A multidisciplinary team of University of Iowa researchers made the recommendation in a review article that appeared in the April 2003 issue of the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment. The team also identified areas of research that could help improve treatment, including retention and new drug therapies.
Improving treatment is critical as meth abuse has increased in the past decade. From 1992 to 1999, admissions to meth abuse treatment programs more than doubled in the United States -- from nearly 14 people per 100,000 to 32 per 100,000. States with the highest rates of meth abuse admissions were Idaho (207 per 100,000), Utah (168 per 100,000) and Iowa (118 per 100,000), according to the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
"In reviewing studies we found that treatment does work if you can give people sufficient access to treatment," said James Hall, Ph.D., UI associate professor of pediatrics, social work, public health and nursing and one of the review authors. "We were worried that you need a special care ward or other special setting, but at least based on the data we reviewed, that doesn't seem to be the case."
What seems to make a difference is time. Meth effects can last up to six months for just one use, and the drug can do greater damage to a person's physical, behavioral and thinking functions than many other illicit drugs or alcohol. For this reason, it takes much longer to treat a person with a meth addiction than it does to treat someone with a cocaine or heroin problem. This time factor is also one reason why so many meth treatments currently fail.
Most adult residential drug treatment programs -- the essential first stop for breaking an addiction -- have been shortened from 45 or 30 days
Contact: Becky Soglin
University of Iowa