Withdrawal is not a one-size-fits-all experience. Alcohol withdrawal is different from heroin withdrawal and heroin withdrawal is different from methamphetamine withdrawal. If you have a meth addiction, here’s what you can expect when you finally choose to get clean.
What Is Methamphetamine?
Methamphetamines are classified as stimulants and speed up your body’s metabolism. Your central nervous system becomes more alert, you breathe faster, and your heart pumps faster and harder. It may come as a pill, a powder, a liquid, or as crystal methamphetamine. Many people shorten the name to “crystal” or “meth.” They may also call it “ice” or “speed” and a few give it nicknames like “crank” and “jib.”
Many people who start using the drug do it for what they consider to be legitimate reasons. They may use it to stay awake longer for final exams or writing papers in college. They may use it to reduce their appetite and try to lose weight.
What may seem like a good idea at the time can lead to addiction and people who sell street drugs often mix meth with other substances, some of which may be toxic. How much, how often, and what’s been mixed in with the drug determines, to some extent, the effects and length of time for withdrawal.
Expect the first symptoms to start within 24 hours of your last use and peak around 7-10 days. Initial withdrawal lasts approximately 14 days but can last up to 20 days.
If You’re Not Sure Someone Is Addicted
What are the signs of methamphetamine use? The first thing you may notice is skin sores from stretching as the result of the sensation of something crawling underneath the skin. Meth users will often pick at areas of the skin where they believe something is crawling underneath and that can form sores and scars. They may seem confused or have angry outbursts. You can expect to see some paranoia and they may start “tweaking,” which is when they go on a binge of methamphetamine. They don’t sleep for anywhere from 3 to 15 days and this can result in temporary psychosis.
What Happens During Withdrawal?
Since meth is a stimulant, you can expect some of the opposite effects to occur when you withdraw. First of all, you’re going to feel very tired and you may sleep anywhere from two to four days. Just because you’re sleeping more doesn’t mean you won’t have disturbed sleep patterns. This may last for several weeks. Also, while your appetite will slowly return, you are often sleeping so much that you may continue to be malnourished and not be eating. Your muscles may ache, your mouth may be dry, and your head may hurt. You might even have hallucinations and feel anxiety and paranoia.
Further symptoms can extend for weeks or even months, including feeling paranoid, low energy levels that result in you not feeling motivated to do much of anything, and intense cravings for more meth. Because there is a potential risk from toxic substances that have been mixed in with the drug and the potential for self-harm because of the psychotic effects of methamphetamine, a medically-supervised detox is recommended.
Your symptoms don’t stop the moment you stop using meth and can last for a long time, from weeks to months. It’s going to take time to get back to normal and feel good again. Withdrawal from meth is one of the hardest drugs to stay sober from and remain in recovery.
How Can You Support Someone in Withdrawal?
Understand that excessive sleep is part of the withdrawal process and an addict’s body is trying to repair some of the damage from those many sleepless nights. Let them sleep. But make sure you wake them up to try to get some food in them. This is also an important part of the healing process and will help them get healthier faster. They may not have much appetite yet but try to give high-calorie food and healthy foods, not a steady stream of junk food. That includes encouraging them to drink a lot of fluids or they will become dehydrated.
Feeling incredibly tired and sick may be very discouraging to someone who is experiencing withdrawal. It’s important to encourage them to continue with the process and remind them that this is their body’s way of healing itself and that it’s not going to get better overnight. Withdrawal is a hard process and you’re there to help them get sober and learn to live again.
The person experiencing withdrawal will be too tired to do anything at first, but while they’re getting much-needed rest and care, you can help by looking for support groups and meetings for addiction. One of the most popular support groups is Narcotics Anonymous (NA). It’s a sister group to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), specifically aimed at drugs.
Methamphetamine is one of the most challenging drugs to get off of because it is a relatively long detoxification process and the cravings can be especially hard. Expect the first part of detox to be spent sleeping for two to four days. Support someone going through detoxification with nutrition and make sure you have someone who can help them through withdrawal. A friend or family member may be willing to help, but here at Everlast Recovery Center, we recommend you get medically-supervised treatment for your methamphetamine addiction. We start with inpatient treatment for detoxification, followed by rehabilitation. Our intensive counseling at our Riverside, California facility is complimented by holistic therapies in a home-like setting where you’ll feel like a person, not a number. We treat mental illness as well as addiction and we’ll follow through with an aftercare program when you go home. Call us today and learn how we can help at 866-DETOX-25, (866-338-6925).