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Strategies for Fighting Meth
     

Treatment for Meth Addiction
 
  What is known about meth addiction?  
   
  What is drug addiction treatment?
     
  What is the best treatment for meth addicts?
       
  What does meth treatment entail?
       
  How can I find a local treatment provider?
       
  How can I find out more about meth treatment?
       
  In Depth: What can you tell me about successful treatment programs?
       
  In Depth: What are the characteristics of effective meth treatment programs?
       
  In Depth: Is treatment expensive?
       
  In Depth: Is there any funding, training, or technical assistance for meth treatment in Illinois?
       
What is known about meth addiction? Back to top
 

Addiction is a disease marked by three primary symptoms:

1. The addict has difficulty controlling the drug use. The addict uses the drug excessively or frequently and has extreme difficulty making the choice not to use the drug.

2. Use of the drug causes problems in the addict’s life. Addicts typically withdraw from family and friends and also experience job-related difficulty, financial drain, and other negative consequences.

3. The addict feels a strong craving to use the drug, which can be associated with psychological triggers as well as physical symptoms.

Methamphetamine is extremely addictive. Meth causes chemical reactions in the brain that trick the body into believing it has unlimited energy supplies and drain energy reserves needed for other parts of the body. This causes meth addicts to stay awake for long periods of time until they crash from exhaustion. Meth also reduces the levels of dopamine (a chemical in the brain that causes feelings of pleasure) produced by the brain. When the user stops taking the drug, the brain is unable to function normally for a period of days, weeks, or even months.

   
What is drug addiction treatment? Back to top
 

In the most general terms, drug addiction treatment refers to the broad range of services provided to people suffering from addiction. These services include identification, intervention, assessment, diagnosis, counseling, health care, psychiatric services, psychological services, social services, and follow-up procedures. The overall goal of treatment is to reduce or eliminate drug use and restore the addict to a productive life. Because addiction is a life-long, relapsing disease, the recovery process is also life-long. For this reason, we refer to former drug users as “recovering” addicts.

   
What is the best treatment for meth addicts? Back to top
 

Because traditional treatment models are not effective for meth addiction, meth-specific treatment programs have been developed.

Successful meth treatment requires the use of cognitive-behavioral therapy. The cognitive-behavioral therapy approach, which focuses on how the way we think affects our feelings and actions, helps patients identify and plan for the triggers associated with the substance abuse. This approach prepares the addict for life-long recovery.

A critical consideration in meth treatment is something known as the “wall.” Around 45 to 120 days into treatment, recovering addicts experience physiological changes that often lead to a return to meth use. This period of increased depression and need for the drug is the single significant factor today to the false perception that meth addiction is “untreatable.”

Although recovering from meth addiction is challenging, it is not impossible. For meth treatment to be successful, it simply must meet the demands of meth addiction. Research shows that recovering meth addicts require a longer and more intense outpatient program than is the case for many other drugs. These outpatient services should be very structured and include frequent contact between the treatment provider and the recovering addict.

   
What does meth treatment entail? Back to top
 

The goal of treatment is to teach the addict new skills that will help him or her cope with drug cravings and prevent relapses. Often, the process will begin with a short series of “pre-treatment” sessions used to motivate the user to commit to treatment and to assess the user’s drug history, mental status, current drug usage, and relationships with significant others. These sessions progress according to the interest and commitment of the addict, as does the ensuing treatment.

Meth treatment involves both individual and small group approaches. Addicts talk about their experiences and are walked through a variety of exercises and worksheets designed to further their recovery by increasing self-awareness. A first step toward recovery is a thorough understanding of addiction and its effects on the mind and body. It is extremely important that the user understand his or her addiction and identify the “triggers” that may cause his or her drug use. Once common triggers are identified, the user can determine ways of avoiding high-risk trigger situations and learn new ways of coping with them.

Throughout treatment, returns to meth use are treated not as failures but as opportunities to learn. By analyzing what caused the addict to relapse, the addict can learn how to keep it from happening again. Extensive work is done to assist the addict in developing effective coping mechanisms to help him or her work past cravings.

Treatment encourages users to see beyond the immediate “positive” effects gained from drug use toward the negative consequences of drug use that inevitably follow. Alternative coping mechanisms are then devised that will provide positive effects without the negative consequences of drug use. Finally, recovering addicts learn to manage their lives more successfully, increase their confidence and self-esteem, and set positive personal goals.

Treatment also addresses other medical or mental health issues facing the user and includes education on the risks of HIV and AIDS associated with meth use.

Treatment is ended when the recovering addict reaches set treatment goals. To facilitate the recovering addict’s continued abstinence from meth, treatment professionals help the recovering addict set up a system of support to help him or her stay drug-free after treatment. Often, this includes lifetime involvement in support groups or twelve-step programs.

