Meth Withdrawals

meth withdrawal

What Does Meth Withdrawal Look Like?

Here in California, meth is still a serious problem. Between 2008 and 2018, meth-related heart failure hospitalizations rose 585%, highlighting the need for more treatment options and care.

While many people have heard of meth, it’s safe to assume most are only familiar with depictions of it in movies, TV shows, and stories they hear from others.

One of the most popular depictions of meth in the last 10 years has been in the show Breaking Bad. It has shown Walter White learning the business of making and selling meth, the obstacles that he needs to overcome, and people addicted to meth, such as Walter’s partner, Jesse.

Due to this being a TV show, it doesn’t show the long-term damage that meth can do to a person or even the worst of the withdrawal symptoms.

Unfortunately, Hollywood can sometimes paint a blurred image of the realities of drug use, and reality is often scarier than even the most fictitious stories. It’s important for people to understand just how dangerous this drug can be. It’s not just an object in a TV show; it’s the culprit in the struggles so many face.

We will discuss what meth is, the withdrawal symptoms, and options for addiction treatment.

What Is Meth?

Meth is a powerful stimulant. Developed in the early 20th century, it was first used as a nasal decongestant. Meth is short for methamphetamine, and it is made from amphetamine but has a considerable difference. It is different because if you were to take the same dose, meth would be much more harmful to the brain.

Meth is a Schedule II substance, which means that while highly addictive, it can still be used by doctors for different reasons. Even though doctors administer it for weight loss and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), it is still administered through a nonrefillable prescription due to its potency.

Meth Withdrawal

Withdrawal is part of the detox process. This is your body reacting to not having meth in your system anymore, and this can be tough. Withdrawal has physical, mental, and emotional symptoms, and the severity will depend on how much meth is in your body and how long you were using meth. Meth withdrawal is the most severe form of withdrawal from a stimulant.

The physical symptoms of meth withdrawal are:

  • Fatigue
  • Dry mouth
  • Skin sores
  • Muscle spasms
  • Trouble sleeping

The emotional symptoms of meth withdrawal include:

  • Low motivation
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia (extreme distrust of others)
  • Psychosis (losing contact with reality)
  • Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t there)
  • Intense cravings for meth

There is a timeline that these withdrawal symptoms follow.

Meth Withdrawal Timeline

There are two periods of meth withdrawal: acute withdrawal and subacute withdrawal. Acute withdrawal symptoms will start right after you stop using meth, and they will peak within about a day. Some of these symptoms include cravings, depression, and an increase in sleep. Acute withdrawal lasts seven to 10 days, and the symptoms will weaken during this time.

Subacute withdrawal lasts about two weeks, and the physical withdrawal symptoms will continue to decline. The emotional symptoms won’t be as severe but will still exist. However, those symptoms will be addressed during the ongoing treatment process.

Some clients may have post-acute withdrawal symptoms or PAWS. During PAWS, feelings of anxiety and cravings may persist and last up to six months.

How Is Meth Used?

Meth is used in a number of different ways. It can be smoked, snorted, orally taken (pills), or injected. Each of these methods of using meth produces its effects differently. Smoking and injecting meth puts it into the brain very quickly, causing a “rush” or intense reaction. Described as extremely pleasurable, this rush only lasts a few minutes.

Snorting and orally using meth will produce a high, but not an intense rush. While orally ingesting meth will produce effects within 15 to 20 minutes, snorting meth can produce effects within three to five minutes.

What Are These Effects?

The smallest amount of meth can cause harmful effects. There are immediate effects of meth as well as long-term effects. The immediate effects of meth include:

  • Increased physical activity
  • Faster breathing
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Hyperthermia (increased body temperature)
  • Euphoria (extreme happiness)

While these are the immediate effects of using meth, there are also long-term effects that show themselves soon after the first time using meth.

Long-Term Effects

The most common long-term effect of repeated use of meth is severe addiction. Often, people who repeatedly misuse meth gain tolerance to the dose that they are taking. This encourages them to take higher doses. People who use meth long term typically don’t find much else pleasurable except the substance due to how it changes the brain.

Depending on how meth is used, this also can determine what long-term effects a person will have. Injecting meth can lead to collapsed veins and something called “tracks.” These are marks from needles that people use to inject themselves. People who prefer injecting meth are also at a higher risk for catching bloodborne illnesses, such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C.

Other long-term effects of meth include:

  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia (extreme and unreasonable distrust of others)
  • Extreme weight loss
  • Violent behavior
  • Intense itching

Another long-term effect of meth use is dental problems or “meth mouth.”

Meth Mouth

Meth mouth is a form of tooth decay caused by the acidic effects of certain chemicals found in meth. When smoked or snorted, meth can wear away the enamel of a person’s teeth. This is paired with the physical and mental changes that happen with meth as well. Those changes are typically having poor hygiene for an extended period of time and having a dry mouth. These can also contribute to meth mouth. Usually seen as rotting and blackened, the teeth of someone with meth mouth usually can’t be saved.

