Preparing for Withdrawal
Tired of feeling controlled by meth? Wish that you could get through the day without needing it? How many times have you thought about quitting, but felt scared of what might happen?
Preparing BEFORE you go through withdrawal can make the process successful! In fact, meth withdrawal can be very risky when it’s spontaneous or unsupervised. Instead, medically supervised detox can greatly increases your chances for long-term recovery.
In this article, we introduce you to common protocols used during meth withdrawal. We’ll explain what to expect in a meth detox clinic. We describe common symptoms and when they occur. Plus, we provide some tips about ways to support a loved one.
More on getting 100% ready for withdrawal here. Then, we invite your questions at the end. In fact, we try to respond to all real-life questions with a personal reply.
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Meth Withdrawal Defined
Before we go into detail about what awaits you, we’ll briefly introduce you to what withdrawal really is and why it occurs.
Meth withdrawal symptoms occur upon the abrupt discontinuation or significant decrease in methamphetamine doses. Put simply, once you stop meth, your body reacts. If you’ve become drug dependent, your body needs the drug to function normally. And when the drug is no longer in the body, you go through withdrawal. How did it get to this point?
In order to experience these symptoms, you must have first developed dependence. Meth dependence develops as a result of repeated long term consumption. The brain is an “elastic” organ, meaning that it adapts in order to survive. When you take meth for a period of 2 weeks or more, the brain automatically adapts to the stimulant effects by “slowing down” some functions. In this way, the body seeks “homeostasis”. But when you remove the drug, it takes time to regain balance…and the “slowed down” functions – fatigue, dysphoria, depression – take time to even out.
Is meth withdrawal dangerous?
Yes, meth withdrawal can be dangerous.
In the case of quitting meth, some withdrawal symptoms can be life threatening. Suicidal ideation is common, as are hallucinations or delusion. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you seek medical help when coming off meth. You do not need to go through these symptoms alone. Medical doctors, nurses, and detox staff can provide you with physical and emotional support.
The most common symptoms during meth withdrawal include:
Physical Withdrawal Symptoms:
- aches & pains
Behavioral Withdrawal Symptoms:
- mood swings
Emotional Withdrawal Symptoms:
- suicidal thoughts
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Why medical detox?
Detoxification is the first step towards a sober life. Without professional guidance, the meth detox process can be complicated by both mental and physical symptoms. At home meth withdrawal usually fails, regardless of your willingness to stop. This is because many people who experience addiction to methamphetamine go back to using rather than confront the pain and anxiety. You may even attempt to consume higher doses which can lead to significant health risks and serious life threatening condition such as overdose and death.
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Is Meth Dependence The Same As Addiction?
Not officially. Addiction and dependence are highly correlated but are characterized by different symptoms. However, in the case of meth, most people who are drug-dependent are also addicted.
Drug dependence is a term referring to the body’s physical adaptation to meth. This means that over a period of a couple weeks or more of regular dosing, your body adjusts to meth. Tolerance to meth may also increase, requiring more meth to achieve initial effect.
An addiction to meth is characterized by a compulsive use of the drug, despite the negative consequence it causes. Addiction as a condition can be identified via any of the following signs:
- Failure to meet work, social, or family obligations because of meth.
- Inability to stop using meth, cut down on use, or control frequency of use.
- Craving meth or compulsive thinking about using it.
- Occurrence of withdrawal symptoms upon lowering doses or quitting.
- Personality changes such as mood changes, becoming secretive, or constantly lying.
- An increased tolerance to meth.
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How Meth Affects The Brain
Methamphetamine is a highly addictive stimulant which completely takes over a person’s mind and body. This drug has a high potential for abuse, one reason it is classified as Schedule II drug in the Controlled Substances Act. Moreover, meth is considered one of the most dangerous drugs, with a potential for inflicting severe psychological side effects over time.
Since methamphetamine is a stimulant, people usually abuse it because of the effect of “high” which most commonly linger up to 12 hours. Users become hooked to the drug because of the intensive high it produces. However, when meth’s effects of euphoria and pleasure wear off, the brain is left deprived of dopamine, leaving you depressed, exhausted, tired and without energy.
Meth abuse causes severe damages to your brain. Psychotic symptoms caused by the use of this drug can last for several years, even after you quit using methamphetamine. The consequences of long term meth abuse include:
- damaged motor skills
- difficulty performing basic verbal tasks
- impaired learning abilities
- inability for determining consequences and rational thinking
- obsessive behavior
- persecutory delusions
What happens after you stop taking meth?
