Last Updated Dec 2, 2021
Meth is an extremely addictive stimulant drug that makes changes to your brain chemistry, causing a euphoric “high.” When the drug wears off, it can lead to difficult withdrawal symptoms as your brain struggles to rebalance itself.
Meth detox should be managed through an addiction treatment facility or detox center. A professional detox program can offer both supportive care and medications to minimize discomfort while the drug processes safely out of the brain and body.
Detox is often the first step in drug addiction treatment and recovery. It should be followed by addiction therapy.
Methamphetamine Abuse: How to Tell if You Have a Problem
Methamphetamine, or meth, is a Schedule II controlled substance. While it does have some limited medical use for the treatment of ADHD under the brand name of Desoxyn, meth is an illegal drug of abuse most of the time.
Meth is a synthetic stimulant drug that is commonly created in illicit laboratories using cold medications and other chemicals. Any use of meth without a valid and necessary prescription is abuse and problematic drug use.
Meth abuse can lead to addiction very quickly due to the changes the drug makes to dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine is one of the brain’s neurotransmitters involved in mood regulation, motivation, and movement.
If any of the following are true, you likely have a problem with meth:
- You spend a lot of time thinking about meth, getting meth, using it, and recovering from it.
- You need to take more meth each time to feel its effects.
- You end up taking meth for longer or in higher doses than you intended.
- Even though you want to or have tried to quit, you cannot stop using meth.
- You experience drug cravings and difficult withdrawal symptoms when you are not using meth.
Key Facts About Meth Detox
Meth is extremely addictive. In 2020, approximately 2.5 million people had abused meth in the past year, and 1.5 million people had a methamphetamine use disorder.
Meth detox involves management of emotional and physical withdrawal symptoms that can occur as the drug processes out of your system after your brain is dependent on meth after repeated abuse.
Detox is best managed in a detox center or addiction treatment facility that can include medical monitoring, the use of medications to control drug cravings and withdrawal symptoms, and supportive care.
How Long Does It Take to Detox From Meth?
Methamphetamine is a powerful stimulant drug that accelerates heart rate, raises blood pressure and body temperature, increases energy levels and alertness, and suppresses appetite. Withdrawal symptoms can include some of the opposite effects, and they begin when meth processes out of the body.
Withdrawal and detox can vary in severity based on the level of dependence on meth. This is related to how much you used, how often you used it, whether it was used with other drugs, how you used it (snorting, injecting, smoking, or ingesting), and any underlying medical or mental health conditions.
The timeline for detox and withdrawal can generally look like this:
- Within 24 of the last dose of meth: Withdrawal symptoms can start, as meth processes out of the body and is no longer active.
- 7 to 10 days after stopping meth: This is considered the acute phase of withdrawal, and individuals can experience intense side effects.
- 10 days to 3 weeks after stopping meth: Classified as the subacute phase of withdrawal, during this phase, many of the withdrawal symptoms will start to wane. Depression, increased appetite and excessive eating, and cravings for meth will continue.
- Several weeks to months after stopping meth: Cravings for meth and low moods can continue after both the acute and subacute phases of withdrawal are over.
A meth detox program typically lasts 10 days to 2 weeks in a specialized treatment facility or detox center where you can be medically monitored and supported. Symptoms of withdrawal can be medically managed in this setting. After detox, you can continue on to rehab.
Is Detox From Meth Dangerous?
Meth detox can include severe cravings and depression that can make it difficult to remain abstinent. Extremely low moods can also put you at risk for suicidal ideations or actions.
Meth detox can include psychosis, which can cause hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not there) and paranoia.
Ultimately, meth detox can be intense. It is best managed in a specialized program with medical and supportive care.
What Are the Symptoms of Methamphetamine Withdrawal?
After the body and brain has become physically dependent on meth through regular and repeated use, withdrawal symptoms can start within a day of stopping meth use. These symptoms may include the following:
- Intense drug cravings
- Significant depression
- Increased appetite and excessive eating
- Vivid and unpleasant dreams
Why Is Detox From Methamphetamine Necessary for Recovery?
Meth is a highly addictive stimulant drug that causes intense cravings after stopping use. Trouble feeling pleasure, serious mood swings, and psychosis are also possible.
Due to the severity of the withdrawal symptoms and intensity of the cravings, detox is often necessary first before entering into an addiction treatment program. Detox can help by medically managing withdrawal symptoms, which include cravings for the drug. This can help to promote a sustained recovery and minimize instances of relapse.
