Meth, or methamphetamines, are a powerful central nervous system stimulant, derived from amphetamines early on in the 20th century. The drug typically comes in a white, crystalline powder, odorless and bitter tasting, that can easily be dissolved in alcohol or water. As a drug that is still useful in medical treatments for disorders like narcolepsy and ADHD, but used illicitly by individuals chasing a euphoric high, meth is classified as a Schedule II substance by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Today, nearly 1.6 million adults in the United States have reported using meth in the last year for “recreational” purposes. And as a result, the number of methamphetamine related harms and illicit availability of the drug has continued to grow since the early 2000s. Meth addiction is also a growing problem in the U.S., and in an attempt to help users recover from their misuse patterns, drug and alcohol rehabs in Florida, like Saint John’s Recovery Place (SJRP) are doing all they can to educate and treat the public about methamphetamine substance use disorder.

Can You Withdraw From Crystal Meth?

Yes, you can withdraw from methamphetamine. Methamphetamine withdrawal is not a pleasant experience, and although it is not commonly life-threatening, it can lead to extremely dangerous situations and circumstances if not treated correctly. But, after you or your loved one has admitted that you have a problem with methamphetamine use, the withdrawal process is often one of the first processes you must undertake in your recovery journey. Individuals who experience meth withdrawal are often either:

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  1. Trying to quit their meth use on their own time.
  2. Has used meth at large doses for a long time and has accidentally entered into the process by not taking more of the drug fast enough.
  3. Has intentionally moved into the withdrawal process after seeking professional help and assistance.

If you or your loved one wants to recover from a meth use disorder or issue, a methamphetamine withdrawal and detox process is inevitable. Yet, although the process is often uncomfortable, you do not need to suffer needlessly. Oftentimes medical withdrawal assistance can ease the effects associated with meth withdrawal, helping to alleviate the side effects, make you more comfortable, and overall make the withdrawal process more successful and bearable to work through.

You should never attempt to undergo your own withdrawal process without the assistance of professional help, as meth withdrawal can have dangerous symptoms that lead to extreme circumstances. Those who undergo a professional medical meth detox are often more successful in sticking with their treatment programs, and have less chance of experiencing a relapse episode.

Methamphetamine Withdrawal & Detox

The use of methamphetamines across the nation has increased in recent years. This steady increase in use has also resulted in the rise of higher methamphetamine associated harms and health issues surfacing in communities across the states. As abuse rates and consequences rise, drug and alcohol rehabs work overtime to try and help individuals recover from their meth use.

In order to begin the journey towards recovery, the first step any methamphetamine misusers must take is to begin participating in meth withdrawal and detox. When an individual goes through meth withdrawal they are often met with many intense and uncomfortable side effects that often act as the opposite of the effects they onset during a meth high.

The severity of the meth withdrawal symptoms often depends on the individual, how long they have abused the substance for, and the amount of the drug they take upon each dose. Since street meth is often a mix of different chemicals and substances it can be especially toxic, and the withdrawal process and meth detox should never be undergone without the assistance of professional medical help. Typically, meth withdrawal and detox are not life-threatening or especially dangerous, but it can lead to life-threatening and extremely harmful situations. Many of the most severe symptoms involved with meth detox and withdrawal taper off within the first couple of weeks after the last dose, provided detox is done correctly. Some of the most common symptoms of meth withdrawal and detox include:

  • Headaches
  • Dry mouth
  • Muscle spasms
  • Feeling extremely tired / fatigued
  • Insomnia
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Delusions
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • Not eating enough (malnourishment)
  • Intense cravings for meth
  • Depression
  • Not feeling motivated to do anything

Diagnosing a Methamphetamine Withdrawal

Despite the vastly uncomfortable effects that meth withdrawal can onset in individuals who misuse the drug, withdrawal can sometimes be rather difficult to diagnose, especially if the individual who is undergoing the process is reluctant to share about their drug use, or unaware of the withdrawal process and the effects it may have. Oftentimes meth withdrawal symptoms will align with the side effects of many other disorders, illnesses, medical abnormalities and emergencies.

Thus, when doctors are looking to diagnose someone with meth withdrawal, whether they are upfront about their use conditions or not, clients must undergo a withdrawal screening or evaluation. This evaluation normally consists of a number of questions asked, along with blood, hair, salvia and / or urine samples taken for testing, to determine the levels of any foregin substance(s) in the individual’s body. It is during this time of evaluation that trained medical staff also try to screen for co-occurring disorders and mental health issues. Oftentimes individuals who abuse one substance may abuse another, and they typically suffer from at least one type of mental health issue as well.

Properly diagnosing all of these health issues, allows the client and their professional medical team to better understand what is happening to their minds and bodies, and thus help their withdrawal and recovery team make a better, more specific treatment plan for them. Diagnosing someone with methamphetamine withdrawal is not always easy, but it is an imperative aspect to the healing process, as not every client will be treated in the same manner, in order to best fit their specific treatment needs.

