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What is Meth Addiction Withdrawal Really Like?

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Compared to other types of stimulant drugs, meth carries the highest potential for abuse and addiction. This increased risk of addiction is matched by difficult withdrawal periods for most users.

When detoxing, meth withdrawal symptoms come on in full force as the body works to restore balance. In certain cases, meth withdrawal can be more intense, lasting for longer periods of time.  

The Withdrawal Process

During meth detox, the brain works to heal and restore a state of equilibrium. Users can experience any number of physical and psychological effects. The withdrawal process usually consists of two stages in which symptom severity varies. For chronic meth users, a third stage may unfold, consisting of relatively milder, ongoing meth withdrawal symptoms.

Symptoms experienced during the first stage of withdrawal are mainly physical. The second and third stages consists of primarily psychological meth withdrawal symptoms.

Here are the three key stages in the meth withdrawal process:

Stage 1: The Initial Period

  • Characterized by excessive sleepiness, depression, and anxiety
  • The initial period of withdrawal usually lasts a few days.
  • Psychosis commonly occurs during this phase.

Stage 2: The Intermediate Period

  • User has decreased interest in their environment
  • Lose physical and mental energy, and experience severe fatigue.
  • Strong cravings
  • This period of withdrawal can last up to ten weeks.

Stage 3: The Late Period

  • Can last for months and sometimes even up to a year or longer
  • Cravings come and go more sporadically
  • Symptoms of anxiety and depression are likely to persist

What Are Meth Addiction Withdrawal Symptoms?

When withdrawing from meth after using, most people will experience the following symptoms:

  • Sleeping for extremely long periods of time, sometimes days
  • Endless appetite
  • Extreme feelings of depression and anxiety
  • Ongoing feelings of sickness or discontent
  • Powerful drug cravings

People coming off long-time addictions will likely experience more severe symptoms, including:

  • Hallucinations
  • Feelings of anger and rage
  • Aggressive or violent behavior displays
  • Delusions or skewed thought processes

How Long Will Meth Withdrawal Last?

The intensity of meth withdrawal symptoms can vary depending on how long a person abstains from using. Some users experience symptoms related to meth withdrawal for months or years after the initial symptoms have cooled.

In general, the longer a person has used meth, the more severe meth addiction withdrawal symptoms will be. Long-term use also increases the likelihood of developing co-occurring conditions, (such as medical and psychological problems) during meth use or detoxification.

The following factors help determine how long a withdrawal period will last:

  • How long the person was abusing meth
  • How high the user’s tolerance was for meth
  • Prior experience with drug withdrawal
  • Whether or not they are being treated with medications to ease withdrawal symptoms (e.g. tapering programs, pain medications, antidepressants, antipsychotics, and antianxiety medications)
  • Whether or not they are attending any meth addiction treatment
  • Whether or not they suffer from co-occurring disorders (e.g. mental health issues)

Why Is Meth Withdrawal So Difficult?

The difficulty behind meth addiction withdrawal periods stems from the chemical imbalances in the brain. In the case of long-term users, these chemical imbalances can evolve into actual changes within the brain’s overall structure. With enough chronic meth use, some of these structural changes can lead to permanent brain damage.

There is also the chance that cognitive problems will occur after a someone goes off meth. Scientists discovered rats taken off meth experience short-term memory problems as a part of their withdrawal. In humans, these problems can also occur and can sometimes last for a year or more.

Will Getting Treatment Help with Meth Withdrawal Symptoms?

An inpatient rehab center with experience in treating co-occurring disorders is the best course of action for most individuals seeking recovery from meth addiction. This is especially true for long-term users, and people who co-occurring disorders.

The sooner you seek help, the sooner you can start laying the foundation for a better life. If you are planning to stop using meth reach out to a specialist for help.