Prevention & Support

Finding Support for Meth Users

By Mark Reynolds, Addiction Specialist

Methamphetamine, also known as meth, has a high potential for abuse, even more so than cocaine, according to some research. Studies show that methamphetamine is more addictive among those who smoke or use it in the form of injection than those who take it orally or snort the drug.

Effects Of Meth

Short term effects of meth use may include:

  • insomnia
  • weight loss
  • overly energetic feeling
  • increase in heart rate
  • increase in blood pressure

Long term effects of meth use may include:

  • psychosis
  • hallucinations
  • multiple organ (typically lungs and kidney) damage
  • stroke

When injected or smoked, the effects of this drug are immediate and include a prolonged and intense high. Effects from oral use or snorting generally produce effects that have a shorter duration. Those who use methamphetamine for medicinal purposes often become hooked on the drug. The euphoric feeling the drug provides is the main reason for addiction to methamphetamine.

Initial Recovery Phase

Support for meth users is an important aspect of the treatment of addiction. Those who develop a crystal methamphetamine addiction are able to recover from such an addiction if they have the right kind of support. The withdrawal period, which is the initial part of the recovery process, is often very intense due to the immediate loss of the euphoric feeling the drug provides users. The possibility of relapse is greatest during this initial phase of recovery.

In order to begin the recovery process, it is imperative to change the circumstances that created the environment for the addiction in the first place. This may include no longer associating with people who support or allow the addiction to continue and changing lifestyle behaviors that are conducive to addiction.

Rehab

Rehabilitation facilities each offer their own methods for assisting those with an addiction to drugs such as methamphetamine. It is important to choose a center that will offer the right kind of support. Some rehab or drug treatment facilities specialize is certain types of dependency, such as crystal methamphetamine addiction. The typical program at such facilities is usually six months in length.

Some drug treatment centers have a better outcome for certain types of addictions as opposed to other types of addictions. It is generally recommended to avoid programs that offer quick solutions for crystal meth addiction, such as a 30-day treatment program or out-patient programs. Studies show these types of programs are not effective with meth addiction. There are a few new programs that last for up to 52 weeks, with some recovery experts asserting that these programs are better because they provide an adequate support system.

Some drug treatment facilities treat the patient's crystal methamphetamine addiction with a gradual reduction in meth as opposed to a complete cut-off of the drug. Proponents of this approach feel that it allows for the set up of a solid support structure during the initial rehab stage and reduces withdrawal intensity, which is a reason most addicts fail during the initial rehab phase.

The typical success rate of most drug treatment facilities is from 2 to 20 percent. However, there are some drug treatment centers that claim success rates as high as 75 percent. Crystal meth addiction can have a debilitating effect on the life of the addicted person and causes a number of dysfunctions in his/her everyday life. Meth addiction can also have a profound effect on the addict's family members and loved ones, who often absorb the brunt of the emotional turmoil.

There are over 25,000 drug treatment or rehab programs in the United States. Costs of such programs and facilities will vary, but price is the last thing a person should consider when seeking help for a crystal meth addiction. It is important to focus on factors such as quality of care and overall success rate of patients with the same type of addiction.

Steps To Offering Support

While it is a good to support a family member, friend, or even a co-worker that is trying to overcome a crystal methamphetamine addiction, there are a few factors to take into consideration. Those offering support should not think of their role as confrontational and should not be forceful or judgmental. Those choosing to intervene should use caution and be prepared.

First identify that the person has a problem. Those offering support do not want to put themselves in a dangerous situation. The safest time to confront a crystal meth addict is during the initial stages of abuse. Detection of the problem is critical. Some addicts will cover up their addictions. This is why it is vital to recognize signs of crystal meth abuse. The earlier the problem is identified, the easier it is to begin treatment and offer support before irreparable damage to the individual and those around them can be done.

Meth addicts typically display three different patterns of use:

  1. Low-intensity users are those who use crystal meth on a casual basis. They are not psychologically addicted to meth at this point. Snorting or swallowing are the common forms of ingestion at this point.
  2. Binge users will consume large amounts of crystal meth during a short period of time. During the time between binges they will not use at all.
  3. High intensity users are those who consume crystal meth on a regular basis. High-intensity and binge users are both psychologically addicted to meth and often inject or smoke the drug to get an intense high.
  4. Meth users tend to reject support if it is seen as an attempt to control them. It is best to help someone with a crystal meth addiction in way that is not forceful or controlling. The person with the addiction must have the strength to seek professional help on his/her own at first, then maintain and build support during the rehab stage.

Interventions

When offering support through an intervention there are a few steps to take.

  1. Approach mutual acquaintances and friends with concerns about a possible addiction. Interventions show the person with the addiction they have support and that their addiction affects others. The support of friends and family can help encourage a meth addict to quit.
  2. It is best to contact a drug intervention professional to oversee the ordeal. While it is good to have friends and family involved, a professional can provide the necessary guidance.
  3. A meth addict is prone to violent outbursts, confusion, and paranoia. It is best not to approach the individual alone, but you still want to keep things relaxed. If the individual feels trapped or enclosed, they may panic.

Continued Support

While being supportive can help someone with a crystal meth addiction, it is important to be realistic. Being overly optimistic can lead to frustration or discouragement during recovery. Prepare the individual for the challenges ahead. Confusion, mental dullness, and forgetfulness are expected during the recovery period and it is best to let the individual know that.

Statistics show crystal meth rehabilitation is more difficult than recovering from a heroin addiction. However, as drug treatment techniques evolve and develop, it will lead to smoother rehabilitation procedures. One thing that will always be a part of treatment is the support of family and friends during the recovery process.

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