Understanding Meth Withdrawal

Methamphetamine abuse is a huge problem within the United States, and because of its potency, the drug can lead to rapid dependency. Many recreational users will experience a “crash” period after they stop using the drug, which can last a few days; however, addicted or dependent users will experience a Methamphetamine withdrawal which can last for up to several weeks. The withdrawal symptoms of Meth are debilitating and painful, and can cause the user to take more of the drug in hopes of counteracting the withdrawal process. This may lead to a downward spiral of repeated Meth use, which can perpetuate a cycle of addiction.

Seeking treatment in a clinical setting with medical support can ease withdrawal symptoms and can potentially enhance the overall recovery process and limit relapse potential.

By the time many users realize they have a problem and try to quit, they find that the withdrawal effects have become too powerful to overcome on their own. Undergoing withdrawal in a medical detox program is the safest way to treat symptoms and remove Meth from the body. These programs support patients with around-the-clock medical care throughout the entire process. Doctors and nurses are able to monitor patients’ vitals and tailor treatment plans as withdrawal symptoms begin to improve. Once detox is complete, recovering users can seek counseling and other services to learn how to maintain long-term sobriety.

Meth Withdrawal Symptoms

The symptoms of Meth withdrawal can vary from person to person. The severity of the side effects depends on a number of factors, including the length of time the individual used Meth, the amount of Meth they used, how frequently they used, and whether they engaged in polydrug use and also abused other substances. Additionally, other factors, such as the method used to consume the drug, can affect withdrawal. Those who inject Meth will typically experience a longer, more intense withdrawal process than those who don’t.

Signs and symptoms of withdrawal can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Increased appetite
  • Agitation
  • Insomnia
  • Excessive sweating
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Fever
  • Red, itchy eyes

  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Loss of motivation
  • Tremor
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Stomach ache
  • Anxiety
  • Severe depression
  • Dehydration

Psychological and physical withdrawal symptoms are often very severe and can start within a matter of hours after stopping Meth use.

- Ashish Bhatt, MD, Doctor of Addiction Medicine

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The specific time period for withdrawal varies between individuals, but the acute phase of withdrawal typically peaks around day 2 or 3 after last use and generally begins to ease after a week. However, psychological symptoms including mood swings, agitation, drug cravings, and sleep disturbances can persist for multiple weeks and depression can last for even months to a year in some.

Meth Withdrawal Timeline

0-48 Hours

  • Decline in cognitive function
  • Sharp decline in energy
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Sweating

Days 3-10

  • Severe depression
  • Anxiety
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Shaking
  • Muscle aches
  • Intense drug cravings

Days 11-20

  • Mild drug cravings
  • Fatigue
  • Depression

1-3 Months

Most withdrawal symptoms have subsided by this point, but some may persist for several months.

  • Depression
  • Anxiety

What To Expect During Meth Detox

Many individuals may feel hesitant to begin detox, but rest assured that the top priority of any detox center is for patients to feel as safe and comfortable as process when attending treatment. The detox process is broken down into 3 stages to ensure patients receive the form of care that’s right for them. Patients will typically undergo a comprehensive review of their current health so doctors know how to proceed with treatment. Next, patients will begin with their personalized detox plan. After the initial withdrawal process, doctors may sit down with the patient to discuss their next steps. The detox process for Meth can be broken down into the 3 following stages:


Upon admission, a medical team will assess the patient’s health and well-being. Doctors and nurses typically use urine drug screens to determine the amount of Meth that a patient has used recently. From there, the treatment team can develop a detox plan that fits their specific needs. Keep in mind that the doctor may ask a patient questions about their current and past substance abuse. This is necessary for setting up a patient’s long-term recovery plan. It’s also helpful for doctors to know if the patient suffers from any co-occurring disorders, as these can affect the types of detox treatments the patient will receive.


Many patients who arrive at the detox center are experiencing the peak of their withdrawal symptoms. Treatments begin as soon as possible after the evaluation stage to help make the patient more comfortable. As symptoms improve, doctors will adjust treatments accordingly. Medical staff will also keep the patient’s loved ones informed and updated on their progress.

Transition Into Further Treatment

When the detox process is almost complete, doctors will begin to discuss next steps with their patient. Detox is only the first step in Meth addiction treatment, and physicians recommend that patients continue their recovery in a rehab facility. If the detox is already taking place in a treatment facility, medical staff will help patients transition into the next stage and stay on track toward sobriety.

Medications Used To Assist Meth Detox

There are currently no medications specifically designed to ease the Methamphetamine withdrawal process. However, there are a few that can be prescribed to help relieve the severity of some withdrawal symptoms. Bupropion, an Antidepressant used to help people quit smoking tobacco, has been proven to be very helpful in reducing drug cravings.

Although, there is no specific FDA approved medications indicated for Meth detoxification, medications do exist to help ease physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms.

- Ashish Bhatt, MD, Doctor of Addiction Medicine

Additionally, the mild stimulant properties of Modafinil, a medication used to treat narcolepsy and ADHD, can assist with the cravings and disruptive sleep patterns that are associated with withdrawal. Fluoxetine can also help those in recovery by assisting patients overcome panic attacks and easing any other symptoms of anxiety. Further studies are being conducted to identify additional medications that could prove helpful in easing the withdrawal process for Meth users.

Finding Treatment For Meth Addiction

Detox is the safest and most effective way to treat drug addiction. After detox, the next step of treatment is going to rehab to tackle the underlying psychological causes of addiction. If you or a loved one are struggling with an addiction to Meth, there is help available. Contact a treatment provider today to find rehab options.

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