How to Help a Meth Addict
Meth addiction often leads to disturbing symptoms that can make families feel helpless and put meth addicts at serious risk for health and legal problems. Families often describe noticeable physical changes in their meth addicted loved one as a cause for great concern. They also report that their loved one is doing “crazy things they wouldn’t normally do.” This may include berating a family member for no clear reason or running around the backyard yelling that they are Superman.
Behaviors of a meth addict can be alarming. It is not uncommon for psychosis to set in, bringing with it a host of behaviors like paranoia, impulsivity and clouded thinking. This is because the drug can damage the brain over time.
Families are at a loss for how to help a meth addict on their own. They have to muster the courage to get the police or a mental health professional involved. The meth addict sometimes ends up in jail or a hospital. This is only a temporary fix for a devastating problem. But a crisis is often the doorway to getting a loved one long-term help.
If your loved one has been using heavily or for a long time, they will need drug rehab treatment and intensive therapy. This is best accomplished through inpatient rehab where a myriad of resources and experienced addiction professionals are available in one place.
What Families Can Do
- Educate yourself about meth addiction. Understanding what your loved one is going through and knowing they are lost to a disease may help you empathize. It can also help you figure out the best way to approach them. For example, don’t confront an addict when they are on drugs.
- Try a 12-step program. Look for support groups in your area that may help you face your loved one’s drug problem, such as Al-Anon or Nar-Anon. Seek support from people who are also on the journey dealing with an addicted loved one. They have wisdom to share.
- Establish boundaries. Review all the ways in which you may be enabling your loved one and establish appropriate boundaries. If you give them money that is used for drugs, for example, stop funding them.
- Consider an intervention. If your loved one has been using meth for a shorter time, you may have a better chance of reaching them on your own with a small group of people who care. But if this person has been entrenched in addiction for a long time, seek professional help to get your loved one into treatment.
- Learn about treatment options. Identify an inpatient treatment center that can help when the time comes. Ask addiction and mental health professionals for their advice and insight into how your loved one can best be helped.
Meth Addiction Treatment
Addiction experts know how to help a meth addict. The first course of action with most drug addictions is detox, but that’s not typically the case with meth addicts. Although physical addiction is a serious problem, there are limited medical detox protocols for meth. Thus, one of the most powerful ways to help a meth addict is to help them find a drug rehab program. They will find the help they need through:
- Medically assisted treatments. While there is no specific medical detox for meth, there are certain medicines an addiction physician can prescribe during inpatient drug rehab. The individual must make the commitment to stop using, but doctors can give them medication to help make them more comfortable. Physicians can also monitor them through the process of releasing the drug from their system.
- Support for physical recovery from meth. When someone stops using meth, the body and brain have to rebalance. Drugs like meth and amphetamines drain their adrenals, sometimes for years. Often they haven’t slept much during active addiction. By the time they come into meth addiction treatment they have gone for days on little or no sleep. When they stop the drug, they will “crash” and sleep for a week. They need to be in a rehab facility where trained professionals can help them through this phase of addiction treatment.
- Evidence-based therapeutic approaches. Once they come through the worst of the physical release of the drug, therapy begins. There are many therapies that are used to help meth addicts. The most popular include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). CBT challenges unhelpful behaviors and cognitive distortions. DBT takes a structured, mindfulness-based approach to changing behavior patterns. It also helps with emotional regulation.
- Creative approaches. Once the meth addict becomes more clear-headed, other techniques can be introduced. These may include yoga, art therapy and psychodrama. Some people with meth addiction cannot express themselves so other approaches are used to reach outside of the analytical mind.
- Aftercare. Recovery is lifelong process. Once someone leaves a drug rehab facility, there must be ongoing support. They will need groups, therapy and sober activities.
It may not be easy to figure out how to help a meth addict that you love, but know that you are not alone in this. Many families face the difficult task of finding out how to help a meth addict. With love and support and the right professional support system, people are able to recover from meth addiction and reclaim their lives.