Methamphetamine, or Meth as it is affectionately (!) alluded to in the streets, is like a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the drug is prescribed by regulatory agencies for intervention in conditions such as ADHD, exogenous obesity, narcolepsy and treatment-resistant depression. On the other hand, meth has the power to pull a human being from a state of normalcy into a state of the zombie. You begin oral administration as a newbie to please the peer group, or just for fun, or simply because it is available and you have nothing better to do, or because of a host of other myriad reasons. Before you know it, you graduate into ingesting the drug through intravenous injections or insufflations or suppositories, because you discover that you no longer have the patience to wait for the mandatory half-an-hour before the chemical dissolves in the blood stream to reach the brain. The needle and the snorting and the cavity-insertions bypass the alimentary canal and transport the chemical to the brain faster. And once you are hooked, it is a very challenging task to get you unhooked.
The adverse effects of the drug on the body and the mind of the meth user are well documented. Restlessness, headache, diarrhea, constipation, insomnia, heart attack and stroke are just a few of the physical effects. And while the initial use of the drug is attractive psychologically because of the increased sense of libido, self-esteem and self-confidence it gives you - you feel you are invincible, and all your timidness is gone! - meth shows its true colors when you begin exhibiting behaviors that can only be described as deviant. It is no surprise that the criminal justice system has become the number one referral source for methamphetamine treatment. Substance-induced psychotic behaviors such as paranoia, auditory hallucination and delusion are but a few stations away on this journey. In fact, studies (such as this for example) reveal that meth users are a high-risk group for psychotic illnesses, and it doesn't matter whether or not they have coexisting primary (and not drug-induced) psychotic disorders. This risk is apparently higher than in users of other drugs such as cocaine. The implication for the treatment-provider here is that a meth user coming in for treatment may also be screened and assessed for psychosis vulnerability, in order to guide effective treatment.
Interestingly, psychotherapeutic interventions administered to meth addicts under the drug court treatment programs have been found to have been more effective than those provided outside the drug court setting. In a study that compared the outcomes of interventions in a group of 57 meth-dependents enrolled in a drug court program against another group of 230 meth-dependents who were not supervised by any drug court, it was found that the drug court participants exhibited higher rates of retention, abstinence and completion. There was also a lower rate of dropout from the treatment. [Incidentally, the researchers used the multi-component Matrix Model therapy in this study.]
Now which element of the drug court model has contributed to this positive outcome? Does the "stern-judge-observing-you-in-the-background" regime make a difference? Does the presence of an authority figure help keep deviancy in check?
[That's an interesting question to ponder: Do we require the imagery of some parental figure to guide us on the highway of life? Is that why we stumble, fall, drift, veer away from the highway... because somewhere in the progression of the calendars, we decided to forego this imagery because we had "grown up", whatever being grown up means? And pray tell - who defines the highway? How are we so sure that the path we are walking on is indeed a highway? By whose standards? Here is an inspiring article that tries to answer these questions: "Choose To Live A Life That Matters".]