Finding Focus Through Residential Treatment: Overcoming Methamphetamine Addiction in the Workplace

Although methamphetamine use is commonly associated with blue-collar workers and the “party” scene, an increasing amount of high-level executives are using it to stay on top of their busy work schedules and high-stress lifestyle. By taking a closer look at the unseen problem of methamphetamine use in the workplace, you can better understand the severity of your addiction and learn how to find focus through treatment.

Methamphetamine conjures up a number of images in our minds due to the numerous myths that surround it: “meth mouth,” its almost exclusive use by bikers and blue-collar Americans, and its ability to push an otherwise normal person down a path of violence and unpredictability. You probably think of celebrities like Motörhead’s Lemmy Kilmister and the tales of his love for amphetamines of all kinds, painting it as a “rockstar” drug that is used to keep the party going for days. But there’s another side of methamphetamine use, one that gets lost behind these depictions.

Methamphetamine has long been used outside of the “party” scene. It was first widely used during World War II by German soldiers to increase their alertness. Although at first its short-term effects of increased alertness pushed its popularity among the German army, addiction soon surfaced—soldiers began to experience its withdrawal effects such as dizziness, depression, and hallucinations; some ended up succumbing to heart failure, while others committed suicide during methamphetamine-induced psychosis.

Although methamphetamine was banned in the United States in 1960, it is still used today for its ability to boost alertness, with many in the workplace consuming it to help them retain focus for long periods of time. These are high-level executives and workers that most would never guess use the drug, because their image and lifestyle completely conflict with our perceptions of the typical meth addict.

Just like the dangers of its recreational use, however, a high level of productivity doesn’t mean you’re immune to addiction and the negative effects that it creates. If you’re a business professional using meth, you might find it hard to come clean about your addiction and seek treatment because you’re scared to become attached to the negative stigma of the drug—yet admitting you have a problem, both to yourself and to someone who can help you overcome it, is a critical first step in the recovery process.

The Unseen Problem of Methamphetamine Use in the Workplace

From lawyers that need something to help them keep up with their high workloads to movie executives that use it to give them the motivation and drive to make it through the grueling list of responsibilities that they need to keep on top of during their average day, methamphetamine is a drug with a buzz that makes it seem more than ideal for use in the workplace. And, with a cost that can be as cheap as $100 a month, falling into the habit of use and abuse has become easier than ever. It also doesn’t help that its ingredients are extremely easy to find, making it relatively simple to manufacture—a likely contributor to the fact that 1.2 million Americans have used the drug within the last year.

Research might be limited, but it is there to highlight the problem: a study by Quest Diagnostics Inc. reported an increase of 68 percent in the number of workers that tested positive for methamphetamine back in 2003. Meanwhile, the California Bar Association claims that “one in four lawyers who voluntarily enters drug rehabilitation programs is addicted to methamphetamines,” and in 2004, the Entertainment Industry Referral and Assistance Center reported that the number of methamphetamine addicts seen each day had risen significantly in the preceding five years.

Despite these indicators, the problem of methamphetamine use in the workplace is one that is still largely overlooked and requires further research. The stigma that fuels the perception of methamphetamine use as exclusive to blue-collar Americans and partygoers, as well as the shame tied to addiction in general, does nothing to help this problem that continues to take its toll on the minds and bodies of over 1 million Americans each day.

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Regaining Focus Through Treatment

When you’re dependent on a drug to provide you with focus, envisioning a future where you can continue to maintain your stressful workload without it can seem impossible. Factor in the fact that discontinuation leads to depression and a sharp increase in sleep requirements, and it’s hard not to feel stuck between a rock and a hard place. But by stepping back, taking a break from this routine, and seeking treatment, you can give yourself the time that you need to properly, safely detox. Through this detoxification, along with the therapies and supports that you will have access to, you can regain the energy and focus needed to live a sober life without sacrificing your ability to do your job well—or your career.

Much like cocaine, methamphetamine acts on dopamine receptors, which act as binding sites for the primary reward transmitter in the brain. And, like cocaine withdrawal, methamphetamine withdrawal leads to lower levels of dopamine activation, which is also one of the reasons that it can cause depression. However, it’s important to note that there are many productive, holistic activities that can provide you with natural releases of dopamine, including music therapy and art therapy.

Methamphetamine withdrawal is also punctuated by an increase in appetite to compensate for its suppression that took place during use of the drug. Within a proper treatment program, you’ll have access to gourmet chefs who will provide you with meals tailored to meet your caloric intake requirements, ease your withdrawal symptoms, and provide you with the nutrients needed to regain a natural sense of focus and well-being.

Everyone gets bogged down by stress and work occasionally, but at the end of the day, it’s all about how you handle yourself. Although using methamphetamine might seem like it’s making you more productive, it’s not a sustainable solution. Through comprehensive residential treatment, however, you can learn adaptive solutions that will help you maintain the focus needed to stay on top of your busy work routine.

Alta Mira offers comprehensive addiction rehabilitation for people struggling with methamphetamine addiction, as well as various other substance abuse disorders. Contact us today to take control of your addiction and learn how to harness the focus that you need in sustainable, holistic ways.