Meth Withdrawal Symptoms and Timeline
Meth Withdrawal Symptoms and Timeline
Table of Contents
Withdrawing from any substance can be difficult on the body. Withdrawal symptoms vary from mild to severe depending on each individual and their biological make-up. Withdrawal involves physical symptoms like fatigue alongside psychiatric symptoms like depression or psychosis. While the physical symptoms eventually go away, the psychological symptoms can last for longer periods.
What is Meth?
Methamphetamine, also known as meth, is a white substance with a bitter taste and no odor. Meth is a highly addictive stimulant that affects the central nervous system. Methamphetamine can be smoked, swallowed, snorted, or injected.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “the ‘high’ from the drug both starts and fades quickly, [meaning] people often take repeated doses in a ‘binge and crash’ pattern.”1
Methamphetamine is classified as a Schedule II stimulant drug, making it only available via prescription, and it is non-refillable due to its highly addictive properties.
What is Withdrawal?
The withdrawal process, also known as detoxification or detox, removes a substance from the body. Withdrawal can be done by gradually decreasing dosages or cutting the substance out of an individual’s routine all at once.
Withdrawal occurs after an individual becomes physically or psychologically dependent on a drug. Physical dependence happens when the drug is consistently used in one’s body for a regular, adopted feeling. Psychological dependence occurs when a person believes they must consume the drug to function normally. Once the drug is no longer used, the body begins to experience withdrawal symptoms.2
Meth Withdrawal Symptoms
Meth withdrawal symptoms are a result of the body coping without the substance. Meth withdrawal symptoms vary from minor to severe.
Signs of Meth Withdrawal
Meth withdrawal symptoms vary from person to person and depend on factors such as an individual’s body mass, health history, diet, and more. However, there are common symptoms that occur in most cases.3
Psychosis is a commonly experienced symptom during meth withdrawal. Psychosis affects the mind by making one lose contact with reality. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “During a period of psychosis, a person’s thoughts and perceptions are disturbed, and the individual may have difficulty understanding what is real and what is not.”4 Symptoms of psychosis include delusions and hallucinations. Someone having a psychotic episode can also experience depression, anxiety issues, sleep problems, social withdrawal, and a lack of motivation.4
The severity of meth withdrawal symptoms depends on several factors, such as the duration of an individual’s dependency and the dosage the individual has adapted to.
Meth Withdrawal Timeline
Meth withdrawal occurs in two phases. The first phase is the most challenging and usually occurs within the first 24 hours after the last drug dosage was taken. Throughout the following week, the intensity of the withdrawal symptoms decreases. This is called the “acute” phase. Individuals will experience less intense symptoms over the next few weeks during the second stage.5
Fatigue usually peaks around the fifth day of withdrawal, and people will sleep an average of 11 hours per day (a phenomenon known as hypersomnia). The duration of everyone’s meth withdrawal depends on their usage, meaning the dosage and the length of time they spent on methamphetamine.5
Coping with Meth Withdrawal
Dealing with withdrawal symptoms can be challenging. However, there are several ways to cope with such challenges.5
Adjusting one’s lifestyle will create a less challenging withdrawal.
- Remaining physically active: During the methamphetamine withdrawal, anxiety becomes very intense. Staying physically active reduces and provides relief for anxiety symptoms.
- Keep an eye out for triggers: staying attentive to potential triggers will help one to cope and avoid potential relapse.
- Healthy eating: It is common to experience cravings during meth withdrawal. It is, however, also important to monitor one’s portions to avoid overeating and developing an eating disorder.
Treating Meth Withdrawal
According to the National Library of Medicine, medications designed to treat meth withdrawal include:
Modafinil: “Modafinil is a non-amphetamine stimulant that is approved for managing symptoms of narcolepsy with or without cataplexy, obstructive sleep apnoea/hypopnoea syndrome or idiopathic hypersomnia”6
Dextroamphetamine: “Dextroamphetamine promotes release of dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin. Even though this compound has a high potential for abuse, maintenance programs using d-amphetamine have reported positive outcomes, such as decrease in amphetamine use and injecting.”6
Methylphenidate: “The functional effect is to block catecholamine re-uptake from and increase catecholamine release into the synapse.
It has pharmacological effects like cocaine and amphetamine but may produce less neuroadaptation and have less abuse liability.”6
Detoxing is a common first step during withdrawal. Detox includes either removing the substance from the body all at once or gradually over a set period. Everyone’s case depends on their experience with the substance.
Inpatient Addiction Treatment
Inpatient addiction treatment programs, also known as residential programs, require patients to check into a controlled facility for space and time to recover from addiction issues. Residential programs offer full 24-hour medical and emotional support with trained, on-duty staff.