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Meth Withdrawal Symptoms
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Withdrawal symptoms can be incredibly painful and potentially dangerous. Seeking treatment before the symptoms become too difficult to manage is critical for long-term safety and personal well-being.

Overview

Meth, short for methamphetamine, is highly addictive and, in many cases, an illegal substance. It’s known to create near-immediate dependency and rapidly deteriorate the appearance of the user if consumed over a long period. Trying this drug even just once can quickly lead to methamphetamine addiction. 

Meth comes in multiple forms, from pills, powder, and liquid to its most popular form, crystal meth. It has the appearance of shiny, bluish-white pebbles or glass fragments. It shares chemical similarities with amphetamine, a medication used to treat narcolepsy and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)[1]. It can be consumed in multiple ways, from tablets and pills to smoking and injections. 

What Does Methamphetamine Do to the Body?

One of the few illegal drugs that can significantly and quickly change a person’s physical appearance is methamphetamine addiction. Although meth’s bad effects can be seen on a person’s outside, what’s happening inside the body is just as dangerous. 

Meth use speeds up neurotransmitters within your brain, increases dopamine, and elicits feelings of euphoria. Some people prefer meth because of its longer-lasting effects. Meth’s effects, which include intense feelings of alertness and focus, rapid weight loss, and increased libido, make it a desirable drug to consume.

Long-time use of meth can lead to significant deterioration of a person’s physical appearance, including: 

  • Skin ulcers
  • Skin scarring
  • Meth mouth
  • Rotting or broken teeth
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Disheveled appearance

meth changes brain chemistry and damages mental health

What Does Meth Do to Someone Psychologically? 

Over time, meth changes brain chemistry and damages mental health. People who use this drug often become paranoid, increasingly skeptical, and may enter psychosis as they continue their cravings. 

In some of the worst cases, a person may lose touch with reality, leading to violent behavior toward perceived threats. If meth addiction is not addressed, the delusions may cause serious harm to the person or others[2]

Drug use often develops into a habit because the user enjoys the effects of the drug. The neurotransmitter dopamine causes pleasant, euphoric experiences in our brains. Excess dopamine is released from our brains when any drug, including alcohol and cigarettes, is overused. 

What Happens During Meth Withdrawal?

 A person’s “pleasure receptors” are blunted when they use meth frequently and get used to the pleasure and euphoria it produces. As a result, they have problems experiencing pleasure from things that happen naturally, such as eating, exercise, and sex.

This may increase their urge to continue using the substance due to the dampened pleasure effect. Meth addicts frequently find it impossible to find pleasure in anything else.

Because of this, many physical and physiological consequences occur when a person goes into withdrawal. 

Physical Symptoms of Methamphetamine Withdrawal

Meth dependence is a physiological adaptation in which the body becomes so accustomed to having meth in the system that withdrawal symptoms appear when the user reduces or stops using it. In other words, the body has the impression that it needs meth to stay alive. Strong desires and obsessive use can result from dependence, which is done to prevent unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. While going through meth withdrawal will increase cravings for the drug, the physical manifestation of withdrawal is also inescapable. Physical symptoms of meth withdrawal include:

  • Intense mood swings
  • Chills
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Itchy skin

Psychological Symptoms of Methamphetamine Withdrawal

Meth makes the user feel good, despite the negative physical characteristics that appear when a person uses it. 

If a person stops taking meth, users may experience several unpleasant symptoms like irritability, paranoia, and anxiety when the drug’s effects begin to wear off. Some people may take meth again to feel better or regain the initial high due to these adverse consequences.

Once a person goes into withdrawal after their last use, a series of undesirable effects will occur. Some of which include:

  • Insomnia
  • Oversleeping
  • Depression
  • Changes in appetite
  • Paranoia
  • Mood swings
  • Meth cravings
  • Psychosis
  • Headaches
  • Sickness
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Dehydration
  • Lethargy
  • Isolated behavior

Meth Withdrawal Timeline

The indications and symptoms of crystal meth withdrawal include exhaustion, extended periods of sleep, melancholy, increased hunger, and paranoia. After the last usage, the withdrawal period starts a few hours later and lasts up to two weeks.

Fatigue, depression, cravings, and extended periods of sleep are some withdrawal symptoms. When withdrawal symptoms last longer than the initial withdrawal phase, a condition known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) or protracted withdrawal ensues. 

For psychostimulants like methamphetamine, acute withdrawal normally lasts only 1-2 weeks. However, chronic withdrawal symptoms could persist for much longer.

