Methamphetamine–also known as meth, crystal, chalk and ice–is a powerful stimulant that affects the central nervous system. Used as an illegal drug to elevate mood and increase energy, meth is extremely addictive and can have profound physical and psychological effects on heavy users. People who abruptly stop taking meth after prolonged use often experience painful physical and mental symptoms known as meth withdrawal. Without medical treatment, meth withdrawal can result in symptoms, such as paranoia, extreme fatigue, and severe cravings for the drug.

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The Risks of Stopping Meth Cold Turkey

Withdrawal without medical help is a risky proposition. The physical effects of crystal meth withdrawal are often not as serious as other drugs, such heroin and alcohol, but the psychological effects of the highly addictive drug are extremely potent and can last for weeks. Severe symptoms like psychosis and hallucinations can make a person withdrawing from meth a danger to themselves or others. Treatment at a drug rehab can help clients through this difficult process in a safe, controlled setting and prevent a return to use.

Also, prolonged meth use can have devastating effects on the body, such as heart and brain damage. A drug treatment center can help clients start to address these health issues.

Other Health Complications Due to Meth Use
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs): People who use crystal meth can become uninhibited, and the drug can also increase libido. Meth users often engage in risky behaviors, such as unprotected sex with multiple partners, leading to the transmission of STDs. These STDS range from chlamydia and gonorrhea–which can be cured with treatment–to chronic conditions such as herpes and HIV/AIDS. A detox or drug treatment center can test clients for these diseases and start treatment if needed.
  • Meth Mouth: Smoking methamphetamines can lead to extreme tooth decay and gum disease. The damage is commonly referred to as “meth mouth.” According to the American Dental Association, the teeth can become blackened, stained, rotting, crumbling, and eventually teeth can fall apart. In many cases, the effects are not reversible, and the affected teeth must be removed. Poor oral hygiene also can have adverse effects on the rest of the body. Medical care during the detox process can start to address these harmful side-effects of meth use.
  • Diseases from IV drug use: Some meth users inject the drug into their bloodstream with needles. These meth users can contract blood-borne viruses, such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis B and C, after sharing needles or using contaminated drug paraphernalia. There are no cures for HIV and hepatitis B and C, but treatments are available. Severe meth use can exacerbate an HIV infection and lead to serious, potentially life-threatening health problems. A drug rehab can test for these chronic conditions. If a client tests positive, they can begin to get help for these serious, sometimes fatal illnesses.
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Meth Withdrawal Symptoms

Common Meth Withdrawal Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms of withdrawal can vary with the user, depending on long the person has abused the drug and how it was taken into the body. Those who inject or smoke methamphetamines are more likely to have more severe withdrawal symptoms.

Mild Symptoms

  • Anxiety
  • Body aches
  • Cravings
  • Headaches
  • Increased appetite
  • Mood swings
  • Trouble concentrating

Severe Symptoms

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis
  • Severe depression

Meth Withdrawal Timeline

Meth Withdrawal Timeline
    • First 1-3 Days

      Because meth users often don’t sleep from the potent stimulant effect of the drug, people coming off meth are extremely fatigued, causing them to sleep for extended periods. Lacking the euphoric feeling produced by the drug, users can become depressed and anxious.

    • First 4-10 Days

      In this period, physical effects develop as meth users start to have body pain, headaches, and experience trouble sleeping. Meanwhile, the psychological effects become more pronounced with most clients lacking motivation and finding hard to concentrate. The heaviest users of meth can experience paranoia, hallucinations, and severe anxiety. These symptoms contribute to strong cravings for the drug.

    • First Few Weeks

      While most physical effects subside at this point, users can still have issues with their sleep. Psychological symptoms, such as depression and cravings for the drug, continue. Many who have become addicted to meth return to using during this period, highlighting the importance of treatment to avoid relapse.

  • After 30 Days

    Former users begin to recover as most symptoms fade. However, many experience Post Acute Withdrawals (PAWS), which include cravings, depression, and irritability. Continued treatment can help former users through this period.

Meth Withdrawal Detox and Treatment

Meth Withdrawal Treatment and Detox

Crystal meth is extremely addictive, and withdrawal can cause severe psychological distress. Medical assistance at a drug treatment center can help meth users safely withdrawal and give a client the best chance for long-term recovery.

There are no medications specifically for the treatment of meth withdrawal. However, at a detox facility, clients can be treated with medications like antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs (non-benzodiazepine), antipsychotic medication, or sleep aids.

Abusing meth can also do serious damage to users’ bodies, so detoxing in a medical setting can help identify and address any possible underlying health issues.

Continue Treatment after Detox

After detox, clients are encouraged to enroll in an inpatient or outpatient drug treatment program to prevent a return to use. Although most physical withdrawal symptoms subside after about 10 days, psychological symptoms such as depression and cravings can persist. Inpatient or outpatient drug treatment programs can help clients through these Post Acute Withdrawals (PAWS).

Meth Withdrawal FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions about Meth Addiction
    • Can stopping meth cold turkey lead to death?

      The physical effects of withdrawing from meth are typically not life-threatening. But the drug’s effect on a user’s mental health is often severe. People coming off meth can become paranoid and experience hallucinations. It is best to withdraw from meth in a safe, controlled setting, such as a drug treatment center.

    • How long does it take to safely detox from meth?

      Users can usually detox from meth in a medical setting in a few days. But because of the drug’s highly addictive nature and its psychological side-effects, continued treatment at an inpatient or outpatient drug treatment center is encouraged for long-term success.

    • What are meth’s prolonged effects on the body?

      Meth increases heart rate and causes blood vessels to constrict. These effects can have serious side effects, including heart attack, stroke, and death. Long-term meth use can also “rewire” the brain, changing how people feel pleasure. The brain becomes accustomed to huge rushes of pleasure produced by the drug. So without meth, many users experience depression and feelings of hopelessness for weeks after their last use.

    • How is meth different from other stimulants like cocaine?

      Cocaine and meth both affect the pleasure centers of the brain and trigger the release of dopamine. However, meth is more potent, producing a longer and more pronounced high. The stronger nature of meth can cause more long lasting damage to a user’s brain than drugs like cocaine.

    • How long do withdrawal symptoms last?

      The physical symptoms of withdrawal normally subside between four and 10 days. But psychological effects, including depression and cravings, can last week after use.

  • What’s the best way to get off meth?

    The best way to get off meth is to seek professional drug treatment and have a medical team supervise your heroin withdrawal process. If you need help finding a drug rehab in your area, Drug Treatment Center Finder can help you begin your journey toward recovery. Call our 24-hour hotline at (855) 619-8070, and one of our call agents will be available to answer any questions you may have about heroin addiction and the right treatment methods to pursue.