Meth Addiction Treatment

Addiction Treatment
Addiction Treatment

Currently, there are over 1.4 million meth abusers in the U.S., and the number increases daily with meth being the second most abused substance available. This widespread epidemic has resulted in the need for more meth addiction treatment programs nationwide. No city is immune to the dangers and costs imposed by this highly addictive substance, and many citizens are asking, “Where did this devastating drug come from and why are so many people endangering their lives with it? “

Meth first appeared on the West Coast and in the Southwest of the U.S., and rapidly swept across the country catching treatment centers and hospitals off-guard as they were unprepared to provide effective treatment for the severe effects of this drug. Today, however, treatment specialists have gained a better understanding of how meth affects the body and with this knowledge, specific meth addiction treatment programs were designed, and many meth addicts have successfully overcome their addiction to this drug.

What Exactly is Meth?

Meth is a synthetic stimulant that affects the central nervous system, and the risk for addiction to this drug is extreme. On the streets, meth is known as speed, crank, ice, chalk, crystal, poor man’s cocaine, stove top, uppers, trash, and many others. It comes in different forms such as a white or yellowish powder, pills, or crystals. The most common methods of use include, snorting, smoking, swallowing, or injecting.

To better understand why meth is such a deadly drug, the following list of chemicals used for producing or “cooking” it reveals the reasons for the many deaths attributed to meth:

  • anhydrous ammonia
  • lithium
  • toluene
  • hydrochloric acid
  • pseudoephedrine
  • red phosphorus
  • sulfuric acid
  • acetone
  • sodium hydroxide

When sales and profits are not going well for the meth dealer, some of these chemicals are replaced with cheaper, more deadly ingredients and the unwitting buyer has no idea exactly what they are getting.

Efforts by government and drug manufacturers to restrict availability of pseudoephedrine and ephedrine in over-the-counter products have made a slight impact, but each initiative taken to stop meth production is thwarted by the devious dealers and cookers of meth as they continue to find ways to keep this drug available for their own profits.

What Are the Effects of Meth?

Similar to cocaine, meth produces a brief, intense “rush” when injected or smoked. Increased heart rate, respiration, body temperature, and blood pressure are some of the most noticeable symptoms. It also increases the levels of dopamine in the brain which causes a euphoric state and high energy. When taken orally or snorted, the user will experience a “high” that can last for up to 12 hours or more. Regardless of how it is ingested, the spike in dopamine is what causes a person to get hooked on meth.

Other than the immediate effects of meth, there are four additional ways it can affect not only the user but society as a whole:

  1. Mental effects – brain damage, paranoia, mania, OCD, psychosis
  2. Physical effects – organ failure, open sores, rotting teeth (meth mouth), stroke, weight loss
  3. Social effects – criminal activity, withdrawal from friends and family, violence, suicide
  4. Environmental effects: meth production creates five pounds of toxic waste for one pound of meth which endangers wildlife, contaminates water, and is hazardous to human health. Meth lab explosions in neighborhoods are not uncommon today.

As with any other addiction, the far-reaching effects on families and communities are far too numerous today and the best way to control this epidemic is to get as many addicts into meth addiction treatment as possible and return them to being an asset to society rather than being a burden.

How is Treatment for Meth Different?

The challenges faced during meth recovery are different from other drugs in several ways. Meth users suffer from psychosis, cognitive deficits, and low mood during the initial stages of abstinence. Their memory, decision making skills, and ability to concentrate have been compromised and this causes problems in their ability to take directions or follow recommendations.

According to NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse), the most effective components of a meth addiction treatment program are:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapies
  • Family education
  • Individual counseling
  • Support and encouragement
  • Drug testing
  • Highly structured environment and program
  • Long-term, residential treatment
  • Relapse prevention techniques
  • Life-skills training
  • Assistance with vocational or educational opportunities
  • Addresses any meth-related health issues, such as dental problems or poor nutrition

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most crucial aspect of meth addiction treatment. It is important that the individual learns to recognize what caused them to use meth and how to avoid giving in to those behaviors in the future. During this phase of treatment, clients develop and practice real-world strategies and techniques that are proven to work in maintaining successful abstinence.

Family involvement is also important for helping the addict remain in the program. The invaluable support from their loved ones helps the individual realize that they are not alone and that rebuilding these broken relationships is possible. They gain more incentive to be successful in recovering.