How Long Does It Take To Detox From Meth?
Methamphetamine, often referred to as meth or crystal meth, is a central nervous system stimulant made from store-bought chemicals. Meth bought on the street is usually made from pseudoephedrine or ephedrine found in cold medicine. Other ingredients may include acetone, drain cleaner, and battery acid. These chemicals are cooked and turned into crystal meth.
Due to the potency of meth, abusing the drug can quickly lead to dependency. Crystal meth users will experience a crash soon after using the drug. This can last for several hours to a few days and often causes users to consume more of the drug to avoid the crash, chasing the ‘high’ they first experienced in a cycle called a ‘binge.’
Those who have developed a methamphetamine addiction or dependency on the drug will experience meth withdrawal which can last for several weeks. Meth withdrawal symptoms are debilitating and incredibly uncomfortable, although generally not life-threatening.
Due to the painful nature of meth withdrawal symptoms, those trying to quit taking meth and detox from the drug often relapse and take more medicine to relieve the symptoms. This may lead to a downward spiral of repeated meth use, where people become stuck in a cycle of abuse.
What Is Meth?
Methamphetamine is a Schedule II drug, which is tightly controlled due to its high potential for abuse. The drug enforcement administration recognizes Schedule II drugs as having a high potential for addiction and danger to health, but they are accepted for specific medical use.
The FDA-approved brand of methamphetamine is called Desoxyn and is available only when prescribed by a doctor. Desoxyn, the only legal form of meth, treats obesity and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Despite there being an FDA-approved form of the drug, the majority of all methamphetamine is obtained and abused illegally. When meth is abused, there can be seriously detrimental effects on physical and mental health. Despite this, it is popular, with around 2.6 million people reporting abusing methamphetamine in the US in 2020.
Detox is the first stage of recovery for drug and alcohol abuse. It involves removing all traces of the substance from the body and often causes predictable symptoms called withdrawal symptoms.
Withdrawal is the most significant barrier to addiction treatment for many drug users, and support from friends, family, and medical professionals is essential.
There are generally two methods to quit a substance and detox the body. These are quitting cold turkey and tapering.
Tapering Your Use
Tapering means steadily reducing meth use by lessening the amount of meth consumed over a period of time. The aim is to gradually adapt to having lower levels of meth in its system while reducing the withdrawal symptoms.
The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) favors this approach to lessen severe withdrawal symptoms.
Quitting Cold Turkey
Quitting cold turkey means abruptly stopping meth use altogether. Withdrawal symptoms can be more intense for those that quit meth cold turkey. However, this method can be helpful for those who don’t have the confidence in themselves to use it less steadily.
Medical Meth Detox
Medical detox is when a meth user detoxes under the supervision of a medical professional who will oversee the process, providing support with uncomfortable symptoms and monitoring your health.
In a medically supervised detox, a clinical professional will do regular drug testing to detect if meth is still in your system and help you to manage meth cravings.
Medical methamphetamine detox is considered the most comfortable, safe, and effective treatment of methamphetamine addiction and withdrawal. It lessens the risk of relapse as you deal with intense drug cravings and depressive symptoms.
Medically supervised withdrawal generally brings a higher success rate in quitting meth than detoxing without medical supervision.
What Are Meth Withdrawal Symptoms?
Meth withdrawal can result in challenging physical and psychological symptoms. While the physical symptoms of meth withdrawal are uncomfortable and constitute a significant risk of relapse, the psychological symptoms are often the most challenging and even dangerous.
Physical Symptoms of Crystal Meth Withdrawal
- Body aches
- Shaking or tremors
- Extreme fatigue and excessive sleepiness
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping for extended lengths of time
- Loss of appetite or difficulty eating
- Red, itchy eyes
- Decreased energy and cognitive function
While these are all uncomfortable feelings, these symptoms are signs that the body is cleansing itself of the methamphetamine in your system, clearing out the toxins, and returning to a state of health.
Psychological Withdrawal Symptoms
Psychological symptoms can be incredibly challenging to deal with alone, so it is essential to be prepared for them before starting crystal meth withdrawal. If you are detoxing at home, make yourself and your family or friends aware of the potential changes to your psychological state.
