Meth Detox Program & Withdrawal Timeline
Crystal meth or methamphetamine is a popular and powerful stimulant drug that is extremely addictive. Meth abuse and addiction are huge problems in the country due to the drug’s potency, which leads to dependence. It is a synthetic drug that is manufactured using straightforward ingredients that can be bought at a drug store.
Crystal meth presents as small whitish and bluish rocks or small pieces of glass. It goes by various street names, including ice, glass, shards, and crank. It is usually smoked or snorted. When meth hits the brain, it releases neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine to increase alertness, energy, and sociability.
The effects of crystal meth can last up to eight hours, depending on the dosage. This is usually followed by comedown effects that cause a person to feel terrible. A comedown is not the same as a withdrawal although they have some similarities.
It is more like an alcohol hangover as it is caused by a mixture of neurotransmitter imbalances in the brain. The drug’s euphoria causes exhaustion and a buildup of chemicals metabolized into toxins.
The common symptoms of meth comedown include:
• Lack of motivation
• Muscle weakness
• Headache from dehydration
• Decreased appetite
• Insomnia despite exhaustion
• Muscle pain, especially in the jaw, from clenching
These symptoms, especially mental health changes like anxiety and depression, usually last a few days. Meth is commonly mixed with other amphetamines, alcohol, and opioids, especially when abused as a party drug. This is very dangerous as it can easily lead to an overdose and worsens comedown symptoms in addicts. While meth symptoms may go away on their own if the person stops using, the drug is dangerously habit-forming.
Comedowns can lead to binges, which can cause long-term harm to the body and brain as well as a deadly overdose. People using meth tend to take more once they start experiencing comedown symptoms. These binges are also referred to as tweaking and result from someone abusing more meth to avoid the effects of a meth comedown.
When an individual struggling with meth abuse does not sleep for three to 15 days, it often leads to tweaking and intense paranoia. It is unlikely that a person will experience meth euphoria from the first dose. However, they will still suffer from physical pain, dehydration, high energy, loss of appetite, anxiety, aggression, and irritability.
A person may develop repetitive behaviors like obsessively cleaning and taking objects apart and putting them back together. Lack of sleep leads to delusions or hallucinations, resulting in psychotic behavior. Formication, a sensation of bugs on the skin, can cause some meth users to repeatedly pick or scratch their skin, leading to skin infections. Comedowns can lead to complete physical and mental exhaustion. Due to lack of sleep and loss of appetite, a person may also experience malnutrition. A person is more likely to experience tweaking and dependence on meth when trying to avoid comedown symptoms.
Once an individual is dependent on meth, their body will go through withdrawal symptoms when they stop using. During detox, the body uses the metabolism process to get rid of the meth in the system, which is when meth withdrawal symptoms manifest. The symptoms are often uncomfortable, making it challenging for a person to quit meth on their own.
Meth withdrawal symptoms can also be dangerous to a person’s health. They can be mental, physical, or behavioral. The symptoms can be intense and unpleasant, lasting for days or weeks. The length of the withdrawal period is determined by the addiction period and other factors.
The duration and intensity of meth symptoms vary significantly. Medical detox helps to deal with the intense symptoms. The first symptom to set in is usually fatigue followed by an overwhelming depression. Paranoia, anxiety, hallucinations, and insomnia are also experienced.
Meth increases dopamine levels in the brain, which controls the pleasure feelings. When a person stops using the drug, the level of dopamine in the brain decreases, leading to a painful loss of enjoyment.
Using meth for a long time can decrease the number of dopamine receptors in the brain cells. This makes it hard for a person to experience pleasure even with the return of normal dopamine levels. People who stop using meth usually develop this condition, which is known as anhedonia. It can last up to two years.
Anhedonia and depression can cause a person to relapse since they try to seek relief from the distress. Long-term use of meth leads to a strong dependence that causes a person to have an intense craving for the drug.
The primary physical meth symptoms include lethargy, fatigue, and painful headaches. Meth suppresses both sleep and appetite. Other common symptoms of meth withdrawal include:
• Increased appetite
• Excessive sweating
• Red, itchy eyes
• Loss of motivation
• Suicidal thoughts
• Severe depression
• Dry mouth
The first days of the withdrawal are usually spent catching up on sleep and food. A person may gain weight while normal sleep patterns and appetite usually go back to normal after a few months without using meth.
How Long Does Meth Withdrawal Last?
The process of meth withdrawal is lengthy and challenging but very valuable. It can last up to 40 weeks. It can be divided into three phases. The first phase usually lasts the first three to 10 days. During this phase, an individual experiences a sharp decline in cognitive function and energy during the first 24 to 48 hours. Other symptoms may include abdominal cramping, nausea, and sweating.
By the third day, the symptoms become more intense as the body tries to adjust without meth. A person may experience anxiety, depression, and extreme fatigue. Other symptoms include muscle aches, shaking, and anxiety. A person may not experience intense cravings since they are adjusting to the crash period and may sleep a lot.
