Crystal Meth Withdrawal Symptoms & Timelines
An undeniable substance abuse problem exists in the United States. Many drugs — prescription, natural, illegal, and synthetic — can be abused and become habit-forming. Crystal methamphetamine, or crystal meth, is one of those substances. Made from the powder of methamphetamine into rocks or pills, it is a stimulant that can produce feelings of euphoria, energy, and happiness. Crystal meth is a synthetic, illegal stimulant that can lead to addiction.
Substance abuse treatment can be the key to ending an addiction and being able to live drug-free. While many factors can cause a person to be resistant to treatment, there is good news: admissions to substance abuse treatment centers for methamphetamine have increased over the past 10 years. The proportion of methamphetamine treatment admissions to publicly funded treatment facilities in the U.S. increased from 6% to 10% from 2008-2018. 1 These numbers vary from state to state. In the state of Nevada, 12,776 people 12 and older were admitted for substance abuse treatment in 2018.1
For many people, deciding to end an addiction is wrought with fear, confusion, and anxiety. This is especially true in light of the possibility of experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal may deter you from getting help for a crystal meth addiction, but it doesn’t have to. The purpose of this page is to provide information on what to expect during crystal meth withdrawal as well as how to seek help for addiction. Understanding the process of withdrawal, learning effective ways to reduce the severity of symptoms, and knowing how to get appropriate help during the process can make all the difference.
The Crystal Meth Comedown
Abuse, dependence, and addiction are common ways to describe different aspects of substance use, but they are not the same Abuse is when a person misuses a substance. This can look like ingesting the drug in unintended ways (crushing and smoking vs. swallowing), taking too much, not following prescription protocol, and taking medication that isn’t prescribed for them. Dependence is the point at which the body becomes dependent on the drug. When the substance stops entering the body, the body experiences withdrawal symptoms. Addiction is the most severe point in substance abuse; it refers to an obsessive need to continue to use despite experiencing severe negative consequences.
When someone uses crystal meth, they are at risk of becoming dependent on the substance and experiencing withdrawal. Crystal meth withdrawal can bring on physical and psychological symptoms including:2
- Severe depression.
- Suicidal thoughts and actions.
- Psychosis, including hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that don’t exist), delusions (believing an alternate reality), and paranoia (extreme distrust of others).
- Intense craving for the drug.
Side Effects of Crystal Meth Withdrawal
Acute withdrawal symptoms can begin within a few days after last use. The symptoms mentioned above are considered acute withdrawal symptoms, which means they begin shortly after last use and resolve within a few weeks. Post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) refers to a set of symptoms that can begin long after someone stops taking the drug. These symptoms can be severe and intense. Not everyone who detoxes from a substance will experience PAWS, and the symptoms vary from person to person.
While PAWS is most common in detox from opioids, alcohol, and benzodiazepines, it has been found in people detoxing from other types of substances. Common symptoms include: 3
- Anxiety, including obsessive-compulsive behaviors.
- Difficulty performing cognitive tasks.
- Difficulty problem-solving and learning.
- Memory impairment.
- Difficulty falling and staying asleep.
- Pessimism and negative attitude.
- Low stress tolerance.
- Interpersonal problems with family and friends.
- Intense cravings.
Symptoms can present themselves at random times throughout the detox process and even after the person surpasses the point of detox. Studies have shown that stress can trigger these symptoms. It is believed that this is due to the changes that take place in the brain when a substance is chronically present. The brain makes accommodations for the substance, and when the substance is removed, the neurotransmitters in the brain are more vulnerable to stress and excitement.3
Crystal Meth Detox Timeline
Withdrawal from crystal meth can begin within a few days after last use and can last for several weeks.4 The onset, duration, intensity, and severity of symptoms depend largely on factors including the person’s age, their age of first use, amount of the substance used, types of substances used, and any underlying medical and mental health problems.
Studies indicate that certain withdrawal symptoms may last longer than others. Psychological and physical symptoms may be experienced at different times. Psychosis and depressive symptoms of crystal methamphetamine withdrawal generally resolve within one week of onset, while intense physical cravings can last at least 5 weeks.5 Due to the severity of symptoms and potential for additional complications and challenges, many people choose to complete the withdrawal process in a formal substance abuse treatment setting.
Attempting to detox from crystal meth without the support of medical and addiction professionals can be very challenging. One of the common symptoms of withdrawal is an intense physical craving for the drug, which can lead to relapse. For many people, the experience of craving makes detox very challenging to complete successfully.
Home Remedies for Crystal Meth Detox
Given that withdrawal symptoms vary and that there is a risk for severe withdrawal symptoms, medically supervised detox is strongly recommended.4 Under the supervision of a substance abuse treatment facility, the severity of withdrawal symptoms can be managed with medications, supplements, and other interventions. A patient with reduced symptoms and increased comfort levels is more likely to successfully complete detox and move onto their next phase of treatment – which generally involves behavioral therapies, support groups, and education.
If you think you have a substance abuse problem and are struggling with kicking a crystal meth addiction, you should contact your primary care physician or a local substance abuse treatment provider. Detox and rehabilitation are tailored specifically to your unique needs, challenges, and goals. Support and supervision can be key to a successful detox and a successful life in recovery.
Crystal Meth Withdrawal Treatment
While some people choose to detox from crystal methamphetamine at home, many people opt to do so under the supervision of addiction professionals in a substance abuse treatment center. Research is currently being conducted on identifying appropriate interventions to treat methamphetamine withdrawal symptoms. These may include medication, noninvasive stimulation of the brain, and vaccines.2
Detox is the process by which the substance is safely eliminated from the body. It is important to understand that detoxification is only the first step in recovery from crystal meth addiction. Recovery is a multi-step process that often includes inpatient rehabilitation, intensive outpatient rehabilitation, and outpatient rehabilitation. Each step reflects a progressive stage in the recovery process (the specifics of which are beyond the scope of this article). However, every stage of post-detox rehab involves evidence-based behavioral therapies that address the underlying causes of addiction.
Many people choose to complete rehabilitation under the guidance and support of addiction professionals. In rehab, you begin to do the work to learn about yourself and how to cope with reality without addiction. Behavioral therapies aim to develop self-awareness regarding your triggers and reasons for substance use and addiction. Your goal is to learn how to live life without crystal meth.
Crystal Meth Rehab Options
American Addiction Centers (AAC), a leading provider of rehab in Nevada and across the United States, offers both detoxification and rehabilitation services. Many of AAC’s staff members have had personal experiences with addiction. They will work with you to create a customized treatment plan based on your unique needs. Admissions navigators are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at 702-800-2682 to answer any questions you may have. All calls are 100% confidential. AAC is always here to support you through your recovery process.
1.Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2020). Treatment episode data sets (TEDS): 2018. Admission to and discharges from publically funded substance abuse treatment.
2.National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). Methamphetamine drug facts.
3.Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. (n.d.). Post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS).
4.Alberta Health Services. (2019). Withdrawal from methamphetamine.
5.London, E.D., Nestor, L., & Zorick, T. (2010). Withdrawal symptoms in abstinent methamphetamine-dependent subjects. Addiction, 105(10), 1809-1818.
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