Crystal Meth Withdrawal & Detox
Everything about crystal meth is faster and more intense. The only thing that seems slow about the drug is crystal meth withdrawal and the time it takes to fully recover from addiction.
What Makes Crystal Meth Withdrawal So Hard?
Although methamphetamine is classified in the same category as cocaine, and both drugs are central nervous system stimulants, crystal meth carries three times the potency and addictive potential of coke. This makes quitting the drug more difficult than almost any substance with a high abuse potential, including heroin.
The main active ingredients in meth are ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, which were commonly used to manufacture over-the-counter decongestants. Enterprising manufacturers figured out how to extract the ephedrine from the legal medications. Home cooks across the country began to reduce it down to a concentrated form and sell it cheap, and the meth craze was born.
The drug effects users in two ways.
First, it enters the brain through the bloodstream quickly by snorting, smoking, or injecting the drug. This triggers a response that forces the brain to release high amounts of dopamine and norepinephrine, which is better known as adrenaline, causing a powerful initial rush of euphoria. The high is quickly followed by agitated, hyper-kinetic energy in the user as the drug peaks and plateaus. These side effects make crystal meth a popular club drug.
The second way crystal meth use transitions to dependence and addiction are by changing how the brain functions on a cellular level. It alters the limbic system, which is the portion of the brain that stores memories and controls emotion. Soon, the user begins to believe they need meth to function properly. This change can take place within the first few doses as the drug takes over the portion of the brain responsible for involuntary reflexes.
Any pleasurable effects from crystal meth disappear quickly and dependence follows. The compulsion of this addiction often leads to meth binges, known as tweaking, for several days until the user crashes from physical and mental exhaustion. A meth crash can cause sleep for 24 hours or more, and then the cycle begins again. Within a few months of regular use, physical changes like weight loss, tooth decay, and skin ulcerations appear, accompanied by drastic personality and lifestyle alterations.
An overdose of methamphetamine can happen suddenly with just one use. This usually occurs with a binge, indulging in a potent batch, or combining meth with other drugs. There’s also a phenomenon known as long-term overdose, which occurs when someone uses meth regularly over a long period of time, causing chronic buildup, and leads to health problems. Symptoms can include respiratory problems, chest pain, and elevated body temperature. Chronic use also leads to a form of drug-induced psychosis and paranoia.
Crystal Meth Use and Withdrawal
When someone stops using crystal meth, it takes about 24 hours to leave their bloodstream, but it can be detected in the urine for up to five days. Within the first 10 hours, a heavy user can expect the amount of meth present in their bloodstream to be reduced by half, and it will be completely out of the system within two days.
Unfortunately. withdrawal symptoms begin well before that, setting in as soon as six hours after the last use. There are three components to withdrawal: the shock from the removal of stimulation to the brain, the buildup of toxins from use, and the physical exhaustion that follows the adrenaline rush.
Crystal meth withdrawal symptoms are physical and psychological in nature, and they include:
- Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and depression
- Aggression and irritation
- Muscle weakness and pain
- Depressed appetite
Crystal meth withdrawal is long and taxing, both physically and mentally, often leading to binges of tweaking. Detox is almost impossible to do long-term without professional assistance to overcome the intense symptoms and related behaviors, which can be deadly. The good news is that restoration of health and brain function are possible.
Are you ready to get help?
If you’re ready to take the first step toward finding recovery, contact Stepping Stone Center for Recovery today. Our addiction specialist can answer any questions regarding our program and the treatment options that are available to you.
Crystal Withdrawal Timeline
Despite the volatility of crystal meth addiction and resulting behaviors, the crystal meth withdrawal timeline is fairly consistent. It follows a distinct pattern, each phase of which varies in time and intensity by the degree and duration of abuse.
What’s the Best Way to Deal With Crystal Meth Withdrawal Symptoms?
The physical effects of crystal meth withdrawal are fairly short-lived and can be managed through supervised medical detox. The psychological and emotional effects are more difficult to overcome, and they take much longer. There are also lingering health problems that need to be addressed once crystal meth detox is completed.
The best chance of experiencing lasting recovery is by entering an intensive inpatient treatment program.
What to Expect From a Crystal Meth Recovery Program
The most critical portion of the crystal withdrawal timeline is the first week. For the first three days, medically assisted crystal meth detox in a secure facility is essential for safety and psychological well-being. Medically assisted treatment (MAT) has a proven track record of success with difficult substance use disorders.
There’s no standard, FDA-approved medication that’s indicated specifically for meth detox, but several drugs have been associated with positive outcomes.
Provigil (modafinil): This mild stimulant is being looked at as an alternative treatment for ADHD. It’s thought to help with meth withdrawal by reducing symptoms associated with detox and helping with cognitive issues.
Wellbutrin (bupropion): This drug has shown great success in managing nicotine withdrawal. Now, it’s being used to reduce cravings for crystal meth users who exhibit milder or more recent substance use disorder.
Anti-depressants: Mainly from the class of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) that includes Paxil and Prozac, some antidepressants may help reduce cravings and manage symptoms of depression associated with crystal withdrawal.
Remeron (mirtazapine): This anti-depressant effects both serotonin and norepinephrine levels in the brain. It’s being tried as a relapse-preventing medication when treating meth addiction.
Meth abuse is on the rise again. This time, it’s more potent, widely available, and cheaper than ever. The best way to avoid becoming a statistic is to seek treatment today.