- The more dependent someone is on meth, the longer and harder their withdrawal period is likely to be
- Meth addiction impacts parts of the brain responsible for emotion and memory, especially after long-term use of the drug
- The most effective treatment options for a meth addiction are behavioral therapies, which can be combined with medication management of some withdrawal symptoms
How Long Does Meth Withdrawal Take?
The length of meth withdrawal varies among individuals. The amount of meth they have been consuming and how long they have been using it greatly impact the duration of the withdrawal period.
Most people addicted to meth can expect the most severe withdrawal symptoms to last for about a week. Milder symptoms tend to last for at least two more weeks. However, cravings for meth can last much longer and should be closely monitored to prevent relapse.
Because of this, meth withdrawal should be treated for at least three weeks, especially for individuals with a history of heavy use. Mental health symptoms of meth withdrawal, like depression, may need to be treated for a year or more.
What Impacts Meth Withdrawal?
Meth affects the central nervous system and increases the amount of dopamine in the brain. When consumed, meth quickly releases great quantities of dopamine, making it a pleasurable experience and reinforcing use. This pattern of use leads to physical dependency followed by withdrawal symptoms when use is suddenly stopped.
The more dependent someone is on meth, the longer and harder their withdrawal period is likely to be. The severity of meth withdrawal depends on the individual’s history of substance use and their own physiological response to withdrawal.
Additional factors that impact meth withdrawal include how someone used meth, such as snorting or injecting it, and if they were using other drugs at the same time. People with a history of injecting meth are likely to experience a long and intense withdrawal process. Likewise, if someone also needs to withdraw from additional substances, the severity of symptoms may be compounded.
Signs Someone Is Withdrawing From Meth
Anyone addicted to meth is likely to experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop using. Someone withdrawing will likely have great difficulty functioning normally. Physical symptoms are often most severe in the first few days of withdrawal, while mental and emotional symptoms can last much longer.
Meth withdrawal symptoms, as outlined by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) include the following:
- Significant depression
- Extreme fatigue
- Severe cravings for meth
Meth addiction impacts parts of the brain responsible for emotion and memory, especially after long-term use of the drug. As someone withdraws from meth, they will likely continue to struggle with emotional regulation and cognitive issues.
Some of the brain changes caused by meth use may reverse following withdrawal, but it may take a year or more to do so. Some changes are irreversible.
Psychosis is a sign of both meth use and withdrawal. It may appear as violent or aggressive behavior.
Long-term use and high doses of meth can cause psychosis to develop. With psychosis, extreme paranoia is also often present.
If you know someone who regularly uses meth and their behavior has suddenly become more violent, aggressive, or paranoid, they may be withdrawing from the drug.
Treatment Options for Meth Withdrawal
The primary goal of treating meth withdrawal is to alleviate symptoms and reduce cravings to support a full recovery. Certain medications are effective for treating some forms of substance abuse, such as opioid use disorder, but no medications have been identified as specifically effective for methamphetamine addiction.
For individuals with severe withdrawal symptoms, a residential treatment program may be necessary. Doctors and substance abuse treatment professionals can monitor your mental and physical health while you detox.
Physical withdrawal symptoms, such as headaches, difficulty sleeping, and body aches and pains can often be managed with over-the-counter medications. Mental symptoms, such as mood swings and difficulty concentrating can be addressed in therapy.
The Best Way to Manage Meth Withdrawal
The best way to safely withdraw from meth is under the supervision of a medical professional. There are not currently any medications specifically approved for the treatment of methamphetamine withdrawal and addiction, but various steps can be taken to manage symptoms and ensure your safety and comfort throughout the process.
The most effective treatment options for a meth addiction are behavioral therapies, which can be combined with medication management of some withdrawal symptoms. Cognitive behavioral therapy and contingency management are two such therapies that are known to effectively treat methamphetamine withdrawal and abuse.
Because meth withdrawal symptoms, such as depression, can last for months or years, integrating behavioral therapies into your long-term treatment plan is essential.
A significant challenge of withdrawal is managing cravings for meth. Severe cravings can lead someone to use meth again, even when they truly want to be sober.
To prevent a relapse, both during withdrawal and while in recovery, experts recommend the following:
- Continue participating in therapy and support groups.
- Avoid triggers, such as people, places, and things that may make you want to use meth again.
- Spend time with family and friends who do not use meth or other drugs.
- Find new, healthy activities that support your recovery.
- Establish healthy exercise and eating habits.
The more you take care of yourself in recovery, the better your mind and body will feel. Depending on your history of meth use, it will take time and interventions to withdraw safely and fully. And it will take time to build a new life in recovery.
Recovery from meth addiction begins with a successful withdrawal process. With the right support and treatment plan in place, it is possible to make a full recovery and for you to live a full life free of addiction.
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