Our non 12 step program uses evidence-based practices to treat all forms of substance use addiction, including methamphetamines.
Addiction is simple, at least on one level. Most people with an addiction issue use their substance of choice because they like how it makes them feel.
From this perspective, methamphetamine, also known as crystal meth, is a prime candidate for abuse. The drug is powerful and pleasurable to users, making it difficult to quit. It’s so difficult to quit that 61% of meth users relapse within a year of finishing substance abuse treatment.
That number is staggering, but there is hope for meth addicts. Methamphetamine treatment is not simple, but it can be effective.
The one-size-fits-all model does not make for an effective meth treatment plan. There are several modalities we can use in treating crystal meth addiction. To find the right one for loved ones, we need to know the available options.
How Methamphetamine Works and What Makes It So Addictive
Let’s cut to the chase: Meth users enjoy their drug more than sex, almost 10 times more in many cases. Methamphetamine causes a surge of dopamine in the brain, a neurotransmitter than induces pleasure.
Lab experiments performed on animals showed that during sex, dopamine levels in the brain increased by 100 to 200 units. In comparison, cocaine caused their dopamine levels to increase by 350 and methamphetamine caused dopamine to spike a whopping 1250 units.
Dopamine helps regulate the body’s pleasure centers. There’s no natural activity or substance that spikes a body’s dopamine as high as crystal meth.
From an addiction perspective, that’s a recipe for disaster. Users get a taste of meth and they can’t live without it. When you take the best vacation of your life, you don’t want to go back to work. That’s how substance abuse can work for addicts.
To make matters worse, meth doesn’t only increase dopamine. The drug destroys dopamine receptors. Users experience diminishing returns, so they have to take more of the drug to get the same high they experienced when they first started using.
Warning Signs of Methamphetamine Addiction
The picture we’ve painted so far is an intense one, and that’s for good reason. Crystal meth is a killer, and if you’re part of a meth addict’s support system, it’s important you recognize the warning signs of their addiction. You can’t force help on them, but you can be there when they need it.
There are plenty of warning signs when it comes to meth addiction, and they take place on a variety of different levels. Meth addicts experience changes in mood, behavior, psychology, and in their physical state.
Here are a few of the symptoms in each of these categories.
Mood Symptoms From Using Meth
One of these things is not like the others. That’s because these symptoms occur at different points in an addict’s cycle of abuse. They’ll experience euphoria when they are on the drug but depression when they cannot get their fix.
Behavioral Symptoms of Methamphetamine Use
- Social isolation
- Risky and dangerous behaviors, especially risky sexual behaviors
- Mounting legal problems
- Unexplained financial problems
- Problems in interpersonal relationships
- Violent behaviors
- Loss of appetite
Obviously, these behaviors can be symptoms of many different problems. These symptoms can also represent multiple addictions, but if your loved one displays several of these, this is a red flag for crystal meth addiction.
Physical Symptoms Caused by Crystal Meth Use
- Trembling and shaking
- Nausea and vomiting
- Extreme damage to teeth and gums, also known as “meth mouth”
- Open sores referred to as “meth sores”
- Hair loss
- Loss of skin elasticity
There are other physical symptoms that accompany meth addiction, but many of them are internal. It can be difficult to get an addict to speak to you about their patterns of substance abuse. These symptoms are the ones that are observable on the outside.
Meth is one of the most damaging drugs to a person’s body. This makes recognizing the need for treatment a little easier.
- Repetitive behaviors
- Disorganized thoughts
- The feeling of bugs crawling underneath the skin, also known as “meth bugs,” or more formally called “formication”
- Various types of visual hallucinations
There is some overlap with these behavioral symptoms. The psychological effects of meth are often what underlies the addict’s violent and erratic acting out.
Obstacles to Effective Treatment
Because methamphetamine provides users with such an intense, pleasurable high, it’s rare that an addict will seek treatment on their own. This makes the people in their support system all the more important.
It is nearly impossible to rationalize with a person addicted to meth, and if you care for a loved one under these circumstances, understand you are both in for a long haul.
