Meth Withdrawals

Meth is a powerful stimulant to the nervous system and is widely available. Meth addiction is on the rise and can be devastating to the user, but also families and the whole community.

According to a report released by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2.5 million Americans used methamphetamines in 2020. Arizona is very familiar with the drug, too. Just in December of 2021, Arizona police seized over 664 pounds of meth that were being transported to Phoenix.

The side effects of meth consumption go beyond the moment in which one uses the drug. It doesn’t take long for the user to physically become dependent on the substance. 

If the drug supply is suddenly cut off, your body will react with shock and you’ll experience the symptoms of withdrawal. This is often called the “crash” or the “come down” phase. The crash period is tough and the person struggling with addiction will feel physically and mentally ill, however, after a few days, things start looking up. 

Many times, someone struggling with addiction relapses because of how hard withdrawals can be to endure. On the road to recovery, knowing what to expect during the withdrawal period is key to preparing yourself for the symptoms, being safe, and successfully recovering. 

If someone you love appears to be using meth, do not wait to act on it. Learning to recognize the signs of meth usage is a great first step. 

What Is Meth Withdrawal? 

Meth withdrawal is the process the body goes through while detoxifying from the drug. This includes physical and psychological symptoms that will develop at different times and severities as the detox continues. 

If you drink coffee every morning to get the day going, when one day you are out of coffee, it will be harder to wake up and feel energized. You’ll likely experience mild withdrawal symptoms such as headaches and sleepiness until you finally have your cup of coffee. Meth withdrawals work the same way for a person struggling with addiction.  

By ingesting a substance for an extended period, the body gets used to it, and it’ll need it to get the day going.

What Causes Meth Withdrawal?

With the continuous use of meth, the body will become dependent on it, even if it’s not beneficial. It will adapt to compensate for the effects of the drug. Without it, the body will react negatively because it won’t be able to work as usual. 

For example, meth overstimulates the body’s reward system and creates big surges of dopamine released into areas of the brain that regulate emotion (amygdala), motor function (nucleus accumbens), and attention (prefrontal cortex). In an attempt to maintain balance, our body shuts down the creation of additional neurotransmitters to regulate the amount of dopamine in the brain as well as dampens receptors to receive the neurotransmitter (often referred to as “tolerance”).

When one stops taking meth after chronic use, the dopamine release rate slows down dramatically. At the same time, there are fewer receptors to absorb the available dopamine. These chemical changes diminish the brain’s ability to regulate emotions, motor function, and attention, and one can expect to experience a variety of symptoms. 

 In The American Journal of Addictions, an article calls this a “dopamine short-circuit.” This short-circuit causes the process of withdrawing. The good news is that this is temporary and once the body flushes out the drug, recovery begins. 

What Are the Symptoms of Meth Withdrawal?

The severity of the symptoms will depend on the extension of the meth habit. Questions to consider include: How much, how often, and how long was the drug used? What was the method of consumption? Were other drugs involved? 

The state of the user's health depends on the answer to such questions because using meth regularly has a lot of side effects. The longer one has been using meth, the more damage that may have occurred. Different routes of consumption also dictate which parts of the body will take the biggest hits. For example, someone smoking meth will more likely have lung injuries while people injecting intravenously put a bigger strain on the cardiovascular system. Also, if engaged in polydrug use, one can expect to have additional symptoms besides the ones mentioned below. 

The first signs of withdrawal usually appear within the first 24 hours of abstinence. While some symptoms will be long-lasting, others will subside quicker. Meth keeps you awake and inhibits appetite, so during a few days the person will sleep a lot and finally start to eat more. As the body catches up with sleep and nutrition, these symptoms will slowly fade. Depression, anxiety, and cravings, on the other hand, will become more intense as the days go by before normalizing. Ultimately, not everyone will experience all symptoms and feel the same. 

Psychological Meth Withdrawal Symptoms: 

  • Severe depression
  • Intense anxiety 
  • Irritability
  • Psychosis 
  • Paranoia 
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Lack of motivation
  • Meth cravings

Physical Meth Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Sleepiness
  • Weight gain
  • Dehydration
  • Itchy eyes
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Sweating
  • Tremors

Meth Withdrawal Timeline

Within 24 hours of the last dose, one will start experiencing symptoms of withdrawal such as irritability, lack of energy, nausea, sadness, and sweating. That is called the “crash period” or the “come down,” and the person will feel physically ill. 

