Methamphetamine is a highly addictive drug. People can experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop using it. These can range from fatigue and depression to intense cravings. Although most withdrawal symptoms may resolve after a few weeks, some may continue for much longer.
This article provides an overview of the symptoms of methamphetamine withdrawal, including symptom duration.
It will also discuss treatment options for methamphetamine withdrawal and provide links to helpful websites.
As the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) explains, methamphetamine is a highly addictive stimulant. When people who regularly take methamphetamine stop using it, withdrawal symptoms can occur.
These symptoms can include:
- severe depression
- fatigue and tiredness
- intense methamphetamine cravings
People may also experience:
- dry mouth
- disturbed sleep
- muscle spasms
- malnourishment, or not eating enough
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- methamphetamine cravings
- food cravings
The initial phase of methamphetamine withdrawal is called the acute phase. It can last between 7–10 days. During this time, food cravings often become less severe.
The next phase is called the subacute phase. It can last for up to 3 weeks. During this time, the depression should improve.
The same is true for symptoms of psychosis. These are usually present before a person stops using methamphetamine. They tend to continually improve thereafter.
In some cases, the emotional symptoms of withdrawal, such as depression, anxiety, or intense cravings, can last for months.
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When a person takes a drug, their body becomes used to its effects. For example, methamphetamine affects certain brain receptors, temporarily altering brain chemistry. The more a person uses this drug, the greater the alteration becomes.
If someone stops using methamphetamine, the brain must quickly adapt to this change. This kick-starts various processes that function to bring the brain chemistry closer to what it was before a person began taking methamphetamine.
The withdrawal symptoms are side effects of these processes.
Detoxification, or “detox,” is when someone removes all drug traces from their body. It involves stopping drug use.
Because some drugs can remain in the body for some time, detox also involves waiting for the body to clear any remaining drug traces.
During detox, some people may experience intense withdrawal symptoms. A
- aripiprazole for treating methamphetamine-induced psychosis
- isradipine for treating methamphetamine-induced high blood pressure
- pexacerfont and buprenorphine for treating methamphetamine cravings
The authors of the review could not find any studies investigating nonpharmacological approaches to managing methamphetamine detox.
After detox, the most important aspect of treatment is continued abstinence from methamphetamine.
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- creating reward structures to make abstinence more attractive than drug use
- undergoing cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to change thoughts and behaviors around drug use
- engaging in activities unrelated to drug use to emphasize a person’s enjoyment of such activities
Review authors note there is also evidence that regular aerobic exercise can make it easier for people to manage their methamphetamine cravings.
Regular aerobic exercise may also improve certain symptoms of methamphetamine withdrawal, such as anxiety and depression.
In the United States, there are many treatment facilities for substance use disorders. A person ready to stop methamphetamine use can search for local facilities at FindTreatment.gov.
After finding local facilities, a person can call them. During this call, someone from the facility will ask the person questions about their addiction.
It is also an opportunity for the person to ask questions about the facility and the care they provide.
The next step is a clinical assessment, in which the person and healthcare professionals discuss treatment options.
People can also find further help and resources at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
If a person wants to stop taking methamphetamine, they can call the SAMHSA National Helpline at 800-662-HELP (4357). Anyone can access useful information about treatment and support through this helpline for free.
Some organizations and charities can provide financial advice or assistance and mental health support. These include:
- National Institute on Drug Abuse
- Department of Health and Human Services
- To Write Love on Her Arms
- Faces & Voices of Recovery
- The Amy Winehouse Foundation
How to provide support if you are a loved one
During a methamphetamine detox, some people may benefit from the support of family, friends, or partners.
Such support might include:
- providing positive affirmations and encouragement
- making sure the person rests enough
- providing the person with nutritious food
- listening and offering emotional support
- encouraging the person to speak with a healthcare professional or addiction counselor
- helping with daily activities if withdrawal symptoms make these difficult
As the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) explains, it can be challenging to care for someone who has a substance use disorder. People who provide such support should make sure to practice self-care.
This might involve attending a support group for people in similar situations.
The SAMHSA phone line can also help people who are caring for loved ones who have a substance use disorder.
Methamphetamine withdrawal can present with symptoms that affect a person’s mental and physical health. However, these symptoms often resolve within a few weeks of methamphetamine cessation.
By providing support, loved ones can help people through a methamphetamine detox.