Crystal Methamphetamine (Meth) Detox

Detox is the first step of treating withdrawal from methamphetamine (meth). Meth detox helps you stop substance abuse as rapidly and safely as possible. Besides, it helps relieve uncomfortable symptoms you may have when you initially become drug free. These symptoms are known as withdrawal symptoms. 

Meth abuse can cause severe psychological or physical dependence. Dependence is when you need to use meth to function. It makes you more likely to resume drug use following a period of abstinence. Over time, this pattern of use can lead to meth addiction. 

Because meth is highly addictive, it can cause severe and sometimes dangerous withdrawal symptoms. Thus, medically supervised detox is often the best approach. During detox, our team of health professionals assesses your addiction severity, physical and mental health, and the need for medications. 

Based on this assessment and results from screening tests, they will design a detox plan that best meets your individual needs. Moreover, they will work to reduce the risk of complications that might occur during detox. 

A medical professional may carry out Meth detox in an outpatient or inpatient facility; the choice depends on several factors, including:

Meth Withdrawal Symptoms and Timeline

Meth withdrawal often begins within 24 hours after last use. It takes about seven days for these symptoms to peak, and most symptoms go away within 14 days of abstinence. 

The physical symptoms of withdrawal can include:

  • Excessive tiredness (often requiring you to sleep for 2 to 4 days)
  • Sleep disturbances (sleep issues can linger for many weeks in heavy meth users)
  • Dry mouth
  • Headaches
  • Malnourishment (due to eating less)
  • Muscle cramps

The emotional symptoms can include:

  • Feeling depressed or nervous
  • Restlessness
  • Being paranoid (feeling that someone is going to harm you)
  • Loss of motivation 
  • Low energy level
  • Intense cravings 
  • Experiencing things that do not exist (hallucinations)

While the physical symptoms usually go away within two weeks, the emotional symptoms can last several months. 

3 Phases of Meth Withdrawal

The “crash” is the opposite of a “high.” Meth causes a rapid surge in the brain levels of dopamine, resulting in a “high.” But when you stop taking the drug, these effects wear off within 24 hours. It leads to the crash, which is characterized by:

    • Severe depression
    • Anxiety
    • Psychosis
    • Nausea
    • Sweating 
    • Itching
    • Tiredness
    • Excessive sleepiness
    • Trouble concentrating

Intense craving, the hallmark of this phase, is often associated with relapse. This phase can last up to three weeks and include the following effects:

    • Low mood
    • Anxiety
    • Increased appetite
    • Fatigue
    • Muscle pains
    • Lack of motivation
    • Irritability
    • Violent behaviors
    • Sleep problems

Recovery is the final and perhaps the most prolonged phase of meth withdrawal that can last up to 30 weeks. Fortunately, the cravings are less intense, and other emotional symptoms are manageable. Heavy users may still have low moods, anxiety, and behavioral issues. Yet, treatment drastically reduces relapses and helps reconnect with family and society. 

Is It possible to Stop Using Meth Without Rehab?

Meth can cause severe psychological or physical dependence. Thus, quitting is a daunting task for most users. You have two options when you decide to quit meth: self-detox and second and quitting under medical supervision. For the section option, you can choose detox at an inpatient facility or outpatient facility. 

Though self-detox is likely to help, it is not the preferred method in most cases. Self-detox may not be suitable for:

  • Heavy and frequent users
  • Those who have a history of seizures
  • Users that have had relapses in the past attempts at quitting

If you decide to stop using meth without rehab, make sure you have:

  • Strong support system at home
  • Assessed your risk of relapse
  • Easy access to health professionals in case an emergency occurs

Always consult with your doctor or a health professional to learn if you are eligible for self-detox. It is even more critical if you have a history of depression, anxiety, or other mental illness. Likewise, medical consultation is desirable in people with chronic diseases, such as heart disease and eating disorders.

Can You Die from Meth Withdrawal?

There have been no documented reports of meth withdrawal-involved death. That said, we cannot completely ignore the death risk. 

