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Methamphetamine Prevention and Treatment

Methamphetamine Prevention

One of the best deterrents for preventing methamphetamine in the workplace is a comprehensive drug-free workplace program. A comprehensive drug-free workplace program includes the following components: a policy; training for supervisors; training for employees; assistance or support to employees who have problems with alcohol and other drugs; and drug testing.

A written drug-free workplace policy is the foundation of a drug-free workplace program. Every organization’s policy should be unique and tailored to meet its specific needs; however, all effective policies have a few aspects in common, including why the policy is being implemented; a clear description of prohibited behaviors; and an explanation of the consequences for violating the policy.

After developing a drug-free workplace policy, an organization should train those individuals closest to its workforce—supervisors. Training should ensure that supervisors understand the drug-free workplace policy; ways to recognize and deal with employees who have performance problems that may be related to alcohol and other drugs; and how to refer employees to available assistance.

A drug and alcohol education program provides employees with the information they need to fully understand, cooperate with and benefit from their company’s drug-free workplace program. Effective employee education programs provide company-specific information, such as the details of the drug-free workplace policy, as well as generalized information about the nature of alcohol and drug addiction; its impact on work performance, health and personal life; and types of help available for individuals with related problems.

Providing assistance or support to employees who have problems with alcohol and other drugs can come in many forms. Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) are generally the most effective vehicle for addressing poor workplace performance that may stem from an employee’s personal problems, including the abuse of alcohol or other drugs. EAPs are an excellent benefit to employees and their families and clearly demonstrate employers’ respect for their staff. They also offer an alternative to dismissal and minimize an employer’s legal vulnerability by demonstrating efforts to support employees. In addition to counseling and referrals, many EAPs offer other related services, such as supervisor training and employee education. At a minimum, businesses should maintain a resource file from which employees can access information about community-based resources, treatment programs and helplines.

Some employers decide to drug test employees for a variety of reasons, such as deterring and detecting drug use, as well as providing concrete evidence for intervention, referral to treatment and/or disciplinary action. Before deciding to conduct testing, employers should consider a few factors, including who will be tested; when will tests be conducted; which drugs will be tested for; and how tests will be conducted.Different testing modes are available, and many states have laws that dictate which may and may not be used.

A comprehensive drug-free workplace program helps in the prevention of substance abuse. It also helps in getting people to treatment.

Methamphetamine Treatment

It is possible to recover from methamphetamine addiction; however, it is a long and difficult road. Because methamphetamine affects dopamine transporters, it takes time for the brain to recover. As a result, there is a high rate of relapse with methamphetamine due to the recovering addict’s inability to feel pleasure or have a sense of hope. Further, unlike other addictions, there is no known "anti-methamphetamine” medication available. Initial studies from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) indicate that cognitive behavioral therapy is helpful in methamphetamine addiction treatment. More recent studies provide some sense of "hope” in methamphetamine addiction.

Community-based treatment for methamphetamine abusers, especially women, and the Matrix model, a method of outpatient cognitive-behavioral therapy, appear to aid in long-term abstinence. Treatment comprised of group therapy, including drug-related and alcohol-related sessions and sessions on dealing with mental health symptoms and addressing psychosocial problems, including family, parenting and employment, for a minimum of three months, provided improvement of almost all areas.

Due to its high rate of recidivism, a new technology using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) can predict "with high accuracy” whether a person will relapse after treatment for methamphetamine abuse. The fMRI revealed in study participants that those who showed greater activity in selected brain regions during a decision-making task as opposed to a simple response task were likely to remain abstinent. Those who showed far less activity during the decision-making task than during the simple response task were more likely to relapse to methamphetamine abuse. The possible treatment implications include using this technology to determine which patients would be more likely to relapse and then assign them to higher levels of care (NIDA Notes, Vol. 20, N5/Brain).

Methamphetamine Treatment and the Workplace

Through a comprehensive drug-free workplace program, it is possible to identify an employee with a methamphetamine problem and get that person assistance needed to enter into treatment. As an employer, it is helpful to ask whether there is adequate health insurance coverage for employees who may be addicted to methamphetamine.

Because the road to recovery with meth is long, follow-up is particularly important. Follow-up in the workplace occurs after a person has completed formal substance abuse treatment, usually through a treatment or rehabilitation facility. This procedure in the workplace is in place to assist the employee with returning to work, maintaining sobriety and complying with any return-to-work agreement. An organization working with an employee dealing with methamphetamine addiction needs procedures that consider the nature of the specific drug and its recovery process. It usually includes assistance from the treatment/rehab center and an EAP or other workplace representative. In addition, workplace drug testing combined with therapeutic tests, such as fMRI, could be useful in providing assurances to employers that those treated for meth addiction will not relapse on the job and also improve the odds of a positive recovery.

"What Can I Do?" Training:
A training designed to help employees learn when and how to help a co-worker (or family member or friend) who may have a substance abuse problem. Co-workers can often be a powerful influence on those who are abusing drugs and/or alcohol. By knowing what to do and what not to do, co-workers can make the workplace safer and help their co-workers get help.