Methamphetamine, or meth, is a potent recreational drug popular in the United States. Meth abuse is a big public health problem in the US, especially since the drug can cause users to become dependent very easily.
Meth is a drug that has no approved medical use. It is a stimulant, and it provides immediate euphoric effects after you take it. Also, it makes you more talkative and highly active.
Meth is highly potent because more of it reaches the brain than comparable doses of other similar drugs. With that, meth has more long-lasting and harmful effects on your central nervous system. Also, the drug has huge potential for abuse, prompting the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to classify it as a Schedule II controlled substance. Schedule II is the second strictest regulation of a drug by the DEA.
If you have been using meth for a short time and decide to stop taking the drug, you may experience a “crash” that can last for a few days. But if you have an addiction to the drug, suddenly stopping will cause you to develop serious withdrawal symptoms.
What are these symptoms and how long do they last? Read on to find out more.
What influences the length of meth withdrawal?
Not everyone will have the same withdrawal symptoms and duration of withdrawal to meth. It depends on factors such as:
- How long you have been taking meth
- Whether you take meth with other substances or not
- How much meth you take at a time
- How you consume meth (e.g. snorting, injection, etc.)
Some users prefer to inject meth straight into their bloodstream for more immediate effects. If you do, you are at risk of developing longer and more painful withdrawal symptoms.
How long does it last?
While the duration of meth withdrawal is different for different people, it usually reaches its peak 3 to 10 days after the last dose. Most physical symptoms often ease off after two to three weeks, but psychological symptoms like trouble sleeping, mood swings, and agitation can persist for several months.
What are the symptoms of meth withdrawal?
In most cases, these withdrawal symptoms show up:
- Increased appetite
- Excessive sweating
- Red, itchy eyes
- Stomach pains
- Loss of motivation
- Suicidal thoughts
Depending on how severe your withdrawal is, you may have a few symptoms or nearly all of them. Withdrawal from meth can be particularly debilitating and painful that your only recourse is to take the drug again. That makes it extremely difficult to quit using the drug on your own.
Timeline of withdrawal symptoms
About 24 to 48 hours after the last dose of meth, a “crash” happens. At this point, you will feel a dramatic drop in your energy level and cognitive abilities. You may also experience excessive sweating, nausea, and cramps in your abdomen.
Then, 3 to 10 days after your last dose, withdrawal symptoms will usually reach their peak. This is when you might suffer from severe depression, fatigue, anxiety, shaking, and muscle pains. Intense drug cravings often go with these symptoms.
Withdrawal symptoms can keep bothering you for 2 to 3 weeks. At around days 14 to 20, many of the physical withdrawal symptoms may begin to go away. But you can still experience depression and fatigue, as well as intense drug cravings.
By day 21 and later, any symptoms you have left will continue to subside. The worst of withdrawal is already over by this time. But having lingering psychological symptoms is still possible, and they may last for several more months. These symptoms include depression and anxiety.
How can I safely quit meth?
If you have been struggling with withdrawal but are serious in your decision to quit meth, there is a better way.
You can quit meth safely with the help of medical professionals. In a process called medical detox, doctors and other medical staff will be by your side as you slowly get off the drug. They will help you manage withdrawal symptoms, ensuring that the detox process is as comfortable as possible.
Meth detox comes in three phases: evaluation, stabilization, and transition into further treatment. Here is what each one is all about.
The first phase of detox involves assessing your current health condition. Doctors often use urine-based drug screens to check how much meth is inside your system. With that data, they can devise a treatment plan that fits your needs well. They may also ask you about any mental health conditions you may have, any histories of substance abuse, and the like. All in all, this information helps doctors formulate an appropriate recovery plan.
After evaluating your state of health, treatment can begin right away. The sooner treatment begins, the more comfortable you will be as you withdraw from meth. Medical staff will monitor you every step of the way, and they will help you manage any discomfort that may arise from the detox.
Some medications may be prescribed to you to ease some of the most severe withdrawal symptoms. One example is modafinil, a drug normally used to treat narcolepsy and ADHD. Modafinil can help with sleep problems as well as reduce drug cravings. Bupropion, an antidepressant, is also shown to help in decreasing drug cravings. If you’re having anxiety or panic attacks, you may be given fluoxetine, which is another kind of antidepressant that can help with anxiety symptoms.
Transition into further treatment
After detox is nearly done, doctors will discuss the next steps of treatment with you. Often, treatment will progress in a rehab facility, where you will receive behavioral therapies and other helpful treatments. Medical staff will continue to assist you in this transition.
Where can I get help?
If you are suffering from a meth addiction, talk to your doctor or an addiction recovery professional now. They will help you get a clear picture of your condition and plan out your journey towards sobriety.