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
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.
- Body aches
- Increased appetite
- Mood swings
- Trouble concentrating
- Extreme fatigue
- Severe depression
Meth Withdrawal Timeline
Meth Withdrawal Detox and Treatment
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).