Tips to Help Detox From Methamphetamine
Meth detox is best managed through a specialized detox center or substance abuse treatment facility. When undergoing detox, there are things you can do to make the process smoother.
Initially, you may experience a kind of “crash” as meth processes out of the body. It is helpful to allow yourself several days of extra rest.
You will likely be hungry, and it is beneficial to stick to healthy and nutritious foods while your brain and body recover from meth. Be sure to drink enough water and stay hydrated as well.
The mood swings and depression can be significant during this time. If you are not under direct medical and/or mental health supervision during detox, have crisis line numbers close by in the event that you feel suicidal or need extra support.
Therapy can help to manage mental health side effects of meth withdrawal by teaching you coping mechanisms and tools for regulating emotions. Support groups can provide additional resources as well as peer support from others who understand what it is like.
Meth detox is the first step toward meth addiction recovery. Professional help and support are optimal to set you on the best path to sustained recovery.
How to Detox From Methamphetamine
It is important to get support during meth detox. If you don’t have support, relapse is highly likely. Generally, you can choose to detox in a dedicated detox center or a comprehensive addiction treatment facility.
An addiction treatment facility often has a specialized space for detox that may be on site. Typically, you will enter detox first and remain there for 10 to 14 days while the meth processes out of your body. This means you will be in a safe, supportive environment when withdrawal symptoms are at their strongest.
In a treatment facility, withdrawal symptoms can be managed with medications, therapeutic, and supportive care. Addiction treatment facilities often have mental health and medical professionals on site as well as substance abuse counselors.
While in detox, you will be medically monitored and have support and supervision around the clock. Once you are physically stable and the meth has processed completely out of your system, you can transition seamlessly into rehab to continue your addiction treatment program.
A detox center is often a standalone option rather than part of a comprehensive treatment program. In a detox center, you will be monitored and supervised 24/7 until you are physically stable and ready to transition into an addiction treatment program.
It is important to understand that detox on its own is not enough to sustain meth recovery. Rehab is necessary after detox is complete.
At a detox center, your mental health and physical withdrawal symptoms can be managed with medications, behavioral therapies, counseling, and supportive care. A team of medical, mental health, and substance use disorder treatment professionals will work with you to achieve mental and physical stabilization before continuing on with more intensive therapy.
Medications for Meth Withdrawal
There is no specific medication for treating meth addiction or withdrawal, but there are several that can be helpful during detox.
Many of the medications used will be targeted at specific symptoms of withdrawal. For example, antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications can help to regulate moods and difficult emotions that may accompany meth withdrawal. Your care team can work to determine which medications will be best for you.
Recently, there have been studies showing that one of the medications used for opioid addiction treatment, naltrexone, can be effective in treating meth addiction when combined with a smoking cessation medication, bupropion,. Many medications are used off label to treat meth cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
What to Look for in a Detox Center
A detox center should have a calming and soothing environment where you can safely detox from meth.
No matter the specifics of the program, the facility should offer both medical and mental health care and supervision. There should be a team of professionals on site working to support you during detox.
Meth detox is often aided with medications as well as therapeutic and supportive care. All of these options should be available. Some programs don’t offer medical care, and it’s important that the program you choose has supervising physicians to ensure your safety and comfort.
Detoxing from meth can trigger some powerful and difficult withdrawal symptoms, especially in the first two weeks. For this reason, it is optimal to choose a detox center or addiction treatment facility when stopping meth use instead of trying to detox at home. If you detox at home without support, relapse is very likely.
What to Expect During Meth Detox
Meth detox can be difficult emotionally, and the cravings can be intense. During meth detox, you will likely be given medications to help with depressive symptoms, sleep issues, and severe cravings.
It is also possible to experience hallucinations and paranoia during meth detox, and these can be best treated in a supervised and medically managed environment.
Meth is an appetite suppressant. When you stop taking it, it is common to feel hungry and eat more. This can contribute to weight gain, and consuming large amounts of junk foods can lead to mood swings. Be sure to stick to nutritious foods to minimize this and to promote overall health.
Generally, meth withdrawal symptoms will peak after the first week or so. Then, they’ll start to ease after that point.
Meth cravings may continue for several weeks to months, so it is important to continue with an addiction treatment program after detox to learn how to manage these. In a comprehensive treatment program, you’ll develop coping mechanisms and tools to help you sustain recovery for the long term. While meth detox forms the foundation of recovery, more intensive care is needed.
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