What is Meth?
Methamphetamine is a stimulant drug that was first synthesized in the late nineteenth century, and is approved to treat ADHD and obesity, under the brand name Desoxyn. However, the number of people who take prescription-grade meth for therapeutic reasons pales in comparison to the number who use illicit street meth: in 2013, about 4 metric tons of pharmaceutical-grade meth was produced in America to meet therapeutic demand, and yet 42 metric tons of the drug was consumed in total.
Meth comes in the form of a white powder, and people who abuse the drug will either smoke it, snort it, or mix it with alcohol or water and inject it intravenously. Meth increases energy levels and produces a short-lived feeling of euphoria because it increases the levels of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin in the brain, which also makes this drug highly addictive. Meth abuse treatment is crucial for the 0.3 percent of Americans using the drug monthly.
Meth vs. Crystal Meth
There are three major differences between meth and crystal meth: the form, the legal status, and the potency:
- Form: Meth is a white powder, whereas crystal meth looks like pieces of ice (hence the street name Ice) or shards of crystal
- Legal status: Meth is a schedule II drug, meaning it can be obtained and used with a prescription because it does have medical uses. Crystal meth, on the other hand, is a controlled substance that doesn’t have any medical uses, so it’s not legal to buy it, sell it, possess it, or manufacture it.
- Potency: Crystal meth is a more distilled version of meth, meaning it’s more potent.
Aside from these differences, meth and crystal meth can be nearly identical drugs when it comes to chemical composition. Both drugs can be smoked, and both can be snorted, provided a person breaks up the crystal meth into a powder before snorting it. Although meth can be manufactured legally, both meth and crystal meth are also produced and sold illegally.
Types of Therapies for Meth & Crystal Meth Abuse
Both inpatient and outpatient meth treatment programs offer a variety of therapies to help addicts through recovery, and some of the most effective are Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), family, group and individual therapy, and community-based groups.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy is a type of therapy that focuses on getting patients to analyze and understand the negative thoughts and emotions that led to the undesirable behavior (drug abuse) so that they can address this negativity, be aware of it in the future, and take steps to change and avoid a relapse. Some of the major benefits of CBT are that clients walk away with:
- Heightened self-awareness
- Greater self-control
- Knowledge of their triggers
- Better coping mechanisms
- An understanding of the consequences of their meth abuse
There are three main options when it comes to therapy session offerings. A combination of these therapies is most effective when it comes to battling meth addiction. The three available options include:
- Family Intensive: Addiction impacts more than just the individual going through it. It also has an effect on their loved ones and family members. Family intensive therapy includes family members in the sessions in order to move past trauma and learn to effectively communicate. In most cases, the family will be the main source of support when an individual leaves rehab so it’s important that they are also prepared for long road to recovery ahead.
- Group Therapy: In group therapy, individuals with similar experiences can get together and share. This therapy is quite effective because it gives individuals the chance to learn that they are not alone in their struggles. It also creates a sense of community and lasting friendships that are vital in the recovery process.
- Individual Therapy: In addition to the other two types of sessions, individual therapy gives patients the chance to get one-on-one time with a therapist. These sessions can be intense, but they are essential in the road to recovery because they enable clients to get to the bottom of their struggle and talk it out on a personal level with an expert.
Community-based recovery groups such as Crystal Meth Anonymous provide ongoing support for clients, and this can be beneficial when it comes to maintaining sobriety. Beyond that, these types of groups are also good because they help people to realize that they’re not alone in the struggles they’re facing, and members can provide one another with tips, advice, and encouragement.
Medications for Meth & Crystal Meth Abuse
Although there aren’t any medications that are FDA approved explicitly for the treatment of meth addiction, there are some medications that doctors and addiction specialists use with success to reduce use and mitigate withdrawal symptoms. The medications that show promise in treating meth abuse include:
- Benzodiazepines can be used to relieve anxiety and seizures
- Naltrexone is normally used to treat alcohol and opioid dependence, and it may help to increase abstinence among meth abusers as well
- Topiramate is an anticonvulsant that can reduce meth use
- Dextroamphetamine is a stimulant that can reduce cravings for meth
- Bupropion is approved to treat depression and aid with smoking cessation, and it may reduce light meth use and cravings as well
Residential vs. Outpatient Treatment for Meth & Crystal Meth Abuse
Since every person is different, it is important to understand all of the options available for meth and crystal meth addiction treatment.
Residential Inpatient: Inpatient treatment is a drug treatment program that generally lasts between 30 and 90 days, during which time clients live on-site at a treatment center. This is one of the most effective ways to start recovery because the facility is a supervised and sober environment where there are no drugs, no temptations, and no opportunities for clients to relapse. Beyond that, clients also go through a medically supervised detox and have access to a range of therapy types, including:
- family therapy
- groups sessions
- relapse prevention
- wellness training
- one-on-one therapy
- alternative therapy types like hypnotherapy and massage
Outpatient Treatment: Once inpatient treatment is complete, clients move to an outpatient or intensive outpatient program (IOP). This phase is critical for many individuals in treatment for meth abuse. Outpatient treatment is considered less intense than inpatient because clients are able to continue working and living at home. In most cases, regular outpatient and IOP are necessary stepping stones to managing addiction because they allow clients to take small steps back to their regular lives while also implementing the tools and coping techniques they learned in rehab to maintain sobriety. There are a variety of outpatient programs that meet unique needs and demands including:
- Regular outpatient, which includes weekly group sessions and allows clients to live at home and go back to work.
- Intensive outpatient (IOP), which includes several therapy sessions per week and a structured sober living environment.
- Other programs including daily check-ins with a recovery coach or counselor.