What is Amphetamine / Methamphetamine?

Amphetamine is the name given to the active chemical component in drugs used in the treatment of attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), narcolepsy and obesity. Methamphetamine is a type of amphetamine. All of the drugs with this chemical are called amphetamine group drugs or amphetamines for short. The first of the amphetamines, phenylisopropylamine, was synthesized in 1887 and was sold to the public for the first time in 1933 under the name Benzedrine. Due to the stimulant effects of amphetamines, its use increased in the Second World War, but after its addictive effects were noticed, it began to be sold in a controlled manner.

Dexoamphetamine, methylphenidate, and methamphetamine are commonly known amphetamines. It is known to be used by long-distance drivers, students and people who need to complete their time-limited jobs on time due to its stimulating and enjoyable effects.

Methamphetamine (commonly known as meth, crystal, fire-ice) among amphetamine varieties has been one of the stimulant substances that have been observed to increase in use in recent years due to the increased media attention and its accessibility. Methamphetamine looks like a colourless, odourless, opaque block of ice. It has a red colour and smell of cat urine due to the phosphate released during its production. It can be used by inhalation (for example, by foil, pipe, ampoule cigarette, snorting), intravenously or by taking it orally. Effects such as alertness, decreased need to eat, increased energy, enthusiasm or anxiety, anger, fear, aggression and suspiciousness appear shortly after the use of amphetamines. The effect lasts between 8 and 24 hours after methamphetamine is used. After use, an increase in blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate and body temperature is observed. It can have effects such as kidney failure and heart attack. In long-term use, excessive weight loss, deterioration in dental health (meth mouth), skin sores due to intense itching, memory loss, hallucinations, scepticism delusions, violent behaviours, changes in brain structure and addiction may occur. Although some of the changes in the structure of the brain can heal over time, some are permanent. Similarly, hallucinations and/or scepticism, damage delusions may occur due to Amphetamine / Methamphetamine use and these may become permanent over time.

To be considered a methamphetamine or amphetamine addict, at least 3 of the following must occur over a 1-year period and result in a significant decline in functioning:

  • Greater than desired or prolonged use.
  • Unwillingness or unsuccessful efforts to quit or control the substance.
  • Spending a lot of time on activities necessary to obtain, use, or recover from the effects of the substance.
  • A strong craving or feeling forced to use the substance.
  • Failure to fulfil responsibilities as a result of repeated use.
  • Continuing use despite adverse effects.
  • Cessation or reduction of daily activities due to use.
  • Continuing to use even in potentially dangerous situations.
  • Continuing to use despite known negative physical or mental effects.
  • Developed tolerance to the substance.
  • Increased substance requirement for the desired effect to occur.
  • A state of diminishing effect as a result of continuous use of the same amount of substance.
  • Withdrawal symptoms (Depression, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, weakness, fatigue, nightmares, sweating, stomach cramps, hunger, increased appetite, excessive sleep or insomnia, and depression).

There is no significant time between the use of methamphetamine and the development of addiction. Factors such as the mode of use, the purity of methamphetamine, the physical and psychological state of the person, and the interaction of these factors can cause a person to become addicted faster or more slowly.

What are the Risk Factors in the Formation of Amphetamine / Methamphetamine Addiction?

As with many psychiatric disorders, a number of risk factors may increase the likelihood of addiction in the development of methamphetamine and amphetamine addiction. Although individuals may have all of these risk factors, addiction may not develop, and similarly, individuals with none of these risk factors may develop Amphetamine / Methamphetamine use disorder. These risk factors are:

  • Starting age. The earlier the person starts using Amphetamine / Methamphetamine, the earlier and more severe the addiction develops.
  • Genetic factors. Addiction, like many diseases, is a disease in which genetic transmission plays an important role. Having a family member with a substance use disorder diagnosis is one of the factors that increase the risk of developing addiction.
  • Environmental factors. If substance use is common, acceptable and/or supported in the individual’s environment and the substance is easily available, the risk of becoming addicted is higher.
  • Personality characteristics. The risk of developing addiction is higher in individuals who have impulse control problems, tend to engage in risky behaviours, have difficulty in establishing close relationships, are anxious in their interaction with people, have problems in emotion-thought and behavioural control, and have thought and behaviour patterns dominated by obsessions and compulsions.
  • Concomitant psychiatric disorders. Addiction is more likely to develop if the person is struggling with pre-existing psychiatric conditions.

How to Tell if a Person is Addicted to Amphetamine / Methamphetamine?

