Detoxing from Meth: What Is Withdrawal Like?

Methamphetamine, or meth, is an illicit stimulant derived from amphetamines and other chemicals. People can either smoke, snort, or inject meth intravenously. Approximately 1.6 million Americans reported using meth in the year leading up to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

When taken in high doses, meth can cause severe physical and emotional harm and wreak havoc on self-esteem, relationships, work, and physical health.

It can seem scary, but detox is the first step in recovering from meth use. Here’s what you need to know about meth detox.

What Happens During Meth Withdrawal?

Meth causes your brain to release more dopamine than it normally would. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter closely associated with pleasure and happiness. Once you stop taking meth, your dopamine levels decrease. This experience can be jarring.

Meth withdrawal typically occurs in two phases:

Phase 1 of Meth Withdrawal

The first phase can occur within the first 24 hours after your last dose of meth. It’s known as the “comedown” or “crash.” Meth withdrawal symptoms in the first phase include:

  • Increased anxiety
  • Depression
  • Extreme tiredness and hypersomnia (excessive daytime sleepiness or excessive time spent sleeping)
  • Increased cravings for meth
  • Increased appetite
  • Psychosis (presence of hallucinations and delusions)

These symptoms typically peak within the first few days and begin tapering off around a week.

Phase 2 of Meth Withdrawal

The second phase of meth withdrawal can last for anywhere from a few weeks to over a month. You may experience ongoing symptoms related to:

  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Increased appetite

Many people gain weight and sleep more than usual for several weeks.

The intensity of these symptoms varies based on several factors, like:

  • The presence of other drugs in your bloodstream
  • Your overall health
  • Your history of previous detox episodes
  • How often you used meth
  • How intense your meth use was
  • Co-occurring mental health disorders like depression or anxiety

Why Medical Supervision for Meth Detox Is Recommended

Withdrawal from meth isn’t inherently fatal, but it can result in life-threatening complications. For these reasons, health professionals recommend medical supervision while you detox from meth.

Meth withdrawal symptoms can be highly distressing. Since cravings often peak at this time, many people relapse. Medical supervision lowers this risk because you’re detoxing under the guidance of experienced professionals and away from the familiar environment where you used meth.

At-home detox can be dangerous if you have co-occurring mental health issues. Withdrawal can exacerbate depression and anxiety symptoms. It can also trigger psychosis. These symptoms can increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior.

Additionally, medical supervision provides ongoing structure and support. If you experience complications, trained staff are available 24/7 to help you. You’re surrounded by people who want you to succeed and know how to handle the struggles many people go through in withdrawal.

What to Expect in Detox for Meth Addiction

Medically supervised detox offers 24/7 monitoring. No two detox experiences are the same, but most people spend several days resting, eating, and trying to relax. You may also receive medication during your medical detox.

If you struggle with psychiatric issues, trained staff will help you. You may learn some necessary coping skills for stress management and relapse prevention.

Medically supervised meth detox can range anywhere from about three days to a week. After completing detox, many people transition into long-term treatment. Treatment for meth addiction provides effective tools for achieving sustained recovery.

What Medications Help with Meth Withdrawal?

The FDA hasn’t approved any medications specifically for meth withdrawal, but many detox centers offer medication that can help manage some of the distressing symptoms.

Mirtazapine (Remeron)

Remeron is an antidepressant. It helps balance serotonin and norepinephrine levels. Some preliminary research suggests it can help reduce drug cravings. It also helps with symptoms related to depression and anxiety.

Provigil (Modafinil)

Modafinil is a central nervous stimulant. Even though it’s a stimulant, it’s not nearly as powerful as amphetamine. Modafinil can help with cravings and emotional regulation.

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)

SSRIs ease symptoms related to depression and anxiety. They’re the most widely prescribed antidepressant. SSRIs include:

  • Celexa
  • Lexapro
  • Prozac
  • Paxil
  • Zoloft

Sleep Medications

Meth can severely disrupt your sleep. During withdrawal, many people experience insomnia and nightmares. Prescribed sleep medication can help with these symptoms.

Meth withdrawal can be undoubtedly uncomfortable. It’s normal to feel scared about taking that first step, but overcoming an addiction is a process. Without formal treatment, starting with detox, you risk putting yourself and your loved ones in jeopardy.

Detox is the first step towards making needed changes in your life. Take action today by contacting Footprints to Recovery. We help people move through meth detox and into a life of recovery.

References

  1. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/methamphetamine/what-methamphetamine
  2. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/methamphetamine/overview
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3071736/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3437988/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3227772/
  6. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/in-depth/ssris/art-20044825

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