Meth Withdrawal and Detox

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Methamphetamine, also known as meth or crystal meth, is a highly addictive stimulant and Schedule II controlled substance.

If you develop an addiction to meth – clinically described as stimulant use disorder – you will experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when you quit using the drug. This process is known as meth withdrawal and detox.

Today’s brief guide explores the following questions:

If you are concerned about withdrawing from meth, discovering as much as possible about crystal meth withdrawal may help you to kickstart your recovery.

What is Meth Withdrawal?

Taking meth in any form triggers the release of large amounts of dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter (chemical messenger) associated with positive mood. Meth induces an intense euphoria, with dopamine levels remaining elevated until you stop using the stimulant.

Those who have been using meth long-term will experience severe psychological and physical withdrawal symptoms when detoxing from meth. You will feel fatigued, drained of energy, anxious, and depressed. Methamphetamine withdrawal is also characterized by powerful cravings for the drug. If you try to detox meth at home, cravings can be so intense that you use meth simply to feel better temporarily, relapsing before your recovery gets traction.

Meth withdrawal is the first crucial step in an ongoing process of inpatient or outpatient treatment followed by sober living and sustained recovery. The goal of meth detox is to expel all toxins from the system safely, physically stabilizing you for ongoing treatment after breaking your physical dependence on meth.

Although meth withdrawal can be uncomfortable and challenging, a supervised medical detox can minimize complications and reduce the chance of early relapse.

Signs & Symptoms of Meth Withdrawal

The symptoms of meth withdrawal may differ in presentation from person to person. Withdrawal symptoms meth vary depending on factors such as:

The first signs of meth withdrawal include:

  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Reduced energy levels
  • Chills
  • Dehydration
  • Weight gain
  • Insomnia
  • Sleeping too much
  • Depressed mood
  • Clouded thinking
  • Anhedonia (inability to feel pleasure)
  • Social withdrawal
  • Meth cravings
  • Suicidal ideation

The most reported post-acute and protracted meth withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Sleepiness
  • Increased appetite
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Ongoing cravings
  • Psychosis
  • Suicidal thoughts

Psychological cravings are the most challenging aspect of the meth detox process. Cravings are also the primary driver for relapse. Avoid this by engaging with a supervised medical detox program as a precursor to inpatient or outpatient rehab.

What is Meth Detox?

Meth detox involves purging the drug and its metabolites from the system while managing the accompanying withdrawal symptoms. Meth detox is not a substitute for treatment, but rather the first in an ongoing chain of events that is recovery.

If you’re wondering, “How do you detox from meth”, the process typically unfolds over three distinct stages.

Meth Detox Process

  • Evaluation: Before you engage with meth detox, an initial evaluation allows the treatment team to establish the severity of your addiction and identify any potential health complications. This evaluation allows the treatment team to assess your physical and mental health, as well as your history of meth use.
  • Stabilization: During this stage of detox, you will stop using meth. The treatment team may prescribe medications to alleviate withdrawal symptoms like insomnia, anxiety, and depression. The treatment team will also monitor you and ensure that you are properly hydrated.
  • Treatment: After the stabilization phase of meth detox, you will transition into ongoing inpatient or outpatient treatment involving counseling, psychotherapy, and motivational therapy. There are currently no medications approved by the FDA for the treatment of stimulant use disorder (meth addiction).

Due to the potentially aggravating withdrawal symptoms, a medically supervised detox provides the smoothest path to ongoing treatment.

How long does meth withdrawal take, then?

How Long Does Meth Detox Take?

How long does it take to get off meth will vary depending on factors that include:

  • Physical dependence
  • Duration of meth abuse
  • Scope of meth abuse
  • Purity of meth used
  • Physical health
  • Mental health
  • History of substance abuse

Research shows that meth withdrawal involves two phases. The first symptoms present during the first day of withdrawal, peaking and then subsiding over 7 to 10 days. Some people detoxing from meth experience a second subacute phase of withdrawal that persists for two additional weeks. PAWS (post-acute withdrawal syndrome) involves meth withdrawal symptoms that linger for months. Not everyone will experience the subacute phases or PAWS.

Meth Detox Timeline

Acute meth withdrawal normally lasts from 7 to 10 days, with cravings the most common symptom.

The meth withdrawal timeline varies according to the same factors that impact the severity of withdrawal symptoms.

In most cases, meth withdrawal begins within 24 hours of the last dose, lasting for 1 to 2 weeks.

  • First day of meth detox: Acute withdrawal symptoms present. These may include agitation, depressed mood, and anxiety.
  • Days 2 to 10 of meth detox: Symptoms peak over the course of the first week, typically subsiding after 7 to 10 days.
  • Second week of meth detox: Some acute withdrawal symptoms may continue into the second week of detox. These are typically mild and manageable.

A medically supervised detox will make the process as safe and comfortable as possible, while at the same time reducing the risk of relapse derailing your recovery.

Benefits of Inpatient Detox

Inpatient detox for methamphetamine addiction can offer many benefits, including:

  • Medical supervision: Inpatient detox provides continuous medical supervision, helping with the management of withdrawal symptoms and preventing complications. The treatment team may administer medications to alleviate symptoms of insomnia, anxiety, or depression.
  • Structured environment: Meth detox at an inpatient facility provides a structured environment free from triggers, temptations, and distractions.
  • Peer support: Inpatient detox allows you to connect with peers undergoing meth detox, providing you with a sense of support and community.
  • Comprehensive care: Benefit from comprehensive care that addresses your physical, mental, and emotional needs during inpatient meth detox.
  • Reduced stress: Taking time away from the pressures and responsibilities of your everyday life will help you to focus on your recovery.

