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More on Methamphetamine Treatment

By Ken Bachrach, Ph.D., Clinical Director

Treatment for methamphetamine is effective and available to those needing assistance stopping methamphetamine use and recovering from the effects of this highly addictive drug.  Methamphetamine currently is the primary drug of choice for one-third of individuals seeing residential and outpatient drug treatment at Tarzana Treatment Centers in Los Angeles.  

The first step is to stop using methamphetamine.  Methamphetamine withdrawal is an uncomfortable state.  While meth users usually don’t need medication to help them withdraw, they are often experiencing symptoms of depression, fatigue, agitation, confusion, lack of energy, paranoia, anxiety, and cognitive impairment.  So it is still prudent for meth addicts to enter a medical detoxification program in treatment.

These acute withdrawal symptoms can last from two days to two weeks.  During this period of time it is important to provide structure, and to not to make too many demands on the individual.  Symptoms of concern should be monitored and re-assessed on a regular basis, and psychological symptoms that persist may need more attention, including psychotropic medication.

During the first few days after stopping using methamphetamine, sleep, support, and eating nutritious foods is beneficial.  The meth addict’s brain is going through major changes and each day can be a challenge.  Medical and dental needs should be assessed, and it is a good idea to see a physician and a dentist if there are any concerns.

Problems with learning and memory may actually get worse following the cessation of methamphetamine use.  Research has shown that some individual’s have more impaired verbal memory for up to six months after they stopped using meth compared to when they just stopped.  This is unique among drugs of abuse.  

Since most counseling and treatment involves primarily counseling through talking, it is possible that meth addicts in early recovery will have difficult times remembering information.  Fortunately, visual memory is not impacted the same way that verbal memory is, so efforts should be made to use visual means in counseling and treatment.  

In addition, writing things down, using chalk boards and white boards, as well as active learning though role play and exercises may help overcome and compensate for these deficits in verbal memory.

Relapse triggers need to be identified for each individual, since these people, places and things place an individual at risk for resuming their meth use.  Sexual triggers are very common for both men and women who use meth, since surveys have shown that sex is associated with meth use more than any other drug.  In one survey, 67% of meth users agreed that they were obsessed with sex, compared to 40% of cocaine users and 16% of alcohol users.  

The road to recovery may not be a simple nor easy one.  As with many drugs of abuse, relapse is common, but getting back into treatment quickly can greatly increase one’s changes of long-term recovery.  In addition to addressing the specific issues surrounding methamphetamine use, medical, psychological, family, social, legal, vocational, and education issues often need to be addressed as well.  

Methamphetamine addiction treatment is as effective as for other drugs.  It is a myth that treatment for methamphetamine is not effective.  An evaluation by UCLA researchers of over 35,000 individuals referred to treatment showed no difference in any of the outcome measures when compared to users of other drugs of abuse.  This included treatment completion rates, urinalysis data, and retention in treatment rates.

Tarzana Treatment Centers in Los Angeles provides medical detoxification for methamphetamine addiction as part of our commitment to integrated behavioral healthcare in alcohol and drug treatment.  If you or a loved one needs help with methamphetamine addiction, please call us now at 888-777-8565 or contact us here.

Southern California Locations for Alcohol and Drug Treatment
Tarzana Treatment Centers has locations all over Southern California in Los Angeles County. Other than our central location in Tarzana, we have facilities in Lancaster in the Antelope Valley, Long Beach, and in Northridge and Reseda in the San Fernando Valley.



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