Methamphetamine (meth) abuse is a worldwide problem, there are 52 million people using meth around the world. Meth is highly addictive and has a devastating effect on those who become dependent. The long-term effects of meth are far-reaching and encompass a wide variety of horrific consequences. Long-term effects can include contracting infectious bloodborne diseases such as HIV and hepatitis B and C from sharing needles, developing meth mouth (severe dental problems), meth mites (intense itching on the skin leaving sores). It can also cause a range of cognitive deficits such as paranoia, hallucinations, anxiety, depression, and memory loss. The best way to avoid these horrific consequences is to quit meth for good.
Meth Withdrawal Symptoms & Timeline
Trying to quit methamphetamine can result in painful withdrawal symptoms. Meth withdrawal symptoms, short term often include: dehydration, headaches, muscle pain and spasms, appetite changes, intense cravings, psychosis, fatigue, anxiety and insomnia. And in the long term the symptoms can include: depression, irregular sleep, cravings, anxiety and cognitive issues.
Two Phases of Meth Withdrawal
If you are wondering how to quit meth, the exact length of meth withdrawal is different for everyone. Depending on the severity of a person’s meth dependence, age, gender, and other factors withdrawal can happen quickly or take a long time. According to the most recent Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders meth withdrawal happens in two phases. This manual provides a guide for how long meth withdrawal lasts.
Once a person smokes or injects meth they get an almost immediate rush (euphoric feelings). If they orally ingest meth it could take 20 minutes to feel that rush. During this period meth can keep a person awake for over 12 hours. If a person is binging on meth (a run) they could stay away for 10 days, without eating or drinking much. As the high starts to fade a person who abuses meth will experience the first withdrawal phase known as the crash.
The first withdrawal phase is the initial crash that resolves within about a week. Meth takes over a person’s body leaving them malnourished and dehydrated. During this period a person will experience fatigue, headaches and other short term symptoms, as their body tries to recover from not having the drug.
And the second phase, a subacute or protracted withdrawal symptoms generally resolve in 3 weeks. Where the long term symptoms tend to appear, including depression, anxiety and cognitive issues.
The effects that meth has on a person’s body are long-lasting. Just because a person goes through a successful detox does not mean that their body is cured of the effects of meth. A study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs mentioned that meth use has been associated with a variety of long-lasting cognitive deficits. The study mentioned that the greater length of absence from meth the more likely they are to fully improve their cognitive function. This points to meth’s long-lasting effects on a person and withdrawal lasting longer than just a month to get all of the drugs out of a person’s body enabling them to feel normal again. Withdrawing from meth is not likely to be physically dangerous to a person. However, meth withdrawal can cause severe and profound depression. This depression could make a person attempt suicide. It can also cause psychotic symptoms such as paranoia, hallucinations, distress, and agitation. These symptoms put a person at risk for harming themself or others. If a person becomes emotionally unstable and attempts and attempts to harm themself then a person could die from withdrawing from meth.
Can You Die From Meth Withdrawal?
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Withdrawing from meth is not likely to be physically dangerous to a person. However, meth withdrawal can cause severe and profound depression. This depression could make a person attempt suicide. It can also cause psychotic symptoms such as paranoia, hallucinations, distress, and agitation. These symptoms put a person at risk for harming themself or others. If a person becomes emotionally unstable and attempts and attempts to harm themself then a person could die from withdrawing from meth.
Is It Possible to Stop Meth Use Without Rehab?
It might be possible to stop using meth without rehab, but it will be extremely difficult and is not recommended. Stimulant use such as meth reduces appetite leading to weight loss and poor nutrition. It can also cause psychotic symptoms putting a person at risk for harming themself or others. Users of meth can stay up for days at a time resulting in severe dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. Trying to eat a normal diet can be extremely difficult if a person has lost a lot of weight. Further, attempting to stop meth use without the help of a rehab clinic could result in relapsing which is known to lead to overdose.
How to detox from meth? The best way to detox from meth is with a medical detox at either an inpatient or hospitalization setting. Stimulus withdrawal is associated with severe physical symptoms. Medical detox will provide a person with medications and behavioral therapies necessary to ease the withdrawal symptoms, overcome an addiction, and prevent relapse.
Behavioral therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and contingency management can be used to help a person emotionally overcome their meth addiction. Cognitive-behavioral therapy educates a person about addiction, provides relapse prevention, and attempts to alter a person’s maladaptive thoughts towards drug use. Contingency management is based on the notion that behavior is more likely to be repeated if it is followed by positive consequences.
Treatment For Withdrawal Symptoms
Currently, there are no Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved medications to treat meth addiction. However, doctors can prescribe various medications to reduce certain withdrawal symptoms. For example, diphenhydramine can be prescribed to target insomnia symptoms. This helps a person withdrawing from meth sleep better at night. Antidepressants can also be prescribed to relieve depression symptoms. If a person is experiencing headaches from withdrawing medications can be prescribed to relieve those systems as well.
Attempting to quit amphetamines on your own can be extremely difficult. The pain associated with withdrawing can cause you to relapse. No one should have to go through the withdrawal process without physical and emotional support. If you or someone you love is suffering from a meth addiction getting help from a supportive and comfortable rehab clinic can help. Rehab clinics are equipped with trained medical and mental health professionals to provide the tools necessary to help you overcome your meth addiction and ease the tapering process.
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