Detoxification is only the first part of what can be a lengthy process of treatment for methamphetamine addiction. Inpatient and outpatient care and the Matrix Method can be effective forms of treatment as well. No medicine specifically is formulated for the treatment of methamphetamine addiction; however, clinical trials are under way to determine the effectiveness of certain antidepressants, such as Wellbutrin, for the treatment of methamphetamine addiction.
Methamphetamine, commonly referred to as “crystal meth,” “meth,” “crank,” “speed” and “ice,” is a highly addictive stimulant made from easily procured ingredients. Meth usually takes the form of a whitish-colored powder, but can also take a solid form resembling chunks of glass or ice. Chronic meth use produces many physical and psychological health problems including anxiety, compulsive behavior, depression, psychosis, tooth decay and long-term cognitive impairment. The meth user’s impaired ability to learn, recall and infer can persist for up to 12 weeks after cessation of meth use. This makes treatment meth addiction particularly difficult.
Detoxification or “detox” from methamphetamine refers to the process of ridding the body of the drug. Detox from meth usually involves difficult withdrawal symptoms that, while not life-threatening, may require medical attention. Someone undergoing meth withdrawal may experience anxiety, intense cravings for the drug, insomnia, depression, fatigue and even psychotic reactions. Each user will experience detoxification somewhat differently and should remain under the supervision of experienced medical personnel during the process. Rest and nourishment are the most basic requirements of successful detox.
Inpatient care at a drug rehabilitation center can be an important component of the initial stages of detoxification and treatment. Rehab centers and sober-living homes provide the recovering meth user with medical supervision and support. The difficulty of withdrawal can lead to relapse without proper, continual care. Most common types of inpatient care last about one week, according to detoxresources.com.
According to a 2006 document by the National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare, effective outpatient treatment typically lasts up to three months and involves counseling and education. Often participation in some form of 12-step or anonymous program is encouraged. Recovery from meth addiction must be specifically tailored to accommodate the diminished cognitive abilities of the patients. For example, since image recognition is not as impaired as word recognition, educational materials generally rely heavily on visual cues. A mental health component of counseling is also important to address the depression and anxiety of the recovering meth addict.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse describes the Matrix Model as a form of outpatient treatment that combines behavioral-cognitive therapy, 12-step counseling, individual counseling, participation in support groups, and drug testing to rehabilitate the meth addict.
A sauna may be a novel, initial detox method. A 2009 article in Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Weekly reports that approximately 20 Utah police officers used a sauna to detox from exposure to methamphetamine inside laboratories where the drug is concocted.