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AddictionDetoxMethamphetamine Addiction

Withdrawal From Crystal Meth

By February 23, 2019 June 15th, 2023 No Comments
Relapse in Addiction Recovery

Methamphetamine, or Crystal Meth, is a highly addictive and dangerous substance. It creates a range of intense psychological and physical effects in the user.

When someone who has developed an addiction to crystal meth stops using the substance, they are likely to experience withdrawal.

We previously published a comprehensive blog on the effects of meth use. This blog focuses specifically on the withdrawal process from the drug. We will focus on some of the symptoms of meth withdrawal and how they will affect a user.

How Meth Works

Meth can be injected, snorted, smoked or taken in pill form. It is highly addictive and dangerous when taken in any form. It affects neurotransmitters in the brain including dopamine and serotonin. The user experiences a euphoric, intensely energetic response. These effects are followed by a “come down” after a number of hours, when the drug’s initial effects wear off. Users will often feel depressed or anxious during this phase due to reduced levels of dopamine and serotonin.

The user will also experience physical and psychological fatigue. This often causes users to continue using meth to prolong the drug’s effects and delay its after effects in a “binge and crash” pattern. This is a highly addictive habit. Once a person has used a large amount of meth or has used it over a sustained period, they will experience physical and psychological cravings for the drug after a short period without it.

Underlying Causes

Many people addicted to meth also have lifestyles based largely around using and obtaining the drug. This means that fundamental changes will be required in order for someone addicted to meth to achieve lasting recovery. Addiction is also often related to underlying mental health disorders. These issues need to be identified and addressed to successfully treat addiction.

Withdrawal Timeline

The most intense phase of withdrawal is called acute withdrawal, which occurs during the few days after the user stops using the addictive substance. It will usually last less than a week. However, the post-acute withdrawal phase can also be very challenging and can last for some time. In some cases, users will experience withdrawal symptoms for months. Even after the withdrawal process has ended, an addicted person will continue to experience cravings. They may also continue to experience other physical and psychological symptoms.

Factors Influencing Withdrawal Symptoms

There are several factors that can influence the nature and severity of withdrawal symptoms. The quantity of meth that an addicted person has been using and the length of their use will affect their withdrawal symptoms. Their physical characteristics and genetic factors will also play a role in their withdrawal. If the addicted person is coping with any concurrent mental health disorders, this will also affect withdrawal. If they heavily use or are addicted to any other addictive substances, such as alcohol or marijuana, this will also be influential.

Detox From Meth

Detox from meth is an intense and distressing process. In some cases, it can also be dangerous. People going through withdrawal from meth may experience psychosis, intense paranoia, or depression. As meth can impact respiratory and cardiac function, withdrawal can also put an addicted person’s physical health in danger. For this reason, a person experiencing withdrawal from meth may require medical support. This will help them to safely progress through the withdrawal process and will allow them to proceed to a point where they can begin working towards recovery.

Treatment for Meth Addiction

After an addicted person has detoxed, they will be ready to engage in treatment. Treatment for meth addiction should be evidence-based and client-centred. It is essential that addiction treatment addresses the mental health problems underlying the addiction, rather than addressing the addiction in isolation. This will allow the addicted person to truly identify the causes of their addiction and to develop healthy methods for coping with them. Treatment methods such as individual therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy and group counselling have proven effective in achieving this. Treatment of this nature will give an addicted person the strongest possible foundation for lasting recovery.

Acute Withdrawal

During acute withdrawal, the body and mind will demand meth and its effects. As the brain’s supply of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin will be reduced, as well as the receptors for them, withdrawal will have an intense effect on mood and energy levels. Users may experience depression, anxiety and intense fatigue. Meth use can also cause psychosis and paranoia, which can be severe during acute withdrawal.

Intense Fatigue

One of meth’s most significant effects is on the user’s energy supply. Users will often remain awake and highly active for several consecutive days. This means that, during withdrawal, users will experience intense fatigue. This is partially as a result of the backlog of physical and mental exhaustion created while using meth. The body and brain will also have come to depend on the increased energy created by meth. It will take some time to adjust to ordinary functionality without the effects of the drug. Problems with sleep may persist for some time into the recovery process. Treatment methods such as cognitive behavioural therapy can help to return to a regular sleeping pattern and good quality sleep.

Impaired Cognitive Function

During withdrawal from meth, an addicted person will