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Methamphetamine Addiction

Methamphetamine Addiction

People who have a friend or family member that is struggling with meth addiction may feel alone, but that is far from the case. In fact, according to the Drug Abuse Warning Network, in 2011, 103,000 emergency room visits around the country involved methamphetamine use—which amounts to a lot of loved ones dealing with the anguish of someone’s drug addiction. This page provides information on how to help a meth addict, including advice on determining if someone is abusing meth, confronting someone with an addiction, finding a treatment center, and transitioning to life after rehab.

Experts

Dr. Sal Raichbach
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Michael Castanon
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People who have a friend or family member that is struggling with meth addiction may feel alone, but that is far from the case. In fact, according to the Drug Abuse Warning Network, in 2011, 103,000 emergency room visits around the country involved methamphetamine use—which amounts to a lot of loved ones dealing with the anguish of someone’s drug addiction. This page provides information on how to help a meth addict, including advice on determining if someone is abusing meth, confronting someone with an addiction, finding a treatment center, and transitioning to life after rehab.

Signs of Meth Addiction

Those who have a family member or friend who uses meth may find what happens with their loved one to be quite alarming, but they may not be aware that they’re actually witnessing signs of addiction. The following are signs that someone has a dependency on the drug and need to enter methamphetamine addiction treatment.

    • Paranoia
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Dehydration
    • Irregular breathing, blood pressure, and heartbeat
    • Psychosis
    • Insomnia
    • Hallucinations
    • Reduced appetite
    • Heavy sweating
    • Dilated pupils

How to Help a Meth Addict

Dealing with someone with a meth addiction can be a huge undertaking that is extremely challenging to navigate. This section provides information on how to help a meth addict effectively.

How to Know If Someone Is Using Meth

When someone has been using meth, they leave a lot of clues that their loved ones may be able to pick up on. One of the tell-tale signs that someone has been abusing meth is if they are in possession of drug paraphernalia, which includes glass pipes, empty ink pens, aluminum cans, needles, and syringes. Also, someone may have a chemical smell on their body or their clothes when they are using the drug.

In addition, people who are using meth will go through noticeable physical changes, such as rapid weight loss, insomnia that can last up to several weeks, dilated pupils, rapid movements of the eyes, itching, constant sniffing, bloodshot eyes, facial tics, and injection marks on the body.

Also, a person’s behavior will drastically change when they are using meth. Someone on the drug may have sudden mood swings, talk more than usual, and have outbursts. Also, they may have odd behaviors like frequently picking their skin or hair.

How to Talk to Someone About Their Meth Abuse

No one wants to watch their loved one that is addicted to meth continue abusing the drug. At some point, the subject of the addiction is going to have to be confronted head on. It’s challenging to try to talk to someone about their drug abuse, and convince them to enter meth addiction treatment, but the following do’s and don’ts can help.

This is an important conversation and in order to be successful, it’s best to be prepared. People should research meth addiction to ensure they are as educated as possible about the problem. Also, they should research options for meth addiction treatment so they can make recommendations.

When someone is high on meth, the last thing they want to talk about is their addiction. It’s better to wait until they’re sober and thinking clearly to talk about it because that will increase the chances of getting through to them.

Although speaking to someone with an addiction can be effective in an intervention setting, it may be better to have an initial conversation about the problem in a less confrontational and intimidating way. Having a one-on-one heart-to-heart with the person may make them more receptive to listen.

Don’t be judgmental. It’s difficult to watch someone’s life spiral out of control because of a meth addiction, and people may feel tempted to lecture them about the problem in the hopes that they will see the light. However, coming off as judgmental will only alienate the person and may make them lean on their drug abuse even more to cope with the negative feelings that may come up.

Just because judgment should be avoided doesn’t mean the conversation about meth addiction should not be an open and honest one. A meth addict needs to understand the impact that their behavior has had on loved ones, so it’s important to be as forthcoming as possible.

The conversation with an addicted person should be heartfelt and honest, but it shouldn’t be completely off the cuff. It’s best to think about what to say beforehand in order to cover all of the issues and stay on track as things get emotional and difficult.

It can be challenging talking to someone addicted to meth, but it’s important to stay calm, even in the face of anger, deflection, and lies. People should keep their composure and stick to the matter at hand, even if their loved one becomes confrontational.

When having this conversation, it’s important for people to speak in “I” statements to convey how the addiction affects them, rather than laying blame on the other person. Using “you” statements during this conversation can make a meth addict become defensive.

