Methamphetamine Withdrawal Symptoms, Timeline, and Treatment

Identifying The Signs and Symptoms Related To Meth Use

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Methamphetamine — also known as meth – is a growing problem in the US.[1] This potential central nervous system stimulant drug is extremely potent, bringing an intense high followed by an equally intense crash. The drug has a high risk of dependency and addiction, leading to debilitating withdrawal symptoms and relapse.

What Is Methamphetamine Withdrawal Like?

Methamphetamine Withdrawal Symptoms

Depending on the person’s dose, drug purity, use history, and other factors, methamphetamine withdrawal can bring on a range of symptoms.

Acute meth withdrawal symptoms can include:[2]

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Dehydration
  • Weight gain
  • Chills
  • Excessive sleep followed by insomnia
  • Dysphoria (low mood)
  • Anhedonia (loss of the ability to feel pleasure
  • Poor focus and concentration
  • Social isolation
  • Drug cravings
  • Clinical depression
  • Suicidal ideation
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Methamphetamine Withdrawal Timeline

Several factors influence how long meth withdrawal lasts, including the use history. Meth withdrawal usually begins 24 hours after the last use and can persist for several days or weeks.

Acute withdrawal symptoms like anxiety and agitation usually peak quickly after the last use and gradually decline over time.[3] Typically, this period lasts about seven to 10 days, but some symptoms may last for two weeks.

The post-acute or protracted withdrawal period includes persistent withdrawal symptoms that mimic acute symptoms but with less severity.[4] This period can last another two or three weeks.

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome for Methamphetamine

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome for Methamphetamine

Post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) is a set of symptoms that can occur with withdrawal and persist for weeks or months after quitting.[5] Though commonly seen with opioids and alcohol, PAWS can occur during withdrawal from other psychoactive substances.

With methamphetamine, the PAWS symptoms may include:

  • Depression
  • Drug cravings
  • Anhedonia
  • Psychosis
  • Mood swings
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Increased appetite

These symptoms can make withdrawal more difficult, often prompting relapse. Withdrawal from meth isn’t usually life-threatening like opioids or alcohol, but it can still be difficult to overcome and challenges the commitment to abstinence.

Types of Methamphetamine Withdrawal Treatment

If you or a loved one are seeking treatment for methamphetamine use disorder or another substance use disorder, help is available. At Alpas Wellness, we offer several levels of care and treatment options to give you individualized care for meth addiction, including:

Detox

Medical detox is usually the first step in addiction treatment. Your detox treatment can take place in a hospital, clinic, or treatment facility and includes a comprehensive care team to keep you safe and comfortable as the drug clears your system.

Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient treatment offers 24/7 intensive treatment for people who desire the stability and security of a residential environment.

Alumni Programs and Aftercare

Once an inpatient or outpatient program is complete, aftercare programs are ideal for transitioning from a treatment environment to daily life. In these programs, you can develop support systems and learn healthy stress management and relapse prevention skills.

How Methamphetamine Withdrawal Treatment Works

Despite its potency and the risk of abuse, an addiction to meth can be treated effectively with behavioral therapies, including:

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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

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Cognitive behavioral therapy approaches treatment with the core principle that problematic behaviors are driven by faulty or unhelpful ways of thinking and learned patterns of behavior. When you identify these thought and behavioral patterns, you can take conscious steps to replace them with healthier ones.

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Contingency Management Interventions

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Contingency management interventions provide tangible incentives in exchange for engaging in treatment and maintaining abstinence, which can be effective in reinforcing healthy behaviors.

When these therapies are complemented by traditional approaches like individual counseling, family education, 12-step support, and drug testing for accountability, people can overcome meth addiction.[6]

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Medications Used for Methamphetamine Withdrawal

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There are no FDA-approved medications for meth withdrawal or stimulant use disorder. That doesn’t mean medically managed detox can’t be effective, however. The symptoms of withdrawal can be unpleasant, but medications may be used to relieve symptoms like insomnia, headaches, and anxiety, if appropriate.

What’s the Best Way to Find Methamphetamine Withdrawal Treatment

Meth withdrawal is possible without medical supervision, but detox can make the process safer and more comfortable. If you or a loved one are considering medical detox, you can find a drug detox center through your physician or therapist. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offers a database of drug detox facilities in your area.

If you’re ready to take control of your recovery, our compassionate care team at Alpas Wellness is here to help – day or night.

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Cost of Methamphetamine Withdrawal Treatment

The cost of meth withdrawal treatment can vary depending on your level of care and individualized treatment plans. Substance use disorder treatment is covered by many health insurance providers, however.

Contact us today to see if your insurance is an in-network provider.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Methamphetamine Withdrawal Treatment

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Why Does Meth Withdrawal Happen?

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Meth is a highly addictive drug that stimulates the central nervous system and causes a high release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter connected to pleasure and the brain’s reward system. This reinforces the use of meth to achieve the same euphoria, which leads to dependency over time.[8]

Then, when you stop, the brain and body have become so accustomed to feeling the pleasure of meth that naturally occurring sources of pleasure, such as exercise, aren’t effective. The cravings for meth can become intense, causing you to use meth to recapture that feeling of pleasure.

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How Does Medical Detox Help Meth Withdrawal?

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Meth withdrawal doesn’t require detox, but it can be helpful for managing unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. During detox, you may be given medication to alleviate symptoms like insomnia or for nutritional support. Detox also creates an environment free of the temptation to resist cravings and focus on abstinence.

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Can Using Meth Once Cause Withdrawal?

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Current research from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) suggests that meth withdrawal occurs when people use meth chronically cut back on their meth use – or stop completely.[9] There’s not enough research to indicate if meth withdrawal can occur after just one use.

Sources
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[01]

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2023b, March 3). Methamphetamine drugfacts. National Institutes of Health. Retrieved from https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/methamphetamine on 2023, June 27.

[02]

Samhsa tip 33 treatment for stimulant use disorders. (n.d.-e). Retrieved from https://store.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/pep21-02-01-004.pdf on 2023, June 27.

[03]

Zorick, T., Nestor, L., Miotto, K., Sugar, C., Hellemann, G., Scanlon, G., Rawson, R., & London, E. D. (2010, October). Withdrawal symptoms in abstinent methamphetamine-dependent subjects. Addiction (Abingdon, England). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3071736/ on 2023, June 27.

[04]

Zorick, T., Nestor, L., Miotto, K., Sugar, C., Hellemann, G., Scanlon, G., Rawson, R., & London, E. D. (2010, October). Withdrawal symptoms in abstinent methamphetamine-dependent subjects. Addiction (Abingdon, England). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3071736/ on 2023, June 27.

[05]

Post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) | Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.semel.ucla.edu/dual-diagnosis-program/News_and_Resources/PAWS on 2023, June 27.

[06]

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2021, April 13). What treatments are effective for people who misuse methamphetamine?. National Institutes of Health. Retrieved from https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/methamphetamine/what-treatments-are-effective-people-who-misuse-methamphetamine on 2023, June 27.

[07]

Know the risks of meth. SAMHSA. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.samhsa.gov/meth on 2023, June 27.

[08]

Samhsa tip 33 treatment for stimulant use disorders. (n.d.-e). Retrieved from https://store.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/pep21-02-01-004.pdf on 2023, June 27.

[09]

Samhsa tip 33 treatment for stimulant use disorders. (n.d.-e). Retrieved from https://store.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/pep21-02-01-004.pdf on 2023, June 27.

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