After regular meth use, your body’s functions begin to change in order to compensate for the extreme changes brought on by methamphetamine. When you stop taking meth, your body is still trying to function as it previously did (with the help of meth). The disruption in the internal environment is what actually causes meth withdrawal symptoms.
There is help available if you are trying to stop taking meth, even after a long period of heavy use. Medical treatment can help you easily go through meth withdrawal. Call our addiction recovery helpline at 1-877-752-0985 for more information, or simply for the chance to talk to someone who knows what you are going through.
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Meth Withdrawal Timeline
Meth withdrawal can be severe, harsh, and very uncomfortable… BUT the good news are that this process does have an end. It lasts up to 4 (four weeks). Withdrawal symptoms occur within a few hours after your last methamphetamine dose and develop generally along the following timeline:
24-72 hours after last dose
Symptoms of depressive mood and an an overall exhaustion occur. Right after you stop the intake of meth you might start experiencing hallucinations, panic, paranoia and an overall feeling of being lost. Most people reported having suicidal thoughts during their first two days of being without meth.
The main goal of doctors and nurses at this point will be to stabilize your condition and calm you down. If you are violent, you might even get tied to your bed to make sure you don’t escape or hurt the staff at the clinic. Mixed emotions and out of control behavior are most common during the initial stage of methamphetamine detox.
4-7 days after last dose
During the first week of meth withdrawal the situation does not drastically change. Mood swings will continue to bother you followed by aches and pains, intense cravings for the drug, profound hunger and agitation.
Week 2 of withdrawal
You can expect frequent sleep irregularities, cravings and depression. Mood swings become more intense and users are constantly bothered by thoughts of reaching for meth again.
Weeks 3 and 4 of withdrawal
This is the period during which people begin to stabilize. However, anxiety and depression may still be an issue. During this period your body should start to adjust to the newly gained physical sobriety and you should begin to feel your energy back. By this time you should feel improvements in your sleep, increased appetite and mood stabilization. Remember not to get carried away at this stage. Your body and mind are still fragile, therefore keep your eyes and senses open for any trigger which might occur.
Levels Of Meth Withdrawal
Meth withdrawal can vary in intensity by person. Some people experience mild symptoms, while others experience full-blown paranoia or hallucinations.
Medical detox can decrease the intensity of meth withdrawal symptoms. Addiction professional address specific withdrawal symptoms as they occur. Doctors and nurses will follow your progress and watch over you 24/7.
Minor Withdrawal is characterized by agitation, panic, an overall feeling of being lost and insecure. These feelings usually arise in the first 24-72 hours after meth discontinuation.
Mid-Level Withdrawal is characterized by hallucinations, paranoia, aggression.
Severe Withdrawal is characterized by suicidal thoughts, feelings of being completely desperate and disoriented. These symptoms typically peak roughly a few days later before they start to decrease in intensity.
Meth Withdrawal Is Highly Individual
The factors that contribute to the severity, intensity, and duration of meth withdrawal are the following:
- The length of time you’ve been abusing meth.
- The amount of meth you’ve been taking.
- Whether you combined meth with other drugs.
- Your physical wellbeing, age, gender.
- Your unique body response and metabolism of meth.
- Presence of co-existing physical or psychological health conditions, (diabetes, high blood pressure, depression or an anxiety disorder).
Main Withdrawal Stages
Withdrawal symptoms occur as a consequence of long-term drug use. The only thing that really works to get through meth withdrawal is time. Time evens out all withdrawal symptoms. It usually takes 2 (two) weeks to detox from methamphetamine. However, some people may need longer and withdrawal may take up to 4 weeks.
During the course of meth detox, your body will be flushed of toxins. After detox, you’ll be prepared to proceed working on your psychological issues during therapy with the help of a licensed psychologist and/or psychiatrist.
Meth detoxification consists of 3 main stages:
First STAGE: Intake and evaluation.
To begin, doctors and nurses test your physical and psychological readiness for detox. They want to know about your physical health and your willingness for treatment. Expect your overall health condition to be examined. Assessments can include a physical exam, a standard questionnaire, drug testing blood or urine samples, and interview.
Second STAGE: Undergoing meth detoxification.
