How to help a crystal meth addict?

How do you help a crystal meth addict? Treatment for addiction includes detox as well as psychological and behavioral interventions. More on helping a crystal meth addict here.

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Reviewed by: Dr. Dili Gonzalez, M.D.

Methamphetamine – meth, for short – is a highly addictive and powerful stimulant that affects the central nervous system. Meth works in the brain to cause increased alertness and energy and to decrease appetite by interacting with the neurotransmitters of the brain and nervous system.

But how do you know when someone is having a problem with meth addiction? And what can you do about it?  We review more here. How to help a meth addict, what to expect during treatment, and a section for your questions about getting help with crystal meth addiction at the end.

How to help a crystal meth addict?

In general, you can only help an addict when s/he is ready for help. Meth addicts are no different. However, there are interventions you can plan and ways to help address cases of addiction when you identify a problem. The first step is to know more about crystal meth addiction itself as well as what addiction treatment programs can offer.

More on meth (Desoxyn) addiction, available treatment options, what’s the rehab process like, and ongoing recovery care in our detailed GUIDE on Addiction Treatment Programs & Help.

Methamphetamine can be found in many different solid forms and varies in color from white to brown. The form of clear chunky crystals is known as crystal meth, or ice. This synthetic drug is a neurotoxin that causes dependence and addiction psychosis, high body temperature, stroke, and cardiac arrhythmia.

Help a crystal meth addict quit

Second, you can help a crystal meth addict by understanding more about the treatment process. Knowing about crystal meth effects and understanding the needs of a crystal meth addict can help you help them begin the recovery process. Crystal meth addiction treatment is a painstaking process that includes detox followed by behavioral and psychological treatment.

Crystal meth addicts may have some medical issues like skin infection, lung diseases, dental problems, paranoid delusions, panic reaction, depression, and mood disorders. Moreover, crystal meth addiction can cause a long-term structural damage to the brain regions that control motor coordination and memory. These effects may be related to the duration of time that crystal meth remains in the human system. So what happens during detox from crystal meth?

Crystal meth withdrawal usually results in severe depression and paranoia that may lead to relapse or even suicidal attempts. In addition, crystal meth addicts may exhibit depressive symptoms during the recovery process, such as:

  • fatigue
  • having  memory and concentration problems
  • impaired decision making ability
  • inability to experience pleasure (anhedonia)
  • increased sleep periods

There are numerous interventions to help crystal meth addicts go through detoxification. Here is a list of some of them:

  • Contact a physician in order to get prescribed medication during crystal meth withdrawal (Some early evidence suggests Varenicline as a possible medication that helps in crystal meth addiction).
  • Conduct a medical and psychiatric evaluation.
  • Find a medical professional who can create a self-designed program to help a crystal meth addict.
  • Talk openly with the addict in order to find out the nature of their fears.

Treatments for crystal meth addicts

To date, there are no medications currently approved for the treatment of crystal meth addiction. Nevertheless, some scientific studies have shown that helpful psychosocial treatments for cocaine addicts are also effective in crystal meth addiction treatment such as Community Reinforcement Approach, 12-Step Facilitation Therapy, Individual Drug Counseling, and Group Therapy. Furthermore, there are several approaches that have been used especially for crystal meth addicts such as Contingency Management, Matrix Model, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. The goal of all these treatments is same: to help a crystal meth addict stay clean.

Help a crystal meth addict friend

Planning a structured intervention can guide a crystal meth addict toward abstinence and sobriety. Interventions are usually planned events during which you present your concerns and objective observations about your friend’s behavior to them directly. The goal of an intervention is for the addict to accept medical help and to enter addiction treatment. In addition to these one-time intervention models, models such as the CRAFT model can take place over the course of several weeks.

Self help crystal meth addiction

Recent research has shown strong support for the value of self-help treatments and 12-step programs in crystal meth addiction to help people achieve full recovery. For example, crystal meth addicts who became involved in self-help programs had better treatment outcome than those who did not. All self-help treatments include a lot of effort, support, and encouragement not only from crystal meth addicts, but also from addicts’ family and friends.

Get help crystal meth addiction

Recovery requires long-term treatment which needs constant medical supervision. In fact, getting help for addiction to crystal meth usually requires both personal and professional support.

First of all, friend and family can be a significant source of unconditional love and concern, and they are a secure place to start. Sceond, licensed professionals such as psychologists, social workers, psychiatrists, or physicians can help refer you to appropriate treatment. A list of possible resources for crystal meth addiction follows:

  1. Addiction treatment centers – These include crystal meth addiction facilities where addicts may choose among combination of treatments, either as resident for several months or on an outpatient basis.
  2. Crystal meth support groups – These are non-formal meetings between former addicts who share their experiences in order to gain positive result in recovery.
  3. Detox clinics – A medical clinic where doctors supervise the process of detoxification.
  4. Mental health professionals – Clinical psychiatrists or psychologists who have specialized in addiction treatment can offer suitable advice for crystal meth addiction.

Helping crystal meth addiction questions

Addressing and treating addiction can be a struggle, and we hope that we have managed to give us the basic information on how to help a crystal meth addict. Nonetheless, if you have any questions or concerns about crystal meth addiction, do not hesitate to post them in the comments section below. We will try to answer you with a personal and prompt response as soon as possible.

Reference Sources: NCJRS: Methamphetamine Treatment: A Practitioner’s Reference
NIH: ‘Tweaking 12-Step’: the potential role of 12-Step self-help group involvement in methamphetamine recovery
NIH: The burden and management of crystal meth use
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
Medical Reviewers
Dr. Dili Gonzalez, M.D. is a general surgeon practicing women's focused medici...

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a licensed medical professional.

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