Crystal Meth Recovery & Aftercare

Crystal meth – methamphetamine – is a very powerful stimulant drug with a high potential for addiction. Over time, the drug changes the brain’s chemistry, sometimes leading to permanent damage. Crystal meth is popular because it makes people feel energized and euphoric. Often, people “binge and crash” on it, meaning they take repeated meth hits in order to avoid the comedown, trying to stay high for as long as they can before eventually crashing.

Crystal meth, regardless of how it is used and whether it is long term or short term, can detrimentally affect the mind and the body, sometimes even leading to death. Some of the most common negative side effects include:

  • Violence
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Anxiety
  • Psychosis
  • Paranoia
  • So-called “meth mouth”
  • Malnutrition
  • Heart failure
  • Skin sores
  • Increased chance of developing Parkinson’s disease
  • Heart failure
  • Motor impairments
  • Memory loss
  • Cognitive impairment

Crystal Meth Treatment

For those who use crystal meth, it is very important to seek addiction treatment as soon as possible to get help. There are numerous treatment options available across the country, helping you to determine which type of treatment best suits your needs, where you can find it and how you can pay for it.

When Do You Need Meth Treatment?

Meth is always a dangerous drug. However, there are people who can use it recreationally and not become dependent or addicted (although they do still cause serious damage to their body). Other people only use meth once and immediately become addicted. In order to get help for yourself or a loved one, you must first learn to recognize the signs of an addiction.

Some of the most common symptoms of crystal meth addiction include:

  • Significant meth cravings
  • Being unable to cut back or quit using it
  • Spending excessive amounts of time trying to get and use meth, and it taking longer to recover from its negative effects
  • Increasing meth dosage over time
  • Failing to meet educational, professional, or social responsibilities due to meth abuse
  • Continuing to use the substance despite noticing its ill-effects on self and loved ones
  • Prioritizing meth over other recreational or social activities
  • Engaging in risky behavior while on meth, such as driving
  • Continuing to use meth despite noticing physical and/or psychological conditions made worse by meth use
  • Developing tolerance, meaning higher doses of the substance must be used to get high, and the high is not as intense if the regular dose is used
  • Experiencing withdrawal whenever meth is not used, or using meth in order to avoid withdrawal symptoms

Using crystal meth has a significant effect on many parts of the brain and it can take a long time for this to be restored to normal after someone stops using the drug. Significant research has shown that people actually don’t regain a baseline of functioning until they re-introduce meth into their system. This is part of the dangerous mechanisms of addiction to meth, and one of the reasons why the cravings are so intense and so long-lasting. Essentially, users are unable to feel normal without using meth anymore.

The cravings are incredibly strong, which is one of the reasons why relapse is so common. Professional treatment has to be offered in order to help people to avoid this. Good recovery programs are able to provide you with the tools and strategies you need to live a sober life that is both happy and healthy.

How Long Will I Be in Treatment?

In most cases, residential rehab will be required for meth addicts, and this usually lasts between one and three months, although a longer stay may be required. During rehab, patients will be offered individual and group counseling, which can also continue after they leave the rehab facility. How long you will have to be in treatment will depend on a number of factors, including:

  • How bad is your addiction
  • Whether you have any physical or mental co-occurring disorders
  • What your educational, professional and social responsibilities are
  • How much the treatment costs
  • How well you respond to treatment

Many people find that they benefit from therapy for many years after they achieve sobriety. Others do not want to be reminded of this period in their life and end therapy quite rapidly. There is no right or wrong way of recovering and each individual has specific needs.

What Is Crystal Meth Treatment and Recovery?

It can be very overwhelming to find the right treatment, not in the least because you may not know what is involved. Essentially, there is a staged approach to meth recovery:

  1. Detox, which should be done in a safe and supportive environment so that you can manage the withdrawal symptoms. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not currently approved any drugs for meth recovery.
  2. An intake evaluation. This will be done with a therapist who will help determine how bad your addiction is. It will also be determined whether you have any co-occurring disorders. From this evaluation, the team will be able to work with you to develop an appropriate treatment plan.
  3. Counseling and therapy, which is offered on an individual and group basis. Sometimes, family therapy is also offered. Therapy teaches patients about their own behaviors and equips them with different coping strategies.
  4. Aftercare. This is perhaps the most important part of all and helps to ensure that once patients complete rehab, they can remain clean and sober. Aftercare usually includes things such as therapy, sober living homes, 12 step programs, group counseling, and alternative programs like SMART recovery.

Statistics on Meth Addiction and Treatment

Crystal meth addiction is a serious problem in this country. Statistics gathered in 2011 showed that:

  • Some 103,000 visits to the emergency room were related specifically to methamphetamine.
  • Meth is the 4th most common illegal substance involved in emergency room visits.
  • There has been a decrease in meth-related emergency room visits, dropping from 8% in 2005 to 5.6% in 2011.

Further research was completed in 2012, which showed that:

  • There were some 1.2 million current meth users in this country.
  • 130,000 people became users for the first time.
  • Around 1% of those in 8th, 10th, and 12th grade had tried meth at least once.


Meth addiction continues to be a serious problem in this country but recovery is possible. That said, it usually takes at least 12 months to see an improvement in impulse control and attention in recovering patients.

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