Meth withdrawal usually takes place at a 24 hour residential facility. Staff members typically help monitor, supervise, and manage your withdrawal without the use of detox medications. However, nursing care and daily physician care is available for severe, unstable problems. Staff administer medications in accordance with physician orders. There is an emphasis on peer and social support, so 12 step or support group meetings may be scheduled throughout the day.
Third STAGE: Preparing for further treatment.
Many people who complete meth detox should consider longer term addiction treatment. Detox clinic staff will encourage you to follow through with a treatment program and aftercare. If you go through detox at a rehab center, you will probably transition into their treatment program. If you are detoxing at an independent detox center or a hospital, they can provide you with information on programs you can attend based on your needs and preferences.
Tapering vs. Cold Turkey Meth Withdrawal
During meth withdrawal, you may have difficulty acting normally or rationally. A cold turkey withdrawal can aggravate the process. Why?
Cold turkey involves quitting methamphetamine all at once. This is difficult for most users because it’s followed by extreme withdrawal symptoms. Remember that acute meth withdrawal most commonly includes depressive and psychotic symptoms which are resolved within 1 week. Drug craving are also present during the withdrawal journey and last 5 weeks.
Regardless, abrupt meth discontinuation is not for everyone. Instead, tapering doses can help you minimize the severity and intensity of meth withdrawal symptoms. Sometimes experts recommend that you try cutting back your use in steps. Use twice a week instead of every day, or twice a month instead of every weekend. Another medical recommendation is to cut down on how much you use. Use 1/4 gram instead of 1/2, or use 1/8 instead of 1/4. This can help with withdrawal as well!
The most important thing during a meth withdrawal is SAFETY. Cold turkey is a drastic quitting method and is usually not recommended for heavily dependent drugs such as meth. Attempting to quit meth by yourself can expose you to extremely uncomfortable and unbearding withdrawal which might end with death.
Seek medical help to avoid the risks.
Meth Withdrawal Safety
Coming down off meth is not something you should try alone. Medically supervised detox safely manages chronic meth physical withdrawal symptoms that develop when you stop your use. Regardless of how long you were abusing methamphetamine, medical detox can make the unpleasant experience of withdrawal more manageable. Medical studies confirm the effectiveness of professional detox and treatment.
The National Institute of Drug Abuse statistics report that receiving professional drug treatment reduces drug usage by 40- 60%. This same study shows that treatment for drug addiction has the same effectiveness as receiving treatment for other health issues such as: asthma or diabetes. Attempting to deal with meth addiction yourself decreases the chances for a successful outcome.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse has made medication development for crystal meth addiction a priority, and NIDA’s National Drug Abuse Clinical Trials Network has made great strides to find medications that enhance the user’s ability to cope with meth withdrawal. Medications which are under current examination for the treatment of methamphetamine addiction and dependence are:
For meth use reduction:
For easing meth cravings:
Medical Professionals Who Treat Meth Dependence
It is very hard to quit meth by yourself. To be more honest, it is almost impossible to detox from meth at home because the withdrawal symptoms cause extreme hallucinations and difficulties. Why risk your life when trained and educated professionals can guide you during the process? The following professionals can provide physical and psychological support during meth withdrawal:
- Addiction counselor/psychologist
- Addiction doctor (MD specialist)
- Addiction treatment centers
- Drug detox clinics
- Family doctor
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Taking Care Of Yourself During Meth Withdrawal
If you just started considering withdrawal…congratulations on the bravery to start rebuilding your life! Building coping skills before you undergo detox and during this period can help you establish self- control. Some self-help techniques that might come handy include:
1. Diaphragmatic breathing.
Breathing is known to be a natural technique for reaching peace and calmness. Diaphragmatic breathing is helpful in coping with anxiety. This technique actually involves taking a deep breath into your lungs and breathing it out slowly. Deep breathing fills the cells in your brain with oxygen. This way you’ll able to concrete better and think more clearly.
2. Keep faith alive and direct your thoughts toward sobriety.
When in recovery, or detox, learn to think affirmative and use affirmative sentences such as, “I’ll try!” instead of, “I can’t,” or, “I’m not capable.” Remove any doubts about the whole process and try to stay focused on the possibilities, rather than the limitations. Recovery is a great chance to accomplish your dreams. Isn’t a life without drugs worth all the effort?
