Meth Withdrawal & Detox: Timeline, Symptoms, & Process

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FAQs

Meth withdrawal is associated with the presentation of acute and post-acute withdrawal symptoms that vary from person to person when someone is dealing with a meth addiction.

The onset, duration, and severity of meth withdrawal symptoms can also vary according to factors that include:

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  • Dosage of meth
  • Duration of meth abuse
  • Route of administration
  • Purity of meth
  • Level of intoxication
  • Previous experience with meth withdrawal

This guide highlights what to expect from the meth withdrawal and detox process and shows you how to safely detox from methamphetamine.

Withdrawing From Meth

Methamphetamine, also known as meth or crystal meth, is a highly addictive illicit stimulant and Schedule II controlled substance. If you have developed a meth addiction (stimulant use disorder) that involves physical dependence, aggravating withdrawal symptoms will present when you stop using methamphetamine.

When you take meth in any form, this triggers the release of large quantities of dopamine.

Dopamine is a chemical messenger or neurotransmitter that is associated with euphoric feelings and positive mood. Ingesting crystal meth provokes a euphoric high, and high levels of dopamine linger in the brain until you quit using the substance.

The sustained use of meth will trigger a withdrawal process that is characterized by severe psychological and physical withdrawal symptoms accompanied by intense cravings for crystal meth. You will feel deeply fatigued and sapped of energy with a depressed mood. You may also experience episodes of anxiety during meth detox and withdrawal.

It is inadvisable to stop using meth abruptly without medical supervision. If you attempt meth detox in a non-clinical setting, the intensity of cravings for meth can be so severe that you use meth to alleviate them, immediately derailing your recovery. Risks and medical complications can be mitigated with a supervised clinical detox.

Crystal Meth Withdrawal

Physical dependence on meth can occur after sustained use. Your body feels that it needs methamphetamine to function normally and withdrawal symptoms present in the absence of crystal meth.

This often kickstarts a cycle of meth misuse and abuse with people using meth simply to prevent the onset of distressing withdrawal symptoms.

Crystal meth withdrawal occurs due to brain changes (neuroadaptations) that result from repeated use of methamphetamine. These changes occur mainly in the dopamine-reward system of the brain. When you use meth, the brain releases excessive quantities of dopamine. Over time, this blunts the pleasure receptors in the brain and makes it tough to experience from normal activities.

What are the withdrawal symptoms of meth, then?

Symptoms of Meth Withdrawal

Everyone will have a different experience of meth withdrawal and detox, but some common signs of meth withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Cravings: Of all the withdrawal symptoms, meth cravings are perhaps the most common and enduring. If you engage with a supervised meth detox, you can access emotional care when confronted by cravings that feel unmanageable.
  • Increased appetite: Meth addiction is commonly associated with appetite loss and corresponding weight loss. The reverse often occurs during meth detox, and you may experience cravings for sugary or starchy foods. Cravings may persist for two to three weeks as you move from meth detox into ongoing stimulant use disorder treatment.
  • Depression: Most people detoxing from crystal meth report experiencing episodes of depression that typically subside by the third week of meth withdrawal, although research suggests that ongoing episodes of depression may continue in some rare cases.
  • Anxiety: Studies show that 30% of those addicted to meth also meet the DSM diagnostic criteria for anxiety disorder. Anxiety is one of the most common symptoms of meth withdrawal.
  • Extreme fatigue: Using meth can induce hyperactivity while reducing the need for sleep. The opposite can occur during meth detox and withdrawal. Fatigue, sleepiness, and inactivity are common symptoms during the first week of detox, with symptoms peaking after five days of detox.
  • Psychosis: Delusions and psychosis may manifest during meth withdrawal in those who have been abusing the substance chronically and long-term, or in those with existing mental health conditions.
image of man representing meth withdrawal symptoms

Meth Detox

Detoxing from meth is not a substitute for treatment, but rather the first critical step in the treatment process.

The goal of meth detox is to address the issue of dependence on methamphetamine, breaking dependence and preparing you for ongoing behavioral therapy. During meth detox, all toxins and toxic by-products will be purged from your system.

