Medically assisted detox is designed to limit the physical and psychological distress caused by withdrawal. For certain substances, sudden abstinence can prove dangerous. With these, the brain and body have become chemically dependent. Without continued substance use, many basic functions may be delayed, disrupted, or overactivated. This is certainly the case with alcohol, benzodiazepines (benzos), and opioids among many others. With methamphetamine, physical withdrawal is only moderately uncomfortable, and complete abstinence entails very few risks. For most people, detoxing from meth will usually result in extreme fatigue, increased hunger, and feelings of restlessness in the limbs.
However, given the way in which long-term methamphetamine use affects the brain and its reward system, the psychological aspects of detoxing can be quite severe. During detox, many meth users experience intense depression and malaise, and some may even contend with suicidal thoughts and suicidal tendencies. With meth use, the brain’s natural production of mood-boosting chemicals is derailed. When people stop using meth suddenly, their bodies may have limited or no reliable means for inciting feelings of motivation, happiness, or general well-being. It takes time for the brain to recover from the effects of this drug. As such, much of the medical support that’s offered during a meth detox is provided with the goal of helping patients achieve and maintain overall mood balance.
Therapeutic Approaches to Methamphetamine Withdrawal
There are many ways to use medication to alleviate the physical and psychological symptoms of drug detox. With many patients, however, one of the primary goals of treatment is learning alternative ways for alleviating discomfort. This way, people can recondition themselves to confront pain via natural and healthful means, rather than seeking instant gratification through the use of pills or other drug approaches. Given that methamphetamine detox doesn’t cause significant physical distress, the use of medications in treatment is generally on a very limited and as-needed basis. For recovering meth addicts, medical support that involves the use of medication is most beneficial for combating post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS). For instance:
- Sleep-aids for addressing detox-related insomnia
- Medications for addressing co-occurring mental health disorders
- Medications for supporting the brain’s reward system as it heals
are among the most common forms of medication use in meth detox programs. The goal of these treatments is to prevent problems with severe depression and malaise, promote motivation until natural dopamine production is resumed, and ensure good sleep hygiene. Long-term methamphetamine use has the potential to disrupt natural dopamine production. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that’s responsible for helping people stay focused and committed to challenging tasks, motivating them to take action, and making them feel good when goals are achieved.
Constantly triggering massive surges of this neurotransmitter through continued meth use eventually burns it out. While certain medications are effective at mimicking the effects of dopamine production, many natural, non-medication therapies can be equally effective. In fact, some of these same approaches are also known to incite natural dopamine production and distribution in damaged reward systems. In quality detox programs, patients have access to stress management activities and various forms of physical exercise that can both elevate moods, and assist the brain in rebalancing its chemistry. Many people who use methamphetamine are consciously or unconsciously treating the symptoms of undiagnosed mental health disorders. Rather than making these individuals feel incredibly euphoric or elated, methamphetamine use may make them feel more “normal”.
During detox, when co-occurring mental health disorders are discovered, recovering meth addicts may be prescribed medications for addressing problems such as:
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Bi-polar disorder
or other comorbidities. Detox services work best when they are streamlined to suit the needs of the individual. For instance, patients who are considered as being high-risk for prescription medication abuse may be assisted with non-medication therapies as much as possible. Moreover, while most people won’t experience any severe or extremely uncomfortable physical withdrawal symptoms when detoxing from meth, some might. Thus, rehab professionals constantly monitor all clients, and adjust treatments and therapies according to changes in vital signs, comfort levels, and other factors. Several “off-label” drugs that have already been approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of other forms of substance use disorder have been shown to work well for many recovering methamphetamine addicts. Among these are oral bupropion and naltrexone.
The brand name for bupropion is Vivitrol. This drug has been safely and successfully used by both recovering alcoholics and those recovering from meth addiction for the management of withdrawal symptoms. Naltrexone is a popular smoking cessation aid that has additionally proven effective as an anti-depressant. With naltrexone, both overwhelming cravings for methamphetamine and extreme depression can be kept at bay. If you’re preparing for a methamphetamine detox and are looking for a detox facility that provides medical monitoring and medication support, we can help you find it. Call us today at 833-497-3812.