Side Effects and Symptoms of Methamphetamine Withdrawal

Methamphetamines are known as stimulant drugs that affect the central nervous system. Classified as a Schedule II substance, meth is still used as a powerful medication to help people either lose weight, combat their narcolepsy, or help individuals who suffer from narcolepsy stay awake. The normal effects of the drug or to help individuals wake up and focus, stimulating their brains to work in a specific fashion.

But, when meth is abused, the side effects become rather negative, uncomfortable, and can even have life-threatening consequences. These side effects also tend to be the opposite, mirror images of the effects they are originally meant to inspire, and the substance’s withdrawal effects work very similarly. Methamphetamine withdrawal side effects are typically a little less intense than the effects of long held abuse of the drug, but they aren’t normally a walk in the park either. The most common methamphetamine withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Sweating
  • Clammy skin
  • Constipation
  • Headaches
  • Red eyes
  • Itching eyes
  • Dilated pupils
  • Muscle pain or aches
  • Joint pain or aches
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Irregular blood pressure
  • Confusion
  • Muscle spasms
  • Malnourishment (not eating enough)
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry mouth
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Disturbed sleep (nightmares)
  • Abnormal sleep patterns
  • Heightened anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Mood swings
  • Aggressive or angry outbursts
  • Heightened irritability
  • Difficult remembering things
  • Restless
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Increased or decreased appetite
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies
  • Depression
  • Low energy
  • Meth cravings
  • No motivation
  • Heightened feelings of nervousness

Physical Side Effects of Meth Withdrawal

Just like many other types of substance withdrawal, methamphetamine withdrawal symptoms can be divided into at least two separate categories: physical side effects and mental symptoms. There are many side effects that can be associated with meth withdrawal, so sometimes it is better to break them into separate lists to understand or keep track of them better. The most common physical side effects associated with methamphetamine withdrawal include:

  • Clammy skin
  • Sweating
  • Headaches
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Low energy
  • Lack of motivation
  • Increased or decreased appetite
  • Malnutrition
  • Meth cravings
  • Abnormal sleep patterns
  • Dry mouth
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Red eyes
  • Dilated pupils
  • Skin sores
  • Bad breath
  • Itching eyes
  • Itching skin
  • Joint aches or pain
  • Muscle aches or pain
  • Muscle spasms
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Irregular blood pressure
  • Restlessness

Psychological Side Effects of Methamphetamine Withdrawal

Both the physical and psychological effects of methamphetamine withdrawal can be very unpleasant to experience, and both have their own variety of dangers. Some types of substances may only onset physical or psychological withdrawal symptoms, but much more commonly–like in the case of meth withdrawal–substances onset both types of side effects. The most common psychological side effects associated with methamphetamine withdrawal include:

  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Increased anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Increased nervousness
  • Increased irritability
  • Paranoia
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Sleep disturbances (nightmares)
  • Angry or aggressive outbursts
  • No motivation
  • Low energy
  • Decreased interest in hobbies and activities
  • Decreased interest in sex
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Inability to focus
  • Issues with short-term memory
  • Confusion

Protracted Withdrawal

Not all meth withdrawal symptoms are created the same, and typically, not all of the symptoms occur at the same time. When it is strictly defined, protracted withdrawal can be understood as the continued presence of certain substance specific withdrawal symptoms, side effects, and signs that commonly occur within the acute withdrawal period. Protracted withdrawal symptoms are side effects that occur outside of their normal time parameters–normally any time beyond 2 weeks. Protracted withdrawal can be very difficult to work with and around at times, as symptoms can come and go at different intesnivities within the client’s recovery process for up to a year after their last dose of meth.

Not all clients will experience protracted withdrawal symptoms, and not all protracted side effects are the same. In fact, many protracted withdrawal symptoms are largely dependent on the substance that the individual is detoxing off of, and it is believed that clients who suffered from meth misuse are more likely to experience continued difficulty with their executive control functions if they do end up experiencing protracted withdrawal. And just because a client does experience one or two protracted symptoms does not mean they will experience them all. Otherwise, the most common symptoms associated with protracted withdrawal include:

  • Persistent fatigue
  • Heightened irritability
  • Difficulty focusing on a task
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Impaired executive control
  • Sleeping difficulties
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Heightened anxiety
  • Short-term memory problems
  • Depression
  • Alcohol or drug cravings
  • Muscle aches or pain
  • Joint muscle or pain Anhedonia
  • Reduced interest in sex
  • Reduced interest in hobbies and activities

Acute Withdrawal

Typically the withdrawal process follows a specific pattern of occurrence, for any substance abused, just like many drug and alcohol rehabs in Florida will follow a method of treatment, or a treatment plan for an individual. First, the process of withdrawal commonly begins with admitting that you have a problem and ceasing all use of the drug–or drugs–that you are misusing. Once you have completed this step, you move into the first stage of the withdrawal process; acute withdrawal.

