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Meth Withdrawal: Symptoms & Timelines

Meth withdrawal symptoms may involve severe fatigue, depression, suicidality, anxiety, increased appetite, nightmares, and sleep disturbances.

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Meth is a powerful and highly addictive stimulant drug that produces an intense high, followed by an intense comedown. If someone is addicted to his stimulant and abruptly quits, they’ll experience unpleasant meth withdrawal symptoms, such as severe cravings, depression, anxiety, fatigue, and more. Acute withdrawal symptoms tend to last for a week or so, though protracted withdrawal symptoms from methamphetamine or crystal meth can linger for longer.

Meth Withdrawal Symptoms

Suddenly quitting meth once you’ve developed a dependence or addiction can result in a myriad of withdrawal symptoms, including: [1],[2],[3],[4]

  • Fatigue
  • Nightmares
  • Insomnia
  • Hypersomnia
  • Pacing or fidgeting
  • Slowed movements and thoughts
  • Increased appetite and weight gain
  • Severe meth cravings
  • Severe depression
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors
  • Inability to feel pleasure (anhedonia)
  • Anxiety
  • Psychosis

Crystal meth and methamphetamine are typically used in a “binge and crash” pattern, which means taking frequent high doses of meth over a short time to maintain an intense high. This is then followed by a come-down or “crash,” which involves severe fatigue and depression that can last for a few days.[4] 

As such, meth withdrawal differs from the withdrawal syndrome associated with other substances like opioids or benzodiazepines which people tend to use compulsively and regularly to stave off withdrawal symptoms as opposed to binges.

Common Meth Withdrawal Symptoms

Protracted Withdrawal Symptoms

The above symptoms are associated with acute meth withdrawal, but once those symptoms resolve, some protracted withdrawal symptoms may linger for weeks or months. These may include impaired executive control functions, such as: [5]

  • Memory
  • Problem-solving
  • Organization and planning
  • Self-control
  • Impulse-control
  • Attention
  • Emotional regulation

Additionally, symptoms of psychosis like hallucinations may last for months or years after someone quits methamphetamine, which highlights the need for ongoing treatment and support. [3]

Moreover, chronic meth abuse can cause effects similar to Parkinson’s disease, which can last long after the person has gone through acute withdrawal and detox. [3]

How Long Does Meth Withdrawal Last

Typically, you can expect acute meth withdrawal to last between 7 and 10 days, depending on many factors. Because of its long-lasting effects, meth withdrawal tends to last longer and be more intense than other stimulants like cocaine.[6]

Withdrawal Timeline

The crystal meth withdrawal timeline can vary depending on a person’s individual physiology, method of administration, and more. However, you can expect the timeline to look something like this:[3],[4],[6]

Time Since Last UseSymptom Manifestation
A few hoursMeth withdrawal symptoms appear
24 hoursSymptoms peak in intensity
1-6 daysSymptoms gradually improve
7-10 daysSymptoms dissipate and resolve

Can You Die from Meth Withdrawal?

No, the symptoms of meth withdrawal don’t tend to be life-threatening on their own. However, mental health symptoms like depression and suicidal ideation may be so severe that a person may be at risk of self-harm and require intensive treatment or hospitalization. 

Sometimes meth withdrawal may include psychosis, paranoia, and hallucinations. And while these symptoms aren’t fatal, they can be dangerous due to detachment from reality and the increased risk of accidents and injuries.

It is always safer to undergo meth withdrawal in a professional detox facility or hospital where you can receive appropriate medical and psychiatric care.

Factors that Affect Meth Withdrawal

The severity and duration of withdrawal symptoms can vary, depending on factors, such as:

  • Withdrawal history
  • Dose and frequency of meth use
  • Polysubstance use
  • Co-occurring mental health disorders
  • Comorbid medical conditions
  • Drug purity
  • Method of administration (e.g. injecting, smoking, or snorting)

Should I Go Through Withdrawal on My Own?

Although it is possible to go through methamphetamine withdrawal cold turkey at home, you may feel more comfortable and supported in an intensive detox setting, where you can receive 24/7 care, supervision, and monitoring while you detox.

Plus, if you attend a professional detox program, you’ll greatly increase the chance that you’ll not only complete meth withdrawal without relapsing but also will transition to a comprehensive addiction treatment program.

The Best Way to Manage Meth Withdrawal: Detox Options

The primary goal of treating meth withdrawal is to alleviate symptoms, reduce cravings, and obtain medical stabilization to support a full recovery.

The best way to safely withdraw from meth is under the supervision of a medical professional in a formal detox setting. There are many levels of care for meth detox, including:

  • Medical detox: You receive 24/7 care, supervision, and monitoring in a hospital or free-standing detox center. This option is the most intensive and can help prevent or address any medical complications or emergencies that arise during withdrawal.
  • Residential detox: You receive around-the-clock care with some medical care but not as intensive as in a hospital. This setting resembles a home environment.
  • Partial hospitalization/intensive outpatient: These detox options allow you to live at home while withdrawing from meth while attending up to 30 hours of care per week at a hospital. This option is a nice balance of flexibility and intensiveness for people who have a strong support system.
  • Outpatient detox: The least intensive and structured option, you live at home and attend detox sessions for a few hours per week.

If you are ready to quit meth and want to receive professional detox, contact us at Boca Recovery Center. We offer medical detox services that can keep you safe and comfortable during withdrawal.

Updated December 12, 2023
Resources
  1. Methamphetamine DrugFacts. (May 2019). National Institute on Drug Abuse.
  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. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). American Psychiatric Association. (2013).
  5. Protracted Withdrawal. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
  6. The Nature, Time Course and Severity of Methamphetamine Withdrawal. (2005). Addiction (Abingdon, England), 100(9), 1320–1329.
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