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  • Meth Withdrawal | Symptoms, Timeline, & Detox

    Methamphetamine (meth) is a highly addictive stimulant that produces a powerful rush and long-lasting high. 

    You can quickly become dependent, which often results in binges that can last several days. When you stop using, you may experience physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms.

    Withdrawal can begin within the first 24 hours after you last used and may persist for at least three weeks. If you or a loved one is addicted to methamphetamine, a detox program can safely guide you through the process.  

    Methamphetamine Withdrawal Timeline

    During withdrawal, the risk of relapse is extremely high because of its effects on your brain. It is highly suggested to detox in a medical facility with trained professionals.

    Meth withdrawal can be mild to severe, depending on the following factors:

    • how long you used
    • how frequently you used
    • your physical and mental health
    • your age and metabolism
    • if you abuse alcohol or other drugs  

    Meth abusers are often malnutritioned, dehydrated, and sleep-deprived, which can worsen symptoms of withdrawal. A balanced diet, mild exercise, and plenty of rest can improve your overall well-being during withdrawal. 

    First Stage: Meth Comedown

    Within the first 24 hours after stopping methamphetamine abuse, you will likely experience a comedown (or crash). During a meth comedown, your body is exhausted from the overwhelming effects of the drug. 

    Symptoms of meth comedown include:

    • exhaustion
    • abnormal sleep patterns
    • paranoia
    • confusion
    • hallucinations
    • irritability
    • feeling low

    Your brain’s reward pathway adapts to excessive amounts of dopamine, which may cause intense cravings to continue using. Without proper treatment, many continue the cycle of “binge and crash” to avoid full-blown withdrawal. 

    Second Stage: Acute Withdrawal

    If you decide to completely stop using methamphetamine, you may feel the most severe withdrawal symptoms during the first week. Symptoms peak within 24 hours and slowly improve over the next 7-10 days. 

    Symptoms of acute withdrawal include:

    • fatigue
    • increased appetite
    • red, itchy eyes
    • depression
    • inability to feel pleasure
    • anxiety
    • intense cravings
    • slowed thinking
    • agitation 

    Third Stage: Subacute Withdrawal

    Your symptoms should start to improve over the next two weeks and slowly subside. Although the physical symptoms will disappear within a few weeks, you may still experience psychological symptoms for weeks or months.

    Meth Detox & Treatment Options

    Methamphetamine dependence happens when your body adapts to changes in the brain and high levels of dopamine. If the physical dependence isn’t treated, it can progress into methamphetamine addiction. 

    Meth addiction requires much more comprehensive treatment than just getting the drug out of your system. Although there are currently no FDA approved medications for meth addiction, a change of environment and behavioral therapy can be highly effective. 

    Some medications being studied as possible treatments for methamphetamine addiction include:

    • modafinil is a non-amphetamine stimulant that may help reduce withdrawal symptoms
    • bupropion is an antidepressant that acts similarly to stimulants and may improve withdrawal symptoms
    • risperidone is an antipsychotic that may decrease substance abuse

    A common side effect of heavy meth use is psychosis with hallucinations. If psychotic symptoms continue after a period of abstinence, your doctor may recommend antipsychotic medication. 

    Treatment options for meth addiction may include:

    Inpatient Detox

    A detox center will provide 24/7 supervision from healthcare professionals who will regularly monitor your blood pressure, heart rate, and other vitals. You may be given information about further treatment options that will give you a solid foundation for recovery. 

    Learn more about Inpatient Drug And Alcohol Detox Programs

    Inpatient Drug Rehab

    Following detox, you may choose a highly structured inpatient rehab. These treatment centers offer a safe place to recover while you learn more about your addiction. 

    An inpatient or residential program is long-term and highly structured. It teaches life skills as you slowly transition home. You may be offered group therapy, behavioral therapy, and attend 12-step support groups

    Learn more about Inpatient Drug And Alcohol Rehab Programs

    Behavioral Therapy

    Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and contingency management are effective in treating substance use disorders. 

    CBT focuses on learning about triggers that may lead to relapse and healthy coping skills. Contingency management uses positive reinforcement, like rewards for remaining abstinent. 

    To learn more about treatment programs, please contact Ark Behavioral Health to speak with a specialist. 

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2022 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.
    Medically Reviewed by
    Davis Sugar, M.D.
    on July 11, 2022
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