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Meth Withdrawal

Often referred to as a party drug, crystal meth’s seductive and subtle power can quickly take over a person’s life. It’s the “elixir” of wonder and party drugs that users and addicts take to sustain feelings of euphoria and happiness. 

Methamphetamine drugs or meth are given to those who seek an increase in the level of their alertness or energy levels in addition to increasing their focus power. Most people turn to crystal meth to ease the emotional pain they are facing and to ignore unwanted problems. Once users start on this path, the brain increases the feel-good feelings about themselves or their surroundings. 

But crystal meth’s destructive qualities ultimately, make circumstances worse for a user, rather than better.  Once the euphoric feeling starts settling in with constant use, the body gives into cravings, and the dependency becomes worse over time. This is the ugly face of addiction

Regular, long-term abuse of crystal meth can cause serious damage to the brain’s dopamine system that is responsible for learning and cognitive functions, cardiovascular, and central nervous systems. Users are also at increased risk of contracting infectious diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis B and C. 

Crystal meth is similar in shape and texture to that of a glass shaped crystal, which is really the crystalline version that makes it easier for users to smoke, but it also goes by the terms “meth” and “methamphetamine.” The drug’s effects are like those of cocaine but longer lasting. When inhaled, smoked, swallowed, snorted and injected, crystal meth can lead to many negative long-term consequences, including weight loss, prolonged anxiety, violent behavior, and confusion. 

Crystal meth can cause erratic, violent behavior among its users. At the most severe state, users may also experience homicidal or suicidal thoughts, prolonged anxiety, paranoia, and insomnia. At the very minimum, one can expect to experience increased blood pressure and body temperature, heart palpitations, and a decreased appetite.  

What Are the Meth Withdrawal Symptoms?

The symptoms experienced by the user when methamphetamine is not used do not cause a physical addiction. Rather, they are psychological in nature. When the presence of the drug is no longer in the system, the user will undergo periods of emotional upheaval and intense cravings as s/he continues to experience symptoms of anxiety, agitation, sleeplessness after the last drug use.When an individual stops taking meth, withdrawal symptoms start emerging. These symptoms can become very problematic and can even become fatal without professional care. When an individual tries giving up meth, it will be in his/her best interest to arrange help from rehabilitation programs like Arete Recovery to help cope with the symptoms. 

Crystal meth withdrawal symptoms are largely psychological and mood-based, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue and lack of energy
  • Increased appetite
  • Inability to experience sexual arousal
  • Depression
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Intense and vivid nightmares
  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Restlessness
  • Suicidal thoughts

The severity and length of these symptoms significantly depend on how long someone has been abusing meth and how much was being used. 

What Are the Stages of Meth Withdrawal Timeline? 

In the absence of meth, the body tries to regulate itself in meth’s absence; it starts shooting off signals or symptoms in response to the body’s impact. Two general withdrawal phases occur: 

Crystal Meth

The first phase of meth withdrawal symptoms is the most physically and emotionally unsettling and trying period as more than half of addicts experience drug relapse. This stage ranges anywhere from seven to ten days depending on the severity of the addiction.  This can be the most grueling of stages for the brain’s chemical structure is now changing in the sense that it lacks natural dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin and as a result, the user will experience more periods of unhappiness.

At around 12 hours after using crystal meth, a user will experience a comedown noted by a significant decrease in dopamine and other brain chemicals. It is important to note that this comedown can be complicated by the amount of methamphetamine consumed, the frequency of methamphetamine use and the amount of time a person has been on the drug. The more crystal meth one has taken, the more intense the comedown and the withdrawal symptoms.  Also, a comedown can be even more intensified by the duration of time one has been on the drug. It will be harder for a meth-abused body to stabilize itself during a period of withdrawal.

Comedown symptoms include:

  • A feeling of hopelessness
  • A risk of psychosis (returning or new)
  • Anxiety
  • Dehydration (a headache, contributing muscle weakness)
  • Depression
  • Decreased Appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle pain from jaw clenching
  • Muscle weakness

The second phase prolongs over a period of four to six weeks as the body is being forced to readjust to living without the presence of meth. It’s important to note that every individual also responds to crystal meth withdrawal differently and while some withdrawal symptoms are more acute than others, this timeline varies according to the individual.

Because of the complicated nature of the withdrawal process, it is not recommended to go through crystal meth detox alone but rather in an inpatient drug rehab treatment program to increase their chances of staying clean. 

Why Should I Detox?

It can be very risky to attempt to detox from crystal meth alone, and although crystal meth withdrawal is not life-threatening, an addict may become extremely depressed and suicidal. An individual may experience huge cravings once temporarily off the drug. Since the brain has been programmed to be dependent on the drug, when not medically monitored, they might relapse in which case, the chemicals of dopamine, norepinephrine will decrease complicating the withdrawal process. 

Overcoming the first two days of sobriety during drug detox is a huge milestone that significantly increases the chances of a patient’s successful recovery. This also means that the physical symptoms of withdrawal become less intense as users pass the critical 24-hour mark. During this stage, individuals receive medication and counseling treatment to help users restore the brain’s natural chemical balance and in turn, a healthy lifestyle. A user’s sense of perception has been thrown off completely; counseling is critical in helping patients understand that as they work through their feelings. Their bodies will be trying to rework through feelings of artificial happiness. 

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What Is the Next Treatment Step?

Successfully recovering from crystal meth dependency requires the hardest step – medical detox. It takes great courage to break through an addiction. The work is grueling for it requires deep inner work with one’s soul. Therefore, the first step of “starting” is the most powerful and life-changing action an addict can take as it optimizes the recovery and rehabilitation process by helping the user increase his chances of remaining abstinent from crystal meth. Arete Recovery offers medical detox and residential treatment as well as outpatient programs. Your treatment program will be tailored to maximize your chances for a full recovery. 

Sources (2019). Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs | SAMHSA – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration from

Alasdair M. Barr, T. (2019). The need for speed: an update on methamphetamine addiction. [online] PubMed Central (PMC) from from

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019, May). Methamphetamine. from

American Psychiatric Association. (2017, January). What Is Addiction? from

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