Methamphetamine, also known as meth, ice, or crystal meth, is a highly potent stimulant drug. While methamphetamine is sometimes prescribed to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), the version of meth that people are familiar with is illicitly manufactured. This means that the meth most people abuse is not created by a lab or approved by the FDA.
The National Institute of Drug Abuse states, “Among people aged 12 or older in 2021, 0.9% (or about 2.5 million people) reported using methamphetamine in the past 12 months.”
If you abuse meth frequently, you will most likely develop an addiction, so your brain and body will become dependent on the substance to function correctly. As a result, suddenly stopping the use of meth will result in withdrawal symptoms.
Meth addiction must be treated by a medical detox center and a professional addiction treatment program. Being aware of the meth withdrawal symptoms, timeline, and treatment can help you understand why treatment is so important.
What are the Symptoms of Meth Withdrawal?
When you abuse meth, your brain releases a surge of dopamine. Dopamine is the chemical responsible for feelings of euphoria, motivation, and desire. When you repeatedly abuse meth, your brain will associate the substance with pleasure and happiness, causing you to experience uncontrollable cravings to abuse the drug, making it incredibly easy to become addicted to meth.
Unfortunately, once you are addicted to meth, you will experience symptoms of withdrawal if you stop using it. While these symptoms are usually not life-threatening, they can be extremely difficult to cope with, requiring expert medical care.
With that being said, the symptoms of methamphetamine withdrawal include:
- Anxiety and irritability
- Nausea and vomiting
- Red, itchy eyes
- Increased appetite
- Fatigue and sleepiness
- Low motivation
- Severe depression
- Suicidal thoughts or self-harm
Because of symptoms like suicidal thoughts, hallucinations, and paranoia, it is never recommended to detox off of meth on your own. These symptoms can put you at risk of experiencing severe bodily harm, especially if you are suffering from suicidal thoughts. Attending a medical detox program will ensure that you receive proper psychological support that ensures your safety throughout the withdrawal process.
The Meth Withdrawal Timeline
How long meth withdrawal lasts will vary from person to person, depending on an array of factors. For example, how long you were abusing meth, how frequently you consumed it, and the potency of your meth all play a role in how long your withdrawal symptoms will last.
However, most people follow a general withdrawal timeline that can provide you with an idea of what to expect.
24 to 48 Hours
Sometime between 24 to 48 hours after your last dose, the first symptoms of withdrawal will arise. This can be one of the worst phases of withdrawal, often referred to as the “crash” period.
You might experience nausea, stomach cramps, and excessive sweating. It is important to have medical care, as you could become extremely dehydrated. Additionally, it is common to experience significantly lowered energy levels, cognitive declines, and poor mental functioning.
3 to 10 Days
Your symptoms of withdrawal will peak around the third day of detox. This is when people experience significant symptoms of depression, extreme fatigue, and heightened anxiety or paranoia. Additionally, your cravings for methamphetamine might be extremely difficult to cope with.
Physical symptoms are common during this stage of meth withdrawal as well. Because of this, being under the care of a medical detox program is of the utmost importance.
2 to 4 Weeks
Your symptoms should begin to subside 2 weeks after your last dose of meth. Some individuals experience symptoms for up to 4 weeks, with a few psychological symptoms lasting even longer. Thankfully, these symptoms are usually mild and very manageable, especially with psychiatric medications to lower your anxiety and depression.
How is Meth Withdrawal Treated?
The only surefire way to recover from meth withdrawal safely and comfortably is within a medical detox program. Drug and alcohol detox facilities can offer 24/7 monitoring, psychological support, and a myriad of medications that soothe your symptoms.
While drugs like opioids have FDA-approved tapering medications for detox, methamphetamine does not. The medications you will be given are intended to target specific symptoms rather than addressing the withdrawal syndrome itself. Thankfully, this method is still effective and will provide you with the relief you need to remain focused and strong in your recovery.
Once you are medically stabilized and determined to have overcome methamphetamine withdrawal, you will move into a rehab center. A meth rehab program can provide you with evidence-based behavioral therapies, peer support, and relapse prevention planning to ensure that you achieve long-term sobriety.
Get Help for Meth Abuse and Addiction Today
If you or a loved one suffer from meth addiction, it’s important to seek help from a qualified meth detox center. While Next Step Recovery does not offer detox on-site, we can refer you to a reputable facility. After you complete detox, you can immediately transfer into our meth addiction treatment program to solidify your recovery before transitioning into independent living.
To learn more about the meth addiction recovery process, contact Next Step Recovery today.
- Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA): Methamphetamine, Retrieved April 2023 from https://www.dea.gov/sites/default/files/2020-06/Methamphetamine-2020_0.pdf
- National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): What is the scope of methamphetamine use in the United States?, Retrieved April 2023 from https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/methamphetamine/what-scope-methamphetamine-misuse-in-united-states
- National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): The Reward Circuit: How the Brain Responds to Methamphetamine, Retrieved April 2023 from https://nida.nih.gov/videos/reward-circuit-how-brain-responds-to-methamphetamine