People using methamphetamine and amphetamines may experience alertness, increased energy, decreased appetite, anger outbursts, restlessness, scepticism, delusions and hallucinations, teeth grinding, pupil dilation, sweating, and palpitations. It can cause a longer-than-normal sleep state after being awakened more than normal. Depending on the use of methamphetamine, tooth decay occurs within an average of 1 year, and this phenomenon is called “meth mouth” among the people. At the same time, during the use of methamphetamine, wounds can be observed in various parts of the body due to intense itching of individuals, decreased blood circulation and weakened immune system. The presence of materials used for methamphetamine use (for example, foil, glass or metal pipes, spoons with burn marks, the outer parts of plastic pens, syringes, razors, balls of cotton or cigarette filters.) may also indicate that the person is using methamphetamine.

What are the Problems Caused by Amphetamine / Methamphetamine Addiction?

After the addiction to Amphetamine / Methamphetamine develops, almost all aspects of the addict’s life undergo a radical change. Brain imaging studies show that long-term methamphetamine and amphetamine use can cause impairments in areas of the brain associated with decision making, memory, pleasure, learning, attention, and impulse control. However, some studies indicate that Parkinson’s disease can be seen more frequently in people with methamphetamine addiction. Methamphetamine addiction can cause “meth mouth” and skin sores, as discussed in the previous sections. Delusions of scepticism and auditory and/or visual hallucinations that may occur due to methamphetamine and amphetamine use may become persistent and require long-term and often long-term treatments, which can be financially devastating. Individuals addicted to methamphetamine are more likely to commit violence and/or be involved in violent events due to the outbursts of anger they experience.

Violent behaviour, starting to sell drugs after running out of money to find a substance or committing a crime in order to find a substance, using or possessing a substance, driving a vehicle under the influence of methamphetamine that may be dangerous for life, health or property, and similar behaviours may lead the individual to deal with legal problems Amphetamine / Methamphetamine addiction also causes deterioration in interpersonal relationships. As an increasing amount of time, interest, and financial resources are diverted to finding and using methamphetamine, time spent with family and friends decreases. After a while, the individual’s interests will only focus on searching, finding and using substances, and all activities that are not related to the substance will no longer interest him. As a result, the person will enter into an unsustainable cycle in which nothing gives pleasure except substance use.

What are the Most Common Psychological Problems with Amphetamine / Methamphetamine Addiction?

The most common psychological problem associated with methamphetamine addiction is depression. It is known that approximately 40% of individuals using amphetamine / methamphetamine have a lifelong history of depression, intravenous methamphetamine users show more depressive symptoms compared to meth users by inhalation, and the person’s pleasure capacity decreases due to the decrease in dopamine level due to long-term amphetamine / methamphetamine use. Due to depression that occurs with methamphetamine addiction, people may experience decreased desire to start and continue any work, self-harm and suicidal thoughts.

Methamphetamine and amphetamine use may cause auditory/visual hallucinations and delusions. These symptoms may continue after methamphetamine use and may be permanent.

Amphetamine and methamphetamine addicts may have to deal with common anxiety disorders. Studies show that 25% of individuals with methamphetamine addiction still meet the criteria for generalized anxiety disorder 3 years after hospitalization. People with anxiety disorders and methamphetamine use disorders have a much higher hospitalization rate and lifetime suicide attempt rate than people with methamphetamine addiction only.

Studies have shown that children and adolescents diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) have a higher risk of developing methamphetamine addiction in the future compared to the general population. A study shows that the incidence of ADHD symptoms in methamphetamine users is 21%. This rate is 6% in individuals who do not use methamphetamine.

How to Treat Amphetamine / Methamphetamine Addiction in Turkey?

Methamphetamine and amphetamine addiction is a disease that progresses with improvement and slipping. Addiction is like diabetes or high blood pressure. It does not heal completely, but the patient can recover. As long as the person does not use methamphetamine or amphetamine, they are fine. However, when he starts using substances, addiction becomes a problem again.

Amphetamine / Methamphetamine addiction treatment at Moodist consists of several stages. The first step starts with detoxification. Detoxification; It is done for the withdrawal symptoms that occur in the person when the substance is withdrawn from the body. In the continuation of the detoxification treatment, drug therapy and individual psychotherapy tailored to the individual’s needs continue. Along with drug therapy, therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy, group therapies and motivational interviewing support the patient’s continuation of treatment.