Acute withdrawal, typically referred to as “withdrawal” is usually the onset of predictable signs, side effects, and symptoms of the withdrawal process. This stage of meth withdrawal often begins to occur directly after the direct / abrupt discontinuation, or rapid decrease in dosage of a psychoactive substance. These symptoms typically act as the opposite, mirror images of their original “positive” side effects, and can begin anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days after use of the drug has ceased or been extravagantly lowered.

Acute withdrawal symptoms typically last for about 2 weeks when it comes to methamphetamines, and is followed by a brief period of early abstinence withdrawal effects (where symptoms largely taper out into non-existence), and sometimes a period of protracted withdrawal. Acute withdrawal symptoms normally include the most severe and intense symptom surges a client may experience, but they may not experience all of these symptoms and effects at once, or at all…some clients only experience one or two symptoms while others may have to struggle through all of them. The side effects associated with methamphetamine withdrawal are numerous, and include all of the following:

  • Sweating
  • Clammy skin
  • Constipation
  • Headaches
  • Red eyes
  • Itching eyes
  • Dilated pupils
  • Muscle pain or aches
  • Joint pain or aches
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Irregular blood pressure
  • Confusion
  • Muscle spasms
  • Malnourishment (not eating enough)
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry mouth
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Disturbed sleep (nightmares)
  • Abnormal sleep patterns
  • Heightened anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Mood swings
  • Aggressive or angry outbursts
  • Heightened irritability
  • Difficult remembering things
  • Restless
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Increased or decreased appetite
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies
  • Depression
  • Low energy
  • Meth cravings
  • No motivation
  • Heightened feelings of nervousness

How Long Does Meth Withdrawal Last?

Meth withdrawal can manifest differently in each client. Some clients will experience withdrawal symptoms for a few days, some for a few weeks, and some may even experience for up to a year or two. Just like addiction, meth withdrawal affects everyone differently. But, that does not mean that we do not have an understanding of the average duration of meth withdrawal symptoms.

Generally symptoms associated with meth withdrawal begin to onset within 24 hours after an individual’s last dose of the drug. Acute symptoms can last anywhere from 1 to 10 days, with the normal timeline of the withdrawal period dragging out to around 2 weeks. Once these 2 weeks have ended clients normally notice and significant alleviation in symptoms and may only experience a mild symptom or two sporadically for another week, unless they suffer from protracted withdrawal.

The Methamphetamine Withdrawal Timeline

Methamphetamine withdrawal symptoms, signs, and intensities can vary on a person to person basis. Not everyone experiences withdrawal in the same manner, and not every client will experience all of the same symptoms, at the same time or severity. Meth withdrawal and detox is not easy though, even if someone does not experience every symptom at a high intensity. But, even though meth withdrawal is subject to vary based on each person, there are some general parameters the process normally adheres to. The typical methamphetamine timeline looks like this:

Phase 1:

Meth withdrawal symptoms begin anywhere from 3 to 24 hours after an individual’s last dose of methamphetamine. This is known as the beginning of the acute phase, where symptoms are typically at their most severe and last anywhere from 7 to 10 days, and includes the following symptoms:

  • Strong meth cravings
  • Headaches
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Increased irritability
  • Increased anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Agitation
  • Mood swings
  • Aggressive or angry episodes
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Joint aches and pains
  • Muscle tension
  • Anhedonia (the inability to experience pleasure)
  • Poor concentration
  • Inability to pay attention
  • Confusion
  • Difficult with short-term memory
  • Changes in appetite (decreased or increased)
  • Depression
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations

Phase 2:

Also known as early abstinence or subacute phase, this is the second half of the acute withdrawal phase, where symptoms are a little less severe, but hold stable for up to 2 weeks after a clients last dose, and include all of the same symptoms as the initial acute phase.

Phase 3

There is not normally a 3rd phase associated with the meth withdrawal process, but in rare cases, some clients may experience what is known as protracted withdrawal, where symptoms of withdrawal have generally ended after 2 weeks, but may reoccur at different times and severities up to 2 years after a client’s last dose of meth. During this time, almost all of the withdrawal symptoms have ceased to exist in a client, but the protracted withdrawal has the ability to reignite acute different acute symptoms at any time.

