Methamphetamine is a powerful stimulant that can easily lead to addiction. Once a person becomes addicted to meth, they will experience withdrawal symptoms if they attempt to quit. Meth addiction withdrawal symptoms show up either during or after detox, which is the process through which the body metabolizes the drug and gets rid of it. 

Detox and withdrawal are unpleasant, and the mental, physical and behavioral symptoms can sometimes be dangerous. That’s why it’s highly recommended that individuals who undergo detox do so under the supervision of medical personnel. It is much harder for people to quit meth on their own, since they often use it again in an effort to avoid the uncomfortable symptoms.

Signs of meth withdrawal can be intense and they can last for days, weeks or even longer. Several factors determine how long the symptoms will last, including how long the person has been addicted. In any case, detox is a crucial step in the recovery process. Even though withdrawal symptoms are uncomfortable, they are key to preventing further harm from using meth. The benefits of sobriety significantly outweigh the temporary negative side effects of detox.

Common Meth Addiction Withdrawal Symptoms

Methamphetamine is made from several toxic ingredients so detox can be harsh on the mind and body. While everyone has a unique experience, some symptoms are more common than others. These include:

  • Cravings. Most people who are experiencing withdrawal from an addictive substance feel a strong desire to use. It is no different with meth withdrawal.
  • Sleepiness and fatigue. When people are using meth, they are often hyperactive and they don’t sleep much. Withdrawal is very different. They feel tired and sleepy, and they’re mostly sedentary. This is especially likely during the first week of withdrawal. The fatigue tends to peak around the fifth day and individuals sleep for 11 hours daily, on average. Some people also experience vivid dreams during the first week.
  • Anxiety. Individuals who are going through meth withdrawal are likely to feel anxious. Anxiety disorders are also common among people who use methamphetamine.
  • Depression. The meth withdrawal symptoms list also includes low or depressed mood. This typically subsides by the third week, but for some people, it can continue for much longer.
  • Psychosis. Hallucinations and delusions can also occur during withdrawal. Hallucinations are when you see, hear, and feel things that aren’t there while delusions are strongly held concepts, beliefs, and ideas that aren’t true. 
  • Increased appetite. People who are on meth don’t usually have much of an appetite, but during withdrawal, they get strong carb cravings. The desire to eat sweet and starchy foods is at its strongest at the beginning of the withdrawal process, and it usually runs into the third week.

Other meth addiction withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Pain
  • Stomach problems
  • Tremors
  • Hyperventilation
  • Memory problems
  • Irregular heartbeat

How Long Does Meth Withdrawal Last?

This is a common question, but the length of the time the process takes can vary. The acute meth withdrawal physical symptoms typically peak around the second or third day and then start to ease up after a week. However, the psychological symptoms often last a lot longer. People who are addicted to meth may experience agitation, cravings, disturbed sleep, and mood swings for several weeks. Depression can last for up to 12 months in some people.

Let’s take a look at a typical meth withdrawal timeline.

Day 1 to 2: The first 24 to 48 hours after an individual stops using meth is known as the comedown or crash. They experience abdominal cramps, nausea and sweating along with a significant drop in cognitive function and energy.

Day 3 to 10: This is when meth addiction withdrawal symptoms usually peak. Individuals often experience anxiety, depression, and severe fatigue as the body tries to get used to the absence of meth. Some people also have muscle aches, tremors, and intense drug cravings.

Day 14 to 20: Most meth withdrawal symptoms last for two to three weeks. By the end of the second week, the physical symptoms usually start to subside but the cravings, fatigue, and depression continue.

Day 30 and onward: After the first month, the worst is usually over and any lingering symptoms dissipate gradually over time. Depression and anxiety can continue for several more months in some people.

The Possibility of Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome 

The above timeline is pretty typical but it is by no means universal. Some people who are addicted to meth or other substances experience what is known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). This lasts from six months to two years after they stop using the drug. Former meth users can experience problems with impulse control for a long time. They may also have to deal with:

  • Low energy
  • Sadness, depression and anxiety
  • Insomnia or fatigue
  • Challenges with memory, problem-solving, and learning
  • Irritability or  hostility
  • Mood swings
  • Brain fog
  • Chronic pain
  • Inability to focus
  • Low libido

The severity of these symptoms can fluctuate and may worsen in response to stress. Symptoms of PAWS may also go away altogether and then return at a later date. Individuals may find post-acute symptoms to be particularly frustrating after going through the challenges of detox and then working hard to stay clean. Fortunately, PAWS can be controlled with therapy and drugs.

Treatment typically has to be administered over an extended period, since former meth users can experience the symptoms of PAWS for months or years. Acamprosate is typically used to treat people with alcohol addiction. However, it has been somewhat effective in helping people to manage some of their PAWS symptoms. Acamprosate is often used in conjunction with group therapy and/or behavioral therapy.

