What Happens During Meth Detox
Methamphetamine or meth is a strong, illegal stimulant that is often abused. It can be injected, swallowed, inhaled, or smoked. Meth use floods the brain’s reward areas with dopamine.
The user experiences feelings of pleasure and euphoria which they’ll likely want to feel again. As a result, many individuals use meth over and over again so they feel high almost constantly. Given the potency of meth, this often leads to addiction.
Methamphetamine addiction creates chaos in the life of a person who is addicted. However, it is possible for a meth user to recover and return to living a sober life. The first step in dealing with addiction is meth detox.
Detox is when you stop using an addictive drug and allow the body to rid itself of the substance. Detoxing from meth often involves some unpleasant withdrawal symptoms but the benefits of fighting meth addiction definitely outweigh the temporary side effects.
Completing the detox process is a crucial step in the recovery journey. If you have been struggling with meth addiction, your safety could be in danger if you quit cold turkey.
In this article, we’ll discuss the best way to detox from meth, what a typical meth detox timeline looks like, and why it’s so important to have professional support during the process.
Common Symptoms Experienced During Meth Detox
The habitual use of methamphetamine can easily lead to addiction. Once the body gets used to the presence of the drug, individuals often need larger doses and more frequent doses to get the same effects they got from smaller, less frequent doses.
When the effects of meth wear off, users experience a crash. This often leads them to take large doses one after another to maintain their high.
It is usually challenging for people to adjust to not having meth in their systems. While detoxing from other drugs can result in life-threatening physical symptoms, many of the symptoms associated with meth detox are emotional or psychological.
This is because the extended use of meth or crystal meth causes low dopamine levels in the brain and a reduced number of dopamine receptors.
This leads to anhedonia or an inability to feel pleasure. As a result, many meth users experience severe depression during detoxification.
Detox will be slightly different for each individual. However, there are some common meth and crystal meth detox symptoms. In addition to symptoms of depression, many people experience:
- Strong meth cravings
- Fatigue and sleepiness
- Hallucinations and delusions
- Increased appetite
- Memory problems
- Stomach problems
- Irregular heartbeat
These symptoms can range from mild to severe.
The Meth Detox Timeline
Many people who enter a detoxification program want to know how long the process will take. It’s impossible to predict the experience a person will have.
However, we can present a rough meth detox timeline. Acute physical symptoms tend to peak around the second or third day and then they start to dissipate after a week.
Psychological symptoms like cravings, mood swings, depression, and sleep problems can stick around for weeks. Some people experience depression for up to a year.
Here’s what the meth detox timeline may look like.
Days 1 to 2: The first couple days after a person stops using drugs is often referred to as the comedown or crash. During this phase, they experience a decline in energy and cognitive function as well as nausea, abdominal cramps, and sweating. Some people sleep a lot.
Days 3 to 10: An individual who is detoxing from meth will experience severe fatigue, anxiety, depression, tremors, drug cravings, and muscle aches. Symptoms will reach their peak during this period and some people relapse instead of completing treatment.
Days 14 to 20: By the end of the second week, the body gets more accustomed to the absence of meth. As a result, the physical symptoms are usually a lot less intense. However, fatigue, depression, and cravings often continue.
Day 30 and after: The worst is usually over by this point and most remaining symptoms gradually go away. Anxiety and depression may stick around for months insome people.
Several factors help to determine how the meth detox and withdrawal period goes. The longer a person was taking meth, the longer the withdrawal period is likely to be.
Similarly, a person who used high doses of meth regularly is likely to have a more drawn-out process. People with a personal history or a family history of substance use disorders are also likely to experience more challenges.
Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome
Not everyone’s withdrawal experience follows the timeline we described above. Some people who are addicted to substances continue to experience symptoms long after the usual detox period is over.
Post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) lasts for six months to two years after the individual last uses meth. A person with PAWS may experience:
- Chronic pain
- Low energy
- Problems with impulse control
- Challenges with learning, problem-solving, and memory
- Depression or sadness
- Mood swings
- Low libido
These symptoms may get worse when the individual is under stress and they can go away completely for a while and then return. Symptoms associated with PAWS can be controlled with medication and therapy.
This allows individuals to live a relatively normal life while maintaining their sobriety.
Why Experts Recommend Medical Detox for Meth
Detoxing from meth and other stimulants tends to be less severe and less dangerous than detoxing from opioids, alcohol, or sedatives. This is one of the reasons why some people ask about how to detox from meth at home.
The volume of Google searches for “baking soda meth detox” and “crystal meth detox vitamins” indicates that some meth users want to take the process into their own hands even if it’s just so they can pass a drug test. Other people think they’ll save money if they detox on their own.
