Understanding Meth Withdrawal
Methamphetamine abuse is a huge problem within the United States, and because of its potency, the drug can lead to rapid dependency. Many recreational users will experience a “crash” period after they stop using the drug, which can last a few days; however, addicted or dependent users will experience a methamphetamine withdrawal which can last for up to several weeks. The withdrawal symptoms of meth are debilitating and painful, and can cause the user to take more of the drug in hopes of counteracting the withdrawal process. This may lead to a downward spiral of repeated meth use, which can perpetuate a cycle of addiction.
By the time many users realize they have a problem and try to quit, they find that the withdrawal effects have become too powerful to overcome on their own. Undergoing withdrawal in a medical detox program is the safest way to treat symptoms and remove meth from the body. These programs support patients with around-the-clock medical care throughout the entire process. Doctors and nurses are able to monitor patients’ vitals and tailor treatment plans as withdrawal symptoms begin to improve. Once detox is complete, recovering users can seek counseling and other services to learn how to maintain long-term sobriety.
Meth Withdrawal Symptoms
The symptoms of meth withdrawal can vary from person to person. The severity of the side effects depends on a number of factors, including the length of time the individual used meth, the amount of meth they used, how frequently they used, and whether they engaged in polydrug use and also abused other substances. Additionally, other factors, such as the method used to consume the drug, can affect withdrawal. Those who inject meth will typically experience a longer, more intense withdrawal process than those who don’t.
Signs and symptoms of withdrawal can include:
- Increased appetite
- Excessive sweating
- Red, itchy eyes
- Loss of motivation
- Suicidal thoughts
- Stomach ache
- Severe depression
Meth Withdrawal Timeline
The specific time period for withdrawal varies between individuals, but the acute phase of withdrawal typically peaks around day two or three after last use and generally begins to ease after a week. However, psychological symptoms including mood swings, agitation, drug cravings, and sleep disturbances can persist for multiple weeks and depression can last for even months to a year in some.
|Duration of Meth Withdrawals: Timeline of Symptoms|
|First 48 Hours||This phase is known as the “crash” and occurs within the first day of stopping use of the drug. During the first 24-48 hours, former users will begin to experience a sharp decline in energy and cognitive function, as well as nausea, abdominal cramping, and sweating.|
|Days 3-10||Withdrawal symptoms typically peak during this time. As the body attempts to adjust without meth, recovering users will experience severe depression, anxiety, and extreme fatigue. Some people will also experience shaking and lingering muscle aches, as well as intense drug cravings.|
|Days 14-20||Symptoms of meth withdrawal typically last around 2-3 weeks. Towards the end of the second week, most physical symptoms begin to subside, but intense drug cravings can persist. Additionally, continuing fatigue and depression are common during this period.|
|1 Month+||The worst of withdrawal symptoms are typically over at this point. Any remaining symptoms will continue to fade over time. However, for some, the psychological symptoms such as depression and anxiety may continue for several months before they subside.|
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What to Expect During Meth Detox
Many individuals may feel hesitant to begin detox, but rest assured that the top priority of any detox center is for patients to feel as safe and comfortable as process when attending treatment. The detox process is broken down into three stages to ensure patients receive the form of care that’s right for them. Patients will typically undergo a comprehensive review of their current health so doctors know how to proceed with treatment. Next, patients will begin with their personalized detox plan. After the initial withdrawal process, doctors may sit down with the patient to discuss their next steps. The detox process for meth can be broken down into the three following stages:
Upon admission, a medical team will assess the patient’s health and well-being. Doctors and nurses typically use urine drug screens to determine the amount of meth that a patient has used recently. From there, the treatment team can develop a detox plan that fits their specific needs. Keep in mind that the doctor may ask a patient questions about their current and past substance abuse. This is necessary for setting up a patient’s long-term recovery plan. It’s also helpful for doctors to know if the patient suffers from any co-occurring disorders, as these can affect the types of detox treatments the patient will receive.
Many patients who arrive at the detox center are experiencing the peak of their withdrawal symptoms. Treatments begin as soon as possible after the evaluation stage to help make the patient more comfortable. As symptoms improve, doctors will adjust treatments accordingly. Medical staff will also keep the patient’s loved ones informed and updated on their progress.
Transition Into Further Treatment
When the detox process is almost complete, doctors will begin to discuss next steps with their patient. Detox is only the first step in meth addiction treatment, and physicians recommend that patients continue their recovery in a rehab facility. If the detox is already taking place in a treatment facility, medical staff will help patients transition into the next stage and stay on track toward sobriety.
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Medications Used to Assist Meth Detox
There are currently no medications specifically designed to ease the methamphetamine withdrawal process. However, there are a few that can be prescribed to help relieve the severity of some withdrawal symptoms. Bupropion, an antidepressant used to help people quit smoking tobacco, has been proven to be very helpful in reducing drug cravings. Additionally, the mild stimulant properties of Modafinil, a medication used to treat narcolepsy and ADHD, can assist with the cravings and disruptive sleep patterns that are associated with withdrawal. Fluoxetine can also help those in recovery by assisting patients overcome panic attacks and easing any other symptoms of anxiety. Further studies are being conducted to identify additional medications that could prove helpful in easing the withdrawal process for meth users.
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Finding Treatment for Meth Addiction
Detox is the safest and most effective way to treat drug addiction. After detox, the next step of treatment is going to rehab to tackle the underlying psychological causes of addiction. If you or a loved one are struggling with an addiction to meth, take that first step towards sobriety today. Contact a dedicated treatment provider today to find a treatment center that’s best for your recovery.