Methamphetamine Detox and Withdrawal Symptoms
Methamphetamine (meth) is a powerful central nervous system stimulant with highly addictive properties. It can be smoked, nasally inhaled, injected, and even eaten. No matter how it is used, the effects have a rapid onset, followed by a high that can last as long as 12 hours.
Meth abuse is linked to a number of harmful physical effects that, in some cases, may be fatal. In fact, nearly 8.2% of all emergency department visits in 2011 involved methamphetamine use, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
Detoxing from meth can be extremely unpleasant and may even result in the development of anxiety and/or depression in some individuals. In some cases, suicidal ideation with the potential for self-injury can occur, making professional or medically supervised detoxification (detox) and treatment services an important aspect of meth abuse recovery.
Methamphetamine Withdrawal Symptoms
Detoxification (detox) and withdrawal from methamphetamine abuse can involve a number of different distressing symptoms. The most common methamphetamine withdrawal symptoms are:
- Extreme exhaustion.
- Intense cravings.
- Suicidal thoughts.
- Severe hunger.
The extent to which an individual has been abusing meth plays a major role in the course of their detox and withdrawal—the more chronic or heavy the abuse was, the more uncomfortable the user may feel.
Users with greater levels of tolerance may experience a more intense withdrawal period, often necessitating the help of medical professionals.
How Long Does It Take to Detox From Crystal Meth?
The timeline of meth withdrawal will vary among individuals, depending on amounts used and how long meth was abused for before addiction treatment was sought. Fortunately, most meth withdrawal symptoms alleviate within a couple weeks.
For most people, the depressive and psychotic symptoms of methamphetamine withdrawal will alleviate within about a week of sobriety. Most users will slowly stop feeling the overhanging sadness that can come with meth withdrawal and begin finding pleasure in day-to-day activities again (Zorick et al., 2010).
Intense drug cravings—one of the more stubborn and long-lasting symptoms of methamphetamine withdrawal—usually begin to dissipate in the second week of abstinence, though some cravings may persist longer—up to five weeks, according to some reports. The meth withdrawal period can be psychologically taxing. Having a professional staff on hand to help recovering users during this period can make a huge difference in the recovery process.
Why Should I Enter a Meth Detox Program?
One of the most dangerous aspects of meth withdrawal is the risk of developing severe depression, which can not only precipitate relapse, but can be accompanied by self-injurious or suicidal thoughts. Users attempting to undergo detox on their own may find the psychological symptoms so distressing that they turn to self-harm or more meth for relief—both of which may bring grave consequences.
Professional detox services can help recovering users rid their bodies of methamphetamine so that they can begin their recovery paths from a point of sobriety. They ensure the patient’s safety and comfort during this potentially turbulent transition. Any medical concerns that arise can also be safely addressed with formal detox treatment.
During professionally monitored detox and withdrawal, the recovering user may come to find that there are underlying mental health issues contributing to and/or made worse by their meth abuse that are unrelated to the meth withdrawal symptoms. This is known as a dual diagnosis, and a formal treatment program that specializes in dual diagnosis care can help a person work through both diagnoses in a safe and healthy manner.
Meth Addiction Treatment Types
Meth detox will typically be monitored in a facility, but once detox is complete, a patient has the choice to enroll in either an inpatient rehab or an outpatient treatment program.
Inpatient treatment involves temporarily living at the treatment facility. This means that the patient will be in an entirely sober environment while they learn how to resist future meth use and examine why they were abusing meth in the first place. Inpatient treatment necessitates a full commitment to the program, which means that a person cannot work during treatment.
Outpatient treatment may be suitable for someone whose pattern of use is less problematic or who has a strong system of support at home. It may also be right for someone who simply cannot take time away from home or work. Outpatient treatment involves periodic weekly check-ins with the treatment facility, as well as individual and group therapy.
There is no currently accepted medication to treat methamphetamine withdrawal and addiction. Behavioral therapy is the most effective treatment for meth addiction. This can involve:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy, in which a person examines their drug use, why they abused meth, and how they can avoid relapse.
- Contingency management, also known as motivational incentives, which involves the use of rewards to motivate lasting sobriety.
- The Matrix Model, an intensive form of therapy that incorporates many different approaches to treatment with education and regular drug tests.
How to Find a Meth Detox and Treatment Facility
When searching for a treatment program to help with meth abuse, bear in mind that a program offering supervised detox is the safest option. Meth detox and withdrawal can be a difficult period of time in a recovering user’s life, and professional help can usher you through the struggle safely and leave you better prepared to cope with future temptations to use.
American Addiction Centers (AAC) is a leading treatment provider and has trusted rehab programs across the country. To find a facility, please call us free at . We can help you find a program that will restore you or a loved one to a drug-free life.
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