Although meth withdrawal is often unpleasant and challenging, a supervised medical detox program can make the process as safe and comfortable as possible, enabling you to create a robust foundation for ongoing treatment.

So how long does meth withdrawal take?

How Long Does Meth Detox Take?

You may now be asking, “how long does it take to get off meth?”. The answer is that it varies from person to person. Research shows that there are two potential phases to meth withdrawal – acute and post-acute. 

The acute phase of meth withdrawal peaks during the first few days of withdrawal, reducing in intensity over a week or so.

Some people detoxing from meth will experience subacute withdrawal phase that lasts for an additional two weeks. PAWS (post-acute withdrawal syndrome) from meth involves symptoms that recur for many months after the last dose of meth.

Many factors affect the severity of withdrawal symptoms during meth detox, including:

  • Duration and scope of meth abuse
  • Physical dependence on meth
  • Physical and mental health
  • History of meth abuse
  • Purity of meth used

Broadly, the longer the duration and the greater the intensity of meth abuse, the longer-lasting and more severe withdrawal symptoms will be during detox. Studies indicate that acute meth withdrawal typically lasts for 7 to 10 days with intense meth cravings being the most reported withdrawal symptom.

So how do you detox from meth?

Meth Detox Process

Unfortunately, there are no medications with FDA approval for treating meth withdrawal. Instead, treatment and detox are normally focused on medical supervision supplemented with ongoing behavioral therapy.

Engaging with a supervised meth detox program allows a treatment team to monitor for complications while managing the psychological and physical withdrawal symptoms central to meth detox. Some medications routinely used during the meth detoxification process include:

  • Anti-anxiety medications: Anti-anxiety medications like Xanax or Klonopin may be indicated for the management of anxiety or agitation during meth withdrawal and detox.
  • Antidepressants: Antidepressants may be prescribed to alleviate the symptoms of depression and anxiety that often accompany meth detox.
  • Antipsychotics: The hallucinations and paranoia that sometimes accompany meth withdrawal can be managed with antipsychotics.
  • Sleep aids: Sleep aids may be administered to treat insomnia or sleep disturbances during the meth detox process.
  • Anti-psychotics: This class of medication can be effective for managing symptoms like hallucinations and paranoia, both associated with meth withdrawal.

The benefits of a supervised meth detox include:

  • Removing you from the environment where you use meth.
  • Monitoring for medical complications and mental health risks.
  • Providing emotional support to help you deal with meth cravings.
  • Offering support and structure in your early recovery from meth addiction.
  • Reducing the risk of relapse.
  • Delivering nutritional support.

When you are ready to move beyond a life defined by crystal meth, we can help you achieve this at California Detox.

an image of Laguna beach, where California Detox is located and where treatment is available for meth detox treatment

Inpatient Meth Detox and Rehab at California Detox

If you have been abusing crystal meth to the extent of addiction, we can help you initiate a sustained recovery here at California Detox in Laguna Beach.

For those who require the most support and structure in their recovery from meth addiction, our inpatient program begins with a supervised medical detox. The treatment team can administer medications to streamline the meth detox process. After a week or so, you will be ready to transition from detox into ongoing residential treatment.

Those with meth addictions and co-occurring mental health disorders can obtain coordinate treatment for both conditions with our inpatient meth addiction treatment program. 

Here at our luxury Laguna Beach facility, take advantage of individualized treatment that combines science-backed and holistic treatments that include:

  • Psychotherapy
  • Group therapy
  • Individual counseling
  • Medication-assisted treatment
  • Family therapy
  • Holistic therapies

When you complete your inpatient treatment program at California Detox, you can step down to a less intense form of treatment if you are not yet ready for independent sober living. The treatment team will also equip you with an aftercare plan that includes coping techniques, relapse prevention techniques, and ongoing therapy as required.

Call admissions today at 949.694.8305 for immediate assistance with meth addiction.

FAQs

Long term effects of meth may include: addiction, psychosis, memory loss, aggressive or violent behavior, mood disturbances, severe dental problems, weight loss, and more.
The length of time it take to get off meth varies from person to person. That said, there are two potential phases to meth withdrawal – acute and post-acute. The acute phase of meth withdrawal peaks during the first few days of withdrawal, reducing in intensity over a week or so.

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