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.
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:
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:
These symptoms typically peak within the first few days and begin tapering off around a week.
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:
Many people gain weight and sleep more than usual for several weeks.
The intensity of these symptoms varies based on several factors, like:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
SSRIs ease symptoms related to depression and anxiety. They’re the most widely prescribed antidepressant. SSRIs include:
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.