Meth, or crystal meth, is a powerful stimulant drug that can be very addictive. This drug increases the amount of dopamine in the brain, which activates parts of the brain involved in motivation and reward. These brain pathways make people want to use meth again.
People become dependent on meth very quickly. About 87-97% of people will experience mental, physical and emotional withdrawal symptoms once they try to stop using amphetamines. Many of these symptoms follow certain patterns that can be mapped out in a meth withdrawal timeline.
When Do Meth Withdrawal Symptoms Begin?
Meth is processed very quickly by the body. People start to feel high soon after taking it, and the high doesn’t last very long. The half-life of meth, or the time it takes for half of the meth to be cleared out of someone’s system, is 4-5 hours. The timeline for meth withdrawal may start by this point, after drug levels in the body start to drop.
Meth Withdrawal Symptoms Timeline
The symptoms of meth withdrawal are the worst in the beginning, and get better as time passes:
- First 24 hours: Symptoms peak within the first 24 hours of the last methamphetamine dose. People will begin to experience signs of meth withdrawal like paranoia, anxiety, depression, fatigue and losing touch with reality. Often, cravings are most severe during this first day and people are likely to relapse.
- Week 1: Withdrawal symptoms will decrease after the first day, but they are still usually fairly severe within the first week. People going through meth withdrawal often can’t sleep well during this period.
- Week 2: Most meth withdrawal symptoms usually decrease throughout the first week and are better by the second week. However, some studies have reported that people have worse sleep in the second week of withdrawal. Most symptoms are usually over within 14 days.
- Weeks 3 & 4: At this point, the acute phase of withdrawal is usually done. Crystal meth withdrawal symptoms like sleep difficulties should be improving. On the other hand, symptoms of depression tend to continue for more than two weeks after a person stops using meth.
How Long is Meth Withdrawal
The average time frame for acute methamphetamine withdrawal is often from five days to over two weeks. However, many mental health-related withdrawal symptoms last for longer periods of time, and people often experience cravings for several weeks after they stop using meth. Getting treatment as soon as possible after stopping meth use can help people resist their cravings. Additionally, if people continue to have mental health symptoms like anxiety and depression for several weeks after they stop using meth, they may need to seek professional help.
Factors Affecting Crystal Meth Withdrawal Duration
For people with meth addiction, withdrawal symptoms are more severe the longer the person has used meth. Factors like age, physical health, mental health and genetics also play a role in how someone experiences withdrawal. Additionally, a person may form a more severe dependence on meth if they or a family member has had problems with drinking or drug abuse.
Methamphetamine can interact with many other prescription medications, vitamins and herbal products. If people have been taking any of these along with meth, or have been combining meth with other street drugs or alcohol, this may change the duration of crystal meth withdrawal. Additionally, if someone is trying to detox from multiple substances at once, their withdrawal symptoms may be worse.
Detox is the process of the body flushing a drug out of its system. Some people go through meth detox on their own, at home, while others may go through detox at a medical facility. Because of the strong cravings people get while detoxing, it may be a good idea to go through withdrawal under the care of a doctor unless a person has a strong support system and a temptation-free environment at home.
Another advantage to going through this process at a detox center or rehab facility is that patients can have around-the-clock medical care. Doctors can help keep a person healthy by providing fluids for dehydration, prescribe medicine to help with withdrawal symptoms or intervene if someone is experiencing serious side effects.
Meth Withdrawal Medications
Some drug addictions can be treated with the help of certain medications. At the moment, there aren’t any drugs that are approved to treat meth addiction. However, researchers are constantly learning more about how the brain works and are working to develop new treatments that may help people who are trying to detox from meth. Additionally, behavioral therapy can help people learn to live without meth.
Two strategies that have helped people recover from meth addiction include cognitive behavioral therapy, in which patients learn how to recognize and change thinking and behavior patterns that lead to meth use, as well as motivational incentives, in which patients get cash or rewards for staying away from meth.
If you are using meth and you want to quit, Orlando Recovery Center can help. We provide medical detox and several different types of rehab services that can help you on your recovery journey. Call us today to find out more!
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