Crystal Meth Rehab
People who abuse crystal methamphetamine make a sort of devil’s bargain; in return for an extreme high that can last for up to 12 hours, they pay with a severe addiction and flirt with the possibility of long-term brain damage. Balancing this equation can be difficult. Remove the drug and the possibility of the high, and the damage may still remain. In fact, according to a study published by the American Academy of Neurology, brain scans of former users of meth still show damage, even if the people had stopped using the drug years before. And, it’s possible that the damage will never truly go away, the researchers report.
It’s clear that recovery from a crystal meth addiction is a long process, and often, the problem must be attacked on many fronts. It’s important to remember, however, that recovery truly is possible. Every day, people choose to put the meth pipe down and enter programs that can help them rebuild their lives. Read on to find out how these programs work.
Table of Contents
Recovery from a methamphetamine addiction begins with detoxification. Here, the addict stops taking meth and the body learns to adjust to the absence of the drug. According to an article published in Psychology Today, many meth addicts don’t feel unpleasant physical symptoms during withdrawal stages of meth use. While a heroin addict or an alcoholic might face significant risk of seizures or other life-threatening problems during detoxification, a meth addict might only need more sleep, more food and time to relax during detoxification. When this process is complete, the addict is ready to enter a rehabilitation program.
Rehabilitation programs differ from detoxification programs in several ways. While a detoxification program attempts to clear out the methamphetamine the user has already taken, a rehabilitation program strives to keep the person from ever taking methamphetamine again. In short, a methamphetamine rehabilitation program focuses on helping the addict develop a set of skills that can be used in the fight against addiction. Detox focuses on comfort and medical management. Rehab focuses on actions and skills.
Rehabilitation programs do encompass the addict’s entire life, however. Most addictions don’t occur inside of a bubble. Instead, addictions occur due to some sort of specific trigger in the person’s life. Many rehabilitation programs attempt to define that trigger, seek it out and eradicate it from the person’s life for good. The trigger might be physical, emotional or based on habits.
And finally, rehabilitation programs are voluntary. People often enter programs when they want to, and they can leave whenever they’d like to leave. Therefore, the programs try to keep the addict comfortable and engaged in recovery, so he or she will see the benefit of the program and resist the temptation to leave it behind.
Rehabilitation programs can take many forms. At Axis, we offer an inpatient program for crystal meth addiction. Our clients live in our facility, and take time away from their lives to focus on their addiction and their capacity to heal. This isn’t the only method used to treat crystal meth addiction, however. Some programs allow the addict to live at home and participate in treatment programs on an outpatient program. Either program can be effective, as long as the addict stays committed to recovery and participates fully in all aspects of the program.
Reversing Physical Damage
According to an article published on Frontline, the physical changes caused by meth abuse are some of the most striking, and the most painful, aspects of the addiction. Meth use causes the blood vessels to constrict, meaning that the body has a reduced capacity to heal itself. As a result of this reduced blood flow, the meth user may develop:
- Small sores that won’t heal
- Severe acne
- Bleeding gums
- Broken teeth
- Self-inflicted wounds in the skin, due to intense itching from lack of blood
While the meth addict is using, the drugs can mask the pain of the physical damage. But, when the addict stops taking meth, these physical conditions can cause intense pain. During a rehabilitation program, doctors, dentists and dermatologists might all become involved, providing treatments that can reverse this damage and provide the addict with relief.
In addition, people who abuse meth tend to engage in impulsive behaviors that they would never consider while sober. For example, some meth users may engage in risky, unprotected sex while they are under the influence. This can increase their risk for sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS. A study published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment found that 62.5 percent of gay and bisexual men addicted to meth reported having unsafe sex during the prior 12 months. In addition, 56.3 percent reported having sex with a partner who had HIV. Since the link between meth and sexually transmitted diseases is so high, most people are screened for disease when they enter rehabilitation programs, and they’re provided with treatment if the diseases are found. This treatment can help an addict stay comfortable, but it can also serve to highlight the dangers of meth use. This education could help keep an addict from relapsing, as he or she might clearly understand that using meth means flirting with death.
While the physical symptoms of meth abuse may be striking and painful, the mental damage that occurs is no less dangerous. In fact, much of the work done in meth rehabilitation programs focuses on assessing the mental state of the addict, and helping the addict learn to revise, or adjust, their behavior.
The Partnership for a Drug-Free America reports that people who abuse crystal meth may develop significant and long-term brain damage that’s similar to the brain damage seen in people who have Parkinson’s disease. This damage could make it difficult for the person to communicate, control impulses, follow directions or learn new concepts. In addition, meth use causes changes in the way the person’s brain processes chemicals, and without access to specific chemicals, the brain may be unable to process feelings of pleasure. The meth user may sink into a deep and dark depression and won’t seem to lift, and this could also keep the user from being engaged in therapy and able to learn new ideas.
In some cases, people recovering from methamphetamine abuse need access to medications in order to heal. An article published in the journal Current Psychiatry Reports suggests that medications such as buproprion and modafinil can help some addicts reduce cravings and symptoms of depression. Not all therapy programs use medications to treat symptoms, however. In fact, many therapy programs rely heavily on therapy techniques to help addicts recover from meth addiction.
In therapy for meth addiction, the addict learns:
- How meth can damage the brain
- How cravings can be identified and conquered
- What sorts of damage the person has endured as a result of meth addiction
- How the person can work around those deficits
In short, this is a technique-based therapy that’s designed to help an addict build up a set of skills he or she can use to deal with the damage that has already occurred, and prevent any more damage from occurring. The addict might be asked to talk at length, but the addict might also be asked to role play, act out, test theories, do homework and try new methods of communication. It’s intense, and it’s powerful. According to an article published in the Journal of Urban Health, behavioral treatments like this can reduce meth use and symptoms of depression, and those results can last for up to a year.
Some people in recovery from meth addiction continue to experience symptoms of depression or cravings for the drugs for years after they’ve completed their formal inpatient programs for addiction. Often, they’re still struggling with the symptoms of addiction long after the insurance company has stopped paying for treatment programs. Thankfully, there are other programs that can help an addict stay clean. For example, many addicts find that participating in a 12-step group such as Crystal Meth Anonymous can help. This group, founded in 1994, functions much like other 12-step groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, but the meetings are targeted to the specific needs of the crystal meth user. The founder of Crystal Meth Anonymous found that some of the stories shared by crystal meth addicts didn’t quite match with the stories told by other addicts in Narcotics Anonymous, so this splinter group was founded to allow crystal meth addicts to feel comfortable, and be surrounded by others who would understand their stories and offer no judgment in return.
These meetings are offered, at no charge, all across the country. People can go as often as they’d like to go, and they don’t need to sign up to attend. Here, they can get support for crises they’re working through, and they can learn to support others who need help. This could be a fantastic source of ongoing support for someone dealing with a crystal meth addiction.