What Effective Veteran Meth Rehab Looks Like
In the United States, substance use disorders (SUDs) involving various drugs are a problem, especially for vets. As reported in September 2020 by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), one in four veterans struggles with an SUD involving illicit drugs with 0.5% of that use involving the stimulant methamphetamine.
The problem worsens when vets have physical and mental ailments, such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) while experiencing a substance use issue with meth. PTSD is a psychological response to a traumatic event, particularly one where severe injury and death are involved.
Historically, people referred to PTSD by different names; for example, during the Civil War in America, it was called “soldier’s heart,” and during World War I, it was called “shell shock.” The term PTSD came about in the 1980s. Approximately 500,000 veterans over the last 13 years have been diagnosed with PTSD.
Moreover, some veterans use meth laced with fentanyl, which makes the substance use disorder even more dangerous. Unfortunately, because a person cannot see, taste, or smell whether the meth they are using contains fentanyl, the only way to tell is if you test the meth.
An American veteran with an SUD involving meth may feel alone in their addiction. However, no veteran has to struggle alone. Effective veteran meth rehab groups, such as VeteransRehab.org, assist veterans with withdrawal and long-term recovery, and we strongly encourage vets to seek help for these issues.
What Is Methamphetamine?
Methamphetamine is a highly addictive stimulant. Other names for the drug include meth, speed, crystal, trash, tweak, and chalk. Originally used as a nasal decongestant and bronchial inhaler, it strongly affects the mind and body and can quickly harm both. People consume meth in various ways, including as pills, powders, liquids, and crystal forms.
In the United States, meth is illegal to own, produce, transport, or sell. There is medical meth, but it must be in the form of a prescription by a licensed doctor, and the medication must be in the using individual’s name.
What Are the Effects of Meth on Veterans’ Minds and Bodies?
One of the most devastating things about meth is its effects on the human body. Meth is one of the five most addictive drugs. Approximately 15% of overdoses in America, as of 2017, involved meth.
The short- and long-term effects of meth include:
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
- Increased body temperature
- Increased perspiration
- Increased appetite
- Complications with REM sleep producing vivid dreams, insomnia, aggression, and hyperactivity
- Mental disorders such as paranoia and psychotic episodes
- Severe depression after abstaining from meth due to severe damage to the brain’s dopamine system
Meth also causes physical deterioration such as:
- Tooth decay
- Ulcers in the mouth
- Blurred vision
- Shaking in parts of the body such as hands or legs
- Stomach cramps
- Cardiovascular problems like stroke or heart attack due to increased heart rate
- Raised blood pressure levels
Why Do Veterans Turn to Meth?
Of course, every individual has his or her reasons for falling victim to a meth habit. However, veterans are at an increased risk of methamphetamine abuse because many military personnel depend on the drug after completing their service and have access to the drug.
People join the military to defend their country from threats and act as peacekeepers. However, many soldiers return home after a war with physical and mental scars. Some may experience the stresses of war for longer than others or face challenges that make their post-military life difficult even when they have a family and a support system.
Many former soldiers have PTSD, which makes it difficult to live without feeling anxiety and stress frequently. It’s common for former soldiers to have PTSD because they often witness or participate in unspeakable acts during wartime. It can be challenging for veterans returning home because many have flashbacks or nightmares about what happened during combat and cannot sleep peacefully without anxiety or fear.
It’s difficult for veterans when they return home because their loved ones — who were not present during their service — usually don’t understand the issues for veterans trying to blend back into society after their experiences on duty.
Some vets use meth recreationally at first but progress to heavy use. This cycle damages their lives and makes it difficult for them to recover. After becoming addicted, these veterans have trouble holding jobs or staying sober long enough to find one. Also, once such a track record is established, some employers won’t hire these veterans since they cannot hold a job for long enough without becoming addicted again due to mental problems caused by their addictions.
Why Should a Veteran Seek Help for a Meth Addiction?
Removing a substance use disorder to meth is challenging to do on your own. This is for a wide variety of reasons:
- You have to admit you have a problem.
- You have to get yourself off meth. Going “cold turkey” is hard on the body and difficult to sustain.
- You have to have an effective plan to stay off meth.
Many people try to recover from meth addiction on their own without any success. When a person becomes addicted to meth, they experience severe physical and mental problems due to the drug use.
Withdrawal symptoms can include:
- Extreme tiredness
- Dry mouth
- Muscle spasms
- Lack of motivation
- Low energy
These effects can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.
It’s crucial for individuals with a substance use disorder to meth get help so they can avoid these complications and recover successfully. Medical professionals and drug rehabilitation counselors, including those formerly addicted to meth, should be consulted. The best way to take advantage of this is by entering a qualified, professional rehab center that includes everything a veteran with a substance use disorder to meth can benefit from.
What Is Effective Treatment for a Meth Addiction?
No treatment for meth will be effective unless it not only gets a veteran to stop using meth but also stay off meth. Therefore, a long-term, individualized treatment program is the most effective way to help a veteran with a substance use disorder involving meth. There’s no helpful one-size-fits-all treatment.
Treatment for meth addiction involves detoxification, rehabilitation, and aftercare services. Patients who undergo treatment for meth addiction experience good results when they follow the recommended treatments.
Specifically, effective rehabilitation for meth would include:
- Medically supervised detox
- Residential treatment typically 30, 60, or 90 days and includes individual and group therapy, holistic treatments, dual diagnosis treatment
- Aftercare that provides outpatient services, 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA), employment help, and more
Professional treatment for methamphetamine addiction works well for many people who struggle with substance use disorder. Both medical treatment — such as taking prescribed medications — and counseling help people overcome dependence on methamphetamines. Those who complete these treatments will be free from the negative impact of the drug on their physical and mental health and have a much better chance of recovering sufficiently to maintain long-term sobriety.
Where Can Veterans Get Help for Meth Addiction?
What’s beneficial for veterans is that the United States Department of Veteran Affairs, or VA, offers specific programs to help a veteran rehabilitate from meth. These include medically managed detoxification, residential or live-in care, short-term outpatient counseling, intensive outpatient treatment, and self-help groups.
You can get help as a veteran with your VA health benefits. If you don’t have VA health benefits, you can also find free resources for vets, including veterans who are now homeless. No veteran has to struggle with the problem alone.
Vets who want help for a meth addiction need to know that what they do when seeking and participating in treatment is confidential. Their treatment is kept in strict confidence due to HIPAA laws. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, known as HIPAA, was enacted by the U.S. Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton.
Due to the severe mental effects of meth withdrawal syndrome, many long-term addicts find it difficult to stop using the drug without assistance. According to an article published in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, nearly half of those who sought help for methamphetamine abuse had previously failed to withdraw from the drug on their own. Many potential rehab clients believe they will experience severe side effects if they seek professional help for their addiction because they lack the knowledge of how they can be positively helped via drug rehab centers and other sources.
As we’ve explained, self-diagnoses and attempting to rid yourself of meth by yourself are not advised. Veterans should seek help for a substance use disorder to meth. One useful resource is VeteransRehab.org. Our team has the tools and knowledge to help you deal with your meth addiction and any other mental health concerns that you may have. Give us a call, and let us get you on the right track.