   

How can I find a local treatment provider? Back to top

 

The federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has a searchable directory of drug and alcohol treatment programs around the country.

The Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse (DASA), part of the Illinois Department of Human Services, also provides an online treatment facility locator.

   
How can I find out more about meth treatment? Back to top
 

The American Public Health Association (APHA)
The American Public Health Association is the oldest and largest organization of public health professionals in the United States, representing more than 50,000 members. The association and its members influence public policies and set priorities for public health.

The American Society of Addiction Medicine
The American Society of Addiction Medicine is the nation’s medical specialty society dedicated to educating physicians and improving the treatment of individuals suffering from alcohol and other addiction.

The Federal Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT)
The Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT), a division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), produces Treatment Improvement Protocols which outline effective treatment strategies for methamphetamine addiction.

The Federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
SAMHSA is the federal agency charged with improving the quality and availability of prevention, treatment, and rehabilitative services in order to reduce illness, death, disability, and costs to society resulting from substance abuse and mental illness. This Web site has an abundance of current research, examples of successful efforts, and available funding resources.

Great River Recovery Resources
Great River Recovery Resources provides substance abuse treatment services and is a leader in Illinois on meth treatment. Through a project sponsored by the Illinois Department of Human Services, a manual for treatment professionals is available that reflects the most effective methods and techniques to treat methamphetamine users.

The Illinois Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse (DASA)
The Illinois Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse (DASA), part of the Illinois Department of Human Services, is charged with designing, coordinating, and funding a comprehensive and coordinated community-based, culturally sensitive and gender appropriate array of services throughout the state for prevention, intervention, and treatment and rehabilitation of alcohol and other drug abuse and dependency. The Web site also contains a treatment facility locator.

The Matrix Institute
The Matrix Institute offers treatment, education, and research on substance abuse. The Matrix model is an intensive outpatient approach shown to reduce methamphetamine use.

Narcotics Anonymous (NA)
Narcotics Anonymous is an international, community-based association of recovering drug addicts with more than 31,000 weekly meetings in over 100 countries worldwide. This Web site offers networking opportunities, NA literature, and locations of local NA chapters.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
The National Institute on Drug Abuse is a part of the National Institute of Health. NIDA supports over 85 percent of the world’s research on the health aspects of drug abuse and addiction.

   
In Depth: What else can you tell me about successful meth treatment programs? Back to top
 

Several meth treatment programs have shown positive results, and work continues to develop new treatment options.

One successful treatment program is the “Matrix Model,” an outpatient cognitive-behavioral approach that shows evidence of effective treatment for methamphetamine users. The Matrix Model has been used to treat several thousand patients. The Matrix Institute continues to research the model.

The Matrix Model is highly regarded and backed by the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT), a division of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The Center for Substance Abuse Treatment produces Treatment Improvement Protocols that serve as definitive studies and treatment practices upon which treatment professionals can rely.

In an effort to expand treatment options, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is working on a program to develop pharmacological approaches to meth addiction. They are researching approximately 10 compounds in various stages of clinical trials for the specific treatment of methamphetamine addiction. These are all classic medications used in other areas of medicine that may prove useful as anti-meth agents.

   
In Depth: What are the characteristics of effective meth treatment programs? Back to top
 

Research shows that effective treatment programs:

• Are at least three months to a year in duration.
• Are intensive, comprehensive, and highly structured.
• Incorporate a longer and more intense outpatient program.
• Focus on functional analysis including information, structure, and life skills.
• Teach lessons on triggers and cravings.
• Incorporate relapse prevention.
• Provide access to educational, vocational, and employment opportunities.

   
In Depth: Is treatment expensive? Back to top
 

Drug addiction treatment is cost-effective in reducing drug use and its associated health and social costs. Treatment is not cheap, but it is far less expensive than choosing not to treat addicts or incarcerating them. Conservative estimates indicate that for every one dollar spent on treatment, four to seven dollars are returned in reduced crime, criminal justice costs, and theft. [SOURCE: Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research Based Guide (National Institute on Drug Abuse)].

   
In Depth: Is there any funding, training, or technical assistance for meth treatment in Illinois? Back to top
 

The Illinois Department of Human Services, Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse (DASA), sponsors an ongoing project to research methamphetamine treatment and develop a treatment manual for use in Illinois. Great River Recovery Resources, located in Quincy, works with DASA and other leaders in the treatment field to maximize the availability of stimulant-specific treatment to agencies in Illinois. For more information, or to inquire about their services, go to www.recoveryres.org or call (217) 224-6300.

 

 

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