, and also from eating too much sugar and struggling with regular hygiene.
Meth is a very harmful drug. It is important to get evidence-based treatment to overcome addiction to this substance.
How Is Meth Addiction Treated?
Treatments for meth addiction focus on behavioral therapy. Although there are some potential medication-based treatments being developed, these are still in preliminary studies and have not been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as part of evidence-based treatment.
Behavioral therapy that works best for meth addiction includes:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. This is a form of talk therapy that was developed to help people struggling with alcohol use disorder overcome their addiction, but it has since been applied to a wide range of mental and behavioral conditions, including meth addiction. This approach to therapy helps participants recognize triggers and reactionary behaviors, so they can notice when they experience a trigger, stressor, or craving, and avoid relapsing back into patterns of substance abuse.
- Motivational incentives. Stimulating the reward center in the brain is a way to learn new things. Motivational incentive therapy provides rewards like vouchers or small prizes to people working to overcome addiction to stimulate the brain’s reward system in a beneficial way, and encourage ongoing abstinence and recovery. This type of therapy seems to work especially well for people recovering from stimulant addiction.
What Is the Scope of Meth Addiction in the US?
Although meth use tapered away after a crackdown on pseudoephedrine-based medicines that were sold over the counter, high-grade meth is now becoming a problem in the United States. This is because clandestine labs in Mexico can manufacture it cheaply and easily.
Between 2015 and 2018, 1.6 million American adults (ages 18 and older) reported past-year meth use; 52.9 percent of those individuals reported a meth use disorder.
In 2017, about 15 percent of all drug overdose deaths in the US involved meth (about 50 percent of those overdose deaths also involved an opioid drug, usually fentanyl, which may have been mixed into meth without the user’s knowledge).
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), meth was the fourth most common cause of drug overdose deaths in America in 2016, leading to 6,762 fatalities. Of those victims, 327 were in Florida, which represented a 109 percent increase from 2015. By 2017, Florida overdose deaths related to meth rose to 858, a 38 percent increase from 2016.
The Current State of Meth
The nature of meth itself has changed. The first wave of meth addiction in the US occurred in the early 2000s, with most people making the drug domestically in meth labs. After a successful nationwide crackdown, though, meth production was outsourced to Mexico. Now, fine powdered or crystal meth is imported across the border.
Research shows that meth abuse has steadily increased all across Florida since 2011, rising 312 percent from that year to 2016, and rising 55 percent between 2015 and 2016. In 2016 alone, there were 3,902 admissions to substance abuse treatment in the Sunshine State for methamphetamines, which was about 4 percent of admissions. Broward County admissions for meth addiction were 1.3 percent of total treatment admissions in Florida.
For the most part, cities in Broward County, including Pompano Beach, are less affected by meth addiction compared to other parts of Florida. Meth addiction predominantly affects the Orlando area and the Panhandle; however, abuse of this drug still impacts many people around Pompano Beach.
Evidence-Based Meth Addiction Treatment in Pompano Beach
Boca Recovery Center’s Pompano Beach location specializes in residential rehabilitation programs, which include both group and individual counseling.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is one of the go-to approaches to evidence-based care provided at Boca Recovery. The Pompano Beach program offers access to counselors who are well-trained in CBT and a related type of talk therapy, called Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT).
Both approaches to counseling can help you recognize the stresses or triggers in your life that might lead to a relapse after you have detoxed, and help you find healthy ways of managing these problems.
Other Support Services in Pompano Beach, Florida
Boca Recovery Center is one of the leading addiction treatment providers in Florida, but if you need additional support, or you want ongoing support after our residential program at Pompano Beach, here are some options that can help you:
- Broward Addiction Recovery Center (BARC): BARC provides a wide range of detox and rehabilitation services, both outpatient and inpatient. This nonprofit organization is supported by Broward County.
- Behavioral Health Services at Broward Health: Pompano Beach residents can benefit from the two branches of Broward Health near them, which offer counseling services for behavioral and mental health needs, including substance abuse, mental illness, and co-occurring conditions.
- Narcotics Anonymous of Pompano Beach: There are several meetings of Narcotics Anonymous (NA) in and around Pompano Beach. This program is based on the internationally recognized Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), which offers free mutual support group meetings several times a week in most places around the world. NA can offer support for those overcoming non-alcohol-related addictions, including to methamphetamine.
- Florida State Social Service Department: If you want help coordinating care for you or a loved one in Pompano Beach, contact the Florida State Social Service Department in Pompano Beach. They can help you find additional groups or counseling services.
- Methamphetamine. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
- What Is Methamphetamine? May 2019). National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
- Combination Treatment for Methamphetamine Use Disorder Shows Promise in NIH Study. (January 2021). National Institutes of Health (NIH).
- What Treatments Are Effective for People Who Misuse Methamphetamine? (October 2019). National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
- Patterns and Characteristics of Methamphetamine Use Among Adults — United States, 2015–2018. (March 2020). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- Meth Is More Potent and Plentiful Than Ever in Florida – and Men Who Have Sex With Men Are Poised to Take the Hardest Hit. (February 2019). Orlando Weekly.
- As Florida Grapples With Opioid Addiction, Meth Emerges as a Threat in Panhandle. (September 2019). WFSU Local News.
- Drug Abuse Trend in Broward County, Florida Annual Report: June 2017. (June 2017). United Way of Broward County.