Meth Treatment & Rehab
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Meth Addiction Treatment (Rehab)
Methamphetamine, or meth, is very addictive and dangerous. It increases the brain’s levels of dopamine and serotonin. It can also cause an initial rush followed by a stimulating high.
When meth is in someone’s system, they can experience the following:
- An increase in energy
- Better focus
- Intense pleasure and excitement
- Increased libido
These reactions are what initially draw people to meth. However, they can quickly become addicted and depend on meth to function normally.
Side Effects of Meth
Meth can trigger an intense high but can also have severe side effects. These side effects include:
- Rapid heart rate
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased respiratory rate
- Elevated body temperature
- Aggression and violence
- Heart attack
Following a binge, meth users experience something called tweaking. It’s another term for meth withdrawal and lasts about 3 to 15 days.
Tweaking causes paranoia, irritability, and confusion. It can also cause a need to use the drug again.
Signs and Symptoms of Methamphetamine Addiction
If you or someone you know is addicted to meth, here are some signs you can look out for:
- Dilated pupils
- Facial tics
- Noticeable and sudden weight loss
- Skin sores
- Rapid eye movement
- Reduced appetite
- Burned fingers or lips
- Disrupted sleeping patterns
- Dental damage
- Poor hygiene habits
- Mood swings
- Extreme weight loss
Treatment Timeline for Meth Addiction
Treatment for meth addiction is very effective. If a person can progress through the various stages of treatment, they can expect a full recovery.
Even with occasional relapses, some people manage their meth addiction and live fulfilling lives. The timeline for treatment is as follows:
An intervention involves confronting the addicted person about drug abuse. It’s an opportunity to show how their actions affect those around them.
Interventions are a great way to help the addicted person identify their problem. The ultimate goal is to encourage the person to get help and recover from the addiction.
2. Choose Your Treatment
Following the intervention, the addicted person must determine the treatment they prefer.
- Inpatient treatment: Provides a safe, drug-free environment. Inpatient treatment is better for chronic, long-term meth addiction.
- Outpatient treatment: For people who can’t participate or afford inpatient treatment. Outpatient treatment includes detox and counseling.
If you’re unsure which treatment plan is better for you, medical guidance is available. You can also read about inpatient or outpatient treatment options here.
Treatment programs begin with detox. Ideally, this phase is medically supervised to help manage withdrawal symptoms and other side effects.
Detox is the process of removing meth from the body safely. Doctors monitor vital signs and administer medication to reduce side effects during detox.
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) begins during detox. This can continue throughout recovery.
Currently, there is no FDA-approved pharmacotherapy (medication-assisted therapy) for stimulant use disorder. Meth detox is available on an outpatient basis, as well.
4. Behavioral Therapies
Behavioral therapy is an effective option for treating meth addiction. One of the most common approaches is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
CBT is particularly effective for treating meth addiction. It can also aid with co-occurring disorders, such as depression and anxiety.
Approximately 40 percent of those seeking treatment for meth abuse also struggle with anxiety.4 Other effective approaches include:
- Narrative Therapy: Focuses on externalizing their issues versus internalizing them
- Contingency Management: Uses positive reinforcement and rewards good behavior
Counseling helps to identify underlying reasons for drug use. It also includes emotional support and guidance for managing those issues.
Formal therapy helps people learn new ways of coping with things that previously triggered drug use. Less structured therapy allows people to talk to their peers. This enables people to learn from each other and how they handle their addictions.
Counseling can help people learn about the challenges they might experience during recovery. It can also provide the tools and resources necessary to manage addictions.
6. Aftercare Programs
Aftercare programs are vital in helping someone with a meth addiction live a clean life. Ongoing support programs include 12-step and similar programs that provide a forum for peer support.
They are also a resource for finding a sponsor—someone who offers one-on-one support to someone struggling with addiction. These programs are free.
Two of the most popular aftercare support programs used by those with a meth addiction include:
- Narcotics Anonymous
- Crystal Meth Anonymous
- SMART (Self-Management and Recovery Training)
Many meth users develop a pattern of binging on the drug. Once meth wears off, they’ll start to feel withdrawal symptoms.
These symptoms include:
- Difficult-to-treat depression
- A decrease in appetite or increase that leads to weight gain
- Muscle weakness and pain
- Mood swings
- Restlessness and agitation
- Sleeping problems and insomnia
- Unpleasant dreams
- Psychosis that appears to be schizophrenia
- Extreme cravings for meth
- Dehydration-related headaches
Meth withdrawals are so intense they can trigger someone to return to the drug. Users will continue to use it even if they want to stop. This is a sign of addiction.
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- Wolpert, S. “UCLA Researchers Identify a Potentially Effective Treatment for Methamphetamine Addiction.” UCLA, 2015
- “NPR Choice Page.” Npr.Org, 2019.
- Ciccone, A. “Naltrexone May Be Effective for Methamphetamine Addiction.” Neurology Advisor, 2015.
- Glasner-Edwards et al. “Anxiety disorders among methamphetamine dependent adults: association with post-treatment functioning.” The American journal on addictions, 2010.
- Kevil et al. “Methamphetamine Use and Cardiovascular Disease.” Arteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology, 2019.
- “Methamphetamine Drug Facts” National Institute on Drug Use, 2019.