Methamphetamine, or meth for short, is a common recreational drug in the United States. It is a stimulant, which makes you feel more energetic and active. It is mostly sold in the black market, with names like speed, crank, and ice.
As with many illegal drugs, meth has a high likelihood of abuse. Using it, even in a few doses, can make you prone to meth withdrawal.
While you can quit using meth at home, it will be hard to be successful without help from family, friends, and medical personnel. Meth withdrawal symptoms are generally not life-threatening, but they can become too uncomfortable that you would be compelled to take meth again. This is why it is best to quit the drug under medical supervision.
In many meth rehab programs, the first stage is medically-assisted detox. Doctors and other medical staff will be by your side through the entire process, and you can get help whenever you need it. They will make sure that the withdrawal process is as tolerable as possible, minimizing any withdrawal symptoms that may develop.
The medical personnel may also prescribe some medications to manage withdrawal symptoms more effectively. While there are no medications that can directly treat meth addiction, there are those that can ease the most unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.
Here are some of those medications in more detail.
Naltrexone is often used in treating addiction to opioids like morphine, oxycodone, and heroin. It is classified as an opioid antagonist, which blocks the action of opioids and prevents their addictive effects. In addition to opioids, naltrexone is also helpful in reducing cravings for meth. It can also prevent the euphoric effects of meth from affecting you.
Topiramate is commonly prescribed to treat seizures and nerve pain. It enhances the effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that helps you feel relaxed. This medication can help with withdrawal symptoms that make you jittery, fatigued, and restless. Topiramate has been shown to reduce meth cravings as well.
Bupropion is an antidepressant, and it increases the activity of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine. It is normally prescribed to people with depression, bipolar disorder, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
The medication’s effects also make it useful in curbing some meth withdrawal symptoms. A study by Dr. Thomas Newton, a psychiatry professor in the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), has shown that active meth users who were given bupropion reported a less intense high as well as reduced cravings for meth.
By decreasing the level of pleasure associated with meth use, bupropion can help discourage you from further taking meth.
Modafinil is another drug that enhances the effects of dopamine. It also stimulates noradrenaline and serotonin. The most pronounced effect of modafinil is stabilizing your sleep/wake cycle, so it is mostly prescribed for conditions like narcolepsy, sleep apnea, and shift work disorder. Modafinil also has off-label uses such as enhancing attention and reducing excessive fatigue.
Thus, modafinil can be used to address withdrawal symptoms related to sleep problems and fatigue.
Mirtazapine is another antidepressant that can help reverse the psychological effects of meth abuse. According to a study done by researchers from the San Francisco Department of Public Health, participants with meth addictions who were given mirtazapine effectively reduced their cravings for the drug. Only a few of the participants on mirtazapine had meth-positive urine tests. Also, participants on mirtazapine engaged much less in unprotected sexual activity.
Detox and medications are quite helpful in helping you stop meth use, but it is not the only component of rehab. It is only the first step. Once your body can tolerate not taking meth at all, there may still be remnants of the addiction that manifest in your thoughts and behaviors.
To address the mental aspect of meth abuse, you need to go through counseling and behavioral therapies. Techniques like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and motivational enhancement therapy are common and have found much success.
In CBT, your therapist will help you get to the root causes of your addiction to meth. Once you have found them, your therapist will then teach you how to deal with those things that make you want to take the drug. You will learn how to deal with those drug triggers, as well as healthy ways to cope with stress and negative emotions. That way, taking meth will no longer be your go-to stress reliever.
In motivational enhancement therapy, you will be rewarded for behaviors that lead to sobriety. In particular, you will receive vouchers each time you get a negative drug test. The vouchers can represent different items, like transportation tickets, food, and gift cards. In some cases, incentives can stack up if your drug tests come out negative consecutively.
Two studies from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reported that giving an average of $120 to $200 worth of incentives per participant have doubled the rates of abstinence. This study did not look at meth abuse only; participants had addictions to different substances.
While one-on-one sessions with a therapist are effective, you can achieve the best recovery outcome when individual therapies are combined with group therapies. If you are with other people going through similar journeys, you would feel a sense of belongingness, which in itself can help a lot in your own recovery.
If your immediate family gets involved, your chances of living drug-free are even better. Couples and family therapies can equip the people closest to you with the skills necessary to assist you in your recovery. When they know how best to help you, your spouse and family can be your best assets towards a sober life.
Are you struggling with meth withdrawal? Talk to your doctor or an addiction recovery professional today. Getting professional help is the first step to a drug-free life.