What is meth withdrawal?

Meth withdrawal occurs when you experience a crash in dopamine in the brain. What helps meth withdrawal? We review here.

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Using meth is dangerous an addictive.  In fact, smoking, injecting, or snorting methamphetamine is one of the most difficult habits to kick. One of the worst parts of this journey is surviving the withdrawal. However, making it through meth withdrawal without a relapse can be a great start to helping meth addiction.

Here, we review what are symptoms of meth withdrawal and how to get through the period of acute detox. Then, we invite your questions about meth withdrawal at the end. We respond to all legitimate questions with a personal and prompt response.

What is meth withdrawal syndrome?

Meth withdrawal syndrome is a set of symptoms which occur after meth use, binge, or addiction. Meth withdrawal syndrome is a set of physical and psychological symptoms that manifest themselves after you stop using meth. Although you don’t need to be chemically dependent on meth to experience withdrawal, dependency can cause more severe symptoms. Why does withdrawal happen?

Methamphetamines are powerful stimulants. People who abuse these drugs regularly have high levels of dopamine flood the central nervous system, neurotransmitters that control the pleasure centers of our brains. Spikes in this chemical leads to euphoric feelings, which changes the natural balance, or homeostasis, that the brain struggles to maintain. Over a period of extended meth use, the brain compensates for this and creates a new homeostasis. When the body is denied the drug, the levels of dopamine in the brain come crashing down.

What is withdrawal from meth like?

Withdrawal from meth is like the opposite of feeling really good and is likened to a deep clinical depression. It is like a general dissatisfaction with life, accompanied by physical symptoms that can be very uncomfortable. The drastic drop in dopamine in the brain during meth withdrawal syndrome is the biggest reason that withdrawal from meth is so difficult. Since the levels of dopamine drop so quickly, this has a dramatic effect on the pleasure centers of the brain.

What does meth withdrawal feel like?

Meth withdrawal symptoms feel like a severe mood disorder combined with fatigue and hunger. Symptoms generally present themselves within several hours to a day after use. This starts with the initial dopamine crash and you may feel suicidal at times. The worst of the symptoms are usually felt around a day or two after the drug was last taken, and the intensity of the symptoms will gradually diminish over time. Overall, it can take several days to a few weeks for meth withdrawal symptoms to completely diminish.

During the first week or two after last using meth, meth users will often be very lethargic and may sleep quite a bit as their bodies catch up on the rest they missed during their drug use. Meth is also a powerful appetite suppressant, and another common symptom of meth withdrawal is an intense hunger. For many, this often leads to weight gain. Throughout the entire meth withdrawal process, users will often have a strong craving for the drug, which is reinforced by the knowledge that the withdrawal symptoms will disappear if the drug is taken.

What helps meth withdrawal?

Meth withdrawal is difficult, to say the least. However, there are a number of ways to help address meth withdrawal symptoms.

Tapering off the drug

Quitting meth cold turkey is often very difficult for many, and may even seem impossible. Gradually weaning off of meth, however, may be a better option. Since gradually tapering drug use can help the body slowly adjust to the change, it can also help make meth withdrawal symptoms less intense.

Detoxification off meth

Meth detox is an important step toward recovering from this addiction. Detox is a period of time in which a person’s body totally breaks down the remaining drugs and rids them from the body. Because meth withdrawal often leads to severe depression and sometimes suicidal tendencies, individuals looking to detox from it should strongly consider doing so under in a medical setting under strict supervision. Detoxing from meth under medical supervision can also greatly decrease the likelihood that a person will relapse just to relieve the withdrawal symptoms.

Medications for meth withdrawal

There are no medications that are used to treat meth withdrawal specifically. However, doctors may prescribe medications to alleviate meth withdrawal symptoms in some cases. For instance, antidepressants can be subscribed to meth users who are severely depressed or suicidal.

Home remedies for meth withdrawal

Although it’s not recommended to go through meth withdrawal alone, it is possible in some cases. Get as much rest as possible during the initial days of meth withdrawal and drink plenty of fluids to help speed the detoxification process. Depressed mood may be helped by talking through your feelings with a trusted loved one, staying busy, or participating in fun activities. Joining a support group, online or otherwise, can also be very helpful when trying to work through meth withdrawal.

Need help stopping meth? Check out our detailed GUIDE on methamphetamine withdrawal and detox to help yourself get ready for what you can expect during the quitting meth, withdrawal, and detox detox stages under medical supervision.

Questions about meth withdrawal

Are you or is one of your loved ones struggling with meth withdrawal? Do you have an experience or advice you’d like to share? Don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. We’ll do what we can to help you through your ordeal or even just provide you with a little positive support.

Reference Sources: NIDA: Methamphetamine Abuse and Addiction
PubMed: The nature, time course and severity of methamphetamine withdrawal
Illinois Attorney General – Treatment for Meth Addiction
SAMHSA: Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment
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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