Dependence on meth

Dependence on meth occurs when the body needs meth to function normally. Symptoms of meth dependence include drug craving, extreme irritability, and tachycardia when you lower meth doses. More on meth dependence here.

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It is very easy to become physically and mentally dependent on meth or methamphetamine .  In fact, dependence is an expected outcome of how methamphetamine works.  However, meth dependence can signal addiction.

So what are the symptoms of both physical and psychological dependence on meth? And who can help meth addiction? If you need to identify dependence on meth or are concerned about meth overdose, read on for more information. Then, we invite your questions about meth dependence or addiction at the end.

Meth dependence versus addiction

The main difference between dependence and addiction is INTENT of use. Meth addicts use meth for psychological reasons. People dependent on meth use meth to avoid withdrawal symptoms. However, for meth users this is a very fine line that somettime doesn’t even exist. How is dependence different than addiction?

Dependence refers to a state during which a person is dependent upon a drug for normal physiological functioning. And when you stop taking that drug, withdrawal symptoms occur. In this case, abstinence from the meth produces withdrawal reactions that constitute the visible evidence for dependence. On the other hand, addiction refers to a behavioral syndrome where the user of meth becomes preoccupied to the point of obsession about obtaining more of the drug. And drug use is central to life.

Dependence on meth symptoms

“Dependence is a pattern of substance use that leads to clinically significant impairment or distress “ (American Psychiatric Association, 1994). Using this definition from the DSM-IV, dependence on meth is measured by three or more of the following criteria, occurring at any time in the same 12 month period:

Tolerance, as defined by either:

a) need for increased amounts of meth to achieve intoxication or the desired effect; or

b) diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of meth.

Withdrawal shown by either of the following:

a) characteristic meth withdrawal syndrome; or

b) meth or closely related substance use to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms.

Physical dependence on meth

Physical dependence on a substance is defined by the appearance of withdrawal symptoms when use of the substance is discontinued. Physical dependence on meth is characterised by:

  • fatigue
  • fever
  • nausea
  • shaking hands
  • sweating
  • tachycardia

Psychological dependence on meth

Psychological dependence is a dependency of the mind, and leads to psychological withdrawal symptoms (such as cravings, irritability, insomnia, depression, anorexia etc). Addiction can in theory be derived from any rewarding behavior, and is believed to be strongly associated with particular areas of the brain’s reward system

Meth dependence withdrawal

The severity and length of withdrawal symptoms vary from person to person along with the amount of damage done to the normal reward system through methamphetamine use. The DSM-IV characterises meth dependence withdrawal including dysphoric mood (sadness) plus two of the following:

  • constipation
  • drug craving
  • extreme irritability
  • fever
  • muscle spasms
  • nausea
  • shaking
  • sweating
  • tachycardia

The duration and severity of a typical withdrawal syndrome for methamphetamine remains unclear although there is some evidence to suggest that the majority of symptoms will resolve within two weeks of ceasing meth use, with some gastrointestinal related symptoms persisting for a further 1 to 2 weeks.

Suspect that you or a loved one have developed dependence or addiction to illicit meth or to Methedrine (brand name for a medication containing methamphetamine hydrochlorde)? Seek medical help to quit! Detox and withdrawal can be dangerous and lead to relapse if you try to quit cold turkey and on your own. Also, learn more about the addiction treatment process and available options for rehab in our Methedrine Addiction Treatment Programs and Help GUIDE for safe and successful quitting.

Meth dependence time: How long to be dependent on meth?

The speed with which you become addicted to a substance varies with the substance, the frequency of use, the method of use, the intensity of pleasure, and your genetic and psychological susceptibility. How long it takes to become dependent on meth depends on the frequency of use. If you use methamphetamine several times per week, you are likely to manifest at least some symptoms of dependence within a 4 to 6 week period.

Meth dependence questions

If you still have questions about meth dependence, addiction or treatment options please contact us or let us know. We’ll be happy to help. We invite your questions, comments, or feedback in the comments section below.

Reference Sources: American Society of Addiction Medicine: Journal of Addictive Diseases 21(1): 35-44.
NLM: Medline Plus
Victoria Department of Health
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.


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  1. Hi Michelle. In some cases, gradual taper does help address withdrawal symptoms and dependence issues when it comes to stimulants. The idea for meth is to go from daily to every 2nd or 3rd day, and then to increase until you’re a once a week user…at which point withdrawal can be completed in detox. Other suggestions for meth harm reduction are outlined here:

    While most doctors advocate for 100% abstinence, you might try this method of harm reduction and reach out to a counselor or social worker who understands. Please give us a call for support and to learn how you can turn your life around…NOW! You don’t need to wait.

