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Meth Detox: Symptoms, Timeline, and What to Expect

Meth detox symptoms can be distressing but aren’t typically life-threatening, and they tend to last for up to 10 days.

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Chronic methamphetamine abuse can lead to physiological dependence and addiction. When someone is dependent on a stimulant like meth, suddenly stopping will result in unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can be intense and difficult to manage alone, which is why a professional meth detox program is so important.

Meth Withdrawal Symptoms and the Need for Detox

Abruptly quitting methamphetamine can result in unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, such as: [1],[2],[3]

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  • Nightmares
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Intense meth cravings
  • Psychosis and hallucinations
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Inability to feel pleasure (anhedonia)
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Pacing or fidgeting
  • Slowed movements and thoughts
  • Dehydration
  • Weight gain
  • Chills

Meth and crystal meth are often used in “binge and crash” patterns, which involve taking high doses of meth repeatedly over a short period of time, and then once they stop, they experience a crash. This crash is characterized by an intense “comedown” of depression, lack of energy, and increased appetite that takes several days to recover from.

Although meth detox symptoms don’t tend to be physically dangerous, they can be severe enough that people return to meth use in order to alleviate them—creating a cycle of meth abuse, withdrawal, and relapse.

How Long Does It Take to Detox From Meth?

If you detox from meth or crystal meth cold turkey, without any professional guidance, acute withdrawal will last for between 7 and 10 days, after which your symptoms will resolve.[4]

Although meth withdrawal can vary depending on many factors, it tends to follow a predictable detox timeline:[2],[4]

Time Since Last UseExperience
A few hoursSymptoms emerge
24 hoursSymptoms peak in intensity
1-6 daysSymptoms gradually become less severe
7-10 daysSymptoms dissipate and resolve

If you detox in a professional facility, the timeline will likely be similar since there aren’t any FDA-approved medications to treat meth dependence and the medical team won’t create a tapering schedule for you to slowly reduce your meth dose. There is a chance they’ll replace crystal meth with another stimulant-like drug such as Modafinil, which could affect or elongate the meth detox timeline. [5]

Ultimately, meth detox can be intense. It is best managed in a specialized program with medical and supportive care.

Factors that Affect Meth Detox Timeline and Symptoms

Meth withdrawal and detox symptoms, severity, and timeline can vary greatly depending on many factors, including:[3]

  • How much meth you used
  • How often you used it
  • How long you used meth
  • Drug purity
  • Whether you used other drugs too
  • How you used it (snorting, injecting, smoking, or ingesting)
  • The presence of underlying medical or mental health conditions
  • Previous meth detox experiences

Is it Dangerous to Detox from Meth Cold Turkey?

Meth withdrawal symptoms don’t tend to be physically dangerous so technically, you could go through acute withdrawal on your own. 

However, mental health symptoms like depression and suicidal ideation can be severe enough that you warrant 24-hour care in a hospital setting in order to keep you safe.

Occasionally, meth withdrawal and detox can involve psychosis, including visual and auditory hallucinations and paranoia. Although not life-threatening on their own, they can lead to dangerous consequences due to the risk of accidents or self-harm.

Additionally, if your meth cravings are intense and you are unable to resist the urge to relapse to meth use, you may need inpatient or 24-hour supervision where you are unable to obtain this stimulant. 

Ultimately, meth detox can be intense. It is best managed in a specialized program with medical and supportive care.

How to Detox From Methamphetamine: Treatment Settings

The safest way to detox from meth is to enter a professional detox program where medical and addiction professionals can supervise your withdrawal, manage your symptoms, provide you with counseling, and help you transition into long-term rehab.

Crystal meth detox can occur in many settings, including:

  • Medical detox: The safest and most intensive setting, medical detox occurs in hospitals and involves 24-hour medical care and monitoring.
  • Inpatient detox: Inpatient detox occurs in freestanding detox centers or within inpatient rehab programs, providing 24-hour supervision.
  • PHP and IOP detox: Partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient programs involve living at home and attending detox treatment for several hours each day at a facility or a hospital.
  • Outpatient detox: The least intensive option, outpatient detox involves residing at home and attending treatment for a few days each week.

Medical and inpatient detox involves the most structure away from your using environment, which can be beneficial in early withdrawal.

Medications for Meth Withdrawal

There are currently no FDA-approved medications for the treatment of methamphetamine dependence and withdrawal. 

However, some medications have shown promise in research settings. Notably, Modafinil is a non-amphetamine stimulant-like medication that is normally prescribed to manage narcolepsy and other sleep issues. When used to manage meth withdrawal, it has been shown to be safe, well-tolerated, and effective at reducing withdrawal symptoms.[5] That said, more research is needed to confirm Modafinil’s effectiveness.

Otherwise, treatment teams will use adjunctive medications during meth detox to treat certain symptoms, such as nausea or headaches.

What to Expect at a Meth Detox Program

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. The treatment team will assess you and create an individualized detox plan based on your needs, medical condition, and symptoms.

Your detox plan may include interventions like:

  • Monitoring for medical and mental health complications
  • Using adjunctive medications to manage symptoms
  • Providing supportive medical care like IV fluids and nutritional therapy
  • Detox counseling for emotional support and guidance
  • Wraparound services and case management to help you transition into a meth rehab program

Although detox is very important, it’s only the first step on the continuum of addiction care. The best way to avoid returning to meth use is to transition into an addiction treatment program where you can address the underlying factors that influenced your methamphetamine abuse in the first place. 

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.

What’s the Fastest Way to Detox from Meth?

There is no quick fix to speed up the meth detox process. Your body has to go through withdrawal in order to clear your system of methamphetamine, and this process tends to take up to 10 days.

Do Detox Drinks Work for Meth?

No, detox drinks and cleanses do not work to clear methamphetamine from your body, and they won’t help you pass a urine or drug test. Detox drinks won’t speed up how long meth stays in your system.

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Medically Reviewed By Dr. Alison Tarlow

Dr. Alison Tarlow is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in the States of Florida and Pennsylvania, and a Certified Addictions Professional (CAP). She has been a practicing psychologist for over 15 years. Sh... Read More

Updated January 19, 2024
Resources
  1. Methamphetamine National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019).
  2. Withdrawal Symptoms in Abstinent Methamphetamine-Dependent Subjects. (2010). Addiction (Abingdon, England), 105(10), 1809–1818.
  3. Treatment for stimulant use disorders. Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series 33. SAMHSA Publication No. PEP21-02-01- 004. (2021). Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
  4. The Nature, Time Course and Severity of Methamphetamine Withdrawal. (2005). Addiction (Abingdon, England), 100(9), 1320–1329.
  5. Pharmacological approaches to methamphetamine dependence: a focused review. British journal of clinical pharmacology, 69(6), 578–592.
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