Meth Withdrawal symptoms

Why Should You Detox From Meth Under the Supervision of Medical Professionals?

It is frequently advisable to go through medical detox in a center dedicated to helping people with substance use disorders if you want to overcome strong cravings.

Detoxing in a treatment facility offers a safer environment devoid of narcotics in addition to being under medical care. The withdrawal process lasts a couple of weeks, and medical professionals have the resources available to guide you through drug cravings.

What is Medical Detox?

An important first step in recovering from drug or alcohol addiction is medical detoxification, sometimes known as medical detox. Medical detox is a must because, in extreme cases, withdrawal can be fatal. 

All people who have displayed symptoms of physical and psychological reliance on a substance should undergo medical drug detox. It takes place under medical supervision. If you or someone you know has exhibited symptoms of meth withdrawal, seek medical help immediately. 

What Happens After Meth Detox is Complete?

After you’ve discussed treatment options and attended a treatment center to recover from meth through a treatment center, continued treatment is necessary, so you don’t fall back into the same patterns. 

Substance abuse can be lifelong if the root issues that led to drug use are not addressed and resolved. Sometimes, it’s best to attend an outpatient program to continue to receive the care you need to stay on the right track. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Meth Withdrawal & Treatment

Answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding methamphetamine withdrawal symptoms and treatment programs.

Why Do You Need to Go to Detox Before Entering Meth Addiction Treatment?

Detox is the first step to clearing your body of the meth, giving you a clean slate to begin healing at a treatment facility. Some intense withdrawal symptoms may take place during medical detox that require the supervision of an experienced healthcare professional.

How Common is Methamphetamine Use in the United States?

Among people aged 12 or older in 2020, 0.9% (or about 2.6 million people) reported using methamphetamine in the past 12 months[3].

How Do You Help a Loved One Who is Methamphetamine-Dependent?

Helping a loved one with an addiction to meth starts with you to connect your loved one to meth addiction treatment. Education is crucial. 

To the best of your abilities, comprehend their addiction and what they are going through. As the adage goes, you can’t quite walk a mile in their shoes. But you may spend some time learning about meth addiction, how it differs from other addictions, and how it affects the body and mind.

You can help your loved one by: 

  • Not enabling your loved one
  • Taking self-care seriously
  • Connecting your loved one to professional help
  • Education yourself about addiction

What is Meth Withdrawal Syndrome?

Meth withdrawal syndrome, commonly referred to as discontinuation syndrome, affects people who have become physiologically dependent on a substance. Their symptoms worsen if they suddenly stop using it or reduce their consumption amounts or frequency. 

Recover From Methamphetamine Abuse With Ascendant NY

You don’t need to worry about your loved ones or fight this battle alone. We know that people with substance use disorders affect themselves and the people they care about. 

At Ascendant, we gently guide you on your recovery journey and offer our assistance. Get in touch with us immediately to discuss the treatment options available at our recovery center if you or someone you know is struggling with a meth addiction.

Source:

  1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2022, December 19). Methamphetamine drugfacts. National Institutes of Health. Retrieved December 30, 2022, from https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/methamphetamine
  2. Know the risks of meth. SAMHSA. (n.d.). Retrieved December 30, 2022, from https://www.samhsa.gov/meth
  3. Methamphetamine research report – national institute on drug abuse. (n.d.). Retrieved December 30, 2022, from https://nida.nih.gov/download/37620/methamphetamine-research-report.pdf?v=f6a96a8721a56a0f765889a3d3e678c7
  4. 2020 National Survey of Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) releases. SAMHSA.gov. (n.d.). Retrieved December 30, 2022, from https://www.samhsa.gov/data/release/2020-national-survey-drug-use-and-health-nsduh-releases

Medical Content Writer

Amanda Stevens, B.S.

Amanda is a prolific medical content writer specializing in eating disorders and addiction treatment. She graduated Magnum Cum Laude from Purdue University with a B.S. in Social Work. As a person in recovery from disordered eating, she is passionate about seeing people heal and transform. She writes for popular treatment centers such as Ocean Recovery, Epiphany Wellness, The Heights Treatment, Infinite Recovery, New Waters Recovery and adolescent mental health treatment center BasePoint Academy. In her spare time she loves learning about health, nutrition, meditation, spiritual practices, and enjoys being the a mother of a beautiful daughter.

Last medically reviewed January 8, 2023