What Are My First Steps in Recovering From a Methamphetamine Addiction?

What Are My First Steps in Recovering From a Methamphetamine Addiction?

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Recovering from a substance use disorder (SUD) requires individualized care. Many factors are involved in drug addiction, ranging from one’s environment to potential underlying mental health issues. In a safe and comfortable environment, recovering and healing from an SUD is possible. For clients recovering specifically from methamphetamine addiction, there are many pathways to take for recovery. Every client in recovery has the potential to sustain abstinence and live a happy, healthy life of sobriety. 

At First Steps Recovery, providing a variety of services and therapies allows clients to figure out what works well for them and what is sustainable long term. First Steps Recovery creates personalized treatment plans for each client as well, incorporating many of these beneficial services. However, knowing exactly what the first steps are in recovering from methamphetamine addiction is important when considering treatment.

Substance Abuse: Methamphetamine Addiction

Methamphetamine is a highly addictive drug that directly affects the central nervous system. The drug is popularly known as meth. It is chemically similar to amphetamine, which is a drug used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Users of methamphetamine ingest the substance by smoking, swallowing, snorting, or injecting it. The drug provides a rapid high, causing users to take repeated doses. Sometimes abusers of methamphetamine go through binge periods where they do not eat or sleep, but instead continuously take the drug every few hours. 

Because methamphetamine directly targets the central nervous system, the brain is greatly affected by abuse of the drug. The drug increases dopamine in the brain, which affects body movement, motivation, and reinforcement of rewarding behaviors. High dopamine levels being released rapidly enforces this idea that drug-taking behavior is “good.” This feedback leads methamphetamine users to take the drug repeatedly. 

Short-term effects of methamphetamine use include wakefulness, heightened physical activity, decreased appetite, rapid breathing and heartbeat, irregular heartbeat, and increased blood pressure and body temperature.

Long-Term Effects of Methamphetamine

Methamphetamine addiction also leads to several long-term effects. There is a greater risk of contracting HIV and hepatitis B and C when taking it by injection. These diseases can then injure more nerve cells, leading to increased cognitive problems. Cognitive problems associated with meth include thinking, judgment, understanding, learning, and memory. 

Other long-term effects include:

  • Extreme weight loss
  • Dental problems
  • Intense itching and skin sores from excessive scratching
  • Anxiety
  • Changes in brain structure and function
  • Confusion
  • Memory loss
  • Sleeping problems
  • Violent behavior
  • Paranoia or hallucinations

Users of methamphetamine are also at risk of overdose. Methamphetamine overdose has become more common in the past decade. Often, overdoses involve synthetic opioids being consumed simultaneously with methamphetamine.

Beginning Recovery From Methamphetamine Addiction at First Steps Recovery

The first step of recovery from methamphetamine addiction is detoxification. Methamphetamine detox at First Steps Recovery helps clients recover from their physical dependency on the drug. The body’s craving for the drug lessens after detox. This allows clients to plunge head-first into treatment and therapy with fewer physical cravings for methamphetamine. 

However, detox comes with withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms are dependent on the length of time the client was addicted to and used methamphetamine. Symptoms also depend on how much of the drug a person normally consumes. Acute withdrawal symptoms can be both physical and psychological, which is why First Steps Recovery offers a medically supervised program where clients are under supervision 24/7. 

Possibly Symptoms During Detox From Methamphetamines

Typical acute withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Abnormal sleep patterns
  • Drowsiness
  • Headaches
  • Lack of appetite
  • Muscle spasms
  • Hallucinations
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Low energy and motivation
  • Cravings

First Steps Recovery, though, makes sure that every client is as comfortable and safe as possible while detoxing. From there, clients begin the early phase of abstinence where they can focus on treatment and recovery. This first phase is the one in which clients are at the greatest risk of relapsing. That’s why having a secure environment to recover in is crucial. After this first phase, clients enter protracted abstinence and start to gain a deeper understanding of themselves and their addiction while practicing healthy coping mechanisms. 

Treatments for Methamphetamine Addiction

The treatment route for methamphetamine addiction revolves heavily, almost exclusively, around incentive-based approaches. Because methamphetamine use increases dopamine levels and reinforces drug use further, treatment works to reverse these effects. After methamphetamine detox, clients are put into behavioral therapies to counteract the effects of drug use. Currently, no medications are proven to assist with methamphetamine recovery. 

Therapies to Consider in Recovery

Behavioral therapies are encouraged for clients recovering from methamphetamine addiction. These therapies include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), individual counseling, 12-Step programs, and family education.

At First Steps Recovery, individual counseling helps clients target underlying issues or causes of their methamphetamine addiction. The therapist provides a safe environment for clients to express themselves and engage in personal discovery that improves their overall well-being. Individual counseling allows clients to gather a greater understanding of their methamphetamine addiction. They learn tools and strategies for how to continue with sobriety in their lives.

Two behavioral therapies are offered at First Steps Recovery. CBT is one of them. This therapy, which is used in individual counseling sessions, helps clients identify the thought patterns that correlate to their destructive behaviors. The goal of CBT is to unlearn this thinking and adopt healthier thought patterns that encourage more productive and sustainable behaviors. For clients recovering from methamphetamine addiction, CBT works to unlearn the reinforcement element of their drug use. The other behavioral therapy that can be recommended is dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). DBT is recommended for clients who experience powerful, challenging emotions requiring more intensive care. 

Here at First Steps Recovery, we offer detoxification and treatment programs for clients seeking recovery from methamphetamine addiction. Methamphetamine is a highly addictive substance that is detrimental to brain functioning. Clients who use methamphetamine experience a reinforcing cycle that encourages repeated use. In recovery, which starts with detox, clients unlearn this reinforcement. Detoxification is the first step of healing in which the physical body lessens its dependence on the drug, allowing the client to focus on treatment and recovery. During treatment, clients participate in therapies that target underlying causes and certain behaviors. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is recommended as it helps clients unlearn their unhelpful thought patterns. To learn more, please call us at (844) 489-0836.

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