Methamphetamines are manmade stimulants that produce severe euphoric effects. Crystal meth is highly addictive, but the high fades quickly, causing users to crave and abuse the drug more often.
Crystal meth is commonly referred to as tina, crystal, ice, meth, crank, or speed. Individuals abuse the drug by injecting, inhaling, or snorting it.
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Since crystal meth is incredibly potent and addictive, the drug is usually used for long periods.
Whenever you abuse drugs of any kind, especially those that are as psychologically and physically addictive as crystal meth, side effects such as crystal meth withdrawal, tolerance, and dependence will arise.
The immediate effects of crystal meth consist of:
- Increased wakefulness and physical activity
- Increased body temperature
- Weight loss
- Rapid heart rate
Using crystal meth gives users a rush of pleasure, as it affects the amount of dopamine in the brain. The effects of crystal meth on the brain contribute to the feeling of needing more of the drug to achieve the desired effects.
As the body acclimates to the presence of the drug within its system, the brain will stop dopamine production, which ultimately throws the brain chemistry of the meth user off balance. Once out of homeostasis, the person will need to use the drug continually to feel “normal.”
Over time, crystal meth users begin to require more of the drug to find this internal balance, and a tolerance begins to build. The higher tolerance you have to crystal meth, the more intense your side effects and crystal meth withdrawal will be when you stop using.
What Are the Crystal Meth Withdrawal Symptoms?
As the tolerance and dependence of crystal meth grow, individuals are more susceptible to overdose and crystal meth withdrawal.
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The body and brain become entirely dependent on the influx of “feel good” chemicals entering the brain.
After time passes, you might begin to experience the need for more of the drug. This phenomenon is referred to as “cravings.” Cravings will drive drug users to seek out more of the drug and continually use it despite any negative consequences the drug may be having on their lives.
If a person addicted to crystal meth fails to feed their habit and meet or surpass their newly tolerated dosage, they’re in trouble.
Once crystal meth is absent from the body for a substantial amount of time, symptoms of crystal meth withdrawal will begin. Quitting meth produces a number of unpleasant withdrawal symptoms such as:
- Urinary issues
- Digestive issues
- Chest pain
- A headache
- Excessive sweating
- Dry or itchy skin
- Weight loss
- Increased alertness
- Memory loss
- Mood disturbances (homicidal or suicidal thoughts)
- Difficulties in concentration
- Oral health, dental issues (meth mouth)
Although crystal meth withdrawal is not fatal, you can experience seizures while undergoing withdrawal.
What Are the Stages of Crystal Meth Withdrawal Timeline?
The intensity and duration of crystal meth withdrawal vary depending on the individual. Other factors that affect the withdrawal timeline include how long the drug has been used and how much of the drug is being used. Typically, an individual will initially begin to crash after just a few hours of not having drugs in their system. If you or someone you know is going through crystal meth withdrawal, the signs, symptoms, and duration of withdrawal can look something like this timeline. Consult with a doctor to get the best timeline for your situation.
Within the first 1-3days, you might begin to feel fatigued and lethargic. During this time, you are experiencing a crash, the period that follows the drug highs. This time can be hard on the body and produce intense cravings. Some people go back to using to avoid “coming down” and feeling the crash because withdrawal symptoms are so intense. Insomnia and exhaustion go hand in hand due to individuals most commonly going on benders, meaning they don’t sleep or eat while they are actively using. You also might experience intense mood swings and increased agitation due to the lack of dopamine in the brain.
After 4-10 days, you might experience severe depression, anxiety, and emotional instability. During this period of crystal meth withdrawal, you might find it increasingly difficult to concentrate, eat, feel motivated, and sleep. The lack of energy in the body might lead to an increase in headaches and other body aches and pains. The risk for hallucinations and paranoia also increase at this time.
After a few weeks, the physical withdrawal symptoms begin to dwindle down. However, you might continue to experience waves of the symptoms, both emotional and physical. Also, drug cravings will most likely peak at this time. The risk for relapse is much higher and this stage, but they can be combated using relapse prevention techniques.
After a month of living life without the use of crystal meth, you will feel better both mentally, emotionally, and physically. However, the symptoms of crystal meth withdrawal can linger and come and go in waves. This is normal, although it is important to have a solid foundation due to the high risk for a setback as your amount of clean time increases. Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) can also arise and continue for as long as four months after the last dose. During PAWS, symptoms like restlessness, irritability, emotional instability, anxiety, memory loss, and depression will present themselves at any given moment.
Recovering crystal meth users should take into consideration the extensiveness of withdrawal and the importance of professional help when deciding to stop using drugs.
