How to Detox from Methamphetamine

Withdrawals, Symptoms and Effects

How to Detox from Methamphetamine

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) from 2012 asked about using methamphetamine in the year before the survey; about 0.4 percent of Americans, or 1.2 million people, admitted to using—with around 440,000 saying that they used it in the month before. This is a slight downturn from previous years, but remains a major problem—especially since when it comes to using illegal substances, there is often a significant amount of  underreporting that takes place.

Detoxing from methamphetamine is never pleasant. How you do it can mean the difference between extreme, severe withdrawal side effects without any physical help or support, and a safer, more comfortable detox experience. This isn’t to say that recovery in a professional setting will be easy, but it certainly is to say that withdrawal on your own is far, far more difficult and dangerous.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Methamphetamine Use?

If you’re concerned about a friend or family member who could be using methamphetamine, watch out for these various symptoms and signs of methamphetamine abuse.

Signs of actual methamphetamine or paraphernalia:

  • Liquid in vials
  • Missing shoelaces
  • Rubber bands
  • Shafts of cheap ball-point pens for snorting or smoking
  • Small bags or glass vials with clear chunky crystals that look like shards of glass or broken pieces of ice
  • Small bags or glass vials with white to light brown crystalline powder
  • Small bits of crumpled aluminum foil
  • Small metal or glass pipes
  • Soda cans with a hole in the side for smoking
  • Syringes

Behavioral signs of methamphetamine use and abuse:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Bad judgment
  • Binging on a “run,” injecting every few hours until the drug or supplies are gone, or user is too incapacitated to keep going
  • Criminal behavior
  • Euphoria
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mood swings
  • Nervousness
  • Paranoia
  • Periods of unexplained high activity
  • Risky sexual behavior
  • Sudden anger or even rage
  • Violence

Physical signs of methamphetamine use and abuse may include:

  • Confusion
  • Delusions
  • Dilated pupils
  • Dry mouth
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Hallucinations
  • Infections
  • Insomnia
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Malnutrition
  • “Meth mouth,” rotten brown teeth
  • Mood disturbances
  • Overheating
  • Rapid deterioration of appearance
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Sexual arousal
  • Sores on the skin
  • Sweating
  • Tooth decay
  • Unhealthy weight loss

Remember, many methamphetamine addicts become addicted quickly, after just a few uses. If you think you’re seeing a problem, you may be right. Don’t wait until it gets worse; take action.

What are the Risks and Effects of Methamphetamine Abuse?

Methamphetamine abuse carries numerous risks and effects with it. Many are connected to how much of the drug is being used, and for how long, but one of the great dangers with methamphetamine is that things can go downhill fast—so look for all symptoms in anyone.

Short term effects

Meth is a highly addictive, potent stimulant of the central nervous system. It hits the brain quickly and hard, and tells it to produce excessive amounts of dopamine, a chemical that gives you happy feelings. It’s this process that gives users the “rush” they’re after.

The short-term effects of methamphetamine include:

  • Alertness
  • Decreased fatigue
  • Euphoria
  • Hyperattention
  • Intense feelings of pleasure
  • Loss of appetite
  • Manic physical activity

The brain produces a flood of dopamine that then causes immediate effects in the body such as the alertness mentioned above. Unfortunately, these are not the only short-term effects; methamphetamine can also produce these dangerous effects, which can lead to overdose:

  • Brain hemorrhage
  • Convulsions
  • Elevated body temperature
  • High blood pressure
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Lung collapse due to changes in air pressure
  • Rapid heartbeat

Long-term methamphetamine abuse creates tolerance, which in turn leads to higher doses and addiction. It also carries long-term health effects. The long-term physiological effects of methamphetamine use include:

  • Abscesses
  • Allergic reactions to ingredients in meth
  • Bad breath
  • Bacterial infections from open sores and sharing contaminated needles
  • Blood clots
  • Brain damage
  • Cardiovascular damage and disease
  • Dental decay
  • Dry mouth
  • Gum disease
  • Heart damage
  • Hepatitis B and C
  • HIV
  • Inflammation of skin, of injuries, and at injection sites
  • Insomnia
  • Kidney damage
  • Lasting dry mouth from damage to salivary glands
  • Liver damage
  • Lung damage
  • Nasal damage
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Premature, rapid physical aging
  • Ruptured arteries
  • Skin infections
  • Sores, open wounds
  • Stroke
  • Tooth decay, rotting, stained, discolored, or missing teeth
  • Unhealthy weight loss

The long-term behavioral psychological, and neurological consequences of methamphetamine abuse include:

  • Chronic anxiety
  • Compulsive drug-seeking behavior
  • Functional and structural changes to the brain
  • Impaired cognitive function
  • Impaired motor abilities
  • Mood disturbances
  • Psychotic symptoms

Because methamphetamine is neurotoxic, it causes specific behavioral, cognitive, motor, and psychological side effects, especially after long-term use:

  • Aggression and violence
  • Anhedonia (inability to enjoy things or feel happy)
  • Chronic apathy
  • Compulsive motor activity
  • Decreased attention span
  • Delusions
  • Dopamine disturbances
  • Hallucinations
  • Impaired cognition
  • Impaired judgment
  • Lack of impulse control
  • Memory impairment, loss
  • Paranoia
  • Psychotic symptoms similar to schizophrenia
  • Random, compulsive, and repetitive motor activities like scratching or twitching
  • Reduced inhibition
  • Self-absorption

Signs of addiction more generally are also something to watch for, although they are not specific to methamphetamine:

  • Avoidance of responsibility
  • Blaming every problem on other people or things
  • Neglecting health, family, work, relationships, and other responsibilities
  • Putting drug-seeking behaviors before everything else
  • Theft of valuables and money, even from family and friends

Methamphetamine Withdrawal Symptoms

Methamphetamine users who stop using can almost universally expect to experience methamphetamine withdrawal symptoms, although the specifics of the symptoms will vary somewhat depending on how long you were taking the drug and how high your doses were. Methamphetamine withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Muscle and Joint Pain
  • Nausea
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis
  • Severe hunger
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Vomiting

Methamphetamine Detox Timeline

How long methamphetamine detox and methamphetamine withdrawal symptoms occur is different for every patient. However, the timeline is usually connected to how long you were addicted, the amount of your doses, and how frequently you used. In general, there are two basic stages to methamphetamine detox.

The first or acute stage of methamphetamine detox can last up to 10 days. It can feel a lot longer, so it requires perseverance and a lot of support. During the acute stage of methamphetamine detox, you may experience many symptoms, including:

  • Aches and pains
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Hallucinations
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Intensive cravings for drugs
  • Irritability
  • Mood Swings
  • Paranoia

Once you’ve cleared the remaining methamphetamine from your system, this acute stage will end. At this point staying clean does get a little easier, although you still have to get through the next stage.

The second stage is the protracted detox phase. During this stage, which may last for several months, you may experience symptoms including cravings, depression, memory problems, and sleep disturbances.

Finding a Methamphetamine Treatment Program

Obviously, methamphetamine detox and recovery is not an easy path to tread, although it can save your life. Clear Sky Recovery has a fantastic professional staff, an amazing record of success, and a science-based program with a fabulous array of services. Reach out to Clear Sky now to discover why we are second to none among methamphetamine recovery programs.

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