How Long Does It Take to Get Over Meth?
Symptoms, Side Effects and Timeline
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Methamphetamine or meth is a profoundly addicting drug that ruins lives and keeps people trapped in addiction for years. If you or a loved one is struggling with meth addiction, you may wonder why the drug is so addictive and how long it takes to recover from meth addiction. Here’s what you need to know.
Why is Meth So Addicting?
Meth is a powerful stimulant drug that makes users feel an intense rush of euphoria when they use it. The high makes users feel extremely energetic, active, and alert.1 Behind the scenes, the meth is making the brain produce more than 1,000 times more dopamine than it normally creates during a pleasurable experience like sex. Since using meth is a highly rewarding behavior, it can quickly cause addiction. However, smoking crystal meth or injecting it is more likely to cause stronger effects and can lead to the more rapid development of addiction.2
The first experience using meth is often the most powerful because, with every subsequent use, the brain adapts and changes to compensate. Meth users often keep using the drug because they are trying to achieve that same powerful euphoric high they experienced when they first tried it. This is referred to as “chasing the dragon.”
Unfortunately, that same feeling can never be achieved again and meth users will only continue to fall deeper into addiction as they chase it. This behavior can also lead to experimentation with other drugs and addictive substances as users attempt to find a stronger high.
Consequences of Long-Term Meth Abuse
There are many immediate side effects of meth use, such as:
- Increased attention and decreased fatigue
- Increased activity and wakefulness
- Decreased appetite
- Euphoria and rush
- Increased respiration
- Rapid/irregular heartbeat
In addition to these, the long-term use of meth can also have severe consequences. Continued, chronic meth abuse hijacks the brain and radically alters its chemistry, making it very difficult for users to stop. Meth’s impact on the brain also causes extreme behavioral changes in meth users. Paranoia, aggression, and extreme mood swings are common. Research supports the idea that these brain changes make it very difficult to treat meth addiction and relapse is likely early in the recovery process.4
Long-term use of meth can also destroy dopamine receptors in the brain, making it nearly impossible for a meth user to feel pleasure from any other source besides meth. This drives users to constantly seek more and more meth, which negatively impacts other areas of life such as relationships, employment, financial health, physical health, and more. As meth addiction worsens, the drug becomes the center of the user’s life and everything else is neglected.
The Meth Comedown
If a person is physically dependent on meth, he or she will experience what’s known as a “meth comedown” once the drug’s effects start to wear off. This usually happens about 12 to 24 hours after taking meth. Once the meth has fully worked its way out of the body, users may also experience what’s known as a “crash” as levels of dopamine in the brain drop.
The meth comedown and crash can make a person feel exhausted, lethargic, and like they have no energy at all. They may also have difficulties concentrating and can experience severe mood swings. This can last for several days. Other side effects of meth withdrawal include:
- Unpredictable or violent behavior
- Strong meth cravings
- Decreased appetite
- Cognitive problems
- Difficulty sleeping
Some of the damage to the brain and body caused by meth can take months or years to repair itself, while some of it may ultimately be irreversible.
How Long Does It Take to Get Over Meth?
Usually, addiction treatment programs for meth addiction last anywhere from 30 to 90 days or longer, although it may take months or years for a person to maintain a sober lifestyle after meth addiction. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, good outcomes are contingent on adequate treatment length and treatment lasting at least 90 days is most likely to produce lasting, positive results.5
There is no one-size-fits-all cure for meth addiction and treatment is highly individualized. Typically, the duration of meth addiction treatment depends on:
- The severity of the person’s meth addiction
- Whether the person has any other physical, medical, or mental health conditions
- The type of treatment program used
- The rate at which the person progresses through the treatment program
- The cost of treatment
The Meth Addiction Treatment Process
Addiction treatment for meth usually involves a series of several different types of treatment programs, including:
- Medical detox: A medical detox program for meth addiction can help make meth detox less difficult and uncomfortable by providing a safe and supportive environment where people can rest while detoxing from meth.
- Inpatient or outpatient rehab: After completing an intake assessment, treatment professionals can more accurately determine which type of meth addiction treatment will best address the needs of each client. During drug rehab, clients receive therapy and ongoing counseling to help them identify contributing causes of their addictive behaviors, gain important life skills for sobriety, and receive support from peers and treatment professionals as they make positive changes.
- Aftercare: Once clients complete detox and rehab, addiction treatment specialists can design an aftercare plan to help them sustain their sobriety and reduce the risk of relapse. Aftercare often involves sober living programs, group counseling, peer-monitoring, individual therapy, and/or community support groups.
Start Your Recovery From Meth Addiction Today
Overcoming meth addiction can be a lengthy and difficult process but the freedom you’ll find in sobriety is well worth the time and effort. If you need help to quit meth, please call (888) 857-0557 today to speak with a representative from Briarwood Detox Center. We can help you get started with comfortable, safe medical observation for meth withdrawal.