You can prepare yourself for when they are ready for treatment by doing as much research as possible and develop a plan to ease them into treatment with the help of trained professionals.
While it may be tempting to plan an intervention, there is little data available on the effectiveness of this tactic. They may be most receptive when they are in legal trouble and have to choose between court-ordered treatment or jail time.
Court-ordered treatment is not always a last-ditch resort. Many addicts find this to be the push they need to get help.
Methamphetamine Treatment Models
As discussed earlier, the one-size-fits-all model is not a good approach for successfully treating addiction, and that is especially true for meth addiction. It is a highly addictive substance that is often used in conjunction with other substances, and can be complicated by other behavioral or mental health issues. Because of this, specialized treatment is necessary by professionals with a history of working with methamphetamine addiction. Below are some recommended options.
A thorough assessment will be performed at the time of intake to outline a treatment plan to be followed during the inpatient stay.
Drug detox is a cornerstone of inpatient addiction treatment and the first step toward sobriety. During detox, a patient is safely and comfortably weaned off the substance they misuse under the supervision of a trained professionals.
After detox is completed, addiction treatment begins, lasting from 30 to 90 days under most circumstances. During this period of recovery, a daily routine of individual and group therapy will be led by trained therapists and addiction specialists to follow the treatment plan outlined in the assessment. The most appropriate therapies for successful treatment will be included in the plan.
Treatment Therapies for
Since there are not yet proven pharmaceutical cures for crystal meth abuse, therapy is one of the most prescribed treatments for meth addicts looking to recover.
The therapies that follow can all form part of a holistic treatment program used in combination with other treatments on this list. They may form foundational pieces of inpatient or outpatient rehab programs.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, is a tried and true method of therapy that forms an alternative to traditional talk therapy. It is pragmatic and focused on dealing with the triggers of addiction.
CBT programs occur over a confined period of weeks. These programs will often involve intense, focused sessions where an addict has to deal with a situation in which they would normally use. They then analyze and discuss their reactions with the help of a trained therapist.
Here we find the assistance of a traditional therapist. Many addicts find this useful in cooperation with their other treatments.
When an addict can share their feelings and see them reflected in others who share their struggles, it enhances their recovery. This is one of the biggest benefits of joining a support group.
In family therapy, an addict will see a therapist along with their family members in a joint session. “Family” in this case can have a broad definition. It may mean the addict’s parents, partner, or children.
Motivational Enhancement Therapy
MET is another distinct therapy modality, like CBT. In MET, the patient sets their goals and works through various forms of interpersonal and intrapersonal conflict.
Yoga/Art Therapy/Animal-Assisted Therapy
We group these therapies together because they all involve some degree of physical and spatial awareness in combination with mindfulness. These forms of therapy require presence in the body. They can begin an addict’s turn away from their preferred substance and toward filling their new life with activities they enjoy.
Contingency management is all about using a system of rewards to encourage a recovering addict’s growth. These targets are best determined with the help of a therapist trained to develop realistic and motivating goals for the addict.
Outpatient treatment is a less intensive option than traditional rehab. Depending on the level of help an addict needs and the structure in their life, it can be an effective form of recovery.
Patients may make use of an outpatient program in isolation, or find outpatient services helpful as part of a transition out of inpatient rehab.
Meth Addiction Treatment at Alo House
Methamphetamine addiction is a devastating problem. The drug is so addictive that it can make treatment seem far away for an addict and their family.
But there is help. At Alo House, we offer treatment for crystal meth addiction and other drug addictions.
The first step for treating methamphetamine addiction is detox. At Alo House, we provide a comfortable and safe, medically supervised detox program. Methamphetamine detox often takes approximately a week to complete, but some symptoms may last longer, so it’s important to detox at the same place where rehabilitation occurs.
After detox, our 30 to 90-day residential treatment program has shown to be the most effective way to treat addiction to methamphetamines.
We recognize the importance of combining supervised detox with addiction treatment in a comprehensive program for our clients to have the most success in their recovery.