The withdrawal process is both an unfortunate and mandatory part of recovery for addicts and alcoholics around the world. No matter what substance or substances you were using and abusing, there is going to be a withdrawal process during your detox. However, the severity and magnitude of the withdrawal symptoms are directly correlated to what and how much of the substance or substances you were using. When it comes to methamphetamine, this process can be rather grueling. It’s important to understand what to expect during your withdrawal from meth so you can better prepare yourself both physically and mentally to undergo the detox as you embark upon your journey into recovery.
Before getting into the withdrawal from meth, let’s talk about meth in a general sense. Methamphetamine, also known as meth, crystal, crank, speed, glass, ice, or dope, is by nature, a stimulant or “upper”. It is a highly addictive, powerful stimulant that directly impacts the central nervous system. Often taking the form of a white, odorless, bitter-tasting crystalline powder, it can be found around the world.
Unlike many other illicit drugs, meth is a completely fabricated substance, meaning it has no organic base. Using a specific compound of various chemical agents, the person fabricating the meth, or “cook”, can use a make-shift chemical lab to create the drug. Thanks to meth’s relatively easy formula, it can be manufactured almost anywhere. However, due to inexperience and human error, many of these make-shift meth labs are ticking time bombs that erupt into flames and explosions when these volatile chemicals are mishandled.
Meth can be smoked, snorted, or injected. The user will undergo an immediate and intense “rush” as the potent drug is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream. Compared to a state of euphoria, the rush lasts a very brief time, usually only several minutes at a time, leaving the user craving more of the drug in order to maintain the high. Thus, begins meth’s dangerous cycle.
Effects of Methamphetamine Addiction
As previously stated, methamphetamine is an upper. That means it literally “stimulates” the central nervous system, producing a number of nasty side effects in the wake of its use. In comparison to its stimulant counterparts such as cocaine, meth has a much longer duration of action. That means more of the drug stays behind in the body. Meth remains inside the user’s brain for a longer period of time, which leads to higher levels of dopamine being produced while in tandem blocking dopamine re-uptake.
Ingesting meth, no matter the channel or means immediately increases heart rate which leads to an irregular heartbeat and increased blood pressure and elevated temperature. It also suppresses appetite and increases activity and wakefulness. Insomnia is a common side effect of meth use, and in some cases, can continue for days or even weeks at a time. This often causes the user to experience a variety of mood and behaviorally related symptoms such as anxiety, confusion, and even violence. The unfortunate truth is that even after meth use has ceased, a person can still experience these psychotic symptoms for months or even years.
Meth also has adverse effects on the physical body of its habitual users. The acidity of the compound often has a horrible impact on teeth. Excessive tooth rot, infection, and decay is common among meth users, and is referred to as “meth mouth”. Many people who use meth also experience lesions all over their skin. Meth can cause the sensation of crawling skin, leading people to obsessively pick at their skin while high on the drug.
Withdrawals from Meth
Once a meth addict is ready to get clean and leave the drug behind, the user must, unfortunately, undergo a detox process. The withdrawals from meth can be grueling, mostly due to the typically excessive nature in which the drug is abused. You can expect the withdrawals from meth to be far more intense than most other stimulants, including its counterpart, cocaine. The duration and severity of symptoms are far worse. You can expect to experience symptoms typically for seven to ten days following the last dose of the drug, with some symptoms still persisting but gradually subsiding over time.
Some of the typical symptoms you can expect to encounter during the withdrawals from meth are paranoia, psychosis, extreme depression, excessive lethargic feelings and sleepiness, intense food cravings, and of course anxiety. While the withdrawal symptoms are not inherently deadly, the severe suicidal and sometimes homicidal ideations that go hand-in-hand with withdrawals from meth can be.
Attending a medical detox facility is a great suggestion for anyone struggling with the withdrawals from meth. While all symptoms cannot be circumvented, a higher level of comfort during the detox process can be provided at a facility as well as round the clock medical care and supervision. People who attend medical detox facilities attended by a professional medical staff also tend to have a higher success rate in recovery. It can help avoid any potential health complications that arise as a result of the detox and prolonged drug abuse as well as decreases the recidivism rates of relapse by also providing mental health support in tandem.
How Does Meth Treatment Work?
Upon your arrival to the medical detox facility, you can expect to undergo an evaluation to assess where you’re at with your withdrawals from meth. From there, the medical team will work on stabilizing you in order to help you experience the highest level of comfort throughout the process.
While there are not currently any medications available to specifically treat withdrawals from meth, the medication Bupropion is sometimes used to help reduce meth cravings. Other prescription medications will be prescribed and monitored by the attending physician to help alleviate the withdrawal symptoms as much as possible. Mental health support is also provided during this time.
After the completion of the medical detox process, often patients are encouraged to head off to an inpatient rehab center or enroll in an outpatient program to continue working on the therapeutic aspect of their treatment. Continuing care for the underlying causes of addiction is a good way to further solidify one’s recovery and prevent relapse. The withdrawals from meth are not fun, but luckily are merely a temporary speed bump on the road to recovery. With continued persistence and commitment, recovery from methamphetamine addiction is possible!