“Methamphetamine”, experts say, “has never been purer, cheaper or more lethal”. People unable to get opioids or heroin have come back to meth. In the past five years, the amount of meth seized by U.S. Customs and Law Enforcement has tripled. Deaths in 2015 from stimulants (mostly meth) increased by 255% over 2005. Today, meth is by far the most prevalent in drug offense stats, country-wide. We have a very real new-old problem in the drug epidemic. But luckily, there is effective treatment for meth addiction. This is what it looks like.
To get a perspective on the treatment for meth addiction process, first, we need some reference as to what meth does to the body. Meth is a stimulant that affects areas of the brain responsible for regulating emotion and memory. It is known to cause psychotic symptoms, paranoia, and violent behavior in users, with long-term use linked to weight loss, severe dental issues (otherwise known as “meth mouth”, skin sores, and severe addiction.
Meth Detox: The First Step of Treatment
The first step in treating a meth addiction is getting off the drug, or detoxing. Discontinuing methamphetamine typically results in withdrawal symptoms that are difficult to manage without the care of a trained professional – among them strong cravings, mood swings, paranoia, and severe anxiety. These symptoms may last up to a month, although they tend to peak at around 7 to 10 days after the drug is discontinued. Medical detox ensures that the patient is taken care of throughout the process, with medical professionals available to assist in relieving symptoms and managing the patient’s recovery. After detoxing, a dedicated meth treatment program is vital.
Cognitive Therapies for Treating Meth
Therapeutic approaches such as cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, have been effective in treating meth addiction throughout recovery.
The Matrix Model
One broad review of a number of cognitive and behavioral treatments for meth and stimulant addiction found positive results in The Matrix Model, a comprehensive treatment approach that includes “group CBT, family education, social support, and individual counseling”. Use of the Matrix Model was linked to “increased attendance [of recovery sessions], more drug-free urine samples and longer periods of abstinence” from the drug.
Similarly, other approaches like Contingency Management, which positively rewards the patient for achieving recovery-related goals, were found to reduce stimulant use during the recovery period.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
Another study found that the use of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, a psychotherapy designed to treat various mental and behavioral disorders, led to “abstinence from illegal drugs by the 6-month assessment, which was maintained at 12 months, as well as an increase in functionality by the conclusion of treatment”.
Exercise and Mindfulness as Recovery Aids
Some lifestyle and behavioral habits show promise in aiding recovery from meth. One study of the role of physical exercise in meth-addicted subjects found that exercisers demonstrated “better fitness and emotional measures, lower relapse rates, and sustained abstinence when compared to non-exercised individuals,” suggesting its use in conjunction with other treatments for meth addiction.
Meditation in the form of Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention, or MBRP, was also found to decrease odds of stimulant use, anxiety, and depression in stimulant users with mood disorders. Exercise and meditation alone are obviously not enough to treat an addiction, but research shows their potential as recovery aids alongside cognitive therapies and other treatments.
Meth Addiction Treatment at Inpatient Rehab
Methamphetamine can destroy lives, but recovery is possible. Granite Recovery Centers in New Hampshire offers doctor-supervised medical detoxification, as well as comprehensive inpatient meth rehab treatment programs that combine 12-Step work with clinical care.
This combination of meth treatment options offers patients the therapeutic techniques that have proven useful in combating meth addiction such as CBT, while also giving them the necessary skills and support via 12-step work to help stay on track for a lasting recovery.
If you or a loved one is suffering from a meth addiction, we can help. Give our admissions team a call at 855.712.7784.
Learn more: The Health Risks of Meth Addiction