During the second phase, a person experiences intense cravings for meth and the high it provides. They may be tempted to use the drug due to its euphoria, often bringing a feeling of powerlessness. This can go on for about 10 weeks and can be coupled with insomnia, fatigue, and depression.
In the third phase, meth cravings start to decrease and become less potent and less frequent. A person can start the journey to recovery at this time. The remaining physical, mental, and behavioral symptoms start fading away. Some symptoms, such as anxiety and depression, can linger for some time before they are over.
This phase can last for about 30 weeks, depending on the individual. The longer you go without using meth, the easier it becomes for you to remain sober. During this time, it is best to be in a safe environment with people that can hold you accountable.
The withdrawal experience is affected by many factors. People who abused meth for more extended periods are more likely to have longer withdrawal periods. In addition, the dosage in which a person abuses meth will also affect the withdrawal period. Another factor is personal environment and physiology. If you come from a family with a history of substance use disorder, you are more likely to have more difficulty in withdrawing from meth. If you live in an environment with addictive triggers, you may also find it challenging to quit meth.
The method of quitting meth all at once is called “cold turkey,” and it can be challenging. Most people prefer the tapering process that involves slowly decreasing the dosage over time. This method is more comfortable and safer.
Can You Die From Meth Withdrawal?
Meth withdrawal symptoms are usually not fatal although the withdrawal process can be dangerous. The most significant risk is dehydration, and as long as you drink a lot of liquids and eat a balanced diet, you can correct this with medical help. Medical detox helps in hydration and nutrition support. You go through the withdrawal process without any dangerous complications, especially if you have professional help around the clock.
Is It Possible to Stop Meth Use Without Rehab?
There are many risks involved when you are trying to quit meth. You can either choose to quit alone or seek a medical professional or treatment center. Seeking medical help is more effective and safer. Quitting meth without medical care has various risks depending on the length and level of addiction.
If you are trying to quit meth on your own, there are some factors that you need to consider. You need to have people at home who can support you. Your environment should not have triggers that can increase your chance of relapsing. A medical professional can help you to quit meth and maintain your sobriety without rehab successfully.
The process of detoxification involves getting rid of harmful substances from the body. Meth detox can take up to 50 hours, depending on the drug’s half-life. Some common symptoms of detox include depression, fatigue, and anxiety. A person will experience these signs when the body is flushing out meth and restoring itself to its original state of health.
If you choose to detox at home rather than a treatment facility, ensure that you are not in a triggering environment. It is recommended that you go to a treatment facility for detox, such as First City Recovery Center, especially if you have a pre-existing mental health condition.
What to Expect During Meth Detox
Detox facilities like First City Recovery Center aim to make patients feel comfortable and safe. The process of detoxification can be grouped into three stages to make sure patients get the proper treatment. A patient usually undertakes a comprehensive health review so that our doctors can come up with the correct course of action.
A personalized detox plan is formulated for the patient, and they can start the withdrawal process. The detox process can be grouped into evaluation, stabilization, and transition into further treatment.
When a person arrives at our detox facility, the doctors will examine their health and condition. The amount of meth in the body is usually determined by administering a urine drug screen. The medical team will use the results to come up with a detox plan that is appropriate for the patient’s needs.
The doctors will also need to develop a long-term recovery plan by asking questions about the patient’s past and current substance use. Other factors that doctors may need to know include any pre-existing conditions that can affect the detox process.
During this stage, the patient is given treatment to make them comfortable and combat withdrawal symptoms. The treatments will be adjusted depending on the intensity of the symptoms.
Transition Into Further Treatment
At the end of the detox period, the medical team will discuss the next steps with the patient. The first step in meth addiction treatment is detox, and a patient is advised to continue recovery in a rehab center. Patients are then monitored and guided on how to maintain their sobriety.
Meth Withdrawal Medication
The medication given during detox aims at repairing the damage caused by meth and reducing the rush of meth pleasure. It also attempts to reduce cravings from withdrawal symptoms. However, there are no medications that are designed to treat the meth withdrawal process.
Doctors usually prescribe various antidepressants to help reduce the intensity of the withdrawal process. Stimulants such as modafinil, which is used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy, are used to reduce cravings and lack of sleep. Patients suffering from panic attacks are given fluoxetine to ease anxiety symptoms.
Remeron is an antidepressant that acts on both norepinephrine and serotonin. It can help a patient to avoid relapse during withdrawal. Other drugs used include Wellbutrin, an antidepressant, and Paxil, which can relieve meth cravings during withdrawal.
Treatment for meth dependence and detox treatment is mainly supportive since there are no approved medications. The treatment will address short-term symptoms like nausea, tremors, or vomiting.
Medical detox is the safest and most effective way to treat meth addiction. Other psychological causes of addiction can be addressed in a treatment facility to prevent a relapse. If you or your loved one is struggling with meth addiction, contact us at First City Recovery Center today to start the steps to sobriety.
Dr. Vahid Osman, MD is a psychiatry specialist in Indianapolis, IN.
Dr. Osman completed a residency at Austin State Hospital. He has over 32 years of experience in Psychiatry & Behavioral Health. He is board certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.