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Crystal Meth Detox Centers

Medically Reviewed By: Benjamin Caleb Williams RN, BA, CEN

Written By: Phillippe Greenough

Article Updated: 01/24/2021

Number of References: 4 Sources

Crystal meth is an extremely addictive drug that often requires help for someone to recover, and entering a crystal meth detox center is often the first step towards a successful recovery. These facilities specialize in treating the symptoms of crystal meth detox, as well as providing support and options for continuing treatment. The benefits of entering a detox program are many, and here we will take a detailed look at some of them below, including when a meth detox may be recommended, what these centers actually do, and some of the benefits provided by these centers.

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When Is A Crystal Meth Detox Center Recommended?

Crystal meth addiction is extremely powerful, and breaking that hold requires help. Quitting meth cold turkey not only results in psychologically uncomfortable detox symptoms that could have been treated, but there is also a much higher chance of relapse, both during and after detox. The medications, therapies, and support provided by meth detox centers can be a major asset in the journey of recovery. Medications can reduce detox symptoms, therapy can help with the psychological stress of the detox experience, and support can help someone make it through detox and continue their treatment afterward.

Some specific situations when entering a crystal meth detox center is even more highly recommended include:

If Someone Is Experiencing Methamphetamine Induced Psychosis

Psychotic states are a surprisingly common side effect of chronic meth use. One study performed in 2014 estimated that up to 40% of meth users will experience meth-induced psychosis at some point. This produces a state of hyperarousal along with paranoia and aggressive behavior. Some of the most commonly observed symptoms include:

  • Extreme Irritability and Anxiety
  • Violent Outbursts
  • Hallucinations (either visual, auditory, tactile, or a combination)
  • Paranoid Delusions (thoughts of being persecuted by others)

Meth induced psychosis can pose a risk not only to the meth user themselves but also to others, as their behavior becomes irrational, unpredictable, and oftentimes violent. These symptoms can be treated with medications, but professional medical supervision is required. The medications, counseling, and supportive care provided at detox facilities can be invaluable to people who are experiencing psychotic states as effective treatment not only lowers the risks but also increases the chances of positive treatment outcomes.

A History of Crystal Meth Relapse

Addiction to meth is a powerful condition that can produce increased physical health risks, behavioral, neurological, and emotional changes over time. These issues are almost impossible to overcome without help, and relapse is often the end result when a user tries. If someone has tried to quit using meth before and has relapsed, then odds are they are unable to quit on their own. In these cases, a meth detox center can be the first step towards a new way of life. Not only will someone receive treatment for the detox symptoms themselves, but they will also be guided through the process of beginning early recovery. Crystal meth detox centers often have many connections with their local recovery communities and can act as liaison and facilitator to help someone find support groups, inpatient or outpatient treatment programs, or a sober living facility. This will ensure that someone has as much support as possible when beginning the journey of recovery.

IV Meth Users

The route that someone chose to use a drug can say a lot about their addiction to said drug. When someone begins injecting meth, it is often because they have built up a substantial tolerance to the drug through chronic use. Shooting up meth produces much more intense effects than using it through other routes, and subsequently makes the process of detox more intense. The psychological symptoms experienced during detox will most likely be overwhelming, and it is highly recommended to attend a meth detox program if someone had been shooting up meth. Aside from the immediate treatment of meth detox symptoms, there are multiple health risks associated with IV meth use, and a meth detox center can help address these issues as well.

Co-Occurring Mental Health Issues

Detox from crystal meth is already an unpleasant experience, and this can be even more so if someone has a prior mental health condition such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. Depression, anxiety, and wild mood swings are extremely common during the meth detox process due to the way that meth affects the brain. With a preexisting mental health condition, these symptoms may be overwhelming and may result in someone endangering themselves or others. Suicide is unfortunately common during and after untreated detox from meth and this risk rises substantially if someone already had a condition that made them prone to depression or mood instabilities. It is highly recommended for anyone who suffers from a mental health condition to seek help at a crystal meth detox center.

Intake: Welcome To Crystal Meth Detox

Intake at a crystal meth detox center will be similar to intake at any drug detox center. There will be a quick phone interview if possible, followed by an in-person assessment at the facility. The purpose of the assessment is to gauge the level of care that an individual may require. A general overview of the intake process will involve several steps and include:

  • Interview about meth use habits (amounts, duration, etc.)
  • Measurement of vital signs (heart rate, blood pressure, etc.)
  • Bloodwork (to measure blood sugar, liver function, electrolyte levels, etc.)
  • Consultation about any co-occurring mental health issues which may be present

This process is standard across drug and alcohol detox centers and is fairly straightforward and simple. The results of this assessment can be used to roughly predict the severity of detox symptoms someone may expect to face. Additionally, this prediction will be used to determine which medications may provide the greatest relief from the detox symptoms, as well as gauge the initial quantity of medication to be administered. Since detox from meth does not produce physical symptoms the medications used are targeted at relieving the psychological symptoms.

Medical Monitoring of Crystal Meth Detox Related Dangers

The psychological symptoms experienced during detox from crystal meth, while not directly dangerous, are unpleasant and intense. The medical monitoring during detox from meth is primarily psychological in nature. Throughout someone’s time in detox medication management sessions are held frequently with the goal of determining the effectiveness of the specific medications and their doses. Adjustments may be made as needed during the course of detox. Some of the symptoms most frequently experienced during meth detox include:

  • Severe Depression
  • Intense Anxiety or Irritability
  • Insomnia or Hypersomnia
  • Fatigue, Lethargy, and Anhedonia (Inability to feel pleasure)

These symptoms are not directly dangerous, but suicide is not unheard of during meth detox. Because of this, there will be frequent wellness checks throughout the course of a meth detox program. Vital signs will typically be measured several times daily as well to ensure that no complications or undiagnosed medical conditions create problems.

Crystal Meth Withdrawal Timeline

Medications Used By Crystal Meth Detox Centers

There are a variety of medications that are commonly used by crystal meth detox centers to reduce the severity of the symptoms during detox. These medications do not “cure” the symptoms, but simply provide relief while the brain works to restore neurotransmitter balance and heal itself. Medical treatment is crucial to lessen the discomfort of detox and to increase the chances of safely and successfully completing the detox process.

Some of the classes of medications most commonly used in this regard include:

  • Antipsychotics: These medications are commonly used to treat conditions that exhibit psychotic or delirious symptoms. They are typically used short term and early on in meth withdrawal to manage meth-induced psychosis. This is not a symptom of meth withdrawal, but rather from chronic meth use, and people entering a crystal meth detox center may be experiencing psychotic symptoms due to their using before entering the facility.
  • Antidepressants: Such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), or tricyclic antidepressants (TADs). These medications may help reduce the imbalances of the neurotransmitters serotonin (SSRIs), norepinephrine, and dopamine (TADs). Methamphetamine withdrawal symptoms are primarily due to reduced levels of these 3 neurotransmitters, and increasing their availability in the brain may greatly reduce the negative symptoms such as depression, fatigue, and anxiety.
  • Anticonvulsants: These medications are typically used to treat seizure disorders but have proven to have secondary effects which may be beneficial towards treating symptoms during meth detox. They may be able to reduce the severity or duration of the psychological symptoms which are a result of meth-induced neurotransmitter imbalances.
  • Dopamine Agents: Certain medications used to treat Parkinson’s disease have been used in the treatment of crystal meth withdrawal. These medications promote the production of dopamine in the brain and subsequently reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms.
  • Anti Anxiety Medications: These medications are used in the treatment of anxiety disorders and may be used to treat withdrawal-induced anxiety. Great care must be taken with the exact medications used, as there are many anti-anxiety medications that pose a high risk of abuse. Likewise, there are multiple atypical anti-anxiety medications that pose a very low or nonexistent potential for abuse.
  • Mood Stabilizers: This class of medication is typically used to treat bipolar disorder. These medications may help reduce wild mood swings which occasionally accompany withdrawal from crystal meth.
  • GABA Agents: These medications are used to treat a variety of conditions and change the way the neurotransmitter GABA behaves in the brain. By modifying the impact GABA has in different brain structures, these medications may provide relief from some of the depressive symptoms of meth withdrawal.

These medications, plus several newer ones, are used in the absence of medications which have been specifically designed to aid crystal meth detox. The neurochemical complexity of crystal meth addiction makes it very difficult to develop medications that are not themselves addictive to specifically target the symptoms of meth detox. This is a complicated matter which will take many more years of research to be able to address effectively. In the meantime, various medications are proving beneficial in aiding detox and recovery from crystal meth addiction.

Therapy During Crystal Meth Detox

There are several therapeutic techniques that have been found effective at aiding successful crystal meth detox and recovery. Aside from medications, there is commonly a substantial dysfunction in the behavioral, emotional, and cognitive lives of recovering meth users. These issues need to be addressed if someone is to have any chance of achieving long term recovery.

Some of the therapies commonly used during detox from crystal meth include:

Behavioral Therapies

Some of the most commonly used behavioral therapies include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). These can be extremely effective tools used to identify, examine, and work to change unhealthy thinking and behaviors. CBT is most effectively used to identify and modify the interplay of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and how these mental processes can affect each other. DBT is aimed in a similar direction but the focus here is helping people develop effective coping skills, improve interpersonal relationships, and to help someone act as an observer to thoughts and emotions instead of being a slave to them. When these therapies are combined, they can be extremely effective and powerful.

Support Groups

Addiction of any kind can be characterized by isolation and withdrawal from society. Crystal meth addiction in particular exhibits extremely isolationist tendencies. Although meth users often spend long periods of time together while using meth, absence from normal society, family, and social circles is extremely common during crystal meth addiction. Support groups such as 12 step programs and group therapy can be extremely helpful in helping someone to reintegrate into society and help redevelop interpersonal skills. This is a crucial step in early recovery which greatly improves someone’s chances of gaining long term sobriety.

Talk Therapies

Some examples of talk therapies include motivational interviewing and individual counseling. Motivational interviewing is used to help someone verbalize their desire to recover from meth addiction. This may sound simple, but discussing this desire with another person can help to make it more concrete, realistic, and important. Individual counseling may be used to deal with the stresses of meth detox, past trauma, and the issues or struggles someone is facing early on in recovery. Having someone there with whom to connect can be critical in helping someone gain the confidence that is needed to attempt recovery from crystal meth.

Continuing Crystal Meth Addiction Treatment

Crystal meth detox, while a crucial step in recovery, is not the end of the journey but rather the beginning. During meth detox, it is common to work with a caseworker to develop an aftercare plan for continuing treatment once detox has been completed. Having a solid plan for recovery is extremely important, but actually sticking to and carrying out this plan can sometimes be difficult. Further treatment is highly recommended and almost all crystal meth detox centers have close ties with their local recovery community.

One of the most effective ways to continue treatment is to enter an outpatient or inpatient meth treatment program. Now that the worst symptoms are behind, it is now time to tackle the psychological challenges of learning how to live a life free of crystal meth. These types of treatment programs specialize in providing the support, resources, and therapies which can best help someone overcome their addiction to meth. Seeing and working with others who have been through the same struggles and emerged not only alive but happy, can give a great sense of encouragement and hope to someone in early recovery from crystal meth addiction. This won’t be an easy journey, but there is help available and recovery is possible.

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