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Methamphetamine, often just called “meth,” is a powerful stimulant that is extremely addictive. It comes in white powder form, which users often dilute in water or alcohol. It affects the central nervous system, giving the user intense feelings of euphoria, increasing activity and alertness, and reducing appetite. Due to its fast-acting and pleasurable effects, a person may become addicted after just one or two uses.1

In comparison to other stimulants like cocaine, meth is more potent, as greater amounts of meth reach the brain when it’s used. Long-term abuse of meth also has several negative side effects and consequences, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Insomnia
  • Weight loss
  • Severe dental problems
  • Mood swings
  • Violent behavior
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Permanent changes in brain structure and function
  • Impaired cognitive and motor skills
  • Memory loss2

Meth Addiction in the U.S.

Despite the harmful consequences of meth use and meth addiction, in 2017, approximately 774,000 people aged 12 or older were current users of methamphetamine.3 In 2008, that number was only 529,000.4

Although there is currently a heavy focus on opioid abuse in the U.S., meth addiction is also a serious problem plaguing Americans.

Meth seizures are on the rise across the nation, and over the past five years, the amount of meth seized by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection has tripled.5 According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 6,000 people died from meth in 2015, a 255 percent increase from 2005.5 Additionally, the number of drug overdose deaths that involved meth increased, from 1,388 in 2010 to 3,728 in 2014.6

Meth Addiction in Texas

In Texas, meth is the biggest drug threat in the state. The number of deaths, treatment facility admissions, poison center calls for help and law enforcement seizures are all higher for meth than for heroin, which is the second most concerning drug threat in the state. Meth seizures are also higher than heroin seizures in Texas. In 2016, Texas DEA officials seized more than 45,000 items of meth, compared to less than 6,000 items of heroin.7

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What to Expect During Meth Withdrawal

If you’ve decided to quit meth, you likely want to know what you can expect during meth withdrawal. Withdrawal usually sets in one to three days after the last dose of meth and it is the first stage of quitting meth. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most difficult parts.

Meth withdrawal symptoms can be severe, unpredictable, and even deadly, so it’s extremely important to detox under the supervision of a medical doctor. Despite how confident you are in your ability to resist temptation, going through meth withdrawal alone can also put you at high risk for relapse. Many people will start using meth again to find relief from the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.

Some of the most common symptoms of meth withdrawal include:

  • Fatigue
  • Severe depression
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Anxiety
  • Sleepiness
  • Insomnia
  • Extremely vivid dreams
  • Headaches
  • Increased appetite
  • Strong cravings for meth
  • Agitation
  • Red, itchy eyes
  • Suicidal thoughts8

How Long Does Meth Withdrawal Last?

In general, meth withdrawal usually lasts one to two weeks, although it can last up to four weeks. It’s difficult to say exactly how long meth withdrawal will last for you because the experience varies from person to person. The duration of your meth withdrawal will also depend on your usage habits, your current physical health, any mental health issues you have, and how long you have been using meth.9

Here is a basic timeline that describes when certain withdrawal symptoms may appear during meth withdrawal.

Meth Withdrawal Timeline
1-3 days after the last doseYou may begin to feel the early symptoms of withdrawal, such as exhaustion, paranoia, anxiety, and hallucinations. In severe cases, you may also have suicidal thoughts.
4-7 days after the last doseDuring the first week of meth withdrawal, you’ll likely experience strong meth cravings, feelings of hopelessness, difficulty concentrating, and have severe headaches. Your appetite may also increase greatly.
8-14 days after the last doseAt this point, most of your meth withdrawal symptoms will have subsided. Some symptoms may linger, such as depression, insomnia, and mood swings. These symptoms may last a few more weeks but will eventually dissipate completely.

 

Risks of Quitting Meth Cold Turkey

If you quit a drug “cold turkey” it means that you stop using the drug abruptly and immediately, without gradually easing off it or using any tapering methods. Many people try to quit meth cold turkey, but this method is actually very dangerous. Although it may seem easier and more convenient to do it this way, quitting meth cold turkey comes with some very serious risks.

Here are a few of the main risks of quitting meth cold turkey:

  • Extremely strong cravings for meth
  • Severe depression and feelings of hopelessness
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors
  • Psychosis
  • The severity of symptoms is unpredictable
  • Higher risk for relapse
  • Higher risk of overdose
  • Lower likelihood of sustained sobriety

None of those things are things you want to experience on your own at home, without medical supervision. Quitting meth cold turkey is definitely not an approach that is comfortable, safe, or effective.

