Meth Addiction Treatment and Recovery
Methamphetamine – or “meth” – is a profoundly addictive stimulant drug that can cause changes in brain chemistry over time.1 Individuals abuse it for its energizing and euphoric properties, and it is often used in a “binge and crash” pattern where the person takes repeated doses in a short period of time in order to avoid coming down – maintaining their high as long as possible. In both the short- and the long-term, any pattern of meth use can have detrimental and life-threatening side effects on the mind and body.
These side effects from using meth include1-3:
- “Meth mouth.”
- Skin sores.
- Heart failure.
- Increased risk of Parkinson’s Disease.
- Memory loss.
- Cognitive and motor impairments.
If you’re concerned about yourself or a loved one’s methamphetamine abuse, addiction treatment may provide the necessary help. Call our helpline at 1-888-744-0789 to speak to a treatment support specialist about finding the best meth recovery program for your needs.
When Is Meth Treatment Necessary?
Some people who use meth may not develop a dependence or addiction – while others may exhibit problematic behavior that significantly impairs their lives.
It’s important to know how to recognize an addiction to meth so that you can seek the help that you or a loved one needs.
Below are some signs and symptoms of a meth addiction4:
- Inability to cut back or quit using meth.
- Significant cravings for meth.
- Increasing meth use over longer periods of time.
- Excessive amounts of time spent obtaining and using meth – as well as recovering from its adverse effects.
- Failure to meet work, home, or school responsibilities due to meth abuse.
- Persistent methamphetamine use despite negative ramifications – such as interpersonal or social problems.
- Choosing meth use over important social or recreational activities.
- Use of methamphetamine in dangerous situations – such as driving a car.
- Recurrent meth use despite psychological or physical conditions exacerbated by or caused by meth use.
- Increasing amounts of meth must be used in order to get high.
- Less of a high or buzz is experienced when using the same amount of meth as usual.
- Withdrawal symptoms from methamphetamine are present.
- Meth is used to get rid of or avoid withdrawal symptoms.
Meth impairs important areas of the brain, which may be slow to recover even once meth abuse has ceased. Research has demonstrated that, in these cases, a return to baseline functioning is approximated only once meth has actually been re-introduced to the individual.5 This same research has also revealed the troubling mechanism behind long-lasting and intense cravings for meth.
Severe cravings often lead to methamphetamine relapse – which is why professional addiction treatment can be of such benefit if you struggle with meth addiction. A quality recovery program can provide you with the tools you need to lead a happy and healthy life free of methamphetamine use.
How Long Does Treatment Take?
Typically, residential (“inpatient”) recovery programs can last anywhere from 30 to 90 days – or sometimes longer, if necessary. Individual therapy and group counseling can be ongoing and last for as long as you wish.
The length of meth addiction treatment depends on a number of different factors:
- The severity of your addiction.
- The presence of coexisting medical or mental health conditions.
- Home, work, or school responsibilities.
- The cost of treatment.
- The presence of any physical conditions.
- The rate of recovery progress made during treatment.
Some people find it helpful to attend therapy for years after getting clean, while others may not want to continue treatment long-term. There is no one-size-fits-all for the duration of meth addiction treatment, as it can vary greatly from person to person.
What’s Involved in Meth Treatment?
You may feel overwhelmed with trying to find the best kind of meth treatment for you, and you may not know what to expect out of a recovery program. Below you will find what’s involved in meth addiction treatment:
- Detoxification. There is no FDA-approved medication for methamphetamine withdrawal, but a treatment center can provide you with supportive care and a safe, comfortable environment to help ease your withdrawal symptoms while detoxing from meth.
- Intake evaluation. You will meet with a therapist who will assess your meth addiction, and you will be evaluated for any coexisting medical or mental health conditions. This evaluation allows the treatment team to create a recovery program that meets your specific needs.
- Therapy and counseling. Both individual therapy and group counseling will aid you in developing and building coping skills necessary to avoid meth relapse.
- Aftercare. Your treatment team will devise a plan for you to follow once you complete your initial program. Attending ongoing treatment will reduce the risk of relapse and allow you to build upon the coping strategies you learned in rehab. Aftercare may include:
- Sober living homes.
- Group counseling.
- 12-Step programs.
- Alternative programs, such as SMART Recovery.
Counseling and Therapy
Individual therapy and group counseling are two helpful methods in treating meth addiction. Individual therapy provides you with the opportunity to meet with a therapist to uncover underlying issues related to your meth addiction – and to develop coping skills you can use in situations that trigger meth cravings. Group counseling is beneficial in fostering sober social skills and growth through interpersonal interactions.
A couple of common types of therapy for meth addiction include:
- The Matrix Model.
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy.
The Matrix Model
The Matrix Model is a common form of therapy designed specifically to treat addiction to stimulants like methamphetamine.6 Its goal is to achieve and maintain abstinence in meth-addicted patients through a comprehensive program.
The therapist has a dynamic role in which he or she acts as both a coach and teacher – providing the patient with support and encouragement throughout the recovery process. The therapist and patient form a genuine relationship that helps to increase self-esteem and self-respect. In the context of a treatment program, the Matrix Model includes the following6:
- Social support groups.
- Early recovery skills groups.
- Family and group therapies.
- Drug education.
- Frequent drug screening.
