Meth Withdrawal: Symptoms, Timeline & Detox Treatment

Medically Reviewed by:
Medically Reviewed by:

Methamphetamine, commonly known as meth or crystal meth, is a highly addictive and dangerous stimulant drug that affects the central nervous system. It is classified as a Schedule II drug, meaning that it has a high potential for abuse and can lead to severe psychological or physical dependence. 

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in 2019, an estimated 1.9 million people in the United States reported using methamphetamine in the past year. Additionally, the same survey found that over 10,000 people died from methamphetamine overdose in 2019. Meth addiction has been a cause of concern for many people worldwide, and withdrawal from meth can be an intensely challenging and distressing experience. 

Due to the intensity of the symptoms, quitting meth use is not something a person should attempt to do alone. Professional help and support are essential for those attempting to quit using meth. Detox programs typically involve medication-assisted treatment (MAT) in order to reduce withdrawal symptoms, as well as psychotherapy and counseling to tackle any underlying issues that may have contributed to meth use.

What Are Some Common Symptoms of Withdrawal from Meth?

The effects of methamphetamine typically last around 30 minutes but can remain in the body for up to 12 hours. Withdrawal symptoms begin after this time period, with both physical and psychological symptoms becoming noticeable after 24 hours.

These early withdrawal symptoms can be distressing and intense and may include:

  • Fatigue and exhaustion
  • Intense drug cravings
  • Mood swings (irritability, agitation, anxiety)
  • Withdrawing from others
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Memory loss 
  • Insomnia or excessive sleepiness (hypersomnia)
  • Weight gain

Post-acute withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Psychosis
  • Hallucinations
  • Drug cravings
  • Depression
  • Respiratory issues 
  • Suicidal thoughts

Withdrawal from methamphetamine can cause discomfort but is not typically life-threatening. Seeking a professional medical facility can aid in safely guiding you or someone you care about through the withdrawal process.

Meth Withdrawal Timeline

The timeline for meth withdrawal symptoms can vary depending on a variety of factors, such as the severity of the addiction and duration of drug use, the amount of meth consumed, and individual factors, such as metabolism, generics, mental health, and overall health. Generally, the timeline is as follows after the last use:

Day 1 – 3: The acute phase of meth withdrawal begins, with symptoms such as fatigue, intense cravings, and mood swings.

Day 4 – 10: Symptoms such as insomnia, anxiety, and depression may intensify during this phase.

Day 11 – 14: Many of the acute symptoms of meth withdrawal begin to subside, but cravings may persist.

Week 2 – 4: The post-acute phase of meth withdrawal begins, with symptoms such as depression, anxiety, and sleep disturbances continuing to persist.

At Riverside Recovery of Tampa, our medical detox professionals are able to administer medications during the withdrawal period that can help ensure a safe and comfortable withdrawal process while reducing the possibility of relapse.

What Causes Meth To Become So Addictive?

Methamphetamine works by increasing the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward, in the brain. The drug causes a surge in dopamine levels, creating a rush of euphoria and energy that users find highly addictive. Additionally, meth can increase the levels of norepinephrine and serotonin in the brain, which can produce feelings of excitement, increased confidence, and reduced appetite.

The intensity of the high associated with methamphetamine use is one of the main reasons why the drug is so addictive. Individuals who use meth quickly develop a tolerance to the drug, requiring increasingly higher doses to achieve the desired effects. This leads to a cycle of increasing drug use, which can quickly spiral out of control.

Unfortunately, the crash that follows the methamphetamine high can be just as intense as the initial rush. After the effects of methamphetamine wear off, individuals may experience a range of physical and psychological symptoms that can range from mild to severe.

Risk Factors and Dangers

Meth withdrawal can be an uncomfortable and, in some cases, dangerous process. Risk factors that may increase the severity of withdrawal symptoms and complications include:

  • A history of mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder
  • Polysubstance use, such as alcohol or other drugs can intensify 
  • History of previous withdrawal episodes, which may increase the intensity of symptoms
  • Presence of underlying health conditions that may be exacerbated during withdrawal
  • Lack of support network or a stable, safe environment
  • An increased risk of relapse due to the intense cravings associated with meth withdrawal 

Some potential dangers of meth withdrawal include dehydration, malnutrition, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts or actions. Therefore, it is crucial to seek professional help when attempting to withdraw from methamphetamine.

Meth Withdrawal Detox Treatment

Detoxification, or detox, is the process of removing drugs from the body and managing the associated withdrawal symptoms. Methamphetamine withdrawal can be a challenging and intense experience, and many people benefit from professional detox treatment to manage their symptoms safely and effectively. A medically assisted detox program can manage withdrawal symptoms under the supervision of a healthcare professional, providing many benefits for those seeking recovery from meth addiction. 

Some of the benefits of a medically assisted detox for meth withdrawal include the following:

  • Safety and Medical Supervision: Medical supervision helps to minimize the risks associated with meth withdrawal, such as dehydration, malnutrition, and self-harm by providing a safe environment for detoxification. 
  • Management of Withdrawal Symptoms: Healthcare professionals are able to administer adjunctive medications and treatments to alleviate withdrawal symptoms. This support can make the withdrawal process more tolerable and increase the likelihood of a successful detox.
  • Preparation for Continued Care:  Detoxification is often just the beginning of the recovery process. Medically assisted detox programs often provide a smooth transition to ongoing treatment such as inpatient/residential or outpatient programs.

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Whether you’re seeking treatment for yourself, a loved one or as a referring physician, we are always available to answer your questions and help connect you with the resources you need.

Signs of An Addiction To Methamphetamine

Meth addiction is a serious and dangerous condition that can have devastating effects on an individual’s physical and mental health. Methamphetamine is a highly addictive drug that can cause intense cravings and withdrawal symptoms, making it challenging for individuals to quit using the drug. Recognizing the signs of meth addiction can help individuals and their loved ones seek professional help and support for a safe and successful recovery. Here are the common signs of meth addiction, including early warning signs of meth use:

  • Changes in behavior or mood
  • Increased energy or productivity 
  • Insomnia 
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Dilated pupils 

Signs of addiction:

  • Obsessive thinking and behaviors associated with using meth
  • Engaging in risky or dangerous behaviors
  • Neglecting responsibilities and activities such as work or school 
  • Financial problems 
  • Building a Tolerance to the substance 
  • Changes in physical appearance, including weight loss, dental problems, and skin sores 
  • Withdrawal symptoms when attempting to quit or cut back 

Successful detox and recovery from meth addiction are possible with proper treatment. Following detox, it’s often essential to continue with a treatment program to prevent relapse, learn new skills, and strengthen your chances of recovery. Entering an inpatient or outpatient program is necessary for the prevention of potential dangers of meth abuse and addiction, and completing a rehab program is important.

Contact our admissions team today to learn more about the side effects of meth withdrawal or our full continuum of care.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020). Methamphetamine drugfacts. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/methamphetamine

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2020). Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (HHS Publication No. PEP20-07-01-001, NSDUH Series H-55). Rockville, MD: Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance Abuse, and Mental Health Services Administration.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2019). TIP 63: Medications for Opioid Use Disorder. Retrieved from https://store.samhsa.gov/product/TIP-63-Medications-for-Opioid-Use-Disorder-Executive-Summary/SMA18-5063EXSUMM