Methamphetamine is an illicit and dangerous stimulant drug that’s wreaking havoc in the United States and abroad. While the world has been caught up in the opioid crisis, issues with methamphetamine have largely remained unnoticed. However, it’s slowly reaching epidemic levels, which doesn’t bode well for the country.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reported in 2017 that 1.6 million people (0.6 percent of the population) used methamphetamine in the previous year. An estimated 774,000 (0.3 percent) reported methamphetamine in the past month. In 2016, the average age of methamphetamine users was 23.3 years old.  

In 2017, an estimated 964,000 people over the age of 12 had a methamphetamine use disorder. They reported significant impairment, including disability, health problems, and failure to meet responsibilities at home, school, or work because of their drug use. The number is substantially higher than the 684,000 who reported having a methamphetamine use disorder in 2016.

With a significant portion of the population dealing with a methamphetamine use disorder,  it might lead you to wonder how to safely detox from meth, the timeline, and more. Fortunately, we have you covered below. 

Understanding Meth Withdrawal

As was mentioned above, methamphetamine use has become an area of concern within the United States. Due to its potency, the drug can lead to dependency shortly after a person starts using it. 

Many recreational users experience a crash once they stop using the drug, which may last a few days. However, someone who’s addicted or dependent will experience methamphetamine withdrawal for several weeks. The withdrawal symptoms are described as painful and sometimes debilitating, leading the user to take more of the drug to counteract the withdrawal process. This can lead to a downward spiral of constant meth use, leading to a cycle of addiction. 

By the time many people realize they have a problem and look to quit, they find the withdrawal effects too powerful to overcome without help. Undergoing withdrawal in the safety of a medical detox program will be the safest option to treat symptoms and remove the illicit stimulant from your body. 

Detox programs will support individuals around-the-clock medical care for the duration of the process. The team of doctors and nurses can monitor the client’s vitals and create a treatment plan as the withdrawal symptoms improve. Once detox is finished, recovering meth users can seek counseling to learn how to maintain long-term sobriety. 

Meth Withdrawal Symptoms

The symptoms of meth withdrawal will vary from one person to another. The severity of the side effects will depend on factors that included how long the person used meth, the amount of meth they used, how frequently they used, and whether they abused other substances at the time. Other factors like how they consumed the drug will affect withdrawal. Intravenous meth users will experience a more intense and prolonged withdrawal process than those who use it in other ways. 

Signs and symptoms of meth withdrawal include the following:

  • Increased appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Paranoia
  • Agitation
  • Insomnia
  • Excessive sweating
  • Fever
  • Hallucinations
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Red or itchy eyes
  • Loss of motivation
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Tremors
  • Dehydration
  • Severe depression
  • Stomach ache
  • Anxiety

Meth Withdrawal Timeline

The withdrawal timeline is going to vary from one person to another based on many factors, similar to what we described above. The acute withdrawal phase will peak around day two or three after the last meth use and start subsiding after a week. However, psychological symptoms that include drug cravings, mood swings, agitation, and sleep disturbances may linger for multiple weeks. In some cases, depression can last for months or a year.

The Duration Of Meth Withdrawal And Timeline Of Symptoms Goes As Follows:

  • 48 hours: The first 48 hours is typically referred to as the “crash” phase and will occur on the first day after someone stops using the drug. In the first 24- to 48 hours, the former user will start experiencing a sharp decline in their cognitive functioning, energy and also deal with abdominal cramping, nausea, and sweating. 
  • Days 3-10: At this point, you can expect withdrawal symptoms to reach their peak. As your body tries to adjust without meth in the system, recovering users will experience anxiety, depression, and extreme fatigue. Others could also experience lingering muscle aches, sharking, and intense drug cravings. 
  • Days 14-20: The symptoms from meth withdrawal will linger two to three weeks. By the end of the second week, most physical symptoms should disappear, but intense meth cravings will persist. Additionally, continued depression and fatigue are prevalent during this period. 
  • One month: The worst of the withdrawal symptoms should be gone by this point. Any remaining symptoms will continue fading the longer a person remains sober. However, psychological symptoms like anxiety and depression will persist for several months before subsiding.

What To Expect During Meth Detox

It’s common for individuals to feel reluctant prior to detox. Still, the priority of any detox center is for the client to feel as comfortable and safe as possible when attending treatment. The detox process will be broken down into three stages to ensure clients receive the care right for them., Clients will likely undergo a comprehensive review of their health, so clinicians know how to move ahead with treatment. Next, the client will start their personalized detox plan. Once the initial withdrawal process passes, clinicians will sit down with the client to discuss the next steps in their journey toward sobriety. 

The detox process for meth is broken down into the following three stages: 

Evaluation 

When an individual is admitted, the medical staff will assess the client’s health and well-being. Doctors and nurses routinely use drug screens to determine how much meth the client has recently used. From there, the treatment staff will develop a tailored detox plan that fits the client’s specific needs. 

Doctors might ask the client questions about their current and past substance use, which is necessary for setting up the client’s long-term recovery plan. It’s also beneficial for doctors to know if the individual struggles with co-occurring disorders that might affect the detox treatment the client receives.

Stabilization

Most clients who arrive at the detox center are at the peak of their withdrawal symptoms. Treatment must initiate as soon as possible after the evaluation stage to ensure the client’s comfort. Once symptoms start improving, doctors will adjust the treatment process accordingly. Medical staff will also keep the client’s family informed and updated as they progress. 

Transitioning To Further Treatment

When the detox process is finished, doctors will insist their client takes advantage of the next steps in the treatment process. Albeit challenging, detox is only the first step in treating meth addiction. Doctors recommend that clients continue their recovery in a long-term rehab facility. If the detox takes place in a treatment facility, clinicians will help the client transition into the following stages of care to stay on track toward sobriety. 

Is It Possible To Stop Meth Without Rehab?

It’s not a secret that cessation from meth is challenging. Not only is it painful and poses unique challenges, but it can also be risky. When stopping meth, there are typically two options – seeking the help of a treatment center and medical professionals or foregoing the process alone. The first option is the safest and will be the most effective in the long-term. 

Although cessation from meth by yourself isn’t impossible, it’s more challenging. When you don’t have the walls of treatment as your safety barrier, giving in to these withdrawal symptoms is common. However, there are also medical risks associated with quitting meth without medical care, depending on the length and level of addiction. One other thing to consider is the support system at home. Are you around people who will hold you accountable? What are the odds you’ll relapse? If you choose to stop meth without rehab, speak with a doctor or addiction specialist to ensure you have the necessary support and resources to manage withdrawal alone. 

Your doctor will likely recommend that you seek professional treatment for help. Although meth withdrawal isn’t deadly when compared to depressants like benzodiazepines or alcohol, it can cause suicidal thoughts, which could be fatal. If you’re experiencing suicidal thoughts, please call for help.

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