The process of meth recovery only begins once a person has suffered a sufficient amount of negative consequences that he or she feels obligated to enter into addiction treatment. Once in a treatment program, the addict will be able to make significant lifestyle changes that are necessary to maintain a future of sobriety. It is important to understand that the effects of addiction to crystal meth can last up to several years after stopping the use of the drug.
How Difficult Is It to Stop Using Meth?
The difficulty and length of the recovery process will vary based on an assortment of factors, which include the following:
- Duration of use
- Frequency of use
- Metabolic rate
The quicker an individual’s metabolism is, the less time it will take for the drug to leave the user’s system.
How Can an Individual Increase His or Her Chances of Quitting Crystal Meth?
The undertaking of quitting meth may seem a bit overwhelming at first, but stopping use of the drug and entering into a recovery program for a meth-related addiction is the best decision that an individual can make regarding his or her well-being and quality of life.
The process can essentially be made easier by simply being familiar with and understanding the various stages of meth recovery.
The Recovery Stages for Crystal Meth
STAGE #1: THE DOWNWARD SPIRAL; THE BREAKING POINT
An individual that is addicted to meth often leads a pretty chaotic lifestyle, and he or she can have highs and lows like a roller coaster for a finite period of time. However, the negative consequences of this lifestyle and the actions associated with it will eventually catch up to the addict in one way or another. Unfortunately, most addicts don’t respond to a single negative consequence or even a few.
Unless there are extremely proactive family and friends, the addict is likely to experience what is called a downward spiral. It is during this stage that the addict will experience a wide range of troubles, including legal issues, relationships troubles, work problems, and more that will cause their life to turn upside down—generally pretty quickly.
This crumbling stage of the addict’s is world is necessary since the first few consequences is seen as “bad luck” to the addict. Though this can be very painful for loved ones to watch, it is this downward spiral that typically sends the addict toward his or her breaking point.
*Note that family and friends can help the meth addict reach his or her breaking point much sooner by allowing the addict to deal with his or her consequences on his or her own while still providing love and support by encouraging addiction treatment.
Does an Addict Have to Hit That Rock Bottom in Order for Meth Addiction Treatment Recovery to Be Successful?
Absolutely not! The belief that an addict needs to hit rock bottom prior to treatment being successful is not only untrue but it can be dangerous.
For some individuals, hitting rock bottom may be a first accident, arrest, jail sentence, or something similar. For other individuals, hitting rock bottoms may be losing their employment, house, or child. In some cases, it may take a near-death experience like a hospital visit or overdose to scare them into quitting the drug.
However, there are individuals who will suffer through each these distressing consequences and still have the irresistible desire to do drugs. For these individuals, rock bottom may not occur until they are imprisoned or even dead.
Can it often take suffering extreme consequences for individuals to realize that they need assistance in quitting crystal meth? Sadly, the answer to this question is a resounding yes. However, before rock bottom happens, there is a breaking point.
It is this breaking point that is the catalyst for the addict’s transition into what is considered stage two of recovery of addiction: the planning stage.
STAGE #2: THE PLANNING; REACHING OUT FOR HELP OR GIVING IN
The breaking point (aka turning point) for a meth addict can be voluntary or it can be forced. Some individuals will ultimately realize that all the hurt and pain that they have experienced and caused isn’t worth it any longer. In some cases, the individual will realize that being imprisoned is worse than giving up meth. It is these individuals that may reach out for help to their family members, friend, or even anonymously via a source that they found on television, the internet, a billboard, or a flyer.
Other individuals will allow either family and friends or the court system to determine their breaking point for them, and it is these individuals that will give into treatment simply because if they do not, they will end up homeless or because they will be facing a significantly longer jail sentence than they may have been previously facing.
*Note: At this time, individuals—whether it is the addict him or herself or those surrounding the addict—will begin to develop a plan about how and where to proceed with the detox process and the type of treatment that will be most effective.
Must I Be Ready Before Quitting Crystal Meth?
Many people are under the impression that it won’t work to force an addict into treatment because he or she will not quit until he or she is completely ready. Though there are certain truths to this statement, the concept itself is lacking a bit in terms of perspective.
To be said a bit differently, individuals find themselves in treatment for crystal meth addiction for two different reasons: external and internal. External forces often persuade addicts to enter into treatment; however, over an extended period of time, the reasons for staying in treatment and remaining sober will become internalized with any luck. Treatment that is forced at one time can often develop into voluntary participation on the addict’s part.
STAGE #3: THE DETOX; WITHDRAWALS
Depending on the type of method that an addict chooses to quit, withdrawal symptoms can last somewhere between a week to a few months. If an addict decides to quit crystal meth “cold turkey,” then the withdrawal symptoms typically reach their peak at about 24 hours. Of course, depending on the type of meth being used, the drug can remain in an addict’s system as up to three days, while other individuals can expect the symptoms of withdrawal to peak between day two and day five after the last drug use.
