Crystal methamphetamine, more commonly known as meth or blue ice, is an illegal drug that can be highly addictive and extremely dangerous. Its appearance resembles small crystals, is odorless, and is often used as a party drug. Meth users get addicted to the drug quickly because of the rush of euphoric feelings they get within moments of ingesting the drug.

What Are Crystal Meth Withdrawal Symptoms?

Crystal meth is highly addictive and can leave its user feeling euphoric and energetic for between eight to 12 hours. However, after a few uses, the same dose loses its effect. The user must increase it to get the same feeling,  which builds up their tolerance. When they stop using meth, they are faced with very uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, such as:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Severe depression
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Psychosis
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty in concentration
  • Sweating
  • Increased weight
  • Dizziness
  • Delusions
  • Paranoia
  • Inability to feel pleasure
  • Irritable
  • Increased appetite
  • Emotional turmoil
  • Cravings

Stages of Crystal Meth Withdrawal

When crystal meth hits the brain, it releases a surge of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which causes an individual to feel euphoric, energetic, and more social. The brain gets used to this rush of chemicals, and the body gets used to the toxins. When a user goes to quit using the drug, the brain and the body start a withdrawal process that can become quite uncomfortable.

Here is a closer look at the stages of crystal meth withdrawal:

Stage 1: The Crash (up to 10 Days)

The first stage is named “the crash” because of the more intense withdrawal symptoms, with many symptoms peaking within this time frame. Withdrawal symptoms can show up as soon as 24 hours after the last usage. Symptoms can worsen after day four, with stronger cravings beginning around this time. Common symptoms in this stage include severe fatigue, depression, anxiety, nausea, sweating, sleepiness, and body aches. The more severe withdrawal symptoms include paranoia, hallucinations, and delusions, which are best treated at a detox or treatment center.

Stage 2: The Craving (up to 10 Weeks)

The second stage can last somewhere between eight and ten weeks. Some of the physical symptoms will subside during this stage, but some may battle depression, insomnia, lethargy, and cravings.

Stage 3: The Recovery (up to 30 Weeks or More)

The third and final stage is a much calmer one. Once an individual hits that one-month mark, they report that they are feeling much better. They may still have cravings now and then, but for the most part withdrawal symptoms have subsided. It will still be important to be recovery-minded, so the likelihood of relapse will remain low.

In some cases, post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) may occur. This means that once the initial withdrawal timeframe has been completed, some symptoms can continue for months or in some cases, years. Symptoms can include depression, lethargy, and severe cravings. It is helpful if the person continues with therapy with a substance abuse professional and/or attends support group meetings to help manage such symptoms.

Factors Contributing to Timeline Variations

These meth withdrawal timelines can vary depending on certain factors, such as:

  • How long one has been using meth
  • The frequency and dosage
  • Age, background
  • Mental and physical health
  • Whether or not other drugs were being used
  • Whether or not one has a supportive recovery environment
  • Method of administration (inject or smoke)
  • Method of discontinuation (abruptly stopping or tapering off)

Why Should I Detox?

Detox is the process of allowing the body to rid itself of the harmful toxins associated with a drug. There are many toxic substances associated with crystal meth that saturate the body when used.

To stop using meth cold turkey can actually be quite dangerous because it can trigger serious or life-threatening withdrawal symptoms.

The best way to treat crystal meth addiction is to detox in a treatment facility where one can be monitored around the clock by substance abuse professionals.  The physiological and psychological withdrawal symptoms can be overwhelming. Therefore, having a medical team to offer support and perhaps administer medications to help treat some withdrawal symptoms can be very valuable.

What Is the Next Treatment Step?

Medical detox at an inpatient treatment center is the safest way to approach treatment for meth addiction. The patient will pack up and reside at the treatment center for the duration of the detox and addiction recovery treatment.

Detox is simply the first step toward recovery. Once the brunt of the withdrawal symptoms subsides, long-term recovery treatment in an inpatient or outpatient treatment center is recommended.

Medically managing the worst symptoms of meth withdrawal means that patients will not feel the intensity of the harsher symptoms due to medications. These may include:

  • Anti-depressants including Wellbutrin (bupropion), Prozac, Paxil, or Remeron – an antidepressant may help reduce amphetamine cravings.
  • Stimulants – due to the extreme fatigue felt during the withdrawal process, sometimes stimulants like Provigil are prescribed to help counteract the lethargy.
  • Anti-anxiety medications – sometimes anti-anxiety medications can help those who are struggling with extreme anxiety during the withdrawal process.

Whether one chooses an inpatient or outpatient treatment program, comprehensive care will occur, including, but not limited to:

  • Therapy (Individual, group, and perhaps a family)
  • Various support groups
  • Creating a relapse prevention plan
  • Dual diagnosis treatment

Start Your Journey To Recovery Today

If you or a loved one are struggling with meth addiction, take that first step toward freedom right now. You can get your life back with the support of trained substance abuse professionals. Give us a call and allow us to walk you through your treatment options so that you can get started on a new chapter in your life, free from addiction.

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