The ingredient list for meth is so absurd that it almost seems far fetched: drain cleaner, gasoline, Freon, acetone, battery acid, ammonia, and paint thinner cover just part of the list. After all, who in their right mind would ever have thought to create a cocktail of such undesirable substances and put it into their body? The answer is someone who is not in his or her right mind. Methamphetamines actually eat away at the brain tissue, resulting in behavior very similar to those suffering from schizophrenia and literally leaving gaping holes that are visible in a brain scan.

Trying to reason with a heavy meth user and convince them to come clean can seem impossible and leave you feeling like you’d rather tell them to go to hell rather than attempt to help them. Heavy users can seem so far gone that friends and family members who once cared are prepared to wash their hands of the person for good. They’re right to want to get far way from the addict’s irrational behavior, inability to reason, and the general insanity that permeates the space around a meth user. Their behavior is toxic and something that no one in their right mind would want to subject themselves to.

But beneath the crazed surface, trapped somewhere inside beyond the meth induced dementia, is the person you once knew. A person who, if they could see themselves the way you do right now, would be horrified by what they have become. The problem is trying to reach beyond the meth, beyond the excuses and the delusional justifications for continuing a behavior that causes their bodies and minds to literally deteriorate at a horrifyingly rapid pace.

Understanding “reality” from the meth user’s point of view

A meth addict’s perception of reality is much different from that of a healthy mind. No matter how absurd it may seem, this is their reality and in order to reach them it’s important to try to somewhat comprehend (but not try to understand) this reality. Your friend or family member didn’t intend to turn out like this. In the beginning, the enjoyed the feeling of meth because of the intense happiness it filled him or her with. At first, they were seeking a joy and confidence that they weren’t able to generate from within.

Thought it may seem difficult to believe, this drug which eventually robs people of their ability to feel happiness, at first produces feelings of euphoria that make the world seem colorful, opportunities seem boundless, people seem wonderful, and users feel invincible. But eventually, there are no more real feelings of joy or pleasure with meth. At first, people continue to use because the depression felt during the crash is so devastating that the alternative, more meth, seems the only way to avoid the terrifying darkness. Eventually, the user loses touch with reality and forms their own psychotic reality and justification for why they need meth in their life.

Reaching the person beyond the insanity

A meth user’s perception of him/her self is often completely different from everyone else’s. They don’t see what the bid deal is. They’re fine. If they saw you reading this right now, they would probably be furious about your insistence to overreact. This is the meth talking. Somewhere inside, they know that you’re right, but you won’t reach that place until the meth is essentially ‘exorcised’ from the body. The most important thing to do is to get that person into a place where they have no access to this mind altering poison.

This may mean that they need to go to jail or ordered into a mental facility in order to achieve that distance. Heavy users, who are free to do as they wish, rarely ever stop using long enough to get a sense of sanity back. It’s going to be difficult to watch this person morph back from a state of insanity. The depression and the realization of what they have become will hit hard and be difficult to experience. Putting a distance between the addict and meth is the first step to recovery, but it is not the last.

Life beyond meth: Filling the void of addiction with the tools for permanent sobriety

Eliminating meth from the body alone isn’t often enough to prevent relapse. Removing meth only reveals to the addict the shambles their life has become, a realization often so devastating that going back to meth seems a more attractive alternative. It is critical that the meth addict not only detox, but also find reasons to stay sober and then incorporate practices into their daily lives that will give them the strength to pick up the pieces of their broken lives.

During this time period, the user should be in a healthy, positive environment, with no access to drugs or people that might trigger memories of using. Learning about and practicing skills like goal setting and financial planning give recovering addicts a feeling of control over their lives and help them to see that there is a way to put their lives back together, no matter how long and twisted the path. Eating nutritious foods and getting daily exercise are also essential for addicts who must learn to generate energy from the inside out, rather than attempting to bring it into their bodies from an external poison. A healthy physical routine can do a great deal for recovering addicts as they learn once again to feel the natural pleasure of true physical vitality.

Remember, the meth addict began his or her journey because of an intense desire to feel alive with energy, passion, love, and confidence. Your friend or family member still deeply desires these emotions but has lost touch with how to achieve them naturally. If anything, they probably feel less deserving of a life of joy after coming down than ever before. The journey to sobriety for a meth addict is a long and arduous road, but one that can be navigated. If the person in your life can only remain free of meth for long enough and learn to fill the void left behind with techniques of empowerment, he or she will eventually find the beautiful person that lives inside who deserves a life of joy and happiness.

Article provided by The Mark Houston Drug and Alcohol Recovery Center

Author's Bio: 

If you have completed treatment at a residential treatment center, our residential recovery program serves as the next forward step. If you‘re ready to learn how to live a sober, responsible, committed life full of promise and fun, we‘re here to help you.