In some cases, speaking to someone individually is enough to convince them to get help. In other cases, an intervention may be needed. A professional interventionist can be used to help loved ones organize and prepare to have this important conversation. Also, an interventionist can give advice on how to help a meth addict.

The first conversation about methamphetamine addiction may not lead to someone checking into rehab. People shouldn’t let that deter them from trying again.

What Is An Intervention?

An intervention is an organized meeting where the loved ones of someone with a meth addiction confront them about the problem and ask them to get treatment. These meetings can be done with just the friends and family members of meth addicts, or they may be done with the assistance of a professional interventionist.

How to Find Help for Meth Addiction

During this stressful time, it can be difficult for families to know how to help a meth addict. The following are some suggestions on how to begin the process of getting help for an addicted loved one, as well as getting help for themselves as they work to cope with the situation.

How to Find an Intervention Specialist

One way that people can find an interventionist is by contacting the Association of Intervention Specialists for a recommendation. In addition, the loved ones of meth addicts can speak directly to rehab centers because they may have their own intervention specialist on staff or may be able to suggest one.

How to Find and Contact Rehab Centers

A good place to start looking for a meth addiction treatment facility is to search for local programs on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator. Also, the agency has a helpline at 1-800-662-HELP that can provide information on treatment centers, community organizations, and support groups.

Another way to find treatment centers is by searching the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers’ directory. This organization issues accreditation for meth rehab centers, so programs listed on the site have met high professional standards to earn and maintain their credentials.

What to Expect from a Meth Treatment Program

When someone enters a meth addiction treatment program, they receive a combination of medication assisted therapy, or MAT, and counseling. The MAT treatments are designed to help patients cope with the pain of going through withdrawal as the drugs are removed from their system. Therapy—which can include individual, group, and family counseling—helps patients with a meth addiction understand why they abused the drug, what triggers they should pay attention to, and how to adopt habits that promote a clean and sober lifestyle.

  • Detox: Withdrawing from Meth
  • Visiting Someone in Rehab
  • Addiction Therapy: Participating in Treatment
  • Withdrawal from methamphetamines can be painful and dangerous, which is why people should only quit using the drug under the supervision of medical professionals. Some of the withdrawal symptoms that meth addicts may experience include:

    • Anxiety
    • Fatigue
    • Depression
    • Suicidal thoughts
    • Feelings of hopelessness
    • Cravings
    • Panic attacks
    • Dry mouth
    • Moodiness
    • Irritability
  • When people who have addiction to meth enter a rehab program, it’s important for them to know that someone still loves them and cares about their well-being. The loved ones of meth addicts can show their support by visiting them at the rehab facility. These visits can boost the morale of those getting treatment and give them something to look forward to.

    Every center that offers meth addiction treatment has its own rules about visits from friends and family members. In some cases, people can visit their loved ones during certain evening or weekend hours. In other cases, people may only be able to visit if family therapy is part of the patient’s treatment plan. Whatever the rehab’s procedure is, the following tips can help make the visit go smoothly.

    • Arrive to the facility on time. This helps the patient get used to having a regular routine and shows them their loved ones can be trusted.
    • Give praise and encouragement to help the patient feel like they are accomplishing something as they go through the program.
    • Expect the visits to be emotional. This is a difficult time for patients and loved ones alike, and it’s important to recognize there may be awkward silences or moments of being overcome by emotion.
    • Keep the conversations light and positive. Although there will be many underlying issues between meth addicts and their family that need to be resolved, these tough conversations should be reserved for counseling sessions.
    • Stay in the moment. Patients are dealing with issues one day at a time, so avoid talking about what will happen after they come home. Just work on rebuilding the relationship in the moment.
    • Listen. During rehab, patients are processing a lot of information and they may feel the need to share. It’s important for their loved ones to listen without judgment.
    • Meet with the staff. People will naturally have questions about what goes on in treatment, and its best to have them answered by someone on the staff instead of by the patient.
    • If visits are not allowed, but phone calls are, people should talk to their loved one as often as the rehab facility allows.
    Rules for Visiting Meth Addicts in Rehab

    When visitors arrive to a rehab facility to see their loved one, they are expected to follow certain rules. Generally, the staff will search their belongings to ensure they’re not trying to sneak in drugs or alcohol. In addition, they are only allowed to stay in certain parts of the facility during their visit, although they may be able to take a tour with a staff member the first time they arrive to see what the treatment center is like.

