Recovering from methamphetamine (meth) can be challenging. Relapses are common stumbling blocks on the road to a meth-free life: overall, more than 60% of those who struggle with meth relapse in the first year after starting recovery. In a recent survey by The Recovery Village, 79% of people who stopped meth use relapsed.
Experts have studied different treatment strategies for meth recovery. However, the effectiveness of these strategies can vary. If you are searching for meth treatment options for yourself or a loved one, knowing the difference between these strategies can help.
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The Dangers of Meth
Meth is an extremely addictive and potent stimulant. It is a Schedule II controlled substance in the United States. Although most meth bought on the street is illegally trafficked, the drug can also be prescribed legally for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Part of what makes meth so easy to abuse is the fact that it can be used in so many ways. It can be taken by mouth, snorted, injected, or smoked, catering to every user’s preference and comfort level. It also gives users pleasurable effects, such as:
- A euphoric rush
- A sense of well-being
- Decreased appetite
- High energy
- Increased activity levels and alertness
- The ability to stay awake for long periods of time
Apart from this, the side effects of meth are very dangerous and can be deadly. Users can experience:
- Rapid breathing
- Fast heart rate
- Irregular heartbeat
- Increased blood pressure
- High body temperature
Meth Rehab Success Rates
Usually, the first step to dealing with a substance use disorder is to detox. During detox, your body slowly rids itself of the substance, often involving withdrawal symptoms. Following detox, it is recommended to continue with rehab, where you do the hard work of addressing why you began to rely on meth in the first place.
Detox should be paired with rehab to help a person stay sober. One study showed that people who went through meth detox alone were just as likely to use meth again as users who never received treatment. Meth users who followed their detox with rehab had more promising results: for every 100 people, meth rehab helped 33 stay sober at three months, with this number falling to 14 people remaining sober at one year and six at three years.
Essentially, detox alone did not help people stay sober. Meth rehab produced results that, while better, are still difficult to maintain over time. Further, medications are generally not effective in helping a person stay away from meth.
The question remains: what should people with meth-related substance use disorders do to make sure they successfully recover?
How Can a Person Stay Away From Meth in the Long Run?
Many treatment strategies have been studied on how to help a person after quitting meth. While exact meth rehab success rates vary widely depending on the person and their unique recovery needs, these seven strategies can increase your chances of fully recovering from meth:
1. Long-term inpatient rehab
Long-term rehab generally takes place in either hospitals or therapeutic communities and takes anywhere from 6–12 months. Multiple studies have been conducted on long-term rehab, showing that longer treatment duration is linked to a higher chance of recovery. Conversely, shorter treatment stays (under 37 days) are not linked to recovery benefits.
Hospitals tend to focus on detox and cognitive behavioral therapy, whereas therapeutic communities focus on confronting the places where you could improve your psychological and social functioning. Both can focus on finding employment and social support while you’re in treatment, and many hospitals and inpatient rehab facilities can offer treatment for co-occurring mental health disorders.
2. Cognitive behavioral therapy
CBT helps to treat substance use disorders by teaching people how to change their self-destructive patterns and create new, healthier life choices. It focuses a lot on recognizing the early signs of cravings, identifying situations that put you at risk and developing coping skills to deal with them.
3. Contingency management
Contingency management (CM) uses tangible rewards like vouchers or cash to encourage abstinence from drugs like meth. The rewards are low at the beginning of treatment, but the longer you remain sober, the more you can receive.
Studies have shown that contingency management improves the recovery course of people addicted to meth, including the number of negative urine tests, better overall abstinence and less participation in risky behaviors.
4. The Matrix Model
The Matrix Model is a combination of treatments for meth abuse. The Matrix Model works by teaching people struggling with meth about issues that are important to addiction and relapse.
Therapy is at the center of the Matrix Model, with the therapist acting as teacher and coach. The therapist also provides direction and support and teaches about the importance of self-help programs like Crystal Meth Anonymous. Drug use is monitored by urine testing. The program lasts for several months and has been shown to reduce meth relapses and cravings for up to 18 months.
5. 12-step programs and SMART Recovery
12-step programs, including Crystal Meth Anonymous, stress acceptance of the chronic nature of substance abuse. They emphasize surrendering to a higher power for guidance and strength and recovering as a group. Similarly, SMART Recovery views alcohol and drug abuse as a dysfunctional habit rather than a disease and relies on secular, science-based techniques to recover from substance use disorders.
Coming together to find support can be invaluable, especially when you find a sponsor. They provide long-term support for meth recovery and are a cornerstone of aftercare to help keep you focused on recovery after rehab is complete. However, these programs are only effective if you regularly attend meetings, so if you choose to commit yourself to Crystal Meth Anonymous or SMART Recovery, make sure you’re in for the long haul.
6. Aversion therapy
Aversion therapy is an older form of treatment in which using a substance like meth is paired with an unpleasant consequence. For example, meth aversion therapy may let people snort fake meth followed by either an oral emetic to create nausea or an electric shock to create irritation. Pairing the two makes you not want to use meth anymore based on the negative associations. However, the therapy is intentionally meant to be unpleasant, which can make treatment difficult for some people to complete.
7. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is a way to map blood flow in the brain as it travels among different areas responsible for different types of cognition. This allows doctors and scientists to measure how cognitive, emotional, and social processes are carried in different systems of the brain.
When it comes to meth abuse, this type of imaging can be used to predict the likelihood of relapsing. This is due to changes in the brain’s organization in people addicted to stimulants like meth. These changes can be detected with fMRI. People with certain changes in the paralimbic areas of the brain may be more likely to relapse than others.
For this reason, fMRIs might help identify individuals who are at high risk of relapsing so they can get into a preventative program beforehand.
Combining Meth Rehab Strategies
The best way to treat meth abuse is a full continuum of care, where people receive treatment and support through multiple descending levels of care: from medical detox to inpatient rehab, all the way to aftercare. The Recovery Village offers a holistic, evidence-based approach to meth addiction treatment that’s uniquely tailored to each individual, including individual and group therapies, cognitive behavioral therapy and more. Reach out to our trained staff to learn more about our treatment programs that will fit your needs as you recover from meth.
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- Medical Disclaimer
The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.