Methamphetamine is a synthetic compound that stimulates the release of dopamine and norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter closely related to adrenaline. The effects of meth are much more prolonged than the short burst of dopamine and norepinephrine that is released when neurons fire on their own.
Like all amphetamines (“speed” drugs), meth creates feelings of euphoria, intensity, and power, along with the drive to do whatever activity the user wishes to engage in. If going to clubs and dancing is your thing, then while you’re high on meth you’re up all night, feeling energized by every thump of music—at least until you start coming down.
Meth is sold legally (with a prescription) in tablet form as Desoxyn, FDA approved for the treatment of ADHD and exogenous obesity. More often, though, it’s cooked in makeshift labs and sold illegally as a powder or rock. The powder form can be snorted, smoked, eaten, dissolved in a drink, or heated and injected. The rock form is usually smoked, though it can also be heated and injected. Widely available in the 1960s, meth faded in the 1970s as controls were tightened on legal production, and cocaine took its place as the new party drug of choice. Crack cocaine dominated the 1980s, along with designer drugs like MDMA (Ecstasy), but in the early 1990s meth made a comeback, and it seems to be here to stay. According to the World Health Organization, meth is now the second most widely abused illicit drug worldwide, trailing only marijuana.
What is the number-one enemy of recovery? Many people say drugs, alcohol or the disease of addiction itself. Perhaps you’d point to unsupportive friends or a flawed health care system or a dysfunctional home life. However, there is a much loftier, much more conniving opponent threatening your sobriety: you.
Addicts are expert self-saboteurs. Addiction itself is, in some ways, an act of self-sabotage. Rather than dealing with uncomfortable feelings and finding workable solutions, addicts turn to drugs and alcohol, temporarily escaping one problem only to create bigger ones. Here are a few ways addicts continue to get in the way of their sobriety, even years into recovery:
Inside an addict’s mind runs a soundtrack of self-attacks: “I’ll never get it right.” “I don’t deserve to be happy.” Many addicts suffer from a core belief that they aren’t good enough or don’t deserve anything but the misery they’ve known in active addiction. They accept self-judgments and abuse they would never tolerate from other people.
Often unbeknownst to the addict, these thoughts translate into feelings of hopelessness and defeat, leaving the addict feeling desperate for a high and powerless to resist. Recognizing and intervening in this ongoing negative commentary and substituting more accurate thinking is an essential skill in recovery.
Your grandfather was an alcoholic. You were emotionally mistreated as a child. And your dysfunctional family continues to complicate your life on a daily basis. With this many risk factors, the odds of avoiding addiction certainly aren’t the most favorable. While you can’t control your genes, your past or the family you come from, getting hooked on drugs is not inevitable. Here are a few simple behaviors you can change now to help avoid a lifetime battle with addiction:
The only surefire way to avoid drug or alcohol addiction is to refrain from experimenting in the first place. However, as we know from the failed War on Drugs, this “just say no” approach simply doesn’t work. People are curious, bored and in pain, and have always looked to drugs and alcohol to feel better.
Still, understanding your personal risk factors can help you make an educated decision. Do you have a family history of drug or alcohol problems? Have you struggled with depression, anxiety or other mental health issues? If you’re at high risk for addiction, don’t take the chance – invest your energies in finding healthier ways to feel good.