3. Unconscious Mind Exercise.
This exercise is developed by Dr. Milton Ericson, a psychiatrist who described the unconscious mind as “made up of all your learning over a lifetime, many of which you have forgotten, but serve your automatic functioning.”
This technique is done in a relaxed position, you can either sit or lie down while you do it. Start by taking deep breaths and say: “Unconscious mind, I now allow you to do whatever you think is necessary in order for me to feel better”.
The purpose of this technique is to reconnect with your subconscious and reach a state of calmness. Some people fall asleep after repeating this sentence as they travel deeply to their subconscious. The creator of this technique believed that the subconscious is a natural internal guidance which has all the answers we need.
4. Try to visualize your success.
Visualization involves focusing on an image of what you want and seeing it already manifested. Although the imagination is used, visualization is more profound than daydreaming or fantasizing. It is a conscious use of one’s will to see, in the mind’s eye, desired scenes which can be of an event, specific behavior, or in the case of withdrawal being recovered. The idea behind visualization in meth withdrawal is that by directing and controlling the images in your mind, it can be used as a positive distraction to manage and cope with some symptoms.
Helping A Loved One In Meth Detox
It can be difficult for family and friends to fully understand the effects of withdrawal. No amount of empathy can prepare you for the impact of the physical, psychological symptoms, personality changes and emotional challenges this process includes. However, being at your loved one’s side and staying engaged in the process can contribute to making things less scary.
It is not unusual for people in detox from meth to overact, or to face mental and/or physical difficulties during therapy. All these situations and events require unconditional acceptance and support while your loved one undergoes withdrawal. Here’s some practical advice on what to do to support a loved one during meth detox.
Educate yourself about meth withdrawal.
Equip yourself with books, research medical and accredited websites. Being prepared for withdrawal outcomes will help you know how to react and learn your role during the process. Knowing what to expect will simply loosen up the tension.
Avoid being and acting judgmentally.
People dependent and addicted to meth are frequently viewed as morally weak by others. When their loved ones represent this opinion as well, it becomes even more difficult to stay strong and motivated. As you learn more, you’ll realize that meth changes a person’s brain chemistry. Therefore, people who were previously happy, content and full of energy become paranoid, hallucinatory, angry and violent. So, these characteristics do not define your loved one’s personality. They are only a result of meth. Believe in the possibility of recovery and transfer your enthusiasm and faith to your loved one during the challenging withdrawal period.
Don’t take things personally.
If your loved one become agitated, angry, and overly sensitive, try not to take it personally. The effects of meth withdrawal can cause mood swings, paranoia and a host of other psychological symptoms. Understanding that these reactions are not normal will allow you to accept them for what they are while you continue to give your support.
Give practical support.
Your loved one may be in severe discomfort and might feel extremely lethargic and depleted during meth withdrawal period. Cooking, cleaning, shopping and taking care of the children can seem like tasks that are too difficult to manage during withdrawal. Especially if the person going through meth withdrawal is a parent to a young child it may be exceptionally difficult to cope with these demands. Offer your practical help at these times and you’ll see what a remarkable difference it will make.
Providing emotional and psychological support to a loved one during withdrawal can greatly affect the outcomes of detox. Your presence and encouragement are vital for the success of this process. Contact our professionals at 1-877-959-4306 for advice on how to show and manifest your care during a loved one’s detox.
Facing Your Fear Of Meth Withdrawal
If you’ve been struggling with meth and would like to stop, it’s time for some serious reflection.
Have you tried to quit using before only to go back to it?
Are you frequently afraid of going through withdrawal?
If you feel this way, know that you are not alone. Many people have been afraid of methamphetamine withdrawal symptoms, yet went ahead and got sober anyway making it through withdrawal symptoms.
It is normal to have fear of withdrawal. In fact, people are usually afraid of the unknown. Withdrawal is like opening a Pandora’s box. It’s highly individual. Whether this is your first time going through meth detox, or your tenth time, it is going to affect you in your own way.
You may experience discomfort, but all symptoms pass in time and you will get to a point where withdrawal is bearable. Choosing to enter into a treatment center can help you more easily manage withdrawal symptoms. You will also find comfort in the support you are provided by staff. You can rest easy knowing that you have access to medical attention if anything goes wrong.
Call us for more on medical meth detox. We are waiting to back you up as you take your first sober steps.