Crystal Meth Addiction :How to Help a Crystal Meth Addict

In 2012, 1.2 million people in the US reported using methamphetamine in the previous year, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. With this rate of crystal meth use, there are doubtless many people in need of treatment. As with all drugs of abuse, seeking professional treatment from mental health and addiction specialists will lead to the highest chance of methamphetamine recovery success.

Unfortunately, there is no medication treatment currently available for crystal meth abuse. Because of this, treatment will take a different course. Crystal meth addiction treatment will focus on counseling and other therapeutic options like:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy.
  • Contingency management.
  • Family education.
  • 12-step support programs.

Approaching a Loved One About Crystal Meth Treatment

Approaching a loved one who is going through a crystal meth addiction can feel like walking on eggshells. The fear of saying the wrong thing can seem overwhelming, but it is important to reach out to your loved one and show them that you still care.

Historically, confrontation was considered the best approach- presenting the user with an all-or-nothing decision: either you go into treatment or we don’t speak any more. This approach is now debated and is even associated with poorer outcomes in some cases (White & Miller, 2007). A more effective approach may be to come to the user with love and support. This does not mean you should enable the addict; instead, use proven methods of dealing with the issue in a healthy supportive way.

One particularly effective approach is known as Community Reinforcement and Family Training(CRAFT), where a professional trains the people close to the addict in the best ways to address the problem. CRAFT teaches family and friends how to engage a substance abuser in a productive and helpful way that will help persuade the user to get treatment, and it has been found to work in nearly seven out of ten cases (Meyers, Smith, & Lash, 2005).

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Here are a few tips from CRAFT:


  • Introduce enjoyable outside activities that compete with substance use.
  • Try to create positive interpersonal exchanges between yourself and your loved one.
  • Reward abstinent behavior. For example, engage in pleasant activities with your loved one when they are not using, and explicitly state that you are doing so because of their progress.
  • If possible, avoid interfering with negative consequences that occur naturally. For example, if your loved one’s using typically leads to decreased time around the family, allow this to occur. Consequences that occur naturally are powerful in shaping behavior and should be minimally interfered with.

A crystal meth user should not be approached when under the drug’s influence. If at all possible, try and catch them at a sober time (ideally, when motivation to get better is high) to talk with them about going into treatment. Discuss how their crystal meth abuse has affected your relationship with them, as well as the ways in which you’ve seen their life change following the onset of abuse – try to use “I” statements to avoid making the user feel alienated or unwanted.

Remember: your goal is to get your loved one into treatment. Make sure they know that they are loved and that you fully support their path to sobriety. If they relapse, be understanding; cutting an addiction out of your life is a very big challenge to take on, and sometimes people can slip, but it does not mean that they have failed. Recovery is a lifelong process and most often multiple relapses are a normal part of the process. Someone in recovery has the best chances of long-term sobriety if they have a supportive network of friends and family. To find a treatment program, call1-877-310-9512.

Crystal Meth Addiction Treatment

Crystal meth treatment focuses on long-term recovery–utilizing diverse modalities of treatment intervention and multiple types of therapeutic support. Treatment options will often include:

  • Providing education regarding the nature of crystal meth use, abuse, and withdrawal so that relapse triggers and other patterns of addiction may be realized and avoided in the future.
  • Behavioral/ mental health therapies that utilize facets of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and contingency-management (CM).
    • CBT works to build connections between the thoughts, feelings and behaviors of the individual to understand the role crystal meth fulfilled and ways to function without it in the future.
    • CM works to assess the people, places, and things that trigger use or cravings for the substance. By providing real rewards for avoiding use, recovery can be extended.
  • Family education and therapy that illustrate the level of influence that family and close supports have towards perpetuating or ending the addiction. Together, better plans can be created to maintain abstinence.
  • 12-step support groups to build and maintain a support structure based on maintaining recovery from alcohol and other drugs. Daily or weekly peer meetings can aid in having goals and direction while moving through the steps.
  • Drug testing that is administered at regular or variable intervals to keep the person in recovery accountable for their decision-making.
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The best crystal meth treatment programs are the ones that combine some or all of the elements listed above.

Is Crystal Meth Addictive?

Overall, methamphetamine is a very addictive substance because of its abilities to provide a strong, lasting high. The method by which the substance enters the body – for instance, smoking vs. snorting – can modify the impact of the drug and the tendency to become addicted to it. The very intense rush achieved when smoking crystal meth can render the addictive properties even stronger.

One of the effects of meth as it reaches the brain is to stimulate dopamine release. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is related to rewarding sensations and motivation. Not only does crystal meth trigger the higher flow of dopamine, but it also prevents the dopamine from being reabsorbed back into the brain cells. This results in the sustained high that even cocaine cannot produce.

What Are the Signs of Addiction?

Like other stimulant drugs, crystal meth is usually abused in binges or “runs” that continue until no more of the substance can be obtained.

When looking for the signs of a crystal meth problem in someone you love, check for both the short-term and long-term signs of use – even if you don’t think your loved one has been using for long – since long-term signs may show up as a result of a binge.

The short-term signs include:

  • High motivation to accomplish tasks.
  • Decreased need for sleep.
  • Speaking very rapidly and moving between topics quickly.
  • Not eating for extended periods.
  • Inability to sit still.
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The long-term signs of crystal meth addiction include:

  • Psychotic symptoms like hallucinations and paranoid delusions.
  • Repetitive movements.
  • Inability to pay attention or focus.
  • Cognitive problems marked by poor judgment and memory loss.
  • Excessive weight loss.
  • Aggression and violence towards self and others.
  • Changes in physical appearance, including declining dental health and scars from skin picking.

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