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What Happens During Rehabilitation for Meth Addiction?
Detoxification is the body’s natural process of eliminating chemicals or toxins in your system. When quitting a drug addiction to something like crystal meth, your body will begin the detox process on its own.
However, if you have formed a chemical dependency on a substance like meth, you will likely experience cravings and other withdrawal symptoms while your body adjusts to the new normal.
In many cases, seeking professional treatment during the detox process not only keeps you safe from potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms but also greatly increases your chances of avoiding relapse during the more challenging phases of withdrawal.
Medically Assisted Meth Detox
A medically-assisted detox for crystal meth addiction can occur at an inpatient addiction treatment program or through an outpatient program. Not everyone recovering from meth addiction will need to stay at a facility while they go through withdrawals.
In addition to monitoring you during the detox process, medical professionals may also prescribe you special medication that will help you during withdrawals. These prescription drugs can alleviate some of the discomforts you might experience and can also help you avoid relapse.
Sometimes depression and anxiety can accompany withdrawals after crystal meth use as a result of crystal meth impacting the brain’s natural chemicals. Wellbutrin is also a stimulant, which can help reduce cravings during the withdrawal process.
Provigil is a synthetic stimulant, and the brain will receive this chemical in a similar way to how it reacted to crystal meth. However, Provigil is far less dangerous and has a low potential for addiction. Provigil is sometimes prescribed in the treatment of stimulant addiction, including addiction to crystal meth.
As both a stimulant and antidepressant, Remeron is another potential medication that can be prescribed during your recovery from crystal meth addiction. Remeron can decrease withdrawal symptoms (including cravings) and help people avoid relapse during the early stages of their recovery.
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)
Because crystal meth has such an impact on serotonin and dopamine, it can take a while for the body’s natural chemicals to re-adjust. Antidepressants like SSRIs can sometimes help assist recovering addicts with mental health issues.
Having a healthier, more positive mental state can make the individual more successful in their long-term abstinence from drug use and recovery.
Meth Withdrawal Symptoms
During the withdrawal stage after quitting crystal meth, recovering individuals may experience the following symptoms:
- Dry mouth
- Severe depression
- Psychosis (confusion and delusions)
For most individuals, withdrawal from crystal meth lasts about two weeks.
The initial meth withdrawal symptoms will begin within the first 24 hours after the last dose. During the first week, cravings can be very intense, and many individuals return to meth use as a result. Meth withdrawal symptoms will peak within 7-10 days after the last dose.
Overall, crystal meth withdrawals are not life-threatening. However, due to meth’s highly addictive nature and the subsequent impact on mental health, seeking medical detox is strongly recommended, as relapse can be common without the right help.
Post-Detox Meth Addiction Treatment
The next step after the detox process is to participate in a meth addiction rehab program. Both inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment centers are equipped to help you or your family member recover from meth addiction.
Your physician or licensed addiction counselor can help you determine which option will be best for your overall recovery.
Inpatient Meth Rehab
Inpatient rehab is a type of residential treatment where the recovering addict will stay at a facility 24-7. During their stay, the patient will receive any necessary medical care—which may be especially necessary for recovering meth addicts due to the way meth impacts the body.
Inpatient treatment usually lasts for a minimum of 30 days. Patients receiving inpatient care will participate in multiple individual and group therapy sessions. Inpatient care is also highly structured to help recovering addicts develop a healthier day-to-day lifestyle outside of previous drug use.
Outpatient Meth Rehab
Some individuals may have a treatment plan that only calls for outpatient care. Outpatient rehab centers provide therapy and structure much like inpatient drug rehab but do not require the patient to stay overnight.
Outpatient care can generally be broken down into two major types.
The first and more time-intensive of the two is known as Partial Hospitalization. Former crystal meth users participating in a Partial Hospitalization Program will visit a treatment center multiple times a week for 4-8 hours each day. They will participate in individual and group therapies like at an inpatient facility.
For those with a much more minor addiction, there are also Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP). An Intensive Outpatient Program provides therapy at a facility multiple times a week for approximately 10+ hours weekly.
An IOP is also an effective treatment option for recovering addicts who have completed another rehab program (such as inpatient drug rehab) and are transitioning back to regular daily life.
Meth Addiction Behavioral Therapy
Mental health is a major component of addiction recovery, but it can be especially important to manage during long-term recovery from crystal meth addiction.
Crystal meth takes such a toll on the brain’s natural chemistry that former addicts may struggle with depression and anxiety for some time as their body heals.
Working with counselors during and after substance abuse treatment can help former meth users build better habits and continue to abstain from meth use well into the future.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive-behavioral therapy can be incredibly beneficial to patients recovering from meth addiction.
Not only does CBT help patients work through precious negative thought patterns and develop better habits, but it can also assist individuals that are struggling with anxiety and depression as a result of how meth impacted their brains.
Contingency management programs are often very effective for individuals that are recovering from stimulant addiction, including crystal meth.
