Articles On Drug Addiction and Recovery
Methamphetamine Addiction and Treatment
Methamphetamine is a highly addictive central nervous system stimulant that can be injected, snorted, smoked, or ingested orally. Methamphetamine users feel a short yet intense “rush” when the drug is initially administered. The effects of methamphetamine include increased activity, decreased appetite, and a sense of well being that can last from 20 minutes to 12 hours. The drug has limited medical uses for the treatment of narcolepsy, attention deficit disorders, and obesity.
Methamphetamine can easily be manufactured in clandestine laboratories using store bought materials and is the most prevalent synthetic drug manufactured in the United States. The ease of manufacturing methamphetamine and its highly addictive potential has caused the use of the drug to increase throughout the Nation. The methamphetamine problem was originally concentrated in the West but has spread throughout almost every major metropolitan area in the U.S. with the exception of the Northeast.
Yaba, the Thai name for a tablet form of methamphetamine mixed with caffeine, is appearing in Asian communities in northern California and Los Angeles areas. These tablets are popular in Southeast and East Asia where they are produced. The tablets are small enough to fit in the end of a drinking straw and are usually reddish-orange or green with various logos. There are indications that methamphetamine tablets are becoming more popular within the rave scene because of the tablet’s similar appearance to club drugs such as Ecstasy.
In 1992, there were 14,554 admissions to treatment for methamphetamine throughout the United States, representing 1% of all treatment admissions during the year. By 2001, the number of methamphetamine admissions to treatment increased to 80,678, representing 4.6% of all admissions.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse the “most effective treatments for methamphetamine addiction are cognitive behavioral interventions. These approaches are designed to help modify the patient’s thinking, expectancies, and behaviors and to increase skills in coping with various life stressors. Methamphetamine recovery support groups also appear to be effective adjuncts to behavioral interventions that can lead to long-term drug-free recovery. There are currently no particular pharmacological treatments for dependence on amphetamine or amphetamine-like drugs such as methamphetamine. The current pharmacological approach is borrowed from experience with treatment of cocaine dependence. Unfortunately, this approach has not met with much success since no single agent has proven efficacious in controlled clinical studies. Antidepressant medications are helpful in combating the depressive symptoms frequently seen in methamphetamine users who recently have become abstinent.
A good deal is known about the chemistry of methamphetamines, the methods of manufacturing, and its acute pharmacological effects. However, the literature on the clinical course of MA addiction, the sequellae of chronic MA use, the nature of the interaction of patients with the treatment system, and the outcome of treatment(s) is very sparse.