Factors That Affect The Duration of Meth Withdrawal

Methamphetamine withdrawal is never easy. It can be uncomfortable, and long drawn out. But, despite all that we know about meth withdrawal, it can still be subject to change on a person to person basis. You may be wondering, why does the meth withdrawal vary from person to person? Because every person is different, and they may have outlying factors that can influence the withdrawal process. Common factors that can affect the duration of methamphetamine withdrawal include:

  • The type of drug
  • The method in which the drug is taken (snorting, injecting, ingesting, smoking)
  • Personal tolerance levels
  • Quantity of drug used
  • Length of time the drug has been abused for (the length of time you have misused the drug for)
  • Time taken to use the drug in one sitting
  • Gender
  • Weight
  • Height
  • Personal health (before and during use)
  • The presence of other drugs in your system
  • The misuse of other drugs in combination with meth
  • Your mental health
  • Your environment

How to Detox from Meth

Methamphetamine addiction and dependence is a serious public health issue that requires dedicated, professional help to overcome. Detoxing from meth use is a necessary first step to take for anyone who wants to begin their addiction recovery journey. Yet, despite its necessity, undergoing meth withdrawal and detoxing off the drug is not easy. So, how then do you detox from meth?

You first begin your meth detox by admitting that you have a problem with methamphetamine use. Once you have accepted that you have an issue with drug misuse, you can move on to the next step in your recovery journey, by making an appointment with your doctor to first be diagnosed with an meth use issue, and then begin to discuss your treatment options. It is never too late to begin the process of quitting drug misuse.

In order to discontinue your misuse of meth, you need to begin to taper off the use of the drug. Some individuals will try to quit using the drug altogether, coldturkey, but this method of cessation is never recommended, as it can onset severe withdrawal symptoms almost immediately and has a tendency to make clients relapse rather quickly. In order to detox from meth, you must go through an evaluation, and begin your withdrawal process with the help of professionals in a medical detox setting. This way, you have the best of care available to you, and professional help in aiding you to detox off of methamphetamines in the safest way possible.

Meth Withdrawal Treatment

The meth withdrawal process can be rather uncomfortable and long lasting. There are many signs, symptoms, and side effects that are associated with methamphetamine withdrawal, all of which can occur with varying intensities, normally interacting with each other at the same time. Luckily, with professional help, there are ways in which your withdrawal discomfort can be eased or alleviated.

There are many different medications, devices, and therapies that professionals use in order to help you remain in treatment. These methods include helping you devise new ways to deal with or separate yourself from stress (getting you involved with preliminary counselling and therapy), to stay in long term treatment, and use medications to help manage your meth withdrawal symptoms. Some of the medications used to help manage meth withdrawal include:

  • Modafinil
  • Bupropion
  • Dextroamphetamine (d-amphetamine)
  • Methylphenidate
  • Risperidone

Outpatient Detox

There are a couple of different ways an individual can undergo the detox process. Typically there are two distinct settings / methods for meth withdrawal detoxification–inpatient and outpatient. Outpatient detox works very similarly to outpatient addiction treatment. The outpatient process is normally reserved to those who had less extreme addictions, and are undergoing less severe withdrawal symptoms.

This method of treatment allows clients to come to a participating hospital or rehab facility to receive their treatment, and be monitored by professional medical staff, before heading home at the end of their session time. It is less restrictive than inpatient detoxification, while still allowing for the correct amount of professional medical supervision and aid. Of course, in order to participate in outpatient detoxification, you have to undergo an evaluation. Otherwise, the method allows for almost the same amount of physical care as inpatient detoxification, but is tailored to those who experience less severe withdrawal processes.

Inpatient Detox

The most common setting / method utilized in medical detoxification is the inpatient detox approach. Inpatient detoxification requires clients to stay on the grounds of a hospital facility for anywhere from 1 to 2 weeks, depending on the severity and length of their withdrawal symptoms, and allows for clients to have access to 24/7 medical assistance and care. Inpatient detox is normally reserved for clients who have suffered from more severe addictions and are experiencing more intense withdrawal symptoms, in order for medical staff to administer and monitor withdrawal medication assistance.

Inpatient detoxification allows for immediate medical attention in the case a severe withdrawal complication arises, and allows clients the early opportunity to begin separating themselves from their old lives and abuse habits. Of course, if an individual has less severe withdrawal symptoms, a less severe addiction and misuse history, and a very supportive and helpful home support system, they may be allowed to undergo outpatient detox instead, where they need only to be at the hospital for a couple of hours a day. Otherwise, inpatient detoxification is more commonly utilized during the meth withdrawal process.

Detoxing at Home

Although possible to detox at home if you are participating in an outpatient detox program, it is never recommended for individuals looking to undergo the meth withdrawal process to detox on their own at home. Although meth withdrawal may be less dangerous than other types of withdrawal (like heroin withdrawal), the process can still result in extremely dangerous, and potentially life-threatening situations and circumstances.

If you want to detox at home, make sure to speak with your doctor about the potential of you getting enrolled into an outpatient detox program, but never attempt to undergo the withdrawal process on your own, or