Why Do I Keep Using Meth? Ways to Stay Clean

You’ve gone through recovery, and things are starting to fall back into place. But for one reason or the other, you slip and end up using meth. So, you start over again, only to find yourself in what feels like square one – using meth, yet again.

So, now, you can’t help but wonder why this is happening. Why you keep using meth despite your desire and effort to quit. Well, if it’s any consolation, you are not alone.

Many people who struggle with meth addiction end up relapsing even after rehabilitation. According to the National Institute of Drug Use, 40 to 60% of people in recovery end up relapsing.

After a relapse, you may experience feelings of regret or shame. You may also feel like throwing in the towel and giving into your addiction instead of fighting the desire to use. Depending on how long you’ve been using, you may suffer from meth mouth and this can also worsen your feelings of shame.

While it’s devastating, you should know that relapse doesn’t mean you are a failure. It doesn’t mean the rehab you underwent was unsuccessful or negate your previous efforts to stay clean. But it also doesn’t mean you should take advantage of the situation and continue using.

Why does relapse happen?

Your relapse has to do with neural pathways. A pathway forms when you do something right. A pathway also forms when you do something wrong, like use crystal meth.

Human beings build habits this way, both good and bad. So, the reason you keep using meth is that you’re likely going to slip back into existing neural pathways. Let’s break this down further.

Causes of relapse

Studies show that the initial target of highly addictive drugs like meth is the brain’s reward circuit. The reward circuit registers essential experiences and events and their adaptive value. Then it provides incentives for actions.

This reward process triggers the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine, a feel-good hormone that tells the brain to do it again. When used habitually, meth depletes the supply of dopamine and interferes with the feedback between different brain parts that coordinate desires with expectations and priorities.

But these changes are not necessarily the problem. Quitting meth use temporarily can be easy. You can go for days, weeks, months, or even years without meth. What makes permanent recovery challenging is a drug-induced change that creates lasting memories.

Your brain already knows the rewarding experience that comes from drug use. After a period of use, your environment becomes marked with cues or reminders of the reward. This learning is referred to as behavioral conditioning. And since methamphetamine addiction weakens your self-control and ability to make the right decision, you’re likely to keep using even when you know that a reward isn’t coming.

As you’ve learned from support groups like Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholic Anonymous, it’s the first drink that gets you drunk. So, a small dose of crystal meth serves as an effective cue. But places, things, and people, too, can be cues associated with meth.

An animal struggling with substance abuse will slip back to using when it goes back to the cage where it first developed the addiction. For people, triggers could be environment, the sight of paraphernalia, mental health issues, peers and so on.

Withdrawal symptoms are also a common reason many methamphetamine users relapse. Symptoms like anxiety, fatigue, sleepiness, depression, psychosis, meth cravings, etc., may linger on for weeks or months, causing relapse.

Getting back on the road to recovery

Irrespective of how committed you are to lifelong sobriety or how diligently you pursue recovery, there’s a chance of relapse. The National Institutes of Health study notes that about 40-60% relapse within a month or more of treatment. Another 70 -90% will relapse at least once.

But the good news is that the risk diminishes with time. Extended abstinence does predict long-term recovery, according to an eight-year study on nearly 1200 addicts. In fact, if you can make it to five years of sobriety, then your chance of relapse is less than 15%.

Ways to stay clean

Get help from a reputable addiction treatment center

Recovery for meth addiction needs a holistic meth treatment plan that consists of detox, therapy, and counseling. Depending on the circumstances recovery may also include medical advice. Meth is one of the hardest drugs to overcome. But treatment facilities in central Texas exist to help people like you regain control over their lives.

Such facilities will also address underlying issues that cause the relapse. For instance, they may offer family therapy that helps your family members to understand that relapse is not a sign of weakness or lack of morals. They will also offer mental health services to address psychological issues that may cause relapse.

Know the triggers of relapse and avoid them

Understanding the triggers of relapse and having a plan for those triggers are the first steps toward prevention. Triggers include things like:

 

Create new habits

Old habits will most certainly lead you back to addiction. So, you want to come up with new ones that will help you grow into the person you want to become. You can try out a new hobby, take up a new class, exercise, etc. Trying a new activity gives you something to look forward to. It also reduces the cravings and withdrawal symptoms that may lead to relapse.

Like other chronic diseases such as asthma and heart disease, treatment for drug addiction isn’t a cure. It only allows you to counteract the disruptive effects of addiction on your brain and behavior and regain control of your life. But with these tips, you should be able to manage your addiction and relapse problems successfully.

Why is Meth so Hard to Quit?

Methamphetamine, speed, ice, or crystal meth is hard to quit simply because it is one of the most addictive drugs known to exist. In the 1990’s and early 2000’s methamphetamine was a major problem in Texas and across the whole nation because the ingredients were relatively easy to obtain at your local, street corner drug stores. The availability of ephedrine and other cold medications used to manufacture meth was at a high point. Then, between 2005-2006, the United States Federal Government began regulating the cold medicines used to manufacture meth. This created a decrease in meth production, coupled with a decrease in social indicators of misuse and abuse for the drug.

