Treating Meth Addiction
Meth is a very potent and highly addictive stimulant drug that results in increased energy, alertness, and euphoria and decreased fatigue, need for sleep and appetite. Taking meth causes increased dopamine and norepinephrine signaling that both elicits arousal and activates areas of the brain associated with reward and motivation, making the user want to take it repeatedly.1-3 Meth use can result in both physical dependence and addiction (stimulant use disorder) and is also associated with potentially dangerous effects on the body’s cardiovascular and neurological systems.4.5
Addiction is a chronic yet treatable disease that involves complex interactions within the brain and is influenced by a person’s genetics, environment, and life experiences. People with addiction compulsively use substances despite the associated negative consequences.6
In 2020 in the U.S., an estimated 1.5 million individuals 12 years old or older had a stimulant use disorder involving methamphetamine.7 If you are struggling with meth addiction, you should know that treatment can help.
How Do You Treat Meth Addiction?
Treatment for meth addiction may take many forms. Meth withdrawal is characterized by symptoms of exhaustion and mood instability that can be physically and psychologically uncomfortable and may result in depression with an increased risk for suicide. Supervised medical detox may be an appropriate first step for high-dose meth users at risk of self-harm due to meth withdrawal-induced psychosis or depression, or for those with preexisting depression.8
Following detox, different treatment approaches can help you break the cycle of addiction and remain abstinent.9 While some people may prefer inpatient rehab, others may do well in outpatient treatment. AdCare offers both inpatient and outpatient programs across Massachusetts and RI.
Why Treat Meth Addiction?
With high dose or repeated use, meth use often progresses from experiencing the desirable effects of increased alertness and euphoria to unwanted effects such as irritability, impaired judgement, and even psychotic symptoms such as paranoia and hallucinations. Meth use is associated with a wide range of harmful short- and long-term effects and risks to your physical and mental health and negatively impact your life overall. 1, 4 Short-term effects of meth use can include an irregular or rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, and hyperthermia (dangerously high body temperature).1 Methamphetamine-associated heart rhythm irregularities increase the risk of sudden death, for both new and experienced users.7 Overdose is also possible and may result in death if untreated.4
If you use meth over longer periods and at higher doses, you also put yourself at increased risk of serious effects such as meth psychosis, a condition characterized by schizophrenia-like symptoms (e.g., hallucinations, paranoia, and delusions). Chronic, high-dose use may also lead to severe anxiety, confusion, insomnia, mood changes, and sometimes violence.4
Medical Detox for Methamphetamine Addiction
Medical detox is a set of interventions designed to provide support and monitoring as you withdraw from meth. Detox involves a comprehensive assessment, followed by a stabilization period where you receive support and monitoring as you go through the actual withdrawal process.8
Stimulant withdrawal does not typically cause severe physical symptoms in the same way as alcohol or opioid withdrawal, but the risk of paranoia, violent behavior, severe depression, negative thoughts, self-harm and suicide are serious considerations that can warrant medical supervision.7 If an assessment shows that there’s a risk of experiencing severe depression that may lead to self-harm, or if a person is addicted to additional substances, 24/7 medically assisted detoxification may be recommended.7,8
Inpatient medically assisted meth detox provides a structured environment with round-the-clock care and close supervision to help keep you safe and comfortable and address any potential psychiatric or medical complications that may arise during withdrawal. 8
Are Medications Used for Meth Detox?
There aren’t yet any FDA-approved medications used for meth detox or the treatment of meth addiction.9 However, medications may be used for symptom management when needed. 7
Certain withdrawal conditions may warrant medication so you can stay safe and comfortable. For example, depression and insomnia may be treated with medications such as trazodone or diphenhydramine (Benadryl). 7 Diphenhydramine may also be used to treat skin conditions like itchiness or hypersensitivity that are sometimes associated with meth use. 7 Psychosis or severe agitation may be treated with neuroleptics (antipsychotics) or other medications.10
Research on potential medications for stimulant withdrawal is ongoing. For example, one recent study has examined the combination of naltrexone plus bupropion as a potential approach to treat methamphetamine use disorder, but further research is needed to evaluate the potential benefits.11
Types of Treatment for Meth Addiction
Different types of treatment can be beneficial for meth addiction. AdCare offers a comprehensive range of treatment programs and a continuum of care to meet your unique needs.
People with more serious addictions, those with co-occurring medical or psychiatric disorders, or those who require a high level of care may choose to start with inpatient or residential treatment, which can involve a stay at a rehab facility for a few weeks or longer.12 People with less severe addictions or those who have sufficient social support and a stable living environment may benefit from outpatient treatment, a flexible form of care that allows patients to live at home attend treatment at specified times during the day.12
Regardless of the setting, treatment for stimulant use disorders (the diagnostic term for stimulant addiction) can involve:7,9
- Contingency management (CM). This involves providing tangible incentives (like vouchers to exchange for goods) in exchange for positive behavioral change and withholding those incentives when behavioral goals are not met.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). This helps you identify unhelpful or negative thoughts (cognitions) that can impact your behavior and have lead to substance use, and then focuses on helping you change these thoughts to promote positive behavioral changes. CBT teaches you strategies and skills you’ll need to remain abstinent and avoid relapse.
- Matrix model. This is a comprehensive treatment approach that combines group therapy and individual therapy. It focuses on early recovery skills, relapse prevention, family education, and social support, and promotes involvement with mutual help recovery groups.
- Family and couples therapy. Relationships can be an important source of strength in supporting your recovery, but they may also have been damaged as a result of your addiction. This form of treatment helps address and repair issues in relationships such as resentment, codependency, and unhealthy communication.
Co-occurring disorders (addiction occurring alongside another mental health disorder) are common in people with substance use disorders.7 Integrating treatment to address both conditions is typical, as each disorder can impact the other.7 AdCare offers comprehensive treatment for stimulant use disorders and co-occurring mental health disorders, such as depression or anxiety.
How to Know if You or A Loved One Need Treatment for Meth Use
It’s not always easy to recognize the signs of meth addiction in yourself or know when it’s time for treatment. Denial is powerful, but the truth is that any use of meth is dangerous and can lead down a dark path to addiction and other devastating consequences. If you’re unable to control your use of meth or other substances, it may be time to enter treatment.
If you’re concerned about a loved one who may be struggling with meth abuse, it’s normal to be worried and anxious. While you can’t force someone to seek treatment if they’re not ready, you can express your concern and let them know that you want to help. You could also encourage them to talk to their doctor or a therapist or counselor, or help them research treatment facilities.13
Getting into Rehab for Meth Addiction
It can be very difficult to stop using drugs on your own, even when you know you need help. Getting into rehab to treat your meth addiction is one of the best steps you can take to regain control of your life. AdCare’s admissions process is simple, and you can get started right away. The first step can be to fill out our insurance verification form. You’ll just need to provide your name, contact information, date of birth, insurance provider, and your member number.
You can also call our free, confidential helpline at to speak to an admissions navigator who can help you understand the treatment options that are best for your needs, answer any questions you may have, and verify your insurance over the phone. We are available 24/7 to assist you.
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