Your Brain on Meth

Meth is a stimulant, which means that it stimulates the nervous system and causes hyperactivity. Meth affects a neurotransmitter (chemical messenger) in the brain called dopamine. Dopamine controls our reward center as well as being responsible for our body movement and motivation.

Normally, dopamine will be released by a cell and then recycled back into the cell that released it. With stimulants, the dopamine builds up, encouraging someone to take more doses of the drug. This is the case with cocaine, but meth is different. Whereas cocaine lasts for a relatively short time in the body, meth has a much longer duration.

It will stay in the brain longer, which makes the effects of it on the brain last longer as well. Meth not only blocks the recycling of dopamine within the cells but also increases it. This makes for a longer-lasting high while also being dangerous for the nerves of a person misusing it.

Meth Overdose

If someone is suffering from a meth overdose, immediately dial 911.

An overdose is what happens when someone consumes too much of a substance. Because meth is so strong, an overdose can happen accidentally. A meth overdose can be fatal, and the symptoms are:

  • Coma
  • Stroke
  • Heart failure
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations

Meth overdose can be scary, and it can feel like rock bottom. Pathways Recovery can help you back up with treatment for meth addiction.

Meth Addiction Treatment

Pathways Recovery understands that addiction is hard to deal with, which is why we offer different treatment plans. Every client is different, so treatment will be tailored to the individual.

The first portion of most treatment plans will be detox. Detox is the process of cleansing your body of the substances in it. This process is a difficult but necessary one as you will be getting rid of all the meth in your system and won’t be using meth again. Your body will react negatively to this and will begin the withdrawal process.

Take the First Step Today

There is no shame in admitting you need help. In fact, it takes courage. If you’re battling meth addiction, you’re not alone. There are steps you can take to address it.

Meth no longer has to hold you back. Even if you’ve tried to quit using meth before and failed, that is no reason to give up. The next time could be the one that sparks the beginning of a sober life.

You deserve a life of fulfillment and happiness, free from the confines of meth. It is possible. While your situation is unique, so many people before you have been in the exact situation you are in and have walked away victorious.

It’s important to find the support and care you need to overcome your addiction, which is why finding a reputable treatment facility is so important. Your care should be tailored to your unique needs. Here at Pathways Recovery, we provide just that.

Do not hesitate to reach out. The next step you take could be the one that puts you on the path to recovery.

Call Pathways Recovery Today

Pathways Recovery, near Sacramento, California, provides three levels of addiction treatment solutions for those battling meth addiction, including a detox center, residential treatment, and intensive outpatient treatment.

The facility is designed to provide the best possible experience for clients as they work toward recovery. Pathways Recovery staff will work tirelessly to make sure each client is safe and well taken care of.

The detox center provides medically assisted detoxification for those who need it. Our clients will be supported through this entire process by a qualified team available to provide supervision for safety and peace of mind.

After the detox process, clients will enter the residential program to begin the healing process. Pathways Recovery treatment programs are tailored to the unique needs of the client.

Therapy sessions are designed to get to the root cause of addiction, psychiatry is used to focus on undiagnosed mental health disorders, and medication-assisted treatment is available if the client needs it.

The third and final part of the process is intensive outpatient treatment, which is perfect for clients transitioning from their residential stay. With three weekly group sessions available, clients can remain connected to the recovery process.

To learn more about meth addiction treatment at Pathways Recovery, call (916) 735-8377.

Frequently Asked Questions

What drugs cause physical withdrawal symptoms?

Since so many drugs can cause withdrawal symptoms, it would take far too long to list them all. However, drugs such as alcohol, stimulants such as cocaine and meth, opioids such as heroin and prescription painkillers, and benzodiazepines are known to cause withdrawal symptoms. It’s important to find treatment to help ease symptoms of withdrawal as they can be extremely uncomfortable. It can also help prevent things like relapse.

What is withdrawal from substance use?

Withdrawal is part of the detox process. This is your body reacting to not having meth in your system anymore, and this can be tough. Withdrawal has physical, mental, and emotional symptoms, and the severity will depend on how much meth is in your body and how long you were using meth. Meth withdrawal is the most severe form of withdrawal from a stimulant.

There are two periods of meth withdrawal: acute withdrawal and subacute withdrawal. Acute withdrawal symptoms will start right after you stop using meth, and they will peak within about a day. Some of these symptoms include cravings, depression, and an increase in sleep. Acute withdrawal lasts seven to 10 days, and the symptoms will weaken during this time.

Subacute withdrawal lasts about two weeks, and the physical withdrawal symptoms will continue to decline.

What are possible withdrawal symptoms?

The physical symptoms of meth withdrawal are:

  • Fatigue
  • Dry mouth
  • Skin sores
  • Muscle spasms
  • Trouble sleeping

The emotional symptoms of meth withdrawal include:

  • Low motivation
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia (extreme distrust of others)
  • Psychosis (losing contact with reality)
  • Hallucinations (seeing and hearing things that aren’t there)
  • Intense cravings for meth

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