The DEA classifies crystal meth as a Schedule II controlled substance, which puts it at the same risk level as morphine and cocaine. This means that crystal meth has a high potential for abuse leading to severe physical and psychological dependence. Long-time crystal meth users suffer damage to all of the major systems of the body, as well as undergoing psychological changes that may include delusions, paranoia, violence and psychosis. Due to the severity of these effects, a comprehensive crystal meth rehab program must address both the physical and psychological effects of crystal meth addiction.
The first step in crystal meth rehab is detox, which begins with total abstinence from crystal meth as well as from alcohol and other illicit drugs. Rest and relaxation in an inpatient crystal meth rehab facility will help ease the transition from detox to therapy and recovery. The detox experience can be intense, encompassing depression, insomnia and hallucinations. Crystal meth changes how the brain experiences pleasure by releasing the chemical dopamine into the brain and damaging the dopamine receptors. Other drugs also release dopamine, but methamphetamine does such at a much higher rate – up to four times higher than other stimulants like cocaine. The damage to dopamine receptors can be reversed, but it takes time for the brain to heal itself. Until the receptors regrow, the recovering addict will have difficulty experiencing pleasure without the drug. To decrease depression and avoid the chance of relapse early in the crystal meth rehab process, an anti-depressant is often prescribed.
Once detox has been completed, the next step in crystal meth rehab involves treatment of the psychological effects of addiction. The recovering crystal meth addict must cope with cravings for the drug. Unhealthy behaviors must be eradicated and the personal problems that led to addiction should be dealt with. In a successful crystal meth treatment program, the recovering addict is assisted in moving beyond the issues associated with crystal meth addiction and beginning a new life free of drugs and alcohol.