This decline in drug abuse indicators for meth continued until fairly recently. Methamphetamine has made quite the comeback, especially in southern and western states, partially due to the influence of the Mexican drug cartels. This new methamphetamine epidemic has been overshadowed by the constant media headlines of the opioid epidemic. While many politicians, governing agencies and the news media are focused on heroin and prescription pain killer overdose deaths, meth is silently killing thousands of Americans every year. Sadly, it appears only to be getting worse.

Methamphetamine is incredibly addictive, which makes meth hard to quit.

With the US crackdown on meth labs in the early 2000’s, we have a new precursor to methamphetamine manufacture known as phenyl-2-propanoe (P2P). This is what the Mexican drug cartels use in meth production that makes their versions so much more potent. The increase in meth potency from south of the border also makes the substance much, much more addictive. The intoxicating effects of Mexican meth is far greater that what we saw just a decade ago coming from American meth labs. The potency alone contributes to substance abuse and addiction at a far higher rate than we’ve seen in the past.

In Houston, Texas, the presence of methamphetamine is at an all time high, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Meth lab seizures in Texas are virtually non-existent, however as the majority of the drug seizures in the United States can be traced back to Mexico. Meth from Mexico is typically transported to the US in liquid form. The liquid methamphetamine is smuggled into the US in modified gas tanks. This liquid meth is then converted into its typical crystal form at conversion labs here in the US. This is commonly a much more potent form of the drug than we’ve seen in the past. Lab testing in 2007 showed an average meth purity level of 39 percent. Today, meth found on the streets in the US typically tests around a level of 93 percent purity.

drug-addiction-recovery-program-outside-Houston-Texas

The greater availability and increased potency of meth, means more abuse and more drug overdoses.

Stimulant overdoses from cocaine and meth are the leading cause of drug overdose deaths in the state of Texas. Fentanyl overdose deaths are also spiking currently and many attribute this to the increase in stimulant overdoses. This is somewhat ironic, as fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, which is quite the opposite of a stimulant. However, drug dealers in Texas will order the drug from China and mix it in with their supply of cocaine, methamphetamine or counterfeit prescription pills. No one is completely certain as to why drug dealers mix fentanyl with drugs that are supposed to have the exact opposite effect, but it may be to increase the perceived potency of their drugs, or it might even be entirely accidental. Some drug labs or pill mills (which Houston is notoriously known for), may manufacture or cut different drugs with the same lab equipment, which can lead to unintentional cross-contamination of drugs. Fentanyl is so deadly that just a dose the size of 3 grains of salt is enough to kill an average human being.

Houston-Texas-Drug-Overdose-Statistics

Many who abuse methamphetamine are also known to use other substances as well. The Chicago Tribune recently ran a story about dual addiction, titled: “Meth in the morning, heroin at night”. Across the nation, meth use is on the rise and many experts are saying the opioid epidemic has given crystal meth a resurgence. Opioid users who admit to using meth as well has gone up from 19% in 2011 to 34% in 2018. This evidence suggests that as doctors began to cut back on writing prescriptions for opioids, that many users began to seek street drugs like meth and heroin.

For others, methamphetamine and opioids can offer a type of synergistic high. The two types of drugs in combination can sort of balance each other out, making it seem that the user is able to function normally. In the past, the term “speedball” (which was a mix of heroin and cocaine) was used to describe the balancing of two, seemingly opposite drugs. This combination has been deadly, killing many people, including notable celebrities such as: John Belushi, Chris Farley, Ken Caminiti, Mitch Hedberg, Chris Kelly and Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

In theory, the meth combats the opioid’s drowsiness, while the opioid balances out the erratic, spastic “tweakiness” of the methamphetamine. Many people who abuse any type of drug end up “chasing the dragon” trying to feel “normal” again. For some people, their “normal” is constantly changing. This happens as their body’s tolerance to the drugs they’re using fluctuates, or the potency or types of drugs they are currently using can change rapidly as well. This is a dangerous balancing act, one that has led many people to dangerous and deadly consequences.

Meth is a drug that is very hard to quit. The crisis at the US-Mexico border has helped create a meth-overdose epidemic.                  

While the opioid crisis appears to be slowing-down, a new meth-fueled crisis is poised to take its place. It is estimated that 774,000 Americans used methamphetamine in 2017. When US lawmakers cracked-down on the manufacture of meth in the mid-2000’s, it worked. That is, until the Mexican drug cartels filled-in the gap. Now meth is available in virtually every community across the United States. While it is extremely important to keep focusing efforts on combating the opioid epidemic, we should be looking at ways to help people who need treatment for an addiction. This act alone would cut down on the demand for these dangerous drugs, which is the first step towards truly combating the problem.

If you or someone you know needs help with a substance abuse problem, please don’t hesitate to call us at More Than Rehab. We are available 24/7 to help or your loved one create the foundation to live a better life. We offer the best in evidence-based addiction treatment in the greater Houston area. Please don’t wait any longer, call us right away:

(888) 249-2191