After the first 48 hours, one can expect to start feeling depressed, anxious, intense drug cravings, and fatigued. For people who have been using meth for a longer time and in larger amounts, paranoia and hallucinations may begin to develop around this time. 

The more acute phase of withdrawal lasts 2-14 days. After the crash period passes, some physical symptoms begin to get better slowly as the body continues to heal from the first shock from meth abstinence. However, some effects of meth addiction will linger. 

Psychological symptoms such as depression, on the other hand, can persist a little longer. Meth releases a large amount of dopamine all at once which creates the feeling of euphoria the drug is known for. The brain needs time to build up levels back to normal as the person also needs to get used to the body’s natural rate of releasing dopamine. Until the nervous system finds balance, the person recovering from addiction will have difficulties feeling any kind of pleasure. Guidance and support will be instrumental during this period.

Is Meth Withdrawal Dangerous?

With the professional and supportive treatment of our Meth Rehab Center at Pinnacle Peak Recovery, withdrawing from meth doesn’t need to be dangerous. The withdrawal process will be uncomfortable, but with proper care, the symptoms will be managed in the best way possible. 

One should not be afraid of the withdrawal period because the continuous use of drugs could have harder consequences, such as meth overdose. Other serious side-effects of using meth are rapid weight loss due to lack of appetite, open sores prone to infections, and extreme oral decay (commonly known as “meth mouth”). While rare, meth also has significant behavioral symptoms such as aggression, hallucinations, and paranoia.

When Is Medical Detox Necessary for Meth Withdrawal?

With a wide variety of symptoms, being medically monitored can be life-saving. For example, symptoms that may appear harmless, such as dehydration, can shut down one’s body. It’s easy to forget to drink liquids when one is feeling sick.

A medically managed withdrawal means that professionals will intervene to keep you safe and comfortable during the process of detoxification. The usual stay in a detox center lasts 3-5 days. During the stay, a comprehensive team of medical professionals, licensed therapists, and support staff will assess and develop an individualized treatment course to segue into.

Continuous use of meth will create changes in the brain's reward-pleasure system and neurotransmitters. In addition, it could change areas in the brain associated with emotions and memory. It takes time for the brain to rewire itself back to normal and for symptoms to subside. During this transitional time, it is common for people recovering from meth addiction to struggle with their mental health. 

While the process of withdrawals can be overwhelming, recovery is more than possible. Proper medical treatments will ensure your success in sobriety and teach mechanisms to help you stay sober. 

At this point, taking advantage of treatments such as dual diagnosis treatment, evidence-based therapy, experimental therapy, and holistic treatment as offered at Pinnacle Peak Recovery, will make the transition into sobriety smoother.

Call Pinnacle Peak Recovery at 866-377-4761 to setup an appointment and begin your journey to sobriety! We have professionals on standby 24/7 ready to haer your story and discuss the best treatment options for you or your loved one.

FAQS About Meth Withdrawals

What to expect when someone is having meth withdrawal symptoms?

You can expect symptoms to establish within the first 24 hours, so keeping an eye on the symptoms as they come will be helpful to remedy anything it is possible. 

Most of the physical symptoms will increase gradually during the first 48 hours and the person might feel very sick. Psychological symptoms will include irritability, paranoia, and depression. Watch for suicidal thoughts too.

How does meth withdrawal affect you mentally?

Although the physical symptoms are uncomfortable, the mental effects of withdrawing can be more overwhelming and long-lasting. It is important to not ignore the lingering psychological symptoms to minimize the chances of relapsing. 

While using meth, one experiences extreme euphoria and the feeling of invincibility from the big release of dopamine that the drug induces. Not only will the brain need time to rebuild and stabilize the dopamine supply, but the person will need to relearn how to live without drug-induced euphoria. 

Should you seek medical attention when having meth withdrawals?

Yes, struggling with addiction is isolating, so looking for help to move beyond this phase is a great step. No one should have to do this alone. 

You'll feel physically sick as you detox from meth, and medical attention could help you remain as comfortable and safe as possible. 

Pinnacle Peak Recovery