Is Meth Withdrawal Deadly?

Since the symptoms of meth withdrawal can sometimes be unpredictable, it’s safe to say that meth withdrawal may be deadly in certain instances. Any type of drug withdrawal that can cause suicidal thoughts could be deadly. Additionally, you are much more likely to overdose if you use meth again after completing withdrawal because you won’t have a tolerance like you used to.

Quitting Meth Cold Turkey: Alternative Options

There are a few different alternatives to quitting meth cold turkey, although one stands out among the rest as being the safest, most comfortable, and most effective way to detox from meth.

  1. Meth detox in the hospital: If you are using meth and you’re ready to quit, you can admit yourself to the hospital to detox under the supervision of a doctor. Unfortunately, your doctors and nurses may not be specifically trained to recognize and treat the symptoms of meth withdrawal. You also may not have access to behavioral treatment like individual or group therapy to address the psychological components of meth detox.
  2. Outpatient meth detox: Some detox centers offer outpatient meth detox programs. These programs typically require that clients return to the detox center daily to receive medication-assisted treatment. Unfortunately, there is a major lack of accountability with these programs, as you could easily choose not to return to the facility mid-way through your detox treatment.
  3. Personalized meth detox at an inpatient detox center: Some detox centers will offer inpatient meth detox programs that are tailored to meet your individual needs. These programs provide medication-assisted treatment to reduce withdrawal effects, 24/7 medical monitoring, and behavioral treatment with individual and group therapy. These types of programs may also provide recommendations for ongoing addiction treatment after detox.

If your intention is to reduce the uncomfortable side effects of withdrawal, get clean, and stay sober for good, medically-assisted meth detox is the best option.

How Does Medically-Assisted Meth Detox Work?

At Briarwood Detox Center, inpatient meth detox begins with a comprehensive assessment that determines your needs during treatment. The results of this assessment will determine your physical and psychological needs throughout detox.

For clients completing methamphetamine detox, the treatment team at Briarwood most often provides a period of medical observation, during which you can detox under the supervision of a doctor. Like our other medication-assisted detox programs, your team of nurses and our doctor will treat your withdrawal symptoms with medication so you are comfortable throughout the duration of detox and withdrawal.

During detox, your treatment team will adjust any medications as necessary to maintain your comfort and health. As your withdrawal symptoms begin to dissipate, you can participate in individual counseling and group counseling to begin the mental preparation for rehab. At Briarwood, this typically involves talking about how you’re feeling now and what you can do to resolve or address negative emotions during detox.

Once you leave detox, the goal is to be physically stable and sober, and ready to take on the challenge of a residential or outpatient rehab program. Continuing with your addiction treatment after detox is an important part of getting sober, especially if your intention is to maintain your sobriety on a long-term basis.

Although detox is an essential step in your recovery from meth addiction, detox alone will not help you sustain your sobriety.

Enrolling in a drug rehab program after completing meth detox will help you address the root causes of your addiction and gain the necessary life skills and relapse prevention strategies you need to stay sober. It will also provide behavioral therapy, which will help you identify and modify any harmful behaviors related to your substance abuse.

Enroll in a Meth Detox Program Today

If you’re ready to get sober and overcome your meth addiction, there’s no need to wait any longer. Quitting meth won’t be easy and although you can expect to put in a lot of effort, hard work, and dedication, the freedom of sobriety is well worth the work. Call Briarwood Detox today to learn more about our personalized detox programs or to enroll in meth detox.

 

References:

  1. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/methamphetamine/what-methamphetamine
  2. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/methamphetamine/what-are-long-term-effects-methamphetamine-abuse
  3. https://www.samhsa.gov/data/report/2017-nsduh-annual-national-report
  4. https://www.drugfreeworld.org/drugfacts/crystalmeth/a-worldwide-epidemic-of-addiction.html
  5. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/13/us/meth-crystal-drug.html
  6. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr65/nvsr65_10.pdf
  7. https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Meth-addiction-has-roared-back-in-Texas-Can-new-12998982.php
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3071736/
  9. https://drug.addictionblog.org/how-long-does-meth-withdrawal-last/
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