How Do I Get Help For Someone Addicted To Meth?

In 2012, more than 1.2 million persons in the U.S. reported having used methamphetamine in the previous year. This was according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. With such a rate of crystal meth use, there are doubtless numerous people who are in need of treatment.

As with all drugs of abuse, seeking out professional treatment from mental health and addiction specialists naturally leads to the highest chance of meth recovery success. Unfortunately, there is no specific medication treatment currently in place for crystal meth use and abuse. However, numerous therapy types and assorted treatments are effective, as is counseling.

Understanding Methamphetamine Addiction

Meth is a seriously addictive substance because of its capacity to provide a potent, lasting high. The method of ingestion — for instance, smoking vs. snorting — can modify the impact of the drug as well as the tendency to get addicted to it. The intense rush achieved when one smokes crystal meth may render the addictive properties of the drug even stronger.

One of the marked effects of methamphetamine as it arrives in the brain is to stimulate the release of dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter which is related to rewarding sensations as well as motivation. Not only does crystal meth trigger a higher release of dopamine, but it also prevents dopamine from being reabsorbed back into the brain cells. This dual dopamine effect results in such a sustained high that even cocaine cannot match.

Signs of Meth Addiction

Like all other stimulant drugs, crystal meth is often abused in binges or what are known as "runs". These will usually continue until no more of the drug is obtainable. One of the traits of a meth addict is random disappearances, sometimes for weeks at a time. A good way to tell that a loved one is addicted to meth is if he or she is prone to random, unexplainable disappearances.

When you are looking for the signs of a crystal meth addiction in a loved one, look for both short-term and long-term signs of use and abuse — even if you do not think your loved one has been hooked to the drug for long — since long-term signs tend to show up as a result of a binge or run.

  • The short-term signs include:
  • Decreased need for sleep.
  • High motivation to accomplish tasks.
  • Inability to sit still.
  • Not eating for extended periods.
  • Speaking very rapidly and moving between topics quickly.
  • The long-term signs of crystal meth addiction, on the other hand, include but are not limited to:
  • Aggression and violence toward self and others.
  • Changes in physical appearance, including deteriorating dental health and scars from intense skin picking.
  • Cognitive problems marked by poor judgment and memory loss.
  • Excessive weight loss.
  • Inability to pay attention or focus.
  • Psychotic symptoms like hallucinations and paranoid delusions.
  • Repetitive movements.

Following a run or a binge, the crystal meth abuser may get back to a period of normalcy that may last for days, weeks, or even months. However, this period of normalcy ought to not be taken as an indication that he or she is no longer addicted. This is the mistake so many people make, and are then horrified when their loved one goes on another binge.

Approaching an Addicted Loved One

Approaching a loved one who is going through a crystal meth addiction may very well feel like walking on eggshells. The fear of saying the wrong thing may seem overwhelming, but it is vital that you reach out to your loved one and make them understand that you still care.

Historically, confrontation was pretty much considered as the most superior approach—presenting the addict with a flat all-or-nothing decision: either you get into treatment or we do not speak any more. This approach is now heavily debated and is even associated with some of the poorer outcomes in some cases. A more effective approach may be to approach the user with stark love and actions of support. This does not mean to enable the person with the addiction; instead, employ proven methods of handling the issue in a way that is healthy and supportive.

One particularly effective approach is known as Community Reinforcement and Family Training (CRAFT), where a professional trains the persons close to the addicted person in the best ways that they can use to address the problem. CRAFT teaches family and friends in ways of engaging a substance user and abuser in a way that is productive and helpful, and which will help persuade the user to get treatment. It has been found to work in about 7 out of 10 cases, which is a very good return.

Here are several workable tips from CRAFT:

  • Introduce enjoyable outside activities that compete with substance use.
  • Try to create positive interpersonal exchanges between yourself and your loved one.
  • Reward abstinent behavior. For example, engage in pleasant activities with your loved one when they are not using, and explicitly state that you are doing so because of their progress.

If possible, avoid interfering with negative consequences that occur naturally. For example, if your loved one's using typically leads to decreased time around the family, allow this to occur. Consequences that occur naturally are powerful in shaping behavior and should be minimally interfered with.

A crystal meth user must not be approached when he or she is under the drug's influence. If possible, try and catch them at a sober time (ideally, when their motivation to get better and drug-free is high) to discuss going into treatment.

You can expect to come up against some difficult emotions which are common to persons that are suffering from addiction, including but not limited to denial, anger, and justifications of drug use and the issues caused by it.

Avoid the temptation to engage in an argument with them or an abrasive back and forth dialogue where you attempt to dispute what they are saying and prove that you are the one who is right. Instead, make the approach with empathy.

Avoid blaming and say that you are concerned about their apparent addiction. You can also lay out clear boundaries of the things that you are willing to accept in the future, but avoid making outright threats.

Talk about how their meth abuse has gotten in the way of your relationship with them, as well as the ways in which you have seen their life transform following repeated drug use and abuse.

Try to use "I" statements as much as possible to avoid making your loved one feel alienated or unwanted. Be an open ear and ultimately make sure to avoid judging them and you may discover that this helps to diffuse any hostility that may have been possible and may aid them come to terms with their clear need for treatment.

Remember, your goal is to have your loved one into treatment. Make sure they know that they are loved and that you fully support their path to sobriety. If they relapse, be understanding: cutting an addiction out of your life is a massive challenge to take on, and sometimes persons can slip, but it does not mean that they have failed.

Recovery is a lifelong process and most often several relapses are a normal part of the process. Someone in recovery has the best chances of long-term sobriety if they have a supportive network of friends and family as opposed to not having it.

Most people, both in the US as well as the rest of the world respond to addiction with hostility and coldness. This only makes everything so much worse. If the addict cannot find warmth at home, and from the people that he or she loves, then they may be inclined to seek it in the drug den.

Helping Methamphetamine Addicts

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, nearly 12 million people have abused methamphetamine in their lifetime. Estimates also state that about 130,000 people try meth for the first time each year. Further, more than 2% of high school seniors admitted using meth for nonmedical reasons.

While there is no specific medication for meth abuse, effective treatments exist for people trying to quit meth. Although the ideal treatment will be customized for the individual, possible options for a person who is addicted to methamphetamine include:

  • Inpatient substance abuse rehabilitation
  • Outpatient treatment programs
  • Individual behavioral therapy sessions
  • Family therapy
  • Support groups

Even with its strong addictive qualities, available treatment options have been successful in ending use and enabling recovery from the substance. Options for treatment which may take place in an inpatient or outpatient setting include but are not limited to:

1. Providing education regarding the nature of crystal meth use, abuse, and withdrawal so that relapse triggers and other patterns of addiction may be realized and avoided in the future

2. 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, which is a 16-week system that combines individual, group, and family therapy with 12-step meetings and drug testing.

3. 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

4. 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.

Getting Help

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.