Methamphetamine: 6 tips to leave Ice behind
We share our tips to help you change how methamphetamine impacts your life.
Methamphetamine: What is it and what are the impacts?
Ice, meth, shard, shabu, tina — in Australia we know methamphetamine by many names. Meth is common throughout Australia but can be very addictive and extremely damaging to people that get stuck in the cycle of using it.
Meth’s primary appeal is that it releases all of our ‘feel good’ hormones — dopamine, serotonin and noradrenaline — which creates a euphoric high. The high meth provides is difficult to match with any natural activity. That’s what makes it so highly addictive. People keep going back for more.
The catch is that you rarely experience the euphoria of the first high ever again. There just isn’t enough dopamine left for the brain to feel that good again. Many people find themselves chasing the high of the first time, and end up needing more of the drug just to feel ‘normal’ again. It’s like chasing a win at the pokies: the possibility is there but the statistics are against you. There’s not a single ‘type’ of person who becomes dependent on methamphetamines. We speak to all kinds of people from all kinds of backgrounds. Many have family and friends who have no idea they are struggling.
People find themselves on a slippery slope and can’t see the problem until it has already become difficult to manage. By the time they realise they’re struggling, they are already physically and psychologically addicted.
The ‘comedown’ after using meth is certainly not pleasant. Some people experience insomnia, irritability and short temper, while others get really anxious and start feeling super paranoid. On the other hand, some people feel exhausted and depressed and can’t eat. The symptoms really do depend on the individual, but noticing them can be taken as an opportunity to look at what if I don’t want to do this anymore? Treatment is available to help people with the withdrawal process and manage the urge to use more.
Treatment: New directions
Treatment is also evolving. There are ongoing medical and pharmaceutical innovations being explored throughout Australia. Trials are frequently recruiting participants. Here are some trials currently taking place around Australia:
- Ready2Change M: Evaluating telephone-based treatment for people with mild to moderate methamphetamine use. (Victoria)
- mOXY: Trialling the impact of medication during withdrawal and early recovery in a women’s residential setting. (Victoria)
- MASK: Examining the potential of medications for young people with methamphetamine use. (Victoria)
- TINA: Trialling a medication as a pharmacotherapy (substitute medication) for people with dependence. (National)
- OLAM: A study that examines medical support of withdrawal from methamphetamine.
Human beings are a strong species. We can put up with a hell of a lot of pain and discomfort. Endurance is one of the key qualities that have helped us to thrive as a species. Withdrawing from methamphetamines and resisting the urge to use again tests that endurance. It’s a challenge we can certainly overcome. Knowing what to expect and seeking support can help you succeed.
Our 6 tips for change
If you’re thinking of changing how methamphetamine impacts your life, there are some things you can do to prepare.
- Reach out for support. Let someone you trust know what you’re going through — a loved one like a family member, friend or partner, or a professional like a GP, counsellor, or support worker. You don’t need to do this alone.
- Seek professional assistance for withdrawal. Withdrawal from meth can be dangerous and you shouldn’t go through it alone. A doctor or trained health worker can help you figure out how to withdraw safely.
- Consider changing your environment. Sometimes entering a detox or rehab facility can help give you the space you need to change. Routine often plays a huge role in drug use, so disrupting your daily routine can be the key to change. There are government-funded free facilities available in every state, but many people choose to enter a private facility which can cost as places are typically available sooner.
The expense can be intimidating, but consider: what is the long-term cost of continuing the cycle of methamphetamine use? Many people who can afford it choose to make the investment in their health and happiness. The fees may also not be as expensive as you imagine, and many are supported by private health insurance. Get in touch with us to find out more about finding a place that works for you.
- Believe that you can get better. When we’re struggling we often feel like we’ll never get out of the hole. Like our situation is hopeless and we’re not strong enough to make the changes we want to see in our lives. We want you to know that you can do this. People do recover from methamphetamine use, all the time, but we often don’t hear their stories because stigma leads them to keep it to themselves. Everybody’s story is different. Some people’s recovery journey is short and sharp, while for others it can take time. Relapses are often part of the process of recovery. Whether this is your first attempt at change or you’re getting back on the horse, it’s possible for you to achieve the changes you desire.
- Take a first step. This is the most important part. Today could be the day — it’s as good a day as any. To make progress you first need to make a start and start heading in the direction you want to take — heading towards feeling like yourself again and getting back to all that life has to offer. Getting back to a life without the extreme highs and lows. You can regain a life of normalcy, with peaceful rhythms of eating, sleeping, working, chores. You can also find those natural highs again like hearing your kids giggle at one of your jokes, hugging your partner or running along the beach and seeing the sunset – you get the idea. Your life can belong to you again.
The first step is different for everybody, and that’s okay. Choose something and do it — even if it’s just writing down a list of your goals and how you plan to achieve them.
- Chat with us at Counselling Online. Reaching out to us is a great first step. We can talk over what’s been happening and help you strategise what you should do next. If you’d like a referral to rehab or medical services, we can help with that, or we can just talk. Whatever you need, we’re here 24/7 — free and confidential. Get in touch.