Crystal Meth Withdrawal: Symptoms, Medications, and Detox
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Meth Withdrawal Symptoms
The symptoms of meth withdrawal are the most intense in the week or so immediately after someone stops using. While there is no clear distinction between acute and post-acute withdrawal from crystal meth, there is often a marked and noticeable improvement in symptoms within the first few weeks. Some of the most common symptoms of meth withdrawal include:
- Extreme Lethargy and Fatigue
- Sleep Disturbances
- Severe Depression (with or without suicidal thoughts)
- Increased Anxiety
- Increased Appetite
- Intense Cravings for Meth
- Anhedonia (reduced or absent ability to feel experience pleasure)
Post-Acute Withdrawal from Meth
After the worst of the symptoms have begun to resolve, it will usually take some time for someone to feel like themselves again. While the intensity of symptoms will dissipate over time, they may still be present in some capacity for weeks, months, or even years afterward. This is where genetic factors and overall health play the largest role. Depending on genetics and someone’s meth use history, some people are able to recover quicker than others. The timeline for the post-acute withdrawal phase is very different from person to person. Some symptoms experienced during post-acute meth withdrawal include:
- Intense Dreams or Nightmares
- Mood Swings
- Cravings for Meth
Though these symptoms can vary depending on the person and their individual history with meth, a general timeline for withdrawal can look like:
During the crash phase immediately following the last use of meth, individuals may experience:
- Decreased Energy
- Nausea or Vomiting
Psychological effects may take over, like:
When the acute withdrawal symptoms ease up, individuals may struggle with cravings. These cravings can cause depression and want for that same high they once felt.
After 1 Month
After about a month of abstinence, cravings will subside. At this point, individuals may begin a treatment program. The longer a person stays abstinent from meth and completes treatment, the better the outcome.
Detoxing from meth is one of the main hurdles to begin the recovery process. People who are in late-stage meth addiction use meth more so to avoid withdrawal than to actually feel good. The symptoms can be unpleasant. While not fatal on their own, they can lead to dangerous outcomes if not supervised by medical professionals. Thoughts of suicide are not unheard of, and this is a major risk that needs to be taken seriously. Having the help of a professional detox center can reduce the risks and discomfort while also increasing someone’s chances of making it into a treatment program, such as a partial hospitalization program.
Medications for Meth Withdrawal
While there is no FDA-approved medication intended for meth withdrawal and detox, there are drugs that provide some relief. Some of these may be used in the short term, while others are safe to use for long periods. Some of the types of medication which might be used during meth withdrawal include:
- Non-Benzodiazepine Anti-Anxiety Medication
- Sleep Aids
- Anticonvulsants (for their secondary effects on mood)
- Certain Blood Pressure Medications (for their anti-anxiety effects)
There is a variety of other medications that may be helpful during the first weeks or months in recovery from meth addiction. Anyone undergoing withdrawal is encouraged to speak with their doctor, or the medical professionals at a detox center about which medications may be the most effective option for them.
- Okayama University Medical School: The Effect of Lithium on Methamphetamine-Induced Regional FOS Protein Expression in the Rat Brain
- Rush University Medical Center: Baclofen Facilitates the Extinction of Methamphetamine-Induced Conditioned Place Preference in Rats
- National Institutes of Health: Withdrawal from Long-Term Methamphetamine Self-Administration ‘Normalizes’ Neurometabolites in Rhesus Monkeys: A 1H MR Spectroscopy Study
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