Australia’s treatment sector has evolved primarily geared towards treating addiction to depressant drugs. However, methamphetamines are part of a new wave of stimulant with differing drivers and course to depressant use.
This means that the client will have treatment and recovery needs that may be partly or completely different from those of depressant users.
Conference Chair Dr Matthew Berry presented at the Australia and New Zealand Addiction Conference yesterday on ‘7 Ways you have to think differently when working with methamphetamine use compared to depressant use’ highlighting seven of the most important ways that clinicians working with methamphetamine users should adapt their practices, compared to working with depressant users.
In an interview with Matthew we asked which was the most important point of difference in treating methamphetamine users. Matthew said;
“In the situation of Methanthetamine, the dopamine receptors in the brain get really severely damaged.
They can recover, but that process take several months and some researchers argue even up to two years to return to normal”.
“One of the key treatment outcomes I have to work on with my clients is exploring ways of getting dopamine activation happening in early recovery. The receptors are so habituated and beaten up that it’s very hard for the client to feel good and stave off depression.
So we have to work strongly in trying to identify existing dopaminergic activities so the client can continue to enjoy being sober instead of them gritting their teeth”.
Dr Matthew Berry is a clinical psychologist specialising in addiction as well as substance use and for the past 13 years has taught post-graduate addiction counselling and is an experienced trainer having developed and delivered more than 100 workshops on a range of topics including Addiction, Motivation, Supervision Skills, and Managing Challenging Behaviours.