A crystal methamphetamine - or ice -addiction is a terrible affliction that leads people to dark places. Yet, the uncomfortable comedown often experienced causes many to continue using the drug. Eventually, though, it becomes clear that carrying on is not a safe option.
When those living with an ice addiction realize that they need to stop using the drug, the first step in recovery is detox.
The best way of completing a crystal meth detox is by going to a treatment center and detoxing under medical supervision. However, many people attempt to detox at home. Sadly, this is not safe due to the crystal meth withdrawal symptoms that arise.
What Are Meth Withdrawal Symptoms?
Meth addiction withdrawal might not be quite as painful as opioid withdrawal, but it can still be uncomfortable. Likewise, crystal meth withdrawal is not as dangerous as alcohol withdrawal, but it can still lead to relapse.
The strength of meth withdrawal symptoms depends on various factors, including how much meth you take, how you administer crystal meth, and how long you have been taking the drug.
Some common symptoms include:
- Depression. Meth floods your brain with chemicals designed to make you feel good. When you take meth consistently, these chemicals stop working as effectively, meaning that you start to experience depressive symptoms during crystal meth withdrawal.
- Psychosis. Meth use can induce psychosis, even in people who have no previous history of mental health problems. When you stop taking the drug, psychosis is compounded by feeling low from lack of meth. Most of the time, psychosis abates.
- Fatigue. Meth enhances energy levels, causing you to participate in high-energy activities, often for days on end. What goes up must come down, though, and with crystal meth withdrawal, this means paying back for all the energy your body used while you were on meth. People who withdraw from meth often report sleeping for days.
- Anxiety. Meth can make existing anxiety conditions much worse and can cause anxiety even when the drug is used for a short period. Long-term meth use is known to trigger anxiety disorders which often take time to resolve.
- Cravings. While in methamphetamine withdrawal, crystal meth cravings are likely to surface. These may be the most intense cravings you experience, but treatment can help reduce them.
- Increased appetite. Meth use means that you burn lots of calories while not eating, which is why meth users can start to look emaciated. You will probably find yourself becoming ravenously hungry at times, and this is okay. Give in to hunger with healthy food if possible, as your body needs increased nutrition to help it heal.
Meth Withdrawal Timeline
Meth withdrawal starts about 24 hours after your last dose of meth. This initial withdrawal period is typically the worst and can leave you experiencing anxiety, panic, and suicidal thoughts. However, it is essential to know that it does get better.
During the first week of withdrawal, you may also experience intense cravings, feelings of hopelessness, poor concentration, aches, pains, and headaches. By the end of the first week, you may still be experiencing low mood, anxiety, and perhaps psychosis, but symptoms should have begun to reduce.
After the second week of withdrawal, the acute stage of methamphetamine withdrawal is over.
Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)
After the initial withdrawal process is over, PAWS may begin. PAWS is another period of withdrawal that happens after the first stage. It comes with many of the first stage's symptoms, albeit at a greatly diminished level.
Although PAWS does not impact everyone, it is important to be aware of these symptoms as they can cause some people recovering from crystal meth addiction to relapse as they believe that what they are experiencing is a permanent state of affairs.
This could not be further from the truth. While PAWS can last up to two years, it often lasts less than this and only occurs in waves. Be aware that you may face low energy, irritability, anxiety, and depression during this period. Learn to sit with it and do not give in to any cravings that occur.
If you feel an overwhelming craving, speak with someone who has been through this process before and understands what you are going through.
What Medications Can I Take for Meth Withdrawal?
There are a number of different medications that you can take to help ease symptoms of withdrawal from meth. However, it is essential to remember that these medications are only available at rehab centers where medical supervision is provided.
- Benzodiazepines. These drugs, including Valium (diazepam) and Xanax (alprazolam), help reduce the anxiety and temporary psychosis that is often felt during meth withdrawal. Be aware, though, that they may make you even more tired, adding to the excessive sleepiness that you will no doubt feel while in meth withdrawal. Benzodiazepines cannot be legally purchased in pharmacies, but they can be given to you if you attend a treatment facility.
- Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs). Paxil (paroxetine) and Prozac (fluoxetine) are drugs that can increase the amount of serotonin hitting receptors in your brain. They do this by blocking the reuptake of serotonin, which means that there is more serotonin floating around in areas where it can be used. These are useful in meth withdrawal, as meth can deplete serotonin levels.
- Provigil (modafinil). This drug, also used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), can give you a little energy boost, alleviating some of the physical symptoms of tiredness experienced as part of crystal meth withdrawal symptoms.
Why Is Residential Addiction Treatment Better Than Home Detox?
It may seem like a good idea to do a home detox for meth. After all, it means that you save some money and do not have to go through the difficulties of getting to the treatment facility.
While the above points are valid, you should consider the following:
- Intense meth cravings can cause you to give in. Meth detox brings with it a host of cravings that are so powerful that it can be difficult to maintain sobriety. Yet a medically supervised detox means that you are in a safe environment away from any triggers that could cause you to relapse when cravings arise. In addition, being surrounded by other people who know what you are going through may well offer you the motivation you need to ignore any cravings.
- Treatment facilities have good food. Meth suppresses your appetite, and the increased hunger you feel when you are recovering from meth abuse means that you often just want to eat all day. If you are at home, the tiredness that comes with meth withdrawal means it can be challenging to go to the store and cook for yourself. Being in a detox facility means that usually, all you need to do is sit down and eat.
- Medication. If you are doing a home detox, you will not legally be able to purchase medicines that can help ease your withdrawal symptoms when you are undergoing detox. It cannot be overstated how beneficial some of these medications can be and how much of a relief they can be when compared with attempting to go cold turkey.
- People are going through the same as you. At home, you might be going through meth detox all by yourself. If you attend treatment, you will be around people going through the same thing as you. This can help keep you going when it gets tough.
If you live with a crystal meth addiction and feel ready to seek treatment, contact us today. We can provide the treatment you need and support you through the detox process.
You don't have to go through crystal meth withdrawal alone. Come to NPAC, and we will make your meth detox as easy as possible.