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Meth Withdrawals

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Many times when it comes to vices, whether it’s consistent caffeine consumption or something more serious like excessive alcohol use, it can be hard to see how much it’s impacting you. People often express, “I could stop at any time,” without knowing the hurdles they might encounter when they do so. When we’re on the inside of a situation, it can be a lot harder to judge it without bias.

It’s not uncommon for people to experiment. If you’re having a stressful week and a friend suggests a solution, even if it’s an illicit substance, you trust the source it’s coming from so you give it a try. You continue this pattern until you decide one day to step back, only to experience cravings and heightened paranoia. Your certainty in the ability to “stop at any time” left you blind to how much the situation had developed. You were now experiencing meth withdrawal.

Here in California, nearly 80,000 people aged 12 and up reported methamphetamine use within the past year. Our team at Pacific Sands offers a solution-focused approach to substance use recovery. We work with our clients one-on-one to ensure they get the right treatment plan that is suited to their specific needs. Many clients go through withdrawal during the first stages of recovery. Today we wanted to speak on this topic to offer some insight into why meth withdrawals happen, what to expect during it, and what can be done to manage it without returning to use.

What Are Meth Withdrawals and Why Do They Happen?

Methamphetamine is a stimulant that alters how the body behaves when it’s in your system. Like any other substance that regularly alters how our system works, our bodies adjust to this change over time. It becomes accustomed to the substance altering or “assisting” in how the body functions. When you then remove this substance from your body, it has to adjust to it no longer being there.

This process of adjusting is known as withdrawal. It often comes with side effects as the body works to find a new “normal.”

When you regularly consume methamphetamines, also known as meth, you increase your chances of experiencing withdrawal when you stop.

symptoms of meth withdrawals

Common Symptoms to Help You Spot Meth Withdrawal

Why is withdrawal something you should be aware of?

Withdrawal is one of the leading contributors to someone continuing the use of a substance. Not only does the withdrawal period often come with cravings for meth, but the knowledge that returning to meth use can alleviate the symptoms often leads to a cycle of use.

If you’re aware of the potential side effects before you take that first step away from meth, you can better prepare yourself, mentally and physically, for the side effects that will follow. 

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the common side effects of meth withdrawal. 

Physical Side Effects of Meth Withdrawal

While the majority of withdrawal side effects for meth are psychological, there are a few instances that primarily impact your physical health.

The primary side effects that impact physical health are related to sleep and appetite. Withdrawal can lead to fatigue and changes in sleeping patterns, as well as impact your appetite. 

It’s important to note that low sleep, low nutrients, and low hydration can all contribute to the worsening of the side effects of meth withdrawal. Being aware of how these side effects might manifest allows you to be more prepared to address them as they come.

Psychological Side Effects of Meth Withdrawal

When meth is in your system, it impacts the dopamine centers within the body. Dopamine is a reward chemical that is naturally produced in the brain when we do certain things such as eat or have sex. Meth heightens the dopamine levels, causing feelings of euphoria and heightened energy. 

As meth leaves your body, the dopamine returning to regular levels can feel like a wave of loss. Despite it being your body’s average state of being, in comparison to the euphoria experienced, it can often feel like sadness by comparison. These chemical changes within the brain are what lead to a myriad of psychological side effects during meth withdrawal.

Some of the most common psychological and behavioral side effects of meth withdrawal include agitation, depression, anxiety, paranoia, and even psychosis. 

Are There Any Risks Associated with Meth Withdrawal?

There are a few risks associated with the side effects of meth withdrawal. With many of the behavioral and psychological side effects, there is a risk of self-harm or harming others in extreme circumstances. As with any increase in depressive side effects, the risk of suicidal ideation is also possible.

One of the biggest risks of meth withdrawal, however, is returning to use. Those who have been managing a meth use disorder in the long-term run a greater risk of side effects such as:

  • Increased risk of heart attack and stroke
  • Severe dental problems
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Liver and kidney damage
  • Lung damage
  • Permanent damage to the heart and brain

The Average Timeline of Meth Withdrawal

It’s important to note that the exact timeline of withdrawal from any substance will vary from person to person. Different factors such as personal health, history of substance use, age, metabolism, and more can make the timeline differ. 

Within the first 24 hours – you will begin to experience the side effects of withdrawal. Symptoms might start mild, but can and will increase in severity in the following days.

The severity of side effects will peak within 2-3 days. On average, most of the symptoms of withdrawal will start to resolve within a week. Cravings, however, have been noted to last for over a month after your last dose.

Depending on your history of use, as well as your mental health overall, some symptoms like depression and anxiety may persist. These can be properly addressed with treatment and time.

Are There Ways to Prevent Meth Withdrawal?

One of the only surefire ways to prevent meth withdrawal is to not consume meth in the first place.

Unlike some substances which can avoid or minimize the severity of withdrawal by weaning a person off of the substance slowly, due to how meth acts within the body this is not a feasible method. The effects of meth are often felt within minutes of being consumed but don’t last for a long time. Because of this, many people go on a “binge and crash” pattern to continue chasing the high that faded away quickly.

This means that even if you try to “wean” yourself away from your current patterns of meth consumption, you run the risk of continued use and further long-term damage.

Are There Medical Detox Programs for Meth?

Because of the short nature of the side effects of meth withdrawal, programs specifically designed as a “medical detox” are very uncommon. This doesn’t mean, however, that you will be on your own when you start treatment.

Any good treatment program is aware of the timeline of withdrawal from meth and the side effects that can come with it. The medical staff on hand will be around to assist you as needed to help you have a good start on your recovery journey.

managing withdrawals from meth use

What Treatment Options Are Available for Meth Use Disorders?

If you’re wanting to find help in addressing your meth use disorder, there are many meth treatment programs available for you here in California. What should you be looking for, though? What marks a good facility? How do you know what’s going to be best for you?

There are many programs available, varying in size and modality. What should be most important is that a program is willing to work with you. You should feel included in your recovery planning, and not like just another person passing through the facility.

From there, you also need to consider if you want to start with inpatient rehab, or if outpatient rehab is a better starting place for you. Inpatient rehab allows you to stay on-site and focus on your recovery. You’ll be immersed in the treatment programs while surrounded by fellow peers who are on a similar journey.

Outpatient rehab, on the other hand, still offers the same treatment options but you are living at home for the duration of it. Some clients choose to utilize outpatient rehab as a stepping stone between inpatient and being away from treatment. For others, outpatient rehab is the option that works best with their schedule and desires from a treatment program, so they start with that instead.

No matter your specific needs, Pacific Sands is happy to work with you to make sure you get the treatment that’s right for you. As an intimate facility, we ensure you get the hands-on, personalized care you deserve. There’s no wrong time to get started. Give us a call anytime at 949-426-7962 and our team will be happy to help.

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