How to Detox from a Meth Addiction
Crystal meth is a powerful stimulant drug that can have a major impact on users in just one dose. Because of its highly addictive nature, those who use it can quickly develop a dangerous dependency that is difficult to overcome. In the majority of cases, a person who is addicted to methamphetamines will require detox to break this dependency.
Methamphetamines Withdrawal Symptoms
Compared to withdrawal from other types of drugs, meth withdrawal symptoms are often especially severe. A person who is detoxing from methamphetamines may experience a variety of intense and uncomfortable symptoms, such as the following:
- Anxiety, paranoia
- Nausea, vomiting
- Constipation and/or diarrhea
- Joint and muscle pain
- Irregular pulse
- Tremors (shaking)
The intensity of the discomfort and the risks related to certain withdrawal symptoms are part of what makes it so hard to stop using methamphetamines on one’s own. For many, meth quickly changes from something that feels good to something they need to use to avoid feeling bad.
How Long Does Meth Withdrawal Last?
Because it is such a powerful drug, withdrawal from meth can, unfortunately, last for some time. Symptoms become less severe with time, though some take longer than others to improve. In a 2010 study published in the journal Addiction, participants’ cravings for the drug lasted for at least five weeks, and it did not show a significant decrease until the second week of abstinence.¹
The following is a rough timeline of meth withdrawal:
- Days 1 and 2: Initial “crash,” marked by reduced brain function and energy. Symptoms may include cramps, sweating, and nausea.
- Days 3-10: Usually the worst period for symptoms and cravings. Anxiety and depression may occur.
- Days 14-20: Most physical symptoms begin lifting, though cravings may still be strong.
- 1 month and beyond: The majority of symptoms should be over. Anxiety, depression, and other symptoms can take more time, eventually improving with proper treatment.
How Long Does It Take to Detox from Meth?
Detoxing from crystal meth is different for everyone. The length of time it will take the body purge methamphetamines depends on how long the person used meth, how often they used it, how potent their average dose was, and how well their body functions.
Meth detox typically proceeds in two phases:
- Acute: The most severe period of withdrawal symptoms; it typically lasts 7-10 days.²
- Sub-acute: Symptoms are less severe, but can still be very uncomfortable; it can last for two or more weeks.
Meth Withdrawal Treatment
Professional rehabilitation programs offer a combination of physical and mental care that goes beyond just keeping people safe during withdrawal. Once an individual has been fully detoxed, they can begin a personally tailored residential treatment plan to address other aspects of the addiction.
Currently, no medications exist that specifically help with crystal meth addiction. Instead, treatment programs use a combination of counseling, support meetings, skill-building, and other efforts to help recovering individuals understand addiction and learn skills for a sober life.
Examples of commonly used methods include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- 12-step meetings
- Individual counseling
- Group counseling
- Family education
If a person feels they need additional help after completing their residential treatment plan, they may continue with an outpatient program and/or sober living opportunities.
Stages of Meth Recovery
Recovering from a methamphetamine addiction is an ongoing process that moves through stages.
Here’s a rough outline of what you can expect:
- 1-15 days: The withdrawal period, during which symptoms are greatest.
- 16-45 days: Initial recovery from symptoms and cravings. Mood typically improves, sometimes misleading individuals into thinking they no longer need help. Leaving treatment is not a good idea.
- 46-120 days: A common period of struggle with a high risk of relapse. Low energy and negative emotions can be frustrating, so support is important during this time.
- 121-180 days (4-6 months): Usually an optimistic time of getting used to a sober life. A time for building new relationships, settling into a new job, etc.
- 6+ months: Focus switches to maintaining sobriety and living a fulfilling life.
Research suggests that the brain continues to rebuild during recovery and show surprising improvement. A 2011 study from the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence found that certain biochemical markers in the brain returned to normal levels after two years of abstaining.³
Detoxing at Home vs. Detoxing at a Rehab Facility
While quitting meth may seem as simple as shutting oneself away in a room for a while, detox and withdrawal are more than just a few days of discomfort. Even with the support of family and friends, attempting to detox at home doesn’t offer the kind of expertise and resources needed to be safe and effective. It’s much easier to relapse at home, and some of the withdrawal symptoms can be downright dangerous.
In a residential program at a rehab facility, clients go through a personally tailored treatment plan based on clinical experience and the science of addiction. Individuals can detox safely under medical supervision and get the proper physical, mental, and emotional care they need to make a full recovery. Facility staff members are always available to keep clients safe, comfortable, and on-track.
Staying Sober from Meth
After completing a rehab program, it’s up to the individual to make the right choices and use their new skills to minimize triggers and maintain a sober lifestyle.
Here are a few helpful sobriety tips:
- Build healthy relationships with other drug-free individuals, such as others in recovery.
- Find healthy activities and interests you enjoy.
- Know what your triggers are and avoid them as much as possible.
- Have a plan of action for resisting temptations if they appear.
- Continue supporting your recovery with appropriate counseling, etc.
Find Compassionate Meth Addiction Help at Yellowstone Recovery
At Yellowstone Recovery, we’ve helped individuals from all walks of life break free from methamphetamines. If you’re addicted to meth or concerned that a loved one may be struggling with dependency, our professional detox and addiction center can offer you the resources and support needed to win the fight for good.
Call (888) 418-4188 today to learn how we can help you.