What Happens During Meth Withdrawal?
Coming off meth is tough, but it is very possible. If you’ve been abusing meth regularly, you will experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop. While meth withdrawal isn’t pleasant, it’s typically not as painful or dangerous as withdrawing from substances like alcohol, benzodiazepines, or opioids. Meth withdrawal tends to come with more psychiatric symptoms than physical pain. Before you quit meth, you should know some important aspects of meth withdrawal.
One of the effects of meth addiction is withdrawal when you stop using it. The type of meth withdrawal symptoms, how severe they are, and how long withdrawal takes depend on:
- How long you’ve been using meth
- The amount of meth you’ve been using
- How you’re using meth (i.e., smoking, injecting, etc.)
- The purity of meth, and if and what substances it’s been cut with
- Your physical health
- Your mental health
- If you have medical conditions
- If you’re abusing other drugs or alcohol in addition to methamphetamines
There’s no way to know what meth withdrawal symptoms you will experience. Possible psychological and physical symptoms could include:
- Intense cravings
- Suicidal ideation
- Low mood
- Mood swings
- Increased appetite
- Jumbled thoughts
- Anhedonia (inability to feel pleasure without drugs)
The most intense withdrawal symptoms typically peak around 24 hours after you quit meth. They then decrease in intensity over the next several days. Some psychological symptoms may linger for weeks or months.
The meth withdrawal timeline typically occurs in two phases:
The first phase of meth withdrawal begins within 24 hours after your last dose of meth. It’s known as the “comedown” or “crash.” Meth withdrawal symptoms in the first phase may include:
- Increased anxiety
- Extreme tiredness and hypersomnia (excessive daytime sleepiness or excessive time spent sleeping)
- Increased cravings for meth
- Increased appetite
- Psychotic symptoms like hallucinations and delusions
These meth symptoms usually occur the first few days and begin tapering off over several days.
The second phase of meth withdrawal can last anywhere from a few weeks to months. You may experience ongoing symptoms of meth withdrawal related to:
- Severe depression
- Increased appetite
Many methamphetamine users gain weight and sleep more than usual for several weeks.
The intensity of the meth withdrawal process 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
Meth makes your brain to release much more dopamine than it normally would. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter closely associated with pleasure and happiness. Over time, your brain begins depending on meth to produce dopamine. Your dopamine reserves get depleted. You need increasing amounts of the drug to get the same high or even just stave off withdrawal symptoms.
When methamphetamine abusers stop taking meth, dopamine levels quickly drop. This experience can be jarring and can cause physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms as your central nervous system tries to rebalance itself without meth. It has become dependent on meth. This is why you get strong cravings and physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms when you quit abusing meth.
Can You Die from Meth Withdrawal?
The risk of dying from meth withdrawal is minimal. Crystal meth withdrawal symptoms like dehydration or acting on suicidal thoughts are what put you at risk for death. Dehydration can lead to electrolyte imbalances that cause:
- Kidney failure
- Brain swelling
- Heart attacks
Suicidal thoughts paired with hallucinations can put you at risk for acting on those thoughts. You should always detox in a medical setting or methamphetamine addiction treatment center. This way, you’re with 24/7 staff who keep you safe and comfortable.
You should never attempt to detox from alcohol and drugs without the help of medical professionals. There is always a risk that withdrawal can be dangerous and painful. Medical detox provides around-the-clock care as you eliminate meth from your body. A physician can prescribe medications to ease physical withdrawal symptoms as well as medications to help with psychological symptoms such as anxiety, psychosis, and insomnia.
Trying to quit meth on your own can be physically uncomfortable and psychologically disturbing. People who quit meth on their own often relapse before they finish withdrawing from methamphetamine because they’re so desperate to stop the discomfort and drug cravings. Staff at a meth detox center will make sure you’re medically safe and ease discomfort when you’re experiencing methamphetamine withdrawal symptoms. You’ll typically have a private or semi-private room with a nice bed, television, comfortable furnishings, and pleasing décor. Staff will keep you hydrated and provide nutritious food as you feel ready to eat.
Meth detox is the first step in sobriety. A meth addiction treatment program is the next step. A structured and supportive substance abuse rehab program will provide you the insight, resources, and tools you need to stay sober long-term. Meth treatment teaches you a new way of life that includes healthy coping skills. Drug rehabs also have psychiatrists who can diagnose and treat co-occurring disorders like depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorders. There are both inpatient programs and outpatient rehab options for meth addiction treatment.
Most major insurance plans consider medical detox from methamphetamine dependence a medical necessity and will cover it at all or portion of the cost. In most cases, insurance providers must cover behavioral health treatment in the same way as they cover medical care.
Quitting meth is the best thing you can do right now. Life is better without the suffering that comes with addiction, and the long-term effects of meth can be physically and psychologically damaging—even deadly. According to The National Institute on Drug Abuse, overdose deaths involving psychostimulants like meth were around 23,827 in 2020. Don’t become a statistic
If you’re ready to quit meth, call our treatment facility for a free consultation. Addiction recovery is possible.