- Relapse prevention.
- Family education.
Research has revealed that this model helps decrease meth abuse, decrease high-risk sexual behaviors, and improve mental health.6
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) centers around the connection between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It aims to rectify maladaptive patterns, such as meth abuse. The therapist teaches the patient healthy and positive coping mechanisms to be used when cravings or triggers occur. Patients receiving CBT will learn to do the following7:
- Consider the ramifications of continued meth use.
- Recognize cravings.
- Identify and avoid situations that may tempt you to use meth.
- Develop ways to cope with cravings.
The strategies learned in CBT can be used in everyday situations to deal with stress, cravings, or temptation. Some common coping mechanisms include8:
- Relaxation. Guided imagery and deep breathing are two techniques that help to calm the patient.
- Talking it out. Some people find that if they discuss their cravings with a trusted person, then the cravings will lessen and lose their power.
- Distraction. A healthy, sober activity can help distract you from your meth cravings and relieve them. Some examples of positive distractions include:
- Playing a sport.
- Going for a walk or hike.
- Playing an instrument.
- Self-talk. Be encouraging and remind yourself of all the positive changes you have made in your life and how far you’ve come in your recovery.
Research has revealed that the strategies learned in CBT remain after the program has been completed.7 CBT is often combined with medications in order to increase patient retention and decrease drug-seeking behaviors.
Although there are no medications currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of methamphetamine addiction, there has been research surrounding the effectiveness of different medications and vaccines10,11:
- Bupropion: An antidepressant which can alleviate withdrawal symptoms and improve cognitive functioning.
- Methylphenidate: Approved for the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, this medication – although itself a stimulant drug – can possibly help decrease meth use.
- First generation antipsychotics: Trials have revealed some evidence of reduced meth use in a patient population given these dopamine antagonists.
- Naltrexone: This opioid addiction medication has been shown to potentially decrease cravings and reduce the rewarding properties of the drug in meth abusers.
- Vaccines: Research has gone into developing a vaccine that would help to prevent meth abuse by blocking meth’s rewarding effects in the brain. If a user relapses while covered by the vaccine, he or she will not feel “high” and will in theory be deterred from future use.
Meth Addiction Treatment Facilities
When you are ready to start looking into your meth addiction treatment facility options, you will find that you have a few different facility types to choose from:
- Luxury treatment facilities offer residential addiction treatment frequently set in desirable, vacation like settings with a number of opulent amenities available to residents.
- Executive treatment facilities often operate very similar programs as luxury treatment facilities, except that these centers also enable busy professionals to maintain an active involvement in the workplace.
- Standard addiction treatment programs can be found in the context of either a residential or outpatient center. While these programs do not offer the same luxury amenities available at luxury and executive programs, they offer a similarly high level of quality care, and do so at a lower, more affordable price point than many of the more private, luxury programs.
Meth Addiction and Treatment Statistics
How big of a problem is meth abuse in the U.S.?
- An estimated 103,000 emergency department visits were attributed to methamphetamine abuse.
- Methamphetamine was the 4th most mentioned illegal substance in emergency room visits.
- Admissions to treatment centers for meth addiction decreased from just over 8% in 2005 to 5.6% in 2011.
- About 1.2 million people abused meth.
- There were over 130,000 new meth users.
- Approximately 1% of adolescents in 8th, 10th, and 12th grade had used meth at least once.
While meth abuse is indeed a problem within the U.S., recovery from meth abuse has also been shown to be possible. On average it takes at least one year for former meth users to show improvements in attention and impulse control.12
Getting the Best Meth Addiction Help for You
If you are addicted to meth and would like to start on your road to recovery, don’t hesitate to call our helpline at 1-888-744-0789 to speak to a treatment support specialist. Someone is available to help you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
We have helped many people get treatment for all kinds of drug addictions, and there are treatment centers that focus specifically on meth addiction. It’s never too late to make a positive change.
- DrugFacts: methamphetamine. (2014). National Institute on Drug Abuse.
- Mau, M. (2009). Risk factors associated with methamphetamine use and heart failure among Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Island peoples. VHRM Vascular Health and Risk Management, 5, 45-52.
- What are the long-term effects of methamphetamine abuse? (2013). National Institute on Drug Abuse.
- Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-5. (2013). Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association.
- University of Washington. (2008). Methamphetamine Addiction Mechanism Discovered, Explains Why Cravings Last So Long.
- The Matrix Model (stimulants). (2012). National Institute on Drug Abuse.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, nicotine). (2012). National Institute on Drug Abuse.
- Cully, J. A., Teten, A. L. (2008). A therapist’s guide to brief cognitive behavioral therapy. Houston, TX: Department of Veterans Affairs South Central MIRECC.
- Karila, L., Weinstein, A., Aubin, H., Benyamina, A., Reynaud, M., Batki, S. L. (2010). Pharmacological approaches to methamphetamine dependence: a focused review. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 69(6), 578-592.
- Kinsey, B. (2014). Vaccines against drugs of abuse: where are we now? Therapeutic Advances in Vaccines, 2(4), 106-117.
- What is the scope of methamphetamine abuse in the United States? (2013). National Institute on Drug Abuse.
- Brain functions that can prevent relapse improve after a year of methamphetamine abstinence. (2016). UC Davis Health System.