Get Help with Meth Addiction at Ohio Community Health

When you are ready to stop using meth and kickstart your recovery, we can help you at Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers in Cincinnati. While we don’t offer detox at our facilities, we can help you find the best detox center for your situation in the area. After a week or so of acute meth withdrawal, you can transition directly into our intensive outpatient programs.

If you are suffering from meth addiction with a co-occurring mental health condition, we specialize in coordinated dual diagnosis treatment of both conditions.

All Ohio Recovery Centers treatment programs combine science-backed treatments and holistic therapies. Your treatment team will also ensure that you leave our rehab with a comprehensive aftercare plan in place. Call (877) 679-2132 today and move beyond meth addiction.

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Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been working in the addiction industry for half a decade and has been writing about addiction and substance abuse treatment during that time. He has experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.
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Christopher Glover CDCA

My name is Christopher Glover, and I am from Cincinnati, Ohio. I am currently in school and working to grow in competence to better support our community. As a recovering individual I know the struggles that you or a loved one can go through and that there is help for anything you may be struggling with.

The hardest part is asking for help and we are here as a team to best support you and your decision to start your journey towards a better future. Connect with Chris on LinkedIn

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Amanda Kuchenberg PRS CDCA

I recently joined Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers as a Clinical Case Manager. I am originally from Wisconsin but settled in the Cincinnati area in my early 20s.  My career started in the fashion industry but quickly changed as I searched to find my drive and passion through helping others who struggle with addiction. 

As someone who is also in recovery, I wanted to provide hope, share lived experience, and support others on their journey.  I currently have my Peer Recovery Support Supervision Certification along with my CDCA and plan to continue my education with University of Cincinnati so I can continue to aid in the battle against substance addiction. Connect with Amanda on LinkedIn.

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Patrick McCamley LCDC III

 Patrick McCamley (Clinical Therapist) is a Cincinnati native who has worked in substance use disorder/co-occurring mental health disorder treatment since 2019. Patrick received his bachelors degree in psychology from University of Cincinnati in 2021 and received his LCDC III (Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor) license from the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board in 2022. Patrick has worked in Clinical Operations, Clinical Case Management, and Clinical Therapy throughout his career.

Patrick has tremendous empathy and compassion for the recovery community, being in recovery himself since 2018. Patrick is uniquely qualified to be helpful because of the specific combination of his academic background and his own experience in recovery.

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Bill Zimmerman CDCA

Bill Zimmerman is a Greater Cincinnati Area native who has worked in substance use disorder/co-occurring mental health disorder treatment since 2018. Bill received his (Chemical Dependency Counselor Assistant) license from the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board in 2020.

Bill has worked in Clinical Operations in both support and supervision, and Program facilitating and 12 step recovery support during his career. Bill has a passion for the recovery community, having been in recovery himself since 1982. Connect with Bill on LinkedIn

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Taylor Lilley CDCA, PRS

Growing up in Louisiana with addiction running rampant on both sides of my family. A life away from drugs and alcohol seemed impossible for someone like me. I remember what it was like sitting across from someone thinking there is no way they could ever understand what I was going through.

Sharing my experience offers a credibility and a certain type of trust with clients that only someone who has walked down this road can illustrate. To immerse myself further into the field of addiction, I am currently studying at Cincinnati State for Human and Social Services.  I hope I never forget where I came from, if I can do it, so can you!

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Thomas Hunter LSW

Hello my name is Thomas Hunter. I was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. I am a licensed social worker.In my scope of practice I have worked in the areas of mental health and recovery for thirty years. The clients I have worked with in my career have ranged in age from seven to seventy.

I strive each day to serve my purpose of helping those in need and I believe I do so by utilizing all of my experiences to accomplish my goal of supporting those who desire to establish their sobriety and maintain it in their recovery. Connect with Thomas on LinkedIn.

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Mary D.Porter,LICDC

 My name is Mary D. Porter. I received my Masters of Social Work in 2008 from The University of Cincinnati. I received My Licensed Independent Chemical Dependency Counselor Licensure in 2001. I retired from The Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center on April 14, 2014. Currently, I am the Associate Clinical Director for The Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers in Cincinnati.. Due to the fourth wave of the Opioid Epidemic in 2019,  I decided to enter back into the workforce to assist the addicted population.

The overdoses were astounding and I wanted to help.  I consider myself  to be an advocate for the addicted population. My compassion, resilience, empathy, wisdom, knowledge, experience and  love I have for this forgotten population goes beyond words. I consider what I do for the addicted population as a calling versus a “career,” because I too was once an “addict and alcoholic.” Today I am 45.5 years alcohol and substance free.

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Ben Lemmon LCDC III

Hello, my name is Ben Lemmon, and I’m the Vice President and Clinical Director at Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers. I’ve been working in the addiction and mental health field since 2013 and decided to enter the field after overcoming my own challenges with addiction.

When I first meet a client, I always explain to them that the reason we are meeting is because they are not capable of obtaining or maintaining sobriety, and my goal is to create a person that can maintain sobriety. I believe a person’s personality is made up of their thoughts, feelings and actions and my job is to help clients identify the thoughts, feelings and actions that have them disconnected from recovery and provide them with the tools to live a healthy and happy life. Connect with Ben on LinkedIn