  • Therapy is an integral part of the rehab process, and participating in family therapy can go a long way toward helping a patient prepare to live a clean and sober life when they come home. During family therapy, people get to address a myriad of issues in a safe environment. Some of the things that may be discussed include communication styles, boundaries, abuse, financial problems, codependent and enabling behaviors, and betrayals.

Life After Meth Addiction

Adjusting to life after rehab can be even more challenging than the rehab program itself as meth addicts navigate their way through a completely new lifestyle. During this trying time, they will need as much support as possible and their loved ones can help them in numerous ways. For example, connecting the person with the resources they need, like support groups, can help them continue the process of recovery among people who are dealing with the same issues. Also, family members can maintain open and honest communication, create an environment free of substances, and encourage healthy habits like exercise and eating balanced meals.

Although support is important, family members must remember that ultimately sobriety is a journey their loved one will have to tackle themselves. People can’t make someone remain sober, so nagging, trying to make decisions for them, and watching them like a hawk will not give them the space they need to embrace their new sober lifestyle.

Dealing With a Relapse

Sometimes someone who has completed a methamphetamine addiction treatment program may go through a relapse. When this happens, it’s important for friends and family members of the meth addict to remain supportive and not give up on their sobriety. In order to do this, they should encourage the person to get the help they need—whether that means checking back into rehab or attending twelve-step programs—without blame, guilt, or shame. And they also shouldn’t blame themselves for what has happened.

Find Personal Support

One way the family of a meth addict can help their loved one is by taking good care of themselves. Just as their family member needs support, they must remember that self-care is also important. Some of the things they can do to take care of themselves include attending support groups for families of meth addicts, going to individual therapy, and setting healthy boundaries to prevent their own lives from being taken over by their loved one’s addiction.

Q&A With Meth Addiction Experts

About Dr. Sal Raichbach

Dr. Sal Raichbach of Ambrosia Treatment Center earned both a doctorate in psychology, as well as a master’s degree in clinical social work. He is actively licensed in the states of Florida, New Jersey, Nevada, and New York.

  • How can someone tell if their loved one is addicted to meth? What should they do when they learn this information?

    Signs of methamphetamine use include lack of sleep, decreased appetite, irritability, and inability to sit still. If you believe your loved one is addicted to meth, you should try to get them help as soon as possible. Typically, that involves a period of medical stabilization or detox, followed by residential treatment.

  • Is it a good idea to stage an intervention for a meth addict?

    There is no question that if you have a loved one with a meth addiction, intervening as soon as possible is critical. Meth is a very potent and powerful addiction that causes rapid physical deterioration and mental health issues.

  • Should frustrated families try to force a meth addicted person into treatment?

    First, families should try to hold an intervention. When done correctly, three out of four interventions end in the individual going to treatment. I would recommend getting a certified interventionist involved as well. They know the process and can make sure communication is productive and fair.

  • What can people do to support their loved one going through treatment?

    A person who is struggling with a methamphetamine addiction has more than likely done some things in active addiction that they are not proud of. They are probably feeling vulnerable, so support from those who love that person can make all the difference.

    Family members can offer their support by learning about addiction themselves. This way, they are prepared and knowledgeable about the causes of addiction and the recovery process. Additionally, emotional support from family members makes a huge difference for those who are struggling. It’s important to strike that balance between forgiveness of their past, and being firm about supporting their recovery instead of their addiction moving forward.

  • Do rehab facilities offer services for the families of meth addicted people to help them cope with the situation?

    Meth addiction, as with all addiction, is a family disease. The family must be engaged in the treatment, both to understand addiction as a disease and to begin to heal for themselves. Any quality rehab will involve the family in the recovery process by educating them about addiction and offering counseling. The family is an integral part of any good program.

  • Once someone completes rehab for meth addiction, how can their loved ones contribute to their sobriety?

    Family members must have a part in the recovery process. A big misconception people have is that completion of rehab means their ordeal is over. In fact, it is critical to accept recovery as a life-long proposition. The completion of residential treatment is the beginning.

    It is also vital to set aside the resentments that arose during the loved one’s active addiction. For a person’s recovery to succeed, all parties involved need to undergo change. The person who had the addiction will have a better chance of lasting recovery if he or she participates in recovery supports. These are steps to the foundation for long-term recovery. They include being involved in activities and interests that give purpose and give the person who was addicted the chance to see what life offers without their drug of choice.