However, it’s much easier to get clean and stay clean if you remove yourself from the environment in which you used drugs and stay away from the people who enabled you.
For most meth users, the best way to fight addiction is to undergo meth detox in a drug treatment facility. There, you’ll have access to professionals who can guide you through the process and keep you as safe and comfortable as possible.
Detoxing from meth isn’t typically life-threatening. However, detoxing at home can be dangerous. Some people experience anxiety or depression that’s so severe it leads them to harm themselves or others.
This is why addiction treatment professionals often recommend that people detox from meth under medical supervision.
Undergoing detox at home can be especially dangerous for people who have co-occurring mental health issues.
In a person who already has anxiety or depression, withdrawal can trigger psychosis and increase the risk of suicidal ideation and behavior.
Benefits of Entering a Meth Detox Program
Detoxing away from home also lowers the risk of relapse. Cravings can be strong during detox but having guidance from professionals and being in a drug-free environment can make a big difference.
People who don’t enter a meth detox program are more likely to relapse and research shows that relapse may make it harder to quit using meth again.
Also, people who relapse are at risk of fatal overdose if they use the same amount of meth that they used before they got clean the first time.
Medical supervision also provides a level of structure that people who are addicted to drugs often lack. There’s 24/7 access to trained professionals who can provide physical and psychological support.
At the start of the process, you’ll also be assessed and screened for other conditions or drug interactions that might complicate the detox process.
What to Expect in Meth Detox
No two individuals will have the exact same experience in detox. The heavier an individual’s meth use, the longer the process may take. However, people tend to spend three to seven days resting and eating.
People who are addicted to meth often lose their appetites but the desire to eat usually picks back up during withdrawal. You may start to learn some stress management and relapse prevention techniques. You’ll learn more after you complete detox and move onto rehab.
Medications Used in Detox
The US Food and Drug Administration hasn’t approved any medications specifically for methamphetamine detox. However, depending on the symptoms you experience, you may be given medication to make you more comfortable.
Since meth use can lead to dehydration and muscle spasms, you may also be provided with intravenous fluids and electrolytes. Here are some of the drugs that may be used:
- Sleeping aids. Insomnia and nightmares can occur during meth detox. Medication can be prescribed to help people undergoing detox get the rest they need.
- Muscle relaxants. These help to reduce tension and/or anxiety.
- Provigil or Modafinil. This is a central nervous system stimulant that’s less potent than amphetamine. It may be used to reduce cravings and regulate emotions.
- Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors. This category of drugs includes Prozac, Zoloft, and Celexa whichall relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety.
- Mirtazapine or Remeron is an antidepressant and it can relieve symptoms related to anxiety. Some studies also suggest it can help to reduce drug cravings.
Doctors can administer any other medications an individual needs to address their specific symptoms. For example, if a person is experiencing severe paranoia, delusions, or hallucinations, they may be given antipsychotic drugs.
Choosing a Meth Detox Program
There’s no magic cure to meth addiction. To set the foundation for long-term sobriety, people who are addicted to meth first need to cleanse their bodies of the substance.
By entering and completing a medically supervised detox program, individuals are prepared to transition to rehab where they get the tools they need to stay sober.
However, not all meth detox programs are the same. A lot goes into meth addiction treatment and the program must be tailored to the needs, preferences, and goals of each patient.
Many meth abusers have co-occurring mental health disorders so they need to enroll in a meth detox facility that can diagnose and/or treat their condition(s).
Since detox is just the beginning of the sobriety journey, you should choose a facility that also offers rehab and aftercare support. This improves outcomes for several reasons including the fact that you’ll benefit from a full continuum of care.
You’ll be able to get comfortable with your therapists and you won’t have to deal with the stress of adjusting to a completely new facility. You also won’t have to travel from one location to the other to continue treatment.
Undergo Medical Detox for Meth at The Discovery House
If you are struggling with methamphetamine addiction, you need to get help as soon as possible. Even though detox can be a challenging process to undergo, you will never regret it.
Meth addiction can wreak havoc in every part of your life but detox is a necessary step in getting clean and it is definitely worth it.
When you go through meth detox at The Discovery House in Los Angeles, you’ll benefit from professional support in a safe and calming environment.
Our job is to help you get to the bottom of your addiction and develop the skills you need to achieve and maintain sobriety.
We are Joint Commission Accredited, meaning our facility meets the same quality control and inspection standards as a hospital.
We provide sub-acute, clinically supervised detox to both residents of California and people from across the country. We accept multiple forms of insurance including:
- Blue Cross and Blue Shield
- Aetna Health Insurance
- Cigna Health Insurance
- Assurant Health
- United Healthcare
- ValueOptions Behavioral Health Care
Contact us today to discuss our approach to meth detox or ask questions about how you can begin your journey towards sobriety.