There are various reasons why you may start abusing methamphetamines, with weight loss, higher energy levels and alertness, increased libido and suppressing negative emotions just some of the goals meth users hope to achieve. With the almost instant rush of dopamine you get from smoking or injecting meth and the low mood and anxiety you experience from come downs, it is easy to find yourself taking crystal meth in higher doses and more frequently, and before you know it you have an addiction. You are far from alone though, as more people are addicted to meth than they are to heroin or cocaine, with its relatively low cost and ease of availability making addictions among the young particularly common. While you may not initially acknowledge that you have a problem with crystal meth, signs of heavy use include malnutrition, dental decay, paranoia, psychosis and violent outbursts, and you may also experience seizures. As methamphetamine dependency can result in a heart attack, stroke or even death, it is essential that you take control of your addiction before it is too late. Thankfully, while meth is highly addictive and a difficult habit to break, recovery is possible with specialist input from a drug treatment program.
As treatment guidelines discuss, the first step towards recovery is detoxing from methamphetamine. Withdrawing from meth is a challenging process, as when your body is dependent on the drug, you experience various emotional and cognitive symptoms when you remove its supply. Feelings of panic and depression are common during crystal meth withdrawal, as are hallucinations, though users may also experience confusion, memory problems and difficulty concentrating or making decisions. Although methamphetamine withdrawal is not dangerous, an inpatient stay is sometimes recommended to help you cope better with the disturbing symptoms you may experience as you detox.
Besides helping you to withdraw from meth, detox is an opportunity to start managing any medical complications you may have from methamphetamine use. This may include addressing skin sores, abscesses and burns, dental erosion, nutrient deficiencies and any medical conditions that have been ignored while you were in the grip of crystal meth. Screening for HIV and hepatitis is also advisable, as these infections are common among methamphetamine users from either sharing needles or taking risks during sexual activity.
Medical Management of Meth Addiction
Although drug treatments are available to manage dependency on alcohol and opiates, a scientific journal article explains that there are currently no approved medications to treat meth dependency. Owing to the mechanism through which methamphetamine exerts its effects, research considered whether medications that bind to the receptors for dopamine, GABA and serotonin may prove an effective treatment, but the results of clinical studies were disappointing. More success has been shown with the antidepressant bupropion, which is also used as a smoking cessation aid, and naltrexone, which blocks the binding of opioids. While studies show that both medications are associated with reduced meth use, further research is necessary before these drugs can be used in meth treatment programs. The potential of vaccines and antibodies against methamphetamine for use in addiction treatment are also under investigation.
Behavioral Treatment for Meth Addiction
Due to the lack of pharmacological treatments available for methamphetamine dependency, its management focuses on behavioral strategies that can successfully help meth addicts to change their habits to avoid relapse. For instance, as the National Institute on Drug Abuse discusses, the Matrix Model is proven to reduce meth abuse. This 16 week program incorporates one to one counseling, behavioral therapy, 12-step support, promotion of healthy activities, drug testing and family education. There are also positive results for use of motivational incentives (also known as contingency management) to help methamphetamine users abstain. This form of therapy works by rewarding negative drug test results with tokens, which can be redeemed against vouchers to take part in wholesome activities such as sports, seeing a movie or enjoying a meal out. When it comes to specific psychological therapies, cognitive behavioral therapy, which helps addicts to change their thoughts and behaviors by allowing you to develop coping strategies for triggers and cravings, is the therapy of choice. However, as a review of treating meth addiction points out, CBT also known as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is more effective when used in conjunction with a scheme of motivational incentives. When you enroll in a meth recovery program though, your individual needs will be assessed to ensure that you receive the treatment best suited to your circumstances.
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