Meth Recovery: A Choice Which Can Restore
My 26 year old brother has been a drug user for years. After one of his last big binges he wound up getting picked up by the police and spent a few days in a county mental psych ward because they said he had amphetamine induced psychosis. They said that it was unusual for a psychosis that was caused by meth to last for as long as his did and said that he must have been using an extreme amount in the days leading up to his getting picked up by the police because he had been hiding in a janitorial closet at the mall and he wouldn’t come out.
I am really scared for him. My mom picked him up from the hospital and brought him home. She called me to come back to town to come for a visit and to talk to him. I had not seen him for about a year and I was really shocked by what he looked like. I am 2 years older than him but he looks grim and apparently he was looking a lot worse than this when they picked him up. I told him I’d sell my truck and pay for rehab if he’d go but he said it was too late for him. He says he has brain damage now and the only way he can ever feel happiness now is by using meth. He says he knows he won’t live long but there’s nothing he can do about it now. He seems really defeated and unwilling to do anything to fight to get better.
Is this true or is this the drugs talking? I do not doubt that the drugs would have affected him in some ways, but I would think that once he could get really clean and sober for a while he’d be able to snap out of the depression? I feel like it’s our last chance to save his life because if we don’t get him to stop now it’s only going to get worse from here.
Delisted Expert Says ...
Dear Concerned Family Member,
Your brother sounds like he is very progressed in his meth addiction. It is not uncommon for meth addiction to show poor motivation for recovery. With amphetamine drugs, like meth, it is common for them to have depression as a rebound effect from using the drug. This has more to do with brain chemistry (reduced dopamine) than the actual circumstances: although they do sound grim. When you describe your young brother as grim, unhappy, hopeless, defeated, unwilling (unmotivated), and having impaired/compromised reality testing abilities, these symptoms often accompany the chronic or long term use of meth and the resulting depression.
First, it important to understand that addiction is a family disease and not just an individual problem. The most effective treatment treats the family, not just the addict in isolation. If the family does not make some changes, then an addict will frequently relapse; causing the family to lose hope themselves. To effective and therapeutically deal with an addict, the family needs support. A good basic article for the family can be found at http://www.addictinthefamily.org/chapone.html. It recommended that family members seek support in 12 Step groups, such as Al-Anon or Nar-Anon (and http://www.nar-anon.org/Nar-Anon/Nar-Anon_Literature.html. There are some excellent reading resources on these sites for the family trying to help the addict and themselves. Please try to educate your family and yourself about the exact problem you are facing with your brother.
Another suggestion would be to find out as much about meth addiction as possible. There are stories and people who are out there who have shared how they overcame meth addiction. Some good resources to begin are:
For treatment recommendations for methamphetamine addiction from NIDA, go to: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/methamphetamine-abuse-addiction/what-treatments-are-effective-methamphetamine-abusers. I would recommend a program which uses the Matrix Model for methamphetamine addiction.
Lastly, I would ask that your family and you to consider doing an intervention with your brother. An intervention is when the family and friends of the family come together to confront the addict on his self-destructive behavior and how it affects everyone involved; including the addict. The goal of the intervention is to willingly gain the addict’s consent to immediately enter into treatment. Sometimes treatment centers will offer this or you may want to hire an individual interventionist. For information about how families do their own intervention or how interventions should work, go to the free eBook at: http://www.floridahouseexperience.com/
Although your brother claimed that he has brain damage, research supports the idea that the brain is able to partially recover. I would encourage you to focus on his recovery rather than damage your brother may or may not have caused himself by his use of meth. Please consider having your brother engaged into a professional evaluation by a substance abuse professional experienced with meth abuse/addiction. Remember, there is hope even in the most desperate situations.
I wish your brother, family, and you very success in the near future. If I may be of further help, please let me know.
John W. O’Neal, Ed.S, MSW, MA, LPC, NCC