Methamphetamine (meth, crystal, ice, chalk) is a type of stimulant with a high abuse potential. It is a prescription drug used for a handful of justified clinical indications. The problem is the illicit use of meth manufactured in “super labs”. As a very powerful Schedule II stimulant, meth can increase physical activity, increase wakefulness and decrease appetite even in small doses.
Meth comes in a variety of forms. It can be swallowed, injected and smoked. It affects the structure of the brain that contains the neurotransmitter dopamine. The increased release of dopamine produces the “rush” that abusers long for. The “high” is followed by a “crash” that often leads to an increase abuse of meth. An abuser has no other positive recourse but to seek meth addiction treatment.
Treatment for meth addiction is quite complex and entails individualized treatment program. Most often, methamphetamine abusers have associated mental health disorders. Therefore, in any meth treatment program, the treatment provider must also determine if the abuser’s mental disorder is drug induced or not. Methamphetamine abusers are also in very poor health condition that must also be addressed.
Currently, the most effective treatment for meth addiction are behavioral therapies such as contingency management interventions and cognitive behavior therapy (CBT).
Contingency management (CM) principles have proven to be quite effective in treating meth addiction. CM involves giving rehab patient tangible rewards to boost positive behaviors such as drug abstinence. There are two types of incentives for CM: voucher-based reinforcement (VBR) and prize incentive CM. In VBR, the patient gets a voucher for each drug-free urine sample that he provides. The voucher serves as cash that can be exchanged for goods, services, food and even movie passes. The initial monetary value of the voucher is low, but gradually increases at each drug-free urine test. A positive urine test resets the value of the vouchers to low.
Prize Incentives CM works on the same principle as VBR but the vouchers are converted into chances to win cash prizes. A patient who shows drug negative urine test is made to draw from a bowl for the chance to win a prize. The prizes are usually cash prize worth up to $100. The number of draws per patient increases as he progresses through his treatment. Studies indicate that this type of behavioral therapy does not promote gambling.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy
Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) deals on how a person can manage his problems by changing the way he thinks and behave. This type of therapy has been successful in treating anxiety and depression and can also be used for physical and mental health problems. CBT is not a “magic pill” that can be taken to remove an addict’s problem, but it will definitely help him deal with them in a more constructive and positive way. CBT is based on the premise that one’s feelings, thoughts, actions and sensations are linked and interconnected: that all negativities can trap a person in one vicious cycle.
The core of CBT is to tackle and eventually crack the vicious cycle by breaking down problems into smaller parts and showing the patient how to take in and change negativities daily to improve his state of mind and heighten his sense of well-being.
Medications have been used to treat some substance disorders, but as of this writing, there is no specific medication that can counteract the effects of methamphetamine or extend abstinence of a person addicted to the drug. However, the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) founded the Methamphetamine Clinical Trials Group to carry out studies of medications for methamphetamine.
Praxil (anti-depressant) was found to decrease craving for meth.
Bupoprion (anti-depressant) reduces methamphetamine abuse in low to moderate users and also reduced cravings.
Modafinil was found to be effective in managing meth withdrawal symptoms.
Other drugs tested were found to have positive results for the management of meth addiction, but the studies are still in the early stages. Besides, all the drugs tested are prescription drugs which are also harmful.