Contingency management therapy is a voucher-based program where recovering addicts can earn tokens for positive behaviors. Good behavior can include participation in group therapy, volunteering, or even just clear drug tests.
12-Step Programs for Meth Recovery
Twelve-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) provide a peer support group of fellow recovering addicts. During these meetings, individuals will share personal struggles and accomplishments related to their addiction recovery journey.
These programs also provide a structured checklist to help recovering individuals work through their addiction and sobriety journey one step at a time.
Staying Sober After Meth Rehab
It is possible to stay sober after meth rehab. While the therapies that took place at your rehab facility will help teach you healthy coping techniques and overall relapse reduction life skills, recovery is usually a lifelong journey.
With the right support and post-rehab activities, you can still look forward to a happier, meth-free future.
Sober Living House
A sober living house or community provides recovering addicts with a drug and alcohol-free community to live in both during and after rehab. Sober living houses come in different styles, with some houses under the observation of a life-in counselor and others with less supervision.
Another important aspect of recovery and relapse reduction is the many aftercare programs that are available once rehab is complete.
Some of the most common types of aftercare include:
- Continuing individual therapy sessions
- Participating in family therapy
- Joining local or online support groups
- Getting active at the gym or fitness studio
- Volunteering at a previous rehab clinic
Why You Should Quit: The Dangers of Meth Use
Crystal meth is extremely addictive. The short- and long-term effects of meth abuse can also take a major toll on the body, and some effects can last months or even years.
Another notable risk with crystal meth use is that the synthetic opioid fentanyl is often mixed into meth, usually without the user’s knowledge. Fentanyl is an extremely potent and highly addictive opioid that can easily lead to overdose and death.
Still, the most recent overdose data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) indicates that overdose deaths from psychostimulants—especially methamphetamine—have steadily increased each year since 2015.
As of 2021, a reported 32,537 people died from a psychostimulant overdose, most of which were methamphetamines. Crystal meth remains highly dangerous and often deadly even without the possibility of being cut with illicit fentanyl.
Seeking treatment for crystal meth use as soon as possible can help you or your family member avoid many of these potentially dangerous side effects.
Short-Term Effects of Meth Use
Using crystal meth even for a short period can have severe health consequences and can lead to overdose even after trying it once. Short-term use of crystal meth can also lead to developing substance use disorder in just a short period.
Common short-term side effects of meth abuse include:
- High blood pressure
- Extreme weight loss
- Faster heart rate
- Insomnia, restlessness
- High body temperature
- Compulsive scratching
- Heart attack
Long-Term Effects of Meth Use
Individuals that abuse crystal meth for a long period put themselves at high risk for major health complications and life-threatening overdose.
Long-term meth users put themselves at risk for experiencing the following side effects:
- Significant weight loss
- Liver damage
- Rotted teeth (aka “meth mouth”)
- Lowered immunity
- Increased risk for heart attack or stroke
- Nerve damage
- Memory loss
- Sores on the face or body
- Mood swings
- Paranoia, delusions
- Permanent brain damage
If you or a loved one is struggling with meth addiction, seeking help from a meth treatment center as soon as possible can not only help you quit your addiction but provide you with the healthcare you need to reverse some of the damage meth has caused.
Get Help for Crystal Meth Addiction
Crystal meth can take a significant toll on a user’s body, impacting their physical health and emotional well-being. Getting help as soon as possible can make a huge difference.
To find out what types of treatment services are available in your area, you can check the SAMHSA online treatment locator or call them for free at 1-800-662-4357 (HELP).
FAQs About Meth Rehab
How long does meth rehab take?
Detoxing with medical assistance is usually the first step in getting treatment for meth addiction. Typically, detox will last 7-10 days.
Next, most people will enter some type of rehab program, whether inpatient or outpatient. Many rehab programs begin at 30 days but can last 60-90 days, depending on a person’s individual needs.
How do I recover from a meth addiction?
For many people, entering some kind of detox program is a critical first step in recovering from meth addiction.
Relapse is extremely common due to the cravings that can appear during the acute withdrawal phase. However, having the support of medical professionals and potentially the aid of prescription medications during this phase can make a huge difference in staying sober.
From there, therapy is considered an especially effective treatment during the meth addiction recovery process. Therapy can help people address not only their initial issues caused by meth use but it can also help them unpack the issues that led them to use meth in the first place.
What are the symptoms of meth withdrawal?
Meth withdrawal symptoms are not necessarily life-threatening but can be uncomfortable, especially without any type of assistance or medical intervention.
Common meth withdrawal symptoms include:
- Strong cravings for meth
- Dry mouth
- Trouble sleeping or increased sleepiness
- Psychosis and delusions
What are the most effective treatments for methamphetamine addiction?
Research shows that the most effective treatment strategy for meth addiction recovery is behavioral therapy.
Some of the more common behavioral therapy techniques for managing meth addiction recovery are:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- The Matrix Model
- Contingency management
- Motivational Incentives for Enhancing Drug Abuse Recovery (MIEDAR)