Psychotherapy is a necessary and continuous treatment method in the treatment of substance addiction. The supportive relationship between the patient and the therapist enables patients to see themselves and their problems more clearly. It also helps them develop new coping strategies to deal with these problems.

Information for Persons with a Relative to Amphetamine / Methamphetamine Addiction

Treatment is a process of change and change takes time. It’s important to be patient and maintain your support. If a relative of yours has been treated for Amphetamine / Methamphetamine addiction and has been discharged;

  • Configure Time: Amphetamine / Methamphetamine use causes the person not to use his time well and to have free time. Thus, free time causes reuse. Help him create an event. Get him to do something with you.
  • Don’t take the responsibilities for him. Let him take responsibility for his actions and see the consequences by treating him like an adult. Assign tasks and support him to fulfil the tasks he receives and do not do the work he should do instead.
  • Lead Your Life: The person using amphetamine / methamphetamine often becomes a family problem. The fact that all family members are interested in the addicted person causes the person to get bored of excessive control and return to his old environment after a while. Take care of other family members, take time for yourself, and don’t always talk to him about addiction. Remember that if you neglect yourself, you cannot help him.
  • Change your living environment: In an environment where methamphetamine use is intense, the risk of encountering reminders is quite high. It is very important to consult with your loved one struggling with methamphetamine addiction before changing the environment.
  • Do not rush to change: Changing behaviour and habits takes time and is not easy, give it time to change.
  • Base your doubts on concrete data: Coming home late, spending his time away from you, sleeping for a long time after days of not sleeping, and scepticism Your relative with amphetamine / methamphetamine addiction may worry you. Get a urinalysis to detect substance use by agreeing with him at a time when you think he is not under the influence of drugs.
  • You also change: The family also needs to change like the dependent individual. To change:
    • Learn to control emotions.
    • Improve your communication skills.
    • Learn to say “no”.
  • Forget the past, focus on the future: It is useful to forget about past conflicts, or at least to postpone for the time being. If he has stopped using methamphetamine, it is a mistake to watch him as a criminal, to consider him a potential danger, to bring up the past often and blame him.

If your relative who is addicted to methamphetamine does not want to stop using it:

  • First, try to understand the person’s reasons for not quitting substance use.
  • Learn about the effects of methamphetamine and amphetamines and their Amphetamine / Methamphetamine dependent behaviour.
  • You should not take on his responsibilities and make him take responsibility for his behaviour like an adult.
  • If no solution works, you may have to corner the Amphetamine / Methamphetamine addicted individual by cutting their money or saying that you want them to leave the house. If this conversation is taking place during an argument and you are nervous, wait until you have calmed down and postpone the conversation to talk to your loved one before reacting abruptly.
  • It will take time to solve the problem, it is very important to be patient.

If your relative who is addicted to Amphetamine / Methamphetamine says that they can quit without seeking treatment:

  • Understand why he does not want to seek treatment.
  • Understand whether your goal is to reduce or quit substance use. Let him do it himself, on a plan.
  • Ask him to report a specific time, and if he does not reach the goal within that time, agree to seek professional help.
  • You can talk to a professional about Amphetamine/Methamphetamine addiction and act on his/her guidance. You can indicate that you want to see a professional for a general situation assessment.
  • You can limit the possibilities you provide to him.
  • State that it is his own responsibility whether he uses it or not, but calmly and decisively that you will withdraw your support if he uses it again.

There are some points that are important to pay attention to during your communication with the amphetamine / methamphetamine addicted individual. These:

  • Being open. Addiction loves secrecy, and secrecy promotes addiction. Hiding from others is a common behaviour and should be abandoned after a while.
  • To use “I language” Express your own feelings and thoughts. Instead of saying “You pissed me off” you can say “I’m mad at you”.
  • Do not judge, intimidate, or blame him when he speaks.
  • Listen as he speaks. Try to put yourself in his place.
  • Let him know that whatever happens, you will always be there for him.
  • Arguing doesn’t solve the problem, on the contrary, it makes it bigger. Talk to your loved one when you are calm and ready. Don’t put forward opinions about things you don’t know, and don’t try to talk to him when he’s not sober.
  • Set your limits. Set certain and clear rules in the family. Apply sanctions for non-compliance as neutrally as possible.
  • Offer options. When you want your addicted relative to do something, give him options instead of direct orders. If your relative chooses one of the options you offer, he will actually have made his own choice, so there will be no situation where he can blame you.

The information on this page has been prepared by the Moodist Psychiatry and Neurology Hospital Medical Team.

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