It is because meth withdrawal can cause rapid changes in blood pressure and dehydration. Both these conditions may lead to complications, affecting the heart and blood vessels. Withdrawal-related complications may be more dangerous in people with pre-existing heart problems. 

In some people, withdrawal may worsen depressive symptoms, anxiety, and paranoia. Likewise, there may be an increased tendency to engage in risky behaviors, such as driving under the influence. Any of these factors, alone or combined with another problem, may increase the death risk. 

The best way to avoid complications is to seek professional help. An addiction treatment facility addresses your withdrawal symptoms, factors contributing to addiction, and nutritional needs. Round-the-clock medical supervision allows individualized care and rapid response in case a complication occurs.  

Why is Meth Addictive?

Like other stimulants, meth increases the amount of a chemical – dopamine – in the brain. Dopamine affects brain areas that regulate motivation and triggers sensations of reward. Thus, a user takes meth to experience these sensations and associated excitement. Over time, higher doses are required to feel the rewarding effects, indicating tolerance and dependence. 

The degree to which a substance reinforces the rewarding effects determines its addiction potential. Meth is very addictive, and long-term abuse can cause several health effects, including:

  • Increased wakefulness 
  • Enhanced physical activity
  • Decreased appetite
  • Rapid breathing
  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Elevated blood pressure and body temperature 
  • Dental problems (meth mouth)
  • Memory problems
  • Changes in brain structure

Meth users are also more likely to engage in high-risk activities, such as unprotected sex and driving under the influence. Users who inject meth are at a higher risk of getting HIV/AIDS and hepatitis B and C.  

Meth Addiction Statistics

Methamphetamine (crystal meth) has a long history of abuse in the United States. The 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) states that about 1.6 million Americans reported using meth in the previous year, and 774,000 reported using it during the last month. 

Meth is also significantly involved in overdose deaths. Overdose deaths involving meth and related drugs increased by 7.5 times from 2007 to 2017. Notably, about half of these overdose deaths also involved a narcotic (opioid).

According to the National Drug Early Warning System (NDEWS), the states with the highest increases in meth-related overdose deaths are:

  • Washington
  • Colorado
  • Texas
  • Florida
  • Georgia

Treatment for Meth Withdrawal Symptoms

Depending on the severity of the drug addiction, your doctor may use different approaches for the initial withdrawal process, including psychotherapy (talk therapy), medications, or both. 

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is beneficial for long-term withdrawal. It helps you stick to treatment, identify triggers, and replace problematic thoughts with positive ones.  

Therapists frequently use two types of psychotherapy to treat meth withdrawal. 

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT teaches the impacts of meth use, self-monitoring, and coping strategies. 
  • Contingency management (CM). CM provides an incentive to drug users if they abstain from drug use for a predefined period. 

Other non-drug approaches may include family education, individual/group counseling, and 12-step support groups.

Meth Withdrawal Medication

Medicines are helpful for short-term withdrawal and can include:

  • Benzodiazepines. These drugs help you calm down and relieve the symptoms of anxiety and irritation. Examples include lorazepam (Ativan) and diazepam (Valium). Available only on a doctor’s prescription, these drugs can be habit-forming. 
  • Antipsychotics. These drugs help control the symptoms of psychosis. Examples include risperidone (Risperdal) and olanzapine (Zyprexa).
  • Non-narcotic pain relievers. These drugs help with body pains and headaches. Examples include acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil). 

The following medications may help manage long-term withdrawal.

  • Antidepressants to treat depression: Examples include fluoxetine (Prozac) and bupropion (Wellbutrin).
  • Medicines to improve memory and thinking process: such as modafinil (Provigil) and topiramate (Topamax).
  • Medicines to improve sleep patterns: such as modafinil (Provigil).
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Opus Health is different than other drug & alcohol treatment centers in Orange County, California. 

We believe in the full-integrated recovery of each individual. We specialize in Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT), psychological & psychiatric care, daily doctor’s visits, and ongoing support from staff. 

We ensure each patient in our care has the chance to see a full recovery from beginning to long-term sobriety. Our Costa Mesa Rehab Center can help you recover from addiction.

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