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Article Summary

Meth Withdrawal

After you stop using methamphetamine - particularly if you have been taking it intravenously - you may experience the psychological and physical symptoms of withdrawal. Chronic users, in particular, who tend to take the drug frequently over an extended period are the most likely to suffer meth withdrawal.

Most of these withdrawal symptoms tend to be painful and traumatic. This might also cause you to continue taking more of the drug hoping that you will be able to counteract withdrawal.

However, when you do this, you will only go down the spiraling path of never-ending and repeated meth abuse. Eventually, this may develop from one time use to tolerance, dependence, and eventual full blown addiction.

The problem is so serious that by the time you realize that you have a problem and try quitting, you may find that the effects of withdrawal are so powerful that you cannot overcome them on your own volition.

That said, withdrawing from methamphetamine is a discomforting process - particularly if you try to do it on your own. This is why it is highly recommended that you detox under professional supervision to ensure that you avoid any health complications as well as decrease the risk of relapsing back to the drug.

By undergoing meth withdrawal in a professional detoxification program, you will have a higher chance of safely removing the addictive substance from your system. Most of these programs are designed to provide around the clock support to patients as they try to overcome their addiction to meth.

Additionally, there will be nurses and doctors at hand to monitor your vitals and tailor your treatment plan as your withdrawal starts improving. The help they will provide will prove helpful to your ability to quit using meth.

After detoxification, you are also encouraged to continue down the path to full recovery by checking into an inpatient rehabilitation and treatment center. The good thing is that most of these detox programs are actually provided by such centers, meaning that it should be easy for you to make the transition.

An inpatient detox and rehabilitation facility will provide the best environment for detoxification. This is because they offer high quality care in a structured and safe center. Additionally, they are often equipped with everything needed to help you overcome your meth dependence - including highly trained and qualified addiction experts who have dedicated their careers to improving the lives of victims of substance abuse.

Understanding Meth

Methamphetamine, also known as meth or crystal meth is a powerfully addictive substance. If you use this drug once or twice, your body will start becoming dependent on the extended influx of chemical to your brain.

After you become dependent on meth, you will go into withdrawal mode if you stop dosing yourself on the drug. The symptoms of withdrawal will start manifesting themselves as your body naturally removes the traces of meth from your system.

As you can well imagine, meth withdrawal is an uncomfortable experience. It is one of the main reasons why most people are unable to quit meth by themselves. Apart from the unpleasantness of these withdrawal symptoms, the experience might also prove dangerous to your health and wellness.

It is for this reason that you may want to consider undergoing detoxification at a rehab facility. It is also important that you only try to detox under medical supervision. After your body has eliminated the traces of meth, you can begin the rehabilitation process to fully overcome your addiction.

In most cases, the symptoms of withdrawing from meth can be behavioral, mental, and physical in nature. Additionally, they can prove to be quite intense - sometimes even lasting for a couple of days or several weeks.

The main factors that will determine how long your body will manifest these withdrawal symptoms is the duration of time you have been addicted to methamphetamine, as well as the amount and traces of the drug in your system.

What To Expect From Withdrawal

That said, meth withdrawal is the natural albeit uncomfortable process that will occur immediately after you decide to stop abusing methamphetamine or crystal meth. In most cases, withdrawal involves a certain set of predictable symptoms that tends to wear off gradually once your body starts adjusting to not having the drug in its system.

As mentioned above, withdrawal also comes with a variety of psychological and physical systems. Although the physical systems may dissipate after a couple of days or weeks, the psychological symptoms might prove harder to eliminate.

The Duration Of Meth Withdrawal

Recent research has shown that withdrawing from meth will happen in two distinctive phases. The first stage is the most intense and occurs during the first day after you stop using the drug. In this stage, the withdrawal symptoms will get less intense for about 3 weeks. The second stage is less intense and may last for another 2 to 3 weeks.

However, you may also experience the withdrawal symptoms after you stop taking meth for several months. When this happens, it is medically referred to as PAWS, or post-acute withdrawal syndrome.

How It Feels

Basically speaking, the severity of meth withdrawal largely depends on a variety of factors - such as the duration of your meth abuse as well as the amount of meth you have been using. It might also rely on how dependent you have become to the drug.

In general, the longer you have been using meth and the more dependent you have become, the worse your withdrawal will be. Other factors that may affect the severity of the withdrawal symptoms include the user's age in the sense that older users tend to experience worse episodes of meth withdrawal.

Your physical and mental health before you started using meth and during your use, your history of substance abuse, the reasons why you were abusing this or any other intoxicating substance, and the quality of the drugs you took will also have a great impact on how you withdraw.

Meth Withdrawal Symptoms

Like any other kind of substance withdrawal, meth withdrawal is hardly ever pleasant or something to look forward to. The symptoms will typically start showing up around 24 hours after your last dose.