  2. I’ve replased after 3yrs clean. I’ve taken a daily habit and want to stop. I’ve gone through and worked out what my triggers are but now withdrawal is scaring me. I can’t loose my job so can’t take time away from this but I know from experience for me the first week of tired is very hard to get through. I’m a strong individual and want to fight this it’s this first week of withdrawal and that memory that stops me.
    My question is have you heard of anyone whose successfully reduced use and quit? For me I’m thinking if I get through my busy work period until Christmas I can take a week off after and do a final withdrawal but in the meantime I hope to reduce use significantly.
    I was reinforced a little when I read on one of your pages as a way to withdraw. I am seeking help through a local NA group but my current dependence is my shame and I want to keep to myself.
    I guess I just want someone to say just do it. Thanks

  3. I hope you could help. I’m not a everyday user I use maybe every couple weeks. When I get paid. And I’m coming to the conclusion I’m getting addicted. It gets harder and harder now to say no. When I want to get high ill find ways to score or borrow money. I really need to quit now before I lose my children my family every one who trusts me. I need help please

  4. I quit cold turkey about 5/6 days ago. I gave tried before but never lasted more than 3/4 days, I’ve had ringing,buzzing in my head,did not want nor could I get up and do anything at all.i then went back to it, it was all around me., I work in construction got an opportunity to go to Oregon and work for 3 months I brought a lot of meth with me but ran out 7/8 days ago can’t get any hear so I was forced to quit ?. I’m waiting to feel all those terrible things I felt when I tried to quit before. Am I on my way to a clean and sober life or what. Happy in oregon but can’t wait to go back to Los Angeles and my loving and supporting family. My new life,I’m 52 years young I’ve used meth for 15 years. Please help thank you I WILL SURVIVE I HAVE KIDS AND LOVE TO GIVE I WILL BEST THIS BERDON I PUT ON MY SELF SO CAN YOU.?

    1. Hi Leonel. I suggest that you call at the helpline displayed on the website to get in touch with a trusted treatment consultant who can help you find the best rehab for you.

  5. When a person use ice (meth) 3 months period, and having insomnia , hyperactive, paranoid, symptoms then person fall in which category stimulant use disorder, abuse or dependent

  6. Is there any hope, at all? Any chance to her through this? This is fucking horrible.
    I feel like I’m dying.

    1. Hi Reney. Yes, there is hope… many people are walking tall in addiction recovery. I suggest that you call the number you see on the website to get in touch with a trusted treatment consultant who can help you find the best treatment facility for you. The helpline is free of charge, trustful, and you may call it any time of the day or the night.

  7. Hi I smoked Meth every day for 2 monthz i am 2 days clean and feel no withdrawal symptoms at all
    I stopped.feeling anything anyway when i was smoking i thought why am i doing this when it’s not even working. Was I becomkng tolerant and am i still not yet in withdrawel because I feel normal. Ive slept eaten and worked wvery day I was using and took serequel to sleep at night so woukd that be why i am not xoming down and being scattered with no withdrawel symptoms at all

    1. Hi Stan. This is interesting! Generally, the most intense phase of meth withdrawal is during the first 24 hours after you last use, and then gradually gets less intense over the course of about two weeks. Cravings are generally present and last for at least 5 weeks.

  8. 1. I’d like to point out that many don’t make it clear that addiction is a “rest of your life” kind of disease. Addictive drugs are like firing a piece of pottery, once you’re brain is “cooked” there’s no cure, to go back to your original health.
    2. There are alot of Meth-like prescription drugs out there, that produce the same adverse effects.
    3. Where has anyone discussed the use of these drugs as a method of CONTROLLING someone else. Why? The reason to ask this is this: Once the brain is thus changed, for good, anyone who wants to send the addict on a Meth Trip can do so at any time. Someone needs to be talking about DRUGS as a way to control, to abuse other people, without their consent or prior understanding of the POWER given to anyone allowed to administer drugs to another.
    Thanks for any info you have to share.

  9. i’ve been on methadone about 10 year.. i want quit drink methadone,can you help me..? and can you tell me what the effect from methadone..? because the doctor here in bali, told me for don’t worry.. he say no effect from methadone..

    thx and please help me,,

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