How Dangerous Is Meth Withdrawal?
Meth is an intense drug that can be extremely dangerous during active addiction. But how dangerous is it when you quit? Other drug classes like depressants can cause deadly symptoms like seizures, delirium, and coma, but can stimulants cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms? Stimulants like meth aren’t known to cause deadly physical symptoms during withdrawal like depressants can.
However, meth can have a deep psychological impact while you’re using it, and while you’re going through withdrawal. Meth primarily affects serotonin and dopamine in the brain. These natural chemicals are closely tied to excitement, motivation, and reward. When you go through withdrawal, most of your symptoms will be psychological rather than posing a physical danger. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t dangerous.
Besides extreme fatigue and general discomfort, the most dangerous symptoms you experience may be psychological in nature. Still, symptoms like psychosis, depression, and anhedonia can be serious if left untreated. Stimulant psychosis is a possible symptom of heavy meth use and cold turkey withdrawal. It’s more likely if you’re coming off of a meth binge, especially if you’ve stayed up for days using the drug. Meth’s effects, mixed with a lack of sleep, can cause psychotic symptoms. In some cases, this can lead to injuries because of self-harm or accidents.
Anhedonia is the inability to feel pleasure and reward. Meth increases the amount of dopamine in your system and prevents it from being removed. Your dopamine receptors are flooded to the point when they may become damaged, leaving fewer functional receptors over time.
When you stop using meth, you may find that the changes to your brain it caused leave you unable to feel pleasure in normal ways. This can lead to depression or relapse. Eventually, your dopamine receptors can return to normal, but during meth withdrawal, you may feel depressed, unmotivated, and apathetic.
Depression can become severe during withdrawal. In many cases, it can lead to suicidal thoughts or actions. According to a 2009 study, meth use can lead to suicide and violent behaviors in some users. A 1998 review found that 15 percent of meth-related deaths were caused by suicide. If you or someone you know is experiencing deep depression while you are going through meth withdrawal, it’s important to realize that it may be caused by an underlying chemical imbalance. It may be temporary, but it may also last for a long time without treatment. It’s important to seek help as soon as possible if you are thinking about self-harm.
Though meth isn’t likely to cause dangerous physical withdrawal symptoms, the psychological symptoms can be dangerous. The safest way to get through meth detox is with the help of medical professionals. In a hospital setting or detox center, staff can monitor your condition, ensure your safety, and help ease uncomfortable symptoms.
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Why Should I Detox?
The detoxification process of crystal meth withdrawal can be daunting. The symptoms associated with severe meth use can be excruciating, dangerous, and highly unpleasant. It is imperative for you or someone you know to seek professional help when deciding to stop using meth.
Detoxing in a medical facility not only provides you with a safe environment to begin your recovery journey but it also aids in alleviating the symptoms of withdrawal and gives you access to medical staff 24/7. Withdrawal is uncomfortable, no matter the substance. Having medications to combat some or all of the symptoms can be the deciding factor in your success of staying clean.
At times, especially during withdrawal, we feel vulnerable and so down on ourselves that we can’t commit to staying clean. Attending a professional detox facility, like The Palm Beach Institute, you are under surveillance and surrounded by support to keep you motivated toward your goals of living a fulfilling life.
Although crystal meth withdrawal is not fatal, there is a risk that you may experience severe hallucinations or seizures, which can be challenging to deal with at home. It is imperative to seek professional medical help to remain safe and comfortable throughout the initial stages of the recovery process.
What Is the Next Treatment Step?
Detox is only the beginning step in maintaining sobriety. After successfully completing detox, which can last up to 10 days, professional staff will encourage you to attend a long-term program.
While attending an inpatient facility, you will be introduced to a number of medical staff and clinical support who are understanding of addiction or dealing with the same issues.
These programs offer you time away from potentially dangerous environments as well as intense therapy and educational programs to ensure you have a solid foundation when the program is over. Inpatient programs typically last around 45 days and continuous care of an outpatient program will follow.
It’s essential to always follow the full continuum of care to solidify your sobriety and give yourself time away from the stressors everyday life presents so as to focus solely on recovery.
Outpatient programs are less intense, but they provide the same tools and coping mechanisms you need to successfully maintain sobriety. Outpatient programs also keep you accountable due to random drug screenings and requirements to attend if you are living in a sober living facility or the equivalent.
Completing an entire treatment program can seem intimidating, but the results are worth it. Treating addiction, with the help of professionals, is proven effective for a number of years. Adding quality to your life will be worth the few months spent learning about yourself, your addiction, and how to cope with triggers. You will also learn how to live a life without drugs and safely overcome crystal meth withdrawal.
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