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How to Help a Meth Addict

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Methamphetamine (meth) is a substance that has very limited medical use. The substance is only available legally under the name Desoxyn, which is a medication with limited indications for the treatment of obesity and ADHD.

As a substance of abuse, illicitly manufactured methamphetamine dwarfs that amount produced for pharmaceutical use. Commonly, it is a white crystalline powder or tablet that is taken orally, but it can also be smoked, snorted, or injected to produce a stimulating, euphoric high. Crystal meth is one version of the substance that is particularly dangerous, in part due to the method of production, which frequently involves numerous hazardous chemicals and toxic contaminants. It looks like pieces of broken glass and is usually smoked.

Help for Methamphetamine Addicts

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration:

  • Nearly 12 million people have abused methamphetamine in their lifetime.
  • Estimates state that about 130,000 people try meth for the first time each year.
  • Almost 2% of high school seniors admitted using meth for nonmedical reasons.

Fortunately, effective treatments exist for people trying to quit methamphetamine. Although the best treatment will be tailored to the person, possible options for someone abusing methamphetamine include:

  • Inpatient substance abuse rehabilitation.
  • Outpatient treatment programs.
  • Individual behavioral therapy sessions with a therapist, counselor, or other addiction treatment professional.
  • Family therapy.
  • Support groups.
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Approaching a Loved One

If your loved one is currently abusing meth, it may be time to consider talking to them about their drug use and treatment options. Meth is a dangerous drug and abuse can lead to death. In 2011, methamphetamine overdose accounted for nearly 160,000 admissions to the emergency room.

No one wants to witness a loved one battle an addiction to meth, as it can severely impact not only their quality of life but also others in their support system. You may have even witnessed your loved one’s physical and mental health change or deteriorate as a result of the drug use.

If you are worried or nervous about how your loved one will react to a confrontation about their meth addiction, you are not alone. It is common to feel anxious before talking to someone about their substance use. Fortunately, there are many programs available to help you work through these emotions and prepare for your conversation. One tool is called Community Reinforcement and Family Training (CRAFT) and it has proven to be successful in engaging loved ones into treatment. CRAFT teaches family and friends positive ways to practice self-care, reward non-using behavior, and understand a loved one’s triggers for drug abuse.

Given the serious health risks of meth addiction, it is important to have the conversation early. You may just save the life of someone you love.

Addiction Treatment

Even with its strong addictive qualities, available treatment options have been successful in ending the use and enabling recovery from the substance. Options for treatment that may take place in an inpatient or outpatient setting include:

  • Behavioral therapy. Formal therapy is often the most effective type of treatment for someone addicted to methamphetamine. The best forms of behavioral therapy are those that utilize aspects of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) that address the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that lead to and sustain continued use and contingency management (CM) approaches like:
    • The Matrix Model – A 16-week system that combines individual, group, and family therapy with 12-step meetings and drug testing.
    • Motivational Incentives for Enhancing Drug Abuse Recovery (MIEDAR) – A CM program that rewards abstinence from meth with behavioral incentives and rewards.
  • Support groups. Support groups provide the benefit of informal treatment, fellowship, and encouragement to participate in sober activities. Twelve-step programs are the best-known support groups, but others exist. Meetings are led by members rather than a professional.
  • Family education and therapy. Substance abuse and addiction have the power to influence the entire family unit. Additionally, the family unit has the ability to influence the addiction. By engaging in family therapy, both the individual using meth and their loved ones will learn more about addiction and measures to improve their relationships and responses to use.

A treatment program that utilizes many different interventions for recovery and also makes plans for a comprehensive aftercare program will allow the recovering addict to learn the skills needed to prevent relapse, and live a healthy sober life.

Receive 24/7 text support at your convenience with American Addiction Centers. Our team is well prepared to advise on all things treatment and help you find the care you need. We’ve helped thousands recover from addiction and we can help you too.

Is Methamphetamine Addictive?

With its powerful and quickly delivered high, methamphetamine is considered to be one of the most highly addictive of street drugs. It acts as a stimulant within the body, which means the substance:

  • Speeds up various processes in the body.
  • Increases energy.
  • Increases alertness.
  • Decreases sleep behavior.

Many addictive substances, including methamphetamine, manipulate the levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Increased dopamine activity may play a role in mediating a pleasurable, rewarding sensation whenever methamphetamine is used. This rewarding sensation compels the user to continue taking methamphetamine even in the face of negative consequences (a primary indicator of addiction) or choose use over other pleasurable activities or responsibilities.

What are the Signs of Methamphetamine Addiction?

Someone under the influence of methamphetamine may exhibit the following signs of a meth high:

  • Intensely pleasurable rush / euphoria.
  • High energy and motivation.
  • Altered sleeping patterns.
  • Diminished appetite.
  • Higher body temperature.
  • Quicker heart rate.
  • Faster breathing.

As initially rewarding as it may be, the high from meth comes with an array of unwanted and harmful effects. Someone using meth may display:

  • Anxiety, nervousness, and worry.
  • Inability to sleep.
  • Mood changes with depression.
  • Confusion or forgetfulness.
  • Aggression.
  • Symptoms of psychosis–hallucination, delusions, and paranoia.

Another telling sign that someone is addicted to methamphetamine is their behavior when they are not under the influence. Since many use methamphetamine in “binges” that involve steady use for several days, there will be a crash that follows. A crash is marked by excessive sleeping and periods of inactivity lasting for several days.

Someone may be abusing meth to accomplish tasks like studying for school or completing a project since the substance can create long periods of focus and energy.

American Addiction Centers maintains a strong partnership with a large group of insurance companies at our addiction treatment facilities. Start the journey to recovery and find out instantly if your insurance provider may be able to cover all or part of the cost of rehab and associated therapies.

Am I Addicted to Methamphetamine?

With methamphetamine being so powerful and intoxicating, addiction can begin quickly. Signs that indicate your addiction to meth include:

  • Devoting a lot of time, energy, and money to the substance.
  • Devoting fewer resources to relationships, work, school, and other responsibilities.
  • Ignoring the pleas of others to stop or reduce your use.
  • Being unable to end use even though you want to.
  • Taking more of the substance or using it for longer periods to achieve the same result. This is a sign of building tolerance.
  • Feeling unable to function without the substance or feeling incomplete without it in your system. This is a sign of physiologic dependence.

Call Our Hotline Today

Addiction to meth can be very problematic for the person using the substance and their loved ones. Fortunately, recovery is possible with treatment. Call to receive more information on methamphetamine abuse and possible treatment options.

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Amanda Lautieri is a Senior Web Content Editor at American Addiction Centers and an addiction content expert for DrugAbuse.com. She holds a bachelor's degree and has reviewed thousands of medical articles on substance abuse and addiction.
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