Methamphetamine (meth) abuse is a problem all around the world, with as many as 25 million people using meth in the last month. Meth is highly addictive and has a devastating effect on those who become dependent. The long-term effects of meth are far-reaching and encompass a wide variety of horrific consequences. Long-term effects can include contracting infectious bloodborne diseases such as HIV and hepatitis B and C from sharing needles, developing meth mouth (severe dental problems), meth mites (intense itching on the skin leaving sores). It can also cause a range of cognitive deficits such as paranoia, hallucinations, anxiety, depression, and memory loss. The best way to avoid these horrific consequences is to quit meth for good.
Meth Withdrawal Symptoms & Timeline
Trying to quit methamphetamine can result in painful withdrawal symptoms. Meth withdrawal symptoms often include fatigue, severe depression, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, psychosis, and intense meth cravings. Additional withdrawal symptoms can include paranoia, red/itchy eyes, difficulty sleeping, lack of motivation, lack of energy, increased appetite.
Three Phases of Meth Withdrawal
If you are wondering how to quit meth, the exact length of meth withdrawal is different for everyone. Depending on the severity of a person’s meth dependence, age, gender, and other factors withdrawal can happen quickly or take a long time. A recent study published in Addictions Journal stated that meth withdrawal happens in three phases. The study attempted to provide a general guide for how long meth withdrawal lasts.
Once a person smokes or injects meth they get an almost immediate rush (euphoric feelings). If they orally ingest meth it could take 20 minutes to feel that rush. During this period meth can keep a person awake for over 12 hours. If a person is binging on meth (a run) they could stay away for 10 days, without eating or drinking much. As the high starts to fade a person who abuses meth will experience the first withdrawal phase known as the crash.
The first withdrawal phase is the crash. Meth takes over a person’s body leaving them malnourished and dehydrated. During day 1 and day 2 of quitting meth, a person will experience a crash or comedown. During this period a person will experience fatigue, sleepiness, and hunger as their body tries to recover from not having the drug.
The second phase is the acute phase. This stage usually lasts 7 to 10 days. During this period people typically experience cravings and depression. Depression can cause a person to experience suicidal thoughts. The severity of this stage tends to go down after the first 24 hours of stopping meth use.
The third and final phase is known as the subacute phase. This stage happens at the end of the acute phase and usually lasts another 2 to 3 weeks. During this stage, symptoms are generally mild and remain stable for 2 weeks. Withdrawal symptoms tend to go away after 2 weeks of abstinence from meth.
The effects meth has on a person’s body are long-lasting. Just because a person goes through a successful detox does not mean that their body is cured of the effects of meth. A study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs mentioned that meth use has been associated with a variety of long-lasting cognitive deficits. The study mentioned that the greater length of absence from meth the more likely they are to fully improve their cognitive function. This points to meth’s long-lasting effects on a person and withdrawal lasting longer than just a month to get all of the drugs out of a person’s body enabling them to feel normal again. Withdrawing from meth is not likely to be physically dangerous to a person. However, meth withdrawal can cause severe and profound depression. This depression could make a person attempt suicide. It can also cause psychotic symptoms such as paranoia, hallucinations, distress, and agitation. These symptoms put a person at risk for harming themself or others. If a person becomes emotionally unstable and attempts and attempts to harm themself then a person could die from withdrawing from meth.
Can You Die From Meth Withdrawal?
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Withdrawing from meth is not likely to be physically dangerous to a person. However, meth withdrawal can cause severe and profound depression. This depression could make a person attempt suicide. It can also cause psychotic symptoms such as paranoia, hallucinations, distress, and agitation. These symptoms put a person at risk for harming themself or others. If a person becomes emotionally unstable and attempts and attempts to harm themself then a person could die from withdrawing from meth.
Is It Possible to Stop Meth Use Without Rehab?
It might be possible to stop using meth without rehab, but it will be extremely difficult and is not recommended. Stimulant use such as meth reduces appetite leading to weight loss and poor nutrition. It can also cause psychotic symptoms putting a person at risk for harming themself or others. Users of meth can stay up for days at a time resulting in severe dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. Trying to eat a normal diet can be extremely difficult if a person has lost a lot of weight. Further, attempting to stop meth use without the help of a rehab clinic could result in relapsing which is known to lead to overdose.
How to detox from meth? The best way to detox from meth is with a medical detox at either an inpatient or hospitalization setting. Stimulus withdrawal is associated with severe physical symptoms. Medical detox will provide a person with medications and behavioral therapies necessary to ease the withdrawal symptoms, overcome an addiction, and prevent relapse.
Behavioral therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and contingency management can be used to help a person emotionally overcome their meth addiction. Cognitive-behavioral therapy educates a person about addiction, provides relapse prevention, and attempts to alter a person’s maladaptive thoughts towards drug use. Contingency management is based on the notion that behavior is more likely to be repeated if it is followed by positive consequences.
Treatment For Withdrawal Symptoms
Currently, there are no Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved medications to treat meth addiction. However, doctors can prescribe various medications to reduce certain withdrawal symptoms. For example, diphenhydramine can be prescribed to target insomnia symptoms. This helps a person withdrawing from meth sleep better at night. Antidepressants can also be prescribed to relieve depression symptoms. If a person is experiencing headaches from withdrawing medications can be prescribed to relieve those systems as well.
Attempting to quit methamphetamine on your own can be extremely difficult. The pain associated with withdrawing can cause you to relapse. No one should have to go through the withdrawal process without physical and emotional support. If you or someone you love is suffering from a meth addiction getting help from a supportive and comfortable rehab clinic can help. Rehab clinics are equipped with trained medical and mental health professionals to provide the tools necessary to help you overcome your meth addiction.
- Addiction Treatment Options. Sunshine Behavioral Health.
- Methamphetamine. National Institute on Drug Abuse.
- Methamphetamine Dependence and Neuropsychological Functioning: Evaluating Change During Early Abstinence. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.
- Substance use recovery diet. Medline Plus.
- The burden and management of crystal meth use. Canadian Medical Association Journal.
- Tip 45: Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment. Substance Abuse and Mental health Services Administration.
- Withdrawal Management. Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Management and Treatment of Drug Dependence in Closed Settings.
- Withdrawal symptoms in abstinent methamphetamine-dependent subjects. Addiction Journal.
Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.
Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.
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