Individuals experiencing meth withdrawals may experience a variety of symptoms including nausea, vomiting, fever, body aches, fatigue, tremors, increased appetite, mood swings, depression, anxiety, psychosis, paranoia, an inability to experience pleasure, as well as other effects.
The first phase of withdrawal symptoms is often referred to as the “sleep, eat, and drink” phrase. To help recover from this phase of withdrawal and the damage that the drug has caused, it is important that an addict rest, drink plenty of fluids, and eat a healthy diet.
Due to the severity of the symptoms that an addict may experience once meth has been quit, it is recommended that the main phase of the withdrawal be experienced under the supervision of a health care professional.
Individuals who are looking for a safe way to go through the detoxification process may want to consider entering into an extended inpatient rehab program, particularly if other options have been tried and they have failed. A short-term detox program is also an alternative, which may be more affordable.
STAGE #4: TREATMENT; MAKING NECESSARY CHANGES
It is only after an individual has completed detox can the true work commence. Meth addiction treatment focuses on lifestyle patterns, ways of thinking, and habits that characterize crystal meth addiction.
Addiction treatment facilities will help guide patients toward productive and sober lifestyles via cognitive-behavioral, individual, group, and other types of therapy. Addiction treatment will focus a lot on relapse prevention by education patients on the following:
- How to fight cravings
- Improved, healthier ways to cope with stress
- How to build value in sobriety by setting and achieving goals
- How to make necessary changes to one’s surrounding environment to reduce risk of relapse
The type and length of meth addiction treatment that is needed will depend on the addiction’s severity. The more intensive treatment will take place in 30-, 60-, or 90-day inpatient facilities. Here, patients will learn coping abilities for their addiction, and then patients are expected to implement these abilities when they leave the facility. Outpatient programs allow patients to continue their day-to-day lifestyles while living at home and require them to participate in therapy sessions and meetings several times a week. These programs are particularly beneficial for individuals since they help patients work through real-life problems in real-time.
In either case, patients will learn brand-new skill sets that will assist them in leading successful, satisfying, and sober lives in the future.
STAGE #5: HEALING; ONGOING RECOVERY
There are numerous ups and downs all through the recovery process. For some individuals, they may feel fantastic after a run of a few weeks of complete sobriety. These several weeks without crystal meth have permitted the body to adjust and somewhat replenish what was lost in terms of production of dopamine, allowing feelings of positivity, joy, and strength to arise.
Cravings are likely be less intense, and the anhedonia will start to subside—essentially, life will begin to be attractive and exciting again. Many refer to this as the “pink cloud” or the “honeymoon” phase. Some people will experience, and some people will not. If an individual that is going through withdrawal and experiences this phase, it is important that e or she is prepared for the inverse, which is a phase referred to as “the wall”. Many individuals describe “the wall” phase as a period of anxiety, depression, and various other psychological symptoms that make it very difficult to resist cravings for a period of time. This phase is sometimes experience by individuals after the joyful and uplifting “honeymoon” phase.
*Note: The “wall” phase typically occurs somewhere between one and two months after sobriety begins, and it generally doesn’t last more than three months.
By the sixth month of sobriety, an individual who is recovering from a crystal meth addiction should begin to feel as if they are leveling out some. This is referred to as a healing stage, which is a period of social, psychological, and physical adjustment. Some individuals will notice a significant difference after about a year of sobriety. On some days, the past meth addiction of an individual may seem like it was so long ago that it is strange to even think about it. For other individuals, though, the symptoms and effects of crystal meth withdrawal can remain for several years.
Keep in mind that there will be some good days, and there will be some bad days; recovery is a process that is ongoing—you have to keep at it. Continuing to attend therapy and meetings and surrounding oneself with solid and supportive individuals are the best ways to maintain one’s sobriety throughout the healing stage.
Is It Possible to Be Cured of a Crystal Meth Addiction?
Regardless of how far you place your addiction in the past and how long ago it seems like it was, addiction remains a psychological disease. Unlike an infection that stops causing harm as soon as the bad bacteria is all gone, a meth addiction remains with an individual due to the chemicals that the individual ingested having changed parts of the brain and how it functions.
Now, does this mean that a recovering addict of meth is always going to crave crystal meth? Not necessarily.
Though it is true that some individuals will struggle with sobriety for years after quitting the drug, other individuals will find comfort in their sobriety after the first year or two. It is entirely possible to rewire the brain so that it can think differently about crystal meth. As soon as an individual has been sober long enough, that individual can see with accuracy the amount of pain and suffering that his or her addiction caused—for him or herself as well as others. What once may have been a dopamine rush can actually cause someone to get sick to his or her stomach—but this is only if treatment is taken 100 percent seriously.
While there is no tried and true “cure” for meth addiction, time makes things easier, and as long as an individual is willing to put in the time, hard work, and effort, it is possible to obtain comfort and happiness in long-term sobriety.
If you would like to learn more about quitting and recovering from crystal meth, contact us at Shadow Mountain Recovery today.