At this point, fatigue may set in followed by overwhelming depression. You might also experience intense anxiety, hallucinations, and paranoia during this time.

On the other hand, if you have been abusing methamphetamine for a long time, the drug will increase the production of dopamine in your brain. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter charged with the responsibility of controlling the feelings of joy and pleasure inside the brain.

Therefore, when you remove the drug from your life, your brain may stop producing dopamine. As a result, you will lose all pleasure - an experience that is as painful as it is distressing.

Long term meth abuse may additionally lead to a decrease in the total number of dopamine receptors inside your brain. This will make it even more difficult for you to derive any pleasure from life unless you continue using the drug. This condition is referred to as anhedonia and it is one of the adverse effects of withdrawing from meth use. Anhedonia may persist for up to 2 years after you successfully stop taking methamphetamine.

That said, the psychological symptoms of meth withdrawal - including anhedonia and the depression that arises as a direct result - may lead you to relapse as you try to look for a solution to your emotional distress.

In fact, the psychological dependence that develops when you use meth for a long time is so powerful that you may continue experiencing intense cravings for the substance when you stop taking it.

In comparison to other addictive and hard drugs, the physical symptoms you will experience when you withdrawal from crystal meth are relatively minor. For instance, unlike heroin, meth addicts undergoing withdrawal will not typically display physical flu-like symptoms.

The main physical symptoms you will experience are lethargy and fatigue accompanied by a particularly painful and persistent headache. Since meth tends to suppress both sleep and appetite, you may spend most of the first 2 weeks after you stop using the drug sleeping and eating.

As a direct result, you may gain weight significantly during this time. Your metabolism and appetite will only normalize after a couple of months, thereby enabling your weight to start balancing out.

Meth Withdrawal Timeline

Meth withdrawal is usually overarched by three major segments, namely, crash, cravings, and recovery. Sometimes lasting for about 40 weeks, meth withdrawal tends to be slow and difficult but also enormously valuable.

However, most users find the idea of withdrawal distressing and nerve wrecking. Still, you should not let this deter you from battling your addiction and starting to lead a better life.

That said, several factors will affect your experience while withdrawing from active meth abuse. These factors include:

  • The duration of meth abuse
  • The dosage of the drug you were abusing just before you quit
  • The tolerance you have for meth
  • Your personal physiology
  • The environment where you live and work
  • Whether or not you have an addictive personality
  • Trying to quit meth outside a rehabilitation facility (or in an environment rife with triggers)

If you try to stop abusing meth in an instance - which is called quitting cold turkey - you will remove the drug from your system and, in the process, shock your body. This is why some people try to taper their use by lowering their dosage of meth bit by bit until they can completely quit without experiencing the ill effects of withdrawal.

Consider the following stage of meth withdrawal:

a) The Crash

This is the first stage of methamphetamine withdrawal. This phase will typically last for anywhere between 3 and 10 days. During this period, you may experience sharp declines in cognitive function and energy.

Similarly, you may suffer from depression and experience anxiety, paranoia, and hallucinations. During this time, you may not crave meth. Instead, you will eat copious quantities of food and sleep for many hours at a go.

b) Cravings

The second phase is typically characterized by intense cravings for meth. After you go through the initial withdrawal crash, you may start remembering and desiring the intense and pleasurable high that meth provided.

Since the drug causes euphoria in the brain, you may be tempted to start using again. You will also feel powerless after you stop abusing meth and will try to look for it if only to recreate your past experiences.

These cravings last for about 10 weeks, and are usually characterized by insomnia and depression.

c) Recovery

In the 3rd stage of methamphetamine withdrawal, your cravings may start fading and become less potent and less frequent. This phase will be the perfect opportunity for you to finally start recovering from your addiction.

During the recovery stage, it is highly recommended that you maintain an environment free of meth and any paraphernalia you may have associated with it. You might also benefit from having others holding you accountable for your sobriety.

This stage may last for about 30 weeks or even longer in some cases. In general, the longer it was since you last used meth, the easier it might be for you to continue staying clean and maintaining your sobriety.

Coming Off Meth

If you have been wondering how you need to overcome your addiction to meth, then you are in the right place. Although you may encounter many problems and difficulties along the way - and there can be risks and adverse effects involved - it is possible to quit.

Since quitting meth is often accompanied by some intense withdrawal symptoms, it is highly recommended that you check into an inpatient rehabilitation facility after you decide to stop using. This way, you will receive the professional detoxification you need - which will be your first (and perhaps most important) step to getting off the drug. After the drug has been weaned off from your system, you can continue on the road to full recovery through support groups, intensive counseling and therapy, interaction with professionals and former addicts, among others.

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