These interventions help to control the worst of the symptoms so individuals can live a more normal life while they focus on their recovery. Gender and physical size can help to determine which symptoms an individual experiences. Meanwhile, the duration of PAWS can vary depending on several factors including the physical health of the person involved and the duration of their meth addiction. With customized care and ongoing support from both professionals and loved ones, people experiencing long-term withdrawal symptoms can continue to avoid relapse.

What Helps Meth Withdrawal? Ways to Find Relief

Detoxification and symptoms of withdrawal may seem daunting, but they can be safely managed in a detox facility. It’s best to have support from trained professionals throughout the entire process. Some people find it very difficult to cope with their symptoms on their own. In a medically managed facility, patients can get medications, including antipsychotic drugs, to manage psychosis and other symptoms.

Medications Used for Relief of Withdrawal Symptoms from Meth

There are no medications designed specifically for meth withdrawal. However, there are some drugs that can be used to reduce the severity of the withdrawal symptoms. For example, the anti-anxiety drug Fluoxetine, or Prozac as it is better known, is prescribed to help with panic attacks and other signs of anxiety.

Meanwhile, Bupropion is an antidepressant that’s commonly used to help people quit smoking tobacco. However, there is evidence that it can help to reduce other drug cravings so it is sometimes used to help people going through meth withdrawal.

Another medication that may be used is Modafinil. This is a mild stimulant that’s typically used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy. However, it can also help to relieve the sleep problems and cravings that characterize withdrawal. Research is being conducted into whether there are other medications that could make the withdrawal process easier for meth users.

Other Ways to Relieve Meth Addiction Withdrawal Symptoms

In the meantime, if you are planning to detox from meth, there are things you can do to make the process easier. You may be better able to cope with your symptoms if you:

  • Eat healthy foods. As we noted previously, meth users’ appetite often returns during withdrawal. It can be tempting to overeat but you should try to eat a balanced diet and to consume meals in moderation. If you eat more than you did before you started taking meth, it’s possible that you could develop a food addiction. 
  • Exercise. By getting moving, you may be able to relieve some of your anxiety.
  • Avoid triggers. If you know that certain situations, environments or people make you want to use meth, you should avoid them while you’re going through withdrawal. Otherwise, you’ll be more likely to relapse.
  • Find ways to keep busy. The cravings may be quite intense in the beginning but they will lessen as time goes on. Find ways to distract yourself while you wait for the symptoms to go away. When you’re busy, you won’t notice the cravings as much.

How to Support Someone in Withdrawal

If you have a friend or loved one who is addicted to meth, you may feel helpless when you see them going through meth withdrawal physical symptoms. As you can tell from what we’ve discussed so far, when coming off meth, side effects can be serious and debilitating. However, your support can help your loved one to feel less alone during the process. You can help by:

  • Making sure the individual drinks lots of water and other fluids
  • Encouraging them to sleep a lot
  • Providing healthy meals
  • Reminding them that it will take time for both their brain and their body to heal
  • Telling them that getting clean is a smart, courageous thing to do
  • Encouraging them to seek professional addiction treatment

Why It’s Not Advisable to Stop Using Meth On Your Own

Quitting meth can be challenging. Not because the user lacks willpower or a moral compass, but because the brain has undergone significant changes. People usually try to get sober because they want to improve their health and get their lives back on track. 

They go into the process feeling optimistic about their chances. However, the combination of uncomfortable side effects and strong cravings can easily cause individuals to snort, smoke, or inject again. They may decide to take just a small dose to relieve some of the symptoms and go right back into addiction.

Quitting alone is not impossible, but most people find it to be more challenging than going to a treatment center or working with a doctor. In a facility, you’ll be surrounded by doctors, nurses and addiction professionals who can keep you comfortable and safe. 

You won’t have access to drugs and you won’t be exposed to the people or situations that trigger your use. This increases the likelihood that you will get clean and stay clean. Ending your use of meth without medical assistance can also be risky, depending on how long you’ve been addicted and how severe the addiction is. 

Meth addiction can wreak havoc in every aspect of your life. To give yourself the best chance of beating your substance use disorder, you should seek professional care during the detox and withdrawal process.

Get Professional Guidance from Find Addiction Rehabs!

As you can see, meth addiction withdrawal can be difficult. However, medically supervised detox is the most effective way to begin treatment. It sets the stage for subsequent phases of the recovery process. Withdrawal is a natural part of the process. If you or a loved one wants to overcome a meth addiction, you need to seek professional help at a rehab facility. With so many facilities and programs out there, you may not know which to choose. Reach out to Find Addiction Rehabs today for help in choosing the best program for your needs. Our team of experts will help you get on the path to sobriety.