Methamphetamine is one of the most addictive drugs in the world. The frenetic energy it produces interrupts sleeping patterns, stops users from eating, deteriorates parts of the body like the teeth, and can lead to psychotic breaks. Surely with a drug so potent, withdrawal and detoxification from methamphetamine would seem severe and nearly impossible. Luckily, methamphetamine detox, when medically supervised, can be safely managed and relatively comfortable.
Withdrawal symptoms of methamphetamine detox affect all aspects of life, including emotional balance, mental stability, and physical health. The physical symptoms of meth withdrawal last for a short time. The emotional and psychological symptoms of meth detox last longer. Ideally, an addiction professional or counselor can help with mental stressers which arise when someone stops taking meth. For many, meth use is a way to self-medicate or avoid psychological or emotional distress. Take away the meth and the problems become more evident. Trying to detox without professional help is nfar more difficult and, well, lonely. A counselor or friend in recovery can help someone understand and deal with the symptoms and understand the process.
The Phases of Methamphetamine Withdrawal
Methamphetamine detoxification occurs in four phases. The first phase is the most intense period and starts 24 hours after stopping meth. That first 24 hours is the most difficult period of withdrawal and gets gradually easier for about two weeks. The second phase is week 3 and 4 and is usually the time your body tries to rebuild itself after a long period of abuse. After the first month or so, most people feel much better and can start rebuilding their lives and relationships. It is pretty amazing how quickly the human body and mind can recover from methamphetamine addiction.
Methamphetamine Detox: Phase 1
This first phase of meth withdrawal lasts about 24-72 hours and is the most physically demanding of all the meth withdrawal phases. Symptoms of meth withdrawal at this phase include:
- Exhaustion: The body and mind are spent after being pushed to the limit for days, weeks and months. The best remedy for this is rest and relaxation. Do not push yourself physically these first few days. The body needs time to heal. Many people sleep around the clock at this phase because they need it. Many experience very vivid dreams as the brain begins to heal.
- Anxiety: Many feel panic and anxiety those first few days of meth detox. This is normal and this is why medical supervision is so important. A doctor can prescribe anti-anxiety medication to ease you through this phase.
- Paranoia and hallucinations: Again, while scary, this is normal. Meth attacks parts of the brain. Take away the meth and the brain tries to readjust its chemistry. This can cause meth psychosis and paranoia. Someone may think everyone is out to get them, or see things that aren’t there. The best way to deal with this is under doctor supervision so symptoms are minimized and no one gets hurt.
Methamphetamine Detox: Phase 2
This phase of meth withdrawal is usually during the second week after someone stops taking meth. Symptoms include:
- Cravings for Meth: Some people have strong cravings for meth at around 1 week clean. This is where the addictive mind can take control if someone is not in the proper environment. Ideally, someone needs to be in inpatient drug rehab at this time. It forces people to communicate with others, to get counseling and to live in a sober environment where using drugs is impossible.
- Depression: Meth is a stimulant. With drugs like cocaine or meth, when the brain has become accustomed to being in a state of artificial excitement, it reacts strongly when the stimulant is removed. Fortunately, this feeling of hopelessness only lasts for a week or so. Being in treatment with others you can relate to is the best way to alleviate depression. If you cannot go to treatment, go to an AA meeting or an NA Meeting. There are meetings in nearly any city in the United States. Please call for help if the depression is too strong to fight.
- Just Don’t Feel Good: Many people just don’t feel well during the first few weeks of meth withdrawal. This can mean headaches, poor concentration and body aches. Remember, the body is trying to get used to a new way of life. These feelings will also pass quickly. Try to be patient with yourself and know you are doing the right thing. A whole new life is right around the corner if you can just stay the course a little while longer.
- Cravings for Carbohydrates: People who are in addiction recovery often experience strong cravings for carbohydrate-heavy foods in the early weeks of withdrawal. With meth use especially, there usually isn’t a lot of healthy food eaten in the days of addiction. The stimulant nature of methamphetamine curbs the appetite and increases physical activity so the body has very little to keep it going. During the first weeks of withdrawal, the body wants to rebuild itself, so it sends craving signals to the brain. Why does the body crave carbs? First of all, carbohydrate-heavy foods like bread and sugary foods are simple sugars that give you energy quickly. Also, a high carb diet has been proven to fight depression. Carbs help your brain produce serotonin, the “feel-good” hormone. Lastly, sugary carbs just taste good and make us feel happy when we are eating them. With all these things going for them, carbs are the perfect food for someone newly recovering from addiction.
Methamphetamine Detox: Phase 3
This phase of methamphetamine withdrawal is usually 2 weeks after quitting. Most of the other symptoms start to subside and we start to feel better. Moodiness and slight depression can continue through this phase.
Methamphetamine Detox: Phase 4
This last phase usually occurs during weeks 3 and 4. Here are the symptoms of this last phase of withdrawal from meth.
- Feeling much better: The aches and pains subside. Energy returns and psychological outlook is much brighter.
- Even moods: Unpredictable mood swings calm down and we feel much more “even” and calm.
- Normal sleep patterns: We start sleeping better for the normal lengths of time. We feel rested and refreshed.
- New Energy Levels: The exhaustion and lethargy of a few weeks ago is gone. We have new energy and start participating in life.
Methamphetamine detox can sound like a daunting task. We hear about the terrible side effects of withdrawal and may think, ”I can’t go through with it!” Certainly the first few days can be rough for some, but with medical attention and time to rest, withdrawal from meth can be manageable. The main thing to remember is to take it easy and allow your body and mind to recover. Remember that any discomfort is only temporary and that the symptoms are worth what you are trying to do. Getting sober takes courage and humility. It takes all you have at first. But you can start your new life as a sober happy person if you can just get through those first days. Keep the final goal in mind always, lean on others for help and be kind to yourself and you will get to the other side so much better than you were before.