Symptoms of Meth Withdrawal
Withdrawal from methamphetamine can be a scary and uncomfortable process. But making it through the symptoms of meth withdrawal can mean finding freedom from addiction.
What does it mean to go through meth withdrawals?
For any drug, withdrawal refers to the physical, mental, and emotional adjustments your body goes through when you stop taking a drug that you’ve developed a dependence on. Because our bodies and brains maintain a state of balance, called homeostasis, any disruption to that balance causes our bodies to have to readjust to a new normal.
When you start taking any drug, it throws your body out of balance by introducing new chemicals into your system. As you continue taking that drug, your body adjusts to the presence of it in your system. This is why it becomes harder over time to get high from the drug and why you form a dependence on it. To accommodate the presence of drugs in your system, your body changes the chemicals it produces in your brain and how it processes them. Your body is used to the drug, so when you quit taking it, this becomes a new disruption.
Withdrawal, sometimes referred to as “detox,” is a readjustment of your body to its normal homeostasis. Sounds simple enough, but withdrawals from any drug can be severely uncomfortable, emotionally upsetting, and at times life-threatening. For some people, the discomfort of withdrawal is powerful enough that it becomes what motivates them to keep using.
When your body is going through withdrawal from a drug, you will typically experience the opposite effects of what the drug provided. Since meth is a stimulant, detox from meth includes intense fatigue and sleepiness. This happens because your body has come to rely on the effect of the drug and it takes time for it to adapt. With meth in your system, your body stops producing stimulating chemicals on its own, and it takes time for it to start again.
If you’ve developed a dependence on methamphetamine as a regular user, you will most likely experience symptoms of meth withdrawal when you stop using. Withdrawal from methamphetamine is not fatal, but it is very uncomfortable and can lead to severe depression.
Timeline of meth withdrawal symptoms and what to expect
Short-term methamphetamine withdrawal symptoms, also called the “crash” period, can start anywhere from a few hours to a few days after your last use. They typically last two to three weeks and will gradually lessen in intensity as time passes.
- Sleepiness and fatigue
- Anxiety and depression
- Increased hunger, especially for carbs
- Nausea and stomach pains
- Fever and excessive sweating
- Difficulty experiencing pleasure
- Body aches and pains
- Onset of depression
- Disorientation and balance issues
- Vivid nightmares
- Psychosis, including paranoia, hallucinations, and confusion about what is real
- Intense cravings for meth
Long-term meth withdrawal symptoms are less intense but can persist for months after you stop using. These typically include continued feelings of anxiety and depression, as well as cravings to use methamphetamine.
Can you avoid meth withdrawal symptoms?
If you are addicted to methamphetamine, the answer is, unfortunately, no. The only way out is through. Your body physically needs to adjust to the absence of the drug in your system and your brain needs to learn how to function in a new normal state without meth. But there are steps you can take to prepare for your withdrawal to set yourself up for success.
- Plan for withdrawal. Going through withdrawal is a difficult process. It takes time, patience, and persistence. Planning for a period of time when you can disrupt your normal routine will allow you to focus on getting better.
- Prepare a toolkit. Have Tylenol and Ibuprofen on hand. Stock up on groceries, keeping in mind that meth withdrawal often includes an increase in appetite. Make sure your bedroom is an ideal space for sleeping, and have extra clean sheets on hand if possible.
- Seek out support. Tell trusted family or friends what you’re doing. Ask them to check in on you and cheer you on, especially when you’re struggling.
- Be gentle with yourself. On methamphetamine, you likely experience lots of artificially induced feelings of energy and motivation. That is going to change very suddenly. You will want to sleep and eat a lot, and you should let yourself do so. Your body is healing—let it heal.
- Practice self-care. Because detox from methamphetamine involves feelings of depression, take steps to help combat those feelings. Practice the basics like brushing your teeth, showering every day, and preparing healthy meals for yourself. Those daily habits can fall by the wayside when you’re using meth, so it can be helpful to reintroduce them into your normal routine.
Recovery from methamphetamine is possible
It is not easy, but there are tools to help. WorkIt Health provides clinical care in many states to help you get through both the short- and long-term effects of quitting meth. With support to manage the physical, mental, and emotional symptoms, you can get your life back on track.
Has my drug use become a problem?
Take our drug self-assessment to check on your use. This tool should not be used as a replacement for a clinical diagnosis.
Drugs Self-Assessment Quiz