By LYLE R. FRIED, CAP, ICADC, CHC In Addiction Withdrawal, First Steps
Posted March 11, 2015
How long will meth withdrawal last?
What will I experience?
If you’re looking for information on meth withdrawal for yourself or for a loved one, these are the questions you may be asking yourself. We’ve put together some information about the drug itself, meth withdrawal onset, the physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms associated with this substance, and a typical timeline of what can be expected during meth withdrawal.
What is Meth? – A Brief Overview
Methamphetamine, or Meth, is a Schedule II stimulant, meaning there is a very high potential for abuse and addiction. Because of this, it can only be legally obtained as a non-refillable prescription, and only for very limited medical reasons, such as treatment for attention deficit disorder or short-term-use for obesity, and narcolepsy. Unfortunately, most of the methamphetamine obtained today has been manufactured illegally with chemicals that are flammable, toxic, explosive, and/or corrosive.
Currently there are three types of methamphetamine: L-methamphetamine, D/L-methamphetamine, and D-methamphetamine, which is the most common type available today. It is manufactured by the ephedrine reduction process and is between two and ten times more physiologically active as L-methamphetamine, as it enters the brain more rapidly and produces a longer lasting high.
Meth is generally found in powder form, in colors ranging from white to tan and can be snorted, smoked, or injected in various ways. Regardless of the details of your drug abuse, at this point you may be concerned about the details of what will happen when you stop using. Fear of withdrawal is very common, and is also something that can keep you from breaking free of your addiction. If you’ve made the decision to stop, it’s important to understand that the symptoms you experience during withdrawal can vary, depending on factors like how long you were using, how much you were using, your individual physiology, your method of quitting, and your level of dependency. While each of these factors can greatly affect the timeline of your withdrawal, the following information can help you understand what a typical withdrawal process looks like.
Meth Withdrawal Symptoms
Many people think of meth detox as a ‘light’ withdrawal because users don’t experience the same physical symptoms and pain as they do when going through opiate withdrawal. The reason why these two have such significant withdrawal symptoms is because of the receptors they affect. Opiate receptors, for instance, play a role in pain modulation. In withdrawal, this is evident, with symptoms like nausea and stomach cramps. Meth affects dopamine receptors, increasing the release of dopamine with each use. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is activated when something good is happening. When meth is removed, dopamine levels decrease and there are fewer dopamine receptors to activate. Because of this, many of the withdrawal symptoms experienced by newly recovering meth addicts are psychological, although some are physical.
Meth Withdrawal Symptoms
- Anhedonia- This is an inability to feel pleasure, even by things that used to make you feel good. This symptom can last up to two years as your brain recovers and improves dopamine function.
- Changes in appetite- Meth users tend to experience an increased appetite during withdrawal.
- Low energy
- Lethargy- It may take more of an effort for you to complete even the most basic tasks because you may feel constantly tired and weak.
- Muscle weakness
- Suicidal thinking
- Weight gain
Meth Withdrawal Timeline
The following is an approximate timeline of meth withdrawal.
Please note that individual experiences may vary.
0 to 3 Days – During this time, you might not experience any cravings. Instead, you’ll feel overwhelmed with tiredness, fatigue, and depression. You may become extremely hungry as well.
2 to 10 Days – Your cravings may increase. You’ll experience mood swings, increased appetite, paranoia, and low energy. You may feel emotionally flattened and find it hard to concentrate.
7 to 28 Days – Sleeplessness, irritability and clouded thinking are common. You may have trouble finding the pleasure in things that used to bring you joy.
1 Month to 3 Months – Most of your withdrawal symptoms will begin to ease, but you may still battle periodic cravings.
3 Months – You may still experience periodic cravings after three months. One of the most difficult symptoms —anhedonia, can last up to two years as your brain tries to heal. It is not uncommon to experience suicidal feelings or thoughts because of this.
Getting Through Meth Withdrawal
The first thing to do when going through meth withdrawal is take care of your body. This means eating solid foods and drinking plenty of water. Vitamin-enchanced water and coconut water are good choices. Amino Acid Replacement Therapy, a daily multivitamin, and increased potassium intake are also said to help.
You’ll already feel tired, so let your body help you decide what to do next: rest. You don’t have to sleep all the time when you don’t want to, but don’t stress your body out more than it already is. Calm your mind with prayer and meditation.
Certain symptoms will need the attention of professionals, like paranoia, psychosis, and suicidal thoughts or feelings. Talk to your doctor and get help to avoid relapse or worse.
The Benefits of Medical Detox for Opiate Withdrawal
Having a solid support system while going through meth withdrawal can keep you strong and help you overcome strong urges to relapse. A detox facility can provide a caring environment along with the nutrition needed during this time. A detox facility can also help you overcome some of the symptoms you may be experiencing with the help of medications and therapy.
To learn more about our treatment services and the hope of a life beyond addiction, contact The Shores Treatment and Recovery today. Your life is worth it.