Frequently Asked Questions

Has Oregon’s pseudoephedrine law reduced meth use?

The number of local methamphetamine "labs" discovered by law-enforcement officials has dropped dramatically since Oregon started requiring a doctor's prescription to obtain pseudoephedrine (one of the precursors in methamphetamine production).  In 2001, state law enforcement agencies found 587 labs; as of November, they'd found 21 in 2007 (source: Register-Guard, 11/24/07).  The law went into effect in July 2006.

However, so far, meth arrests are holding steady in Oregon.  State officials believe that methamphetamine labs outside of the United States (particularly in Mexico) have taken the place of local "labs" in making the drug available.  Efforts to reduce methamphetamine supply are now being directed toward cutting back pseudoephedrine supplies internationally so that countries can import only what they need for legitimate medical uses.

Does the MARC have studies on meth that I can be in?

For a current list of studies on meth that are enrolling members of the community, please see our Studies page or call our clinical office at 503 220-8262, extension 57471.

What are the effects of methamphetamine exposure on children ?

Research is still emerging on this subject. One overview of what's known to date is the Oregon Post Adoption Resource Center's "Parenting Children Who Have Been Exposed to Methamphetamine" guide.

Can people recover from methamphetamine use?

Yes.  Statistics from treatment providers and at least one government-funded study suggest that methamphetamine addicts in treatment recover at roughly the same rates as abusers of other "hard" drugs.  Research suggests that certain brain areas take longer to recover after meth use than after use of other drugs, but many former users succeed at staying abstinent and proceeding with drug-free lives. 

What does it mean to call addiction a “disease”?

Describing drug addiction as a disease recognizes the physical changes that occur in the brain as a person goes from being a first-time or occasional user to becoming an addict.  During the addiction process, the drug alters the brain's chemistry, structure, and function in ways that impairs the user's ability to choose whether or not to continue using.  These changes typically persist for months or years, even if the addict stops using the drug.  For this reason, addiction is usually described as a "chronic" disease. 

What types of treatment are there?

Numerous treatment approaches are used, and no single one is appropriate for everyone.  The best way to find out what to expect from a specific treatment provider is to ask them questions about the services they provide.  Most treatment programs incorporate aspects of three basic approaches: 

  • The medical model focuses on the physical aspects of addiction and is typically applied with patients who have also are diagnosed with mental-health disorders, or whose drug dependency is so acute that they require medically supervised detox.
  • The social model is based on the principles of 12-step programs, utilizing community-based resources and services with an emphasis on peer mentoring and social support.
  • The therapeutic community model places the recovering user in a drug-free living environment with others recovering from addiction (or similar problems). This community forms a miniature society in which residents, with staff in the role of facilitators, fulfill distinct roles and adhere to clear rules.   The environment is designed to promote change and make it possible for residents to transition to a drug-free life in the outside society.

If someone relapses after treatment, does it mean it's all over?

The National Institute on Drug Abuse recommends regarding drug addiction the same way we look at diabetes, asthma, or other physical ailments – as a chronic disease which requires life-long management but which can be treated successfully. Data from NIDA indicate that 40-60% of drug addicts relapse to additional drug use at some point after quitting. Many addicted individuals attain long-term recovery only after multiple episodes of relapse and treatment.

Are there medications to help people get off methamphetamine?

Currently, there is no medication approved in the United States to treat methamphetamine abuse or dependency. As you might imagine, doctors and pharmacologists are searching actively for drugs that could make methamphetamine recovery easier. Studies are currently in progress around the country to see whether existing drugs might prove helpful with meth recovery, or whether altogether new drugs can be developed to help with the symptoms that users undergo when they become abstinent.

Meth-fighting medications could work in several different ways. Some could chemically block the "high" that users get when they use, making meth use less rewarding. Some would help ease the early withdrawal symptoms such as depression and anxiety that most users get when they stop using. Some would reduce the drug cravings that can lead to relapse, making it easier for the patient to stay abstinent. And others could help the brain recover more quickly from the cognitive problems (such as poor memory and difficulty concentrating) that make it hard for newly abstinent addicts to take part in treatment during the early weeks or months of recovery.

What happens when I call for treatment?

When you call a licensed treatment provider, first you will receive a confidential substance abuse treatment assessment. Based on this assessment, you will be referred to the most appropriate services that are available for you. The best programs provide a combination of therapies and other services to meet the needs of the individual patient. Some issues that determine which program is best for you include your age, race, culture, sexual orientation, gender, pregnancy status, parental status, housing situation, and employment, as well as whether you have a history of physical or sexual abuse.

How safe is my privacy?

Confidentiality is a concern for many who think about seeking help for substance abuse. Fortunately, several federal laws are in place to protect the privacy of those in treatment.

Federal law 42Cfr part 2 mandates that all licensed substance-abuse treatment providers comply with federal confidentiality standards regarding alcohol and drug-abuse patient records. These standards prevent the release of records, including assessments and requests for services, except where the law requires provides to report elder abuse or child abuse, or where a client provides written to release information.  

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) establishes additional privacy and security standards to protect the confidentiality clients' health information. For details, visit the HIPAA website.

How do I pay for treatment?

Treatment programs can be expensive. If you (or a providing family member) have health insurance, your policy may cover some costs of addiction treatment. If you have no financial resources to help pay for a treatment program, you can look for programs that are publicly funded or that provide services on a sliding-scale basis (i.e. you pay what you can). Our Treatment Resources Page includes payment information for listed programs in the Portland metro area. For resources outside the area, try searching at the SAMHSA locator. Oregon's Addictions & Mental Health Division at the state Department of Human Services also maintains a list of publicly funded programs in Oregon by county.

How long does treatment last?

Time in treatment varies between treatment programs, and needs vary with the individual depending on drug of abuse, length of use, and many other factors. According to NIDA, research on treatment outcomes show that participation of less than 90 days in residential or outpatient programs is limited or no effectiveness, and that treatment beyond 90 days continues to produce progress toward recovery.

Can my son/daughter/partner/etc. quit using on his or her own?

Most addicts believe that they can stop using on their own and usually attempt to do so without successfully achieving long-term abstinence.  One myth about addiction is that users can "choose" to stop using on their own, or that a person's inability to overcome addiction stems from character flaws or a lack of willpower.  While personal decision certainly plays a role, the changes that addiction creates in brain chemistry and function can overpower the user's ability to choose.  Because of this, outside support is usually necessary. 

What can I do to encourage him/her to start treatment?

Watching someone you care about abuse a dangerous substance is one of the most challenging situations a person can face. Recovery is a complicated process, and family and friends often wish they could "do something" to help the user stop using.

A local drug-abuse prevention group, the Oregon Partnership, puts out a pamphlet called "How to get help" for family and friends wanting to support a substance user toward recovery. Check it for helpful advice.

What can I do for support while my family member is using?

In addition to the pamphlet mentioned above, family members may want to seek support from groups designed to help families and friends of users. Two such groups are Nar-Anon (800 477-6291), a world-wide fellowship for those affected by someone else's addiction, and Al-Anon (Portland number: 503 292-1333; national line: 1 888 4AL-ANON), which offers support to family and friends of those affected by someone else's drinking.

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