5 Ways You Can Help a Methamphetamine Addict

Abuse of methamphetamine has been in decline since it peaked in the late 1990s, but the prevalence of illicit use of this dangerous drug may be rising again. While media focus has largely been on opioids, methamphetamine has been quietly making a comeback, with both overdose deaths and border seizures of the drug increasing in recent years. A methamphetamine crisis ended in the early 2000s with tight restrictions on the over-the-counter drugs used in meth labs. Now the crisis may be restarting. If you have a loved one misusing methamphetamine, use these important tips to help them understand the risks and to agree to get help.

Methamphetamine, also often referred to as just meth, is actually a prescription drug. It can be prescribed to treat ADHD and obesity, but for most people there are safer drugs to use. Meth is highly addictive, and it is often made and solid illicitly and misused by people who want to get high or to stay awake for studying or partying.

As a central nervous stimulant, methamphetamine increases blood pressure, heart rate, body temperature, and metabolism. Meth can trigger serious health issues, especially when abused, like a heart attack, stroke, and even death. Addiction to methamphetamine is a very serious problem, but treatment is available. Treatment in a rehabilitation facility can help most people overcome this addiction. If someone you care about is struggling with meth use, push for treatment and take other steps to provide support on their journey to recovery.

1. Learn About Methamphetamine Addiction and Its Signs

To help someone you care about who is misusing meth, it can help to learn more about this drug and disease. When informed, you can provide a better argument when you’re ready to bring the topic up and have a discussion about addiction and a need for treatment.

Meth is often used in a pill or powder form. Crystal meth is a form of the drug that looks like shards of glass or clear crystals. People misuse this drug by snorting it, smoking it, or injecting it. Some of the signs you can look for in someone high on meth include:

  • Increased energy and wakefulness
  • Excessive talking
  • Anxiety
  • Decreased appetite
  • Rapid breathing
  • A rapid, irregular heart rate
  • Outbursts and mood swings
  • Skin and hair picking or pulling
  • Paranoia or hallucinations

Misuse of methamphetamine does not necessarily indicate addiction, but it is still problematic and risky. Even without a diagnosis of a substance use disorder, your loved one can benefit from treatment before the behavior gets worse. The person misusing meth may deny having a problem, but these signs of stimulant addiction can help you make your case:

  • Using more meth than intended
  • Trying to cut back on use and failing
  • Spending a lot of time using drugs or recovering from use
  • Failing to meet responsibilities or limiting other activities to spend more time using
  • Continuing to use meth in spite of relationship problems or mental and physical health problems
  • Using meth in dangerous, risky situations
  • Craving meth
  • Developing a tolerance to meth and using more and more
  • Withdrawal when not using it

2. Start a Discussion About Meth Use and Consider an Intervention

Ignoring a problem like methamphetamine addiction will not help anyone. It’s not an easy conversation to have, but if you are worried about your loved one, you have to bring up the topic of drug abuse and addiction. When you talk about it be firm and direct but avoid judgement. Tell the truth but keep your emotions in check and remain calm. Be supportive and talk about what your loved one needs to do next to get help.

It is not uncommon for someone with a drug use problem to be in denial or even to get angry or aggressive when confronted. If your loved one won’t listen to what you have to say, or if you feel bringing up the topic is not safe, consider staging an intervention with the guidance of a professional.

An intervention is a gathering of people who care about your loved one, led by a mental health or addiction specialist. This person will help you decide what to say to your loved one.

Generally, you will each present your concerns, tell your loved one what you expect them to do next, and provide consequences for what will happen if they don’t. For instance, if this is your adult child you may say she has to go to treatment or you will stop providing financial support.

3. Present Options for Residential Treatment

Whether you have a formal intervention or a more casual discussion, be ready to present your loved one with concrete options for getting help. You need to have real, actionable steps in place that they can take in order for your efforts to actually lead to treatment and recovery.
For such a serious addiction as meth addiction, it is important to consider residential treatment. Overdose is a very real possibility with meth, so getting dedicated, professional support that is intensive is essential for safety and recovery.

Research into treatments for addiction suggests that the most effective programs are at least three months long and provide individualized treatment plans, treatment for other issues like mental illness, and a variety of therapies. All of these are aspects of care in residential treatment that are harder to find in outpatient programs. Check out a few residential facilities so you can give your loved one options for getting treatment for meth immediately.

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4. Recognize That You Cannot Fix This Problem

Never try to be the addiction counselor for someone else. Unless you are a professional, trained to work with addicts, you cannot treat someone you care about. This is important to recognize if you want to help this loved one. They need professional treatment from trained experts in drug use, behavioral health, and addiction.

It’s easy to assume that you can control the issue, especially if it has not gotten too out of control yet. But addiction spirals quickly, and a person misusing meth is erratic and difficult to reason with. Only an experienced professional can help your loved one get onto the path to recovery.

5. Support Your Loved One Through the Treatment Process.

A stay in a residential treatment facility is only the beginning. It will give your loved one all the tools they need and the foundation for recovery. Even with that foundation, though, staying sober will be a lifelong struggle. Your family member or friend will need the support of you and others, both during and after treatment, in order to have the best chance of long-term sobriety.

Research indicates that social support is one of the most important elements in getting patients into treatment, helping them stay engaged in treatment, and helping them stay sober after professional care. If possible, start by getting involved in the actual treatment. Participate in relational therapy sessions or family days.

After treatment, you can support your loved one in a number of important ways:

  • Provide a safe place to live.
  • Keep alcohol and drugs out of the home.
  • Be prepared to listen and talk.
  • Help keep them away from triggers.
  • Do sober activities together.
  • Help with a job search or in going back to school.
  • Help them make healthy lifestyle choices.
  • Encourage them to go out and spend time with other supportive friends and family.

Any support you can provide, even if it’s just one or two of these things, will be helpful. Support from friends and family helps your loved one build confidence in their sobriety and their ability to stay sober.

Methamphetamine addiction is a very serious health issue. Overdose is a reality, and it can be fatal, so getting help as soon as there is a problem is essential. Residential treatment for addiction is the best thing your loved one can do to get better. Anything you can do to guide them to that treatment, such as talking about addiction, staging an intervention, providing treatment options, and being supportive, will help.

Alta Mira offers comprehensive treatment for people struggling with drug and alcohol addiction as well as co-occurring mental health disorders and process addictions. Contact us to learn more about our renowned Bay Area programs and how we can help you or your loved one start the journey toward lasting recovery.