Methamphetamine in any form is extremely addictive and can be difficult to overcome, even with treatment. There are inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment options for meth addicts that can be successful for a happier, healthier life.
Treatment for Meth
How do I get off this drug?
The first step is to reach out for help. Whether it is a friend or family member, reaching out for help is the biggest first step. The best thing to do then is talk to an addiction specialist and that can help find a rehabilitation center, whether it be inpatient or outpatient care.
What are my options for treatment?
The most effective treatments for meth addiction are programs that include behavioral therapies like cognitive-behavioral and contingency-management interventions. An example is the Matrix Model, which is a 16-week comprehensive behavioral treatment that combines behavioral therapy, family education, 12-step support, individual counseling, drug testing, and encouragement for non-drug related-activities.
Contingency management interventions, which have shown to be effective, offer tangible incentives in exchange for engaging in treatment and maintaining abstinence from the drug. There is also a program called Motivational Incentives for Enhancing Drug Abuse Recovery (MIEDAR), which is also incentive-based and has demonstrated positive results in meth abusers through the National Drug Abuse Clinical Trials Network.
A drug called AV411, or ibudilast, suppresses the neuroinflammatory actions of glial cells and has been shown to inhibit methamphetamine self-administration in rats. This study is now a fast-tracked clinical trial in order to establish safety and effectiveness in humans. There is also a clinical study being conducted to establish the safety of an antimethamphetamine monoclonal antibody known as mAb7F9 in human meth users.
Does treatment work?
Treatment can be successful in some patients, however, meth is a very powerful drug and difficult to recover from. It is important to consult an addiction specialist in order to determine the best treatment option. The most success rate from addiction comes from inpatient facilities that offer medically assisted drug recovery as well as behavioral and cognitive therapies to aid in the recovery process.
Withdrawal and Detox
What is withdrawal?
Because meth use prompts changes to the nervous system and the brain, the user’s body adjusts to these changes over time as the drug is abused. Eventually, the brain and the nervous system becomes dependent on meth in order to function. If the user suddenly stops taking the drug, the body goes through withdrawal to readjust. These symptoms can be moderate to severe and can also be fatal if left untreated or monitored by a medical professional.
What are symptoms of withdrawal?
There are several types of symptoms of withdrawal from meth usage. Acute symptoms are often treated with medications to help relieve any discomfort. Hyperactivity, agitation, and psychotic symptoms can be treated with a dopamine-blocking medication like haloperidol, which is an antipsychotic that decreases any abnormal excitement in the brain. Benzodiazepine drugs like diazepam, or Valium, can be used to relieve anxiety, muscle spasms, seizures, and other psychiatric effects from withdrawal.
Symptoms of meth withdrawal can include:
- Intense craving for methamphetamines
- Sleep disturbances
- Shaking and tremors
- Fever, chills, and excessive sweating
- Nausea or vomiting
- Heart problems
- Respiratory failure
- Extreme fatigue
- Increased appetite
- Severe depression
- Mood swings
- Inability to concentrate
- Body aches
Because some withdrawal symptoms can be so complicated or severe, it is important to get professional help. There are also some addicts who use other drugs along with meth, known as polydrug use, which can be a more complicated withdrawal process.
How long does withdrawal last?
Withdrawal symptoms will typically will begin within a day or two of quitting usage of meth and can last up to three months. A number of different factors will depend on the length of withdrawal symptoms such as:
- Method of abuse (snorting, swallowing, smoking, injecting, etc.)
- Overall health
- Severity of addiction
- Duration of addiction
Experiences will vary; however, the harshest symptoms will be during the first month. After that, depressions and cravings might persist, but withdrawal symptoms will be milder.
Why does it happen?
Withdrawal happens because the body is craving meth and is used to functioning with the drug, however, when a patient stops taking the drug, the body does not know how to react. This is where withdrawal symptoms come in as a way for a person’s body to communicate the need for the drug.
Is it dangerous?
The process can be dangerous due to risk of serious withdrawal symptoms; however, with professional care at an in-patient facility, patients can be monitored and cared for as needed.
Will it hurt?
Because every patient is different, it is possible that detoxification will hurt, however, medication can be given to patients to help ease this process.
What medications are used during medical detox for this drug?
Currently there are no medications that specifically help with meth detoxification, however, there are studies being conducted to test the efficacy of certain medications for the purpose of meth detox. One drug is Bupropion, which is currently used to treat depression and smoking cessation.
Inpatient Drug Rehab
What is it like in rehab?
Inpatient rehab offers the greatest chance of having a successful recovery. Residential treatment centers offer personalized treatment to meet the patient’s specific needs and usually offer medically assisted detox as part of the treatment plan.
How long will it take?
The rehabilitation process can take a few weeks to about a year depending on the patient’s experience. Since some use drugs more heavily than others and some patients have poly-drug abuse problems or other conditions such as mental illness, it varies from patient to patient.
Typically, there are options to stay at least a month at an inpatient center and then extend the stay if needed. This can be 30-day, 60-day, or 90-day stays. In some cases, patients will stay longer depending on what they need.
What kind’s treatments are effective for this drug?
Inpatient treatments give patients of meth addiction the best chance of having a successful recovery. Residential treatment programs offer personalized treatment that is catered to the patients’ needs. Many of these centers offer medically assisted detoxification as part of the rehabilitation process that can be extremely beneficial for recovery.
Outpatient treatment is also an option for patients addicted to meth, which includes medical detox; however, it is important to consult a medical professional and addiction treatment specialist to determine the best treatment option for the patient.
Ongoing Treatment Options and relapse prevention
What is outpatient treatment?
Outpatient treatment can be an option for some meth addicts that can include outpatient medical detox. Every person’s situation will be different and it’s important to consult a medical professional or a treatment specialist to help decide what option is best.
Once I stop using, will I relapse?
Although it is always possible for a patient to relapse, with a personalized treatment program and positive support system, along with continued behavioral therapy, it can be possible for patients to remain clean and drug-free for the remainder of their lives.
Can I afford treatment?
Treatment can be extremely expensive, especially inpatient treatment facilities, however, with the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) rehabilitation treatment is much more affordable. Many treatment centers also have payment plan options for what insurance does not cover.
How can I stay sober?
Meth addiction is one of the most difficult addictions to overcome. Relapse usually occurs between seven to ten months after rehabilitation program completion and occurs in about 80 percent of recovering addicts. Things to remember while trying to stay sober include:
- Making a drug-free life a priority
- Stay away from people, places, and activities that were formally associated with drug abuse
- Have a plan and know who to call or where to go if someone is tempted to use drugs again
- Exercise, eat right, and live a healthy life
- Take care of spiritual self
- Make new friends in recovery to help have a different kind of support system
- Get involved with aftercare treatment, which can include group therapy, counseling, 12-step meetings, or outpatient addiction centers
- Never hold an illicit substance
- Create a life plan to help focus on an addiction-free life, including goals, helping others, and the future
- Celebrate accomplishments no matter how large or small
What are the options after rehab?
After treatment, patients will be given the tools they need to live a sober life. Many meth rehab centers offer follow-up care. Recovering addicts can attend individual therapy or group therapy sessions and have a strong support system if they are tempted to start using drugs again.
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Delta Medical Center. (2016). Methamphetamine Abuse Side Effects, Addiction Signs & Symptoms. Retrieved from Delta Medical Center: http://www.deltamedcenter.com/addiction/meth/effects-symptoms-signs
Lauren Brande, M. (2016). Crystal Meth Abuse. Retrieved from DrugAbuse.com: http://drugabuse.com/library/crystal-meth-abuse/
Michael’s House. (2011, February 28). 10 Steps to Avoid Crystal Meth Addiction Relapse. Retrieved from Michael’s House: http://www.michaelshouse.com/blog/10-steps-to-avoid-crystal-meth-addiction-relapse/
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2013, September). What treatments are effective for people who abuse methamphetamine? Retrieved from National Institute on Drug Abuse: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/methamphetamine/what-treatments-are-effective-methamphetamine-abusers
Rehabs.com. (2016). Choosing the Best Inpatient Methamphetamine Rehab Center. Retrieved from Rehabs.com: http://www.rehabs.com/about/methamphetamine-rehab/