Research shows that about thirty percent of meth addicts already suffer from anxiety disorders. It can be common for individuals with a mental illness to self-medicate with illicit substances to alleviate anxiety disorders, depression, PTSD, and other complex mental health issues.
Anxiety is a common withdrawal symptom during and after the meth detox process. People struggling with anxiety are recommended to speak with a mental health professional to explore their options for therapy alongside addiction recovery and get support in managing anxiety during the detox process.
During the withdrawal process, some people detoxing from meth can experience hallucinations, seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not there. In extreme cases, psychosis can also cause delusions.
Food Cravings and Increased Appetite
People who abuse meth often find that meth suppresses their appetite, and meth addiction can even result in malnutrition. As a result, many people experience a dramatically increased appetite as the meth leaves their body.
Intense cravings for carbohydrates, including sugary or starchy foods, are expected during the first week of detoxification, lasting for two or three weeks. While eating a healthy and balanced diet full of fresh fruit, vegetables, and lean meat or fish is vital during withdrawal, attempting to ignore or fight cravings for sugary or starchy food could make the withdrawal process more difficult and make a lapse more likely.
Fatigue and Disruptive Sleep Patterns
Methamphetamine is a stimulant, so abusing it often results in a dramatic increase in energy, making people hyperactive and feel like they don’t need or want to sleep.
This generally shifts entirely when the withdrawal process from stimulant medications starts, and individuals feel exhausted and lethargic. This is typically most intense during the first two weeks, often peaking on the fifth detox day.
Vivid and unpleasant dreams are common during crystal meth withdrawal; this can disturb sleep and increase exhaustion but generally doesn’t last longer than ten days.
Treatment facilities may prescribe Benadryl, trazodone, or other mild prescription drugs to alleviate insomnia and help people struggling with exhaustion and disturbed sleep rest during crystal meth withdrawal.
How Long Does Meth Detox Last?
The length of the crystal meth withdrawal process lasts on several factors, including the frequency and intensity of drug abuse. How long a person has been taking meth and what dosage they consume dramatically affects both the initial withdrawal and whether long-term symptoms persist.
Generally, the longer you take meth, the worse the withdrawal symptoms will be.
Meth Withdrawal Timeline
Research shows that meth withdrawal has two phases. The first 24 hours after last taking meth is the most intense phase of the withdrawal timeline, with symptoms gradually becoming less severe over the next ten days. There is often a later phase that lasts for an additional few weeks. However, this can last for months or even a year for some.
Day one and two – During the first 24-48 hours, crystal meth withdrawal symptoms begin, and a sharp decline in energy and cognitive function is often felt. This is accompanied by nausea, abdominal cramping, sweating, and tremors.
Day three to ten – the first week of methamphetamine withdrawal is generally the most intense, and symptoms peak. The body tries to adjust to life without meth abuse. People often experience mild to severe depression, anxiety, disrupted sleep, extreme fatigue, or even psychosis in cases of long-term meth abuse. Some people will also experience uncontrollable body shaking, muscle aches, and intense cravings.
Week two – Most physical symptoms begin to subside during this phase of the withdrawal timeline. Symptoms including fatigue, depression, anxiety, and intense drug cravings can persist.
After the initial withdrawal process is complete, creating a plan for further treatment is vital. Detoxification is a significant step toward recovery, but the journey to a life free from substance abuse continues long after the detox.
If you are struggling with substance use disorder or substance addiction, there are many treatment options available. For those struggling with mental illness and substance abuse, treatment centers offer dual diagnosis treatment.
As a result of the complex and harmful side effects of snorting, injecting, or smoking meth, recovery in a structured treatment program is almost always the most effective option. As meth is a highly addictive drug and withdrawal symptoms can be painful, relapse is common.
Ebb Tide is a dual diagnosis facility. Contact our treatment center today to seek professional medical advice from a healthcare professional and learn more about our meth addiction treatment plans. Whatever your life circumstances, we believe recovery is within reach and want to help you on your journey to recovery from meth addiction.