Meth addiction treatment begins with medical detox. Once that is complete, there are a variety of treatments that can help with recovery, including:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- The Matrix Model
- Contingency Management
- Support group work
- Inpatient care
- Outpatient support
Methamphetamines are in a class of drugs that act as stimulants on the central nervous system.
Though some methamphetamine-based medications are lawfully manufactured and distributed, the street drug “crystal meth”or “meth”is always illicit. The visage of a person who abuses meth has become a part of the American campaign against this drug. Meth, more than many other illicit drugs, has a very close association with rapid physical decline.
Meth can cause severe physical, psychological, and behavioral side effects in the short-term and long-term. There is no such thing as a good quality of life for anyone who abuses meth. In view of the heightened level of addiction of this drug and its severe negative impact on health, recovery treatment is always advisable for regular users. But what does meth abuse or addiction treatment entail?
Treatment for Meth Abuse
In general, there are two main types of drug treatment services available to treat drug abuse or addiction: pharmacology (approved prescription medications) and therapy.
At present, there are no medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat meth abuse or addiction. In other words, there are no available targeted medications that counteract the particular side effects associated with meth, reduce its addiction potential, or help recovering users to maintain abstinence.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse supports research in this area, and experiments have been conducted regarding blocking self-administration of methamphetamine in rats. Another approach under review is to use vaccine or antibody injections to neutralize methamphetamine in the blood to reduce or eliminate the impact of this drug on the brain. Funding in this area is a sign that a pharmacological intervention into meth abuse may one day be a reality.
Most treatment regimes begin with medical detox, during which the substance is slowly weaned out of the user’s body. Medical detox is done under the supervision of medical professionals, ensuring clients remain safe and comfortable throughout the process.
Post detox, behavioral therapy is often used to treat those addicted to meth. As the National Institute on Drug Abuse explains, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, the Matrix Model, and contingency management interventions have all been shown to assist recovery from meth abuse.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT is based on the assumption that the learning process plays a central role in the development of maladaptive behaviors, such as meth abuse. Therapy sessions focus, in part, on learning new and drug-free ways to cope with life stressors that trigger the desire to use meth. A recognition of one’s reactions to environmental or emotional cues can stop an impulsive response, such as drug use, and introduce a healthy behavior, such as taking a walk or leaving a party where there is a risk of drug activity.
- The Matrix Model: This approach involves a 16-week program of behavioral treatment services that include behavioral therapy, individual counseling, group counseling, family education, the support of the 12-Step philosophy, drug testing, and motivation to opt for non-drug-related activities.
- Contingency management intervention: This type of intervention is based on motivation through a reward system. The therapist and program give incentives to recovering persons in exchange for them accepting treatment and maintaining abstinence. For example, a program involving motivational incentives, Motivational Incentives for Enhancing Drug Abuse Recovery (MIEDAR), has proven effective in helping methamphetamine users to recover.
In terms of a treatment setting, as the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) discusses, inpatient treatment may be advisable for severe cases of long-term meth abuse.
Less severe cases of meth abuse or addiction may be managed in an outpatient treatment program.
According to one research group, most meth users would benefit greatly from an intensive outpatient program in which the recovering person receives counseling for 3-5 per week over the course of at least three months.
As SAMHSA notes, a suitable rehab program will be one in which the treatment approaches are adapted to the particular needs of recovering clients. For instance, meth use (at least in the short-term) can result in certain cognitive impairments, such as deficits in verbal memory (more so than visual memory). A program familiar with this side effect would, in turn, have program features that use pictures more than vocabulary; in concrete terms, this could mean providing informational handouts with graphics that explain the key points being made. An effective rehab center for meth abuse recovery is one that is responsive to the side effects associated with meth abuse and builds treatment features around this information.
Overcoming Barriers to Treatment
The addictiveness of meth is one of the greatest obstacles in the way of receiving treatment
The paths to rehab treatment are many. For instance, meth abusers may have an encounter with the law and then be court-ordered to treatment (either in lieu of jail time or as a condition of probation post-incarceration). It is important to note that those who are sent to treatment through the criminal justice fare just as well, sometimes even better, than individuals who did not have court referrals.
The intense high associated with meth can mean that many users will refuse to seek treatment on their own. For this reason, support from family or other concerned individuals is critical.
Those who are ready to help a loved one who abuses meth are best advised to take useful preparatory steps, such as learning about meth addiction, finding out about treatment options, developing a plan to help get the meth user into treatment, and reaching out to professionals for assistance. A formal or informal intervention, if timed when a meth user is not high, can be effective way to get treatment started. Despite the devastating effect meth has on people, it is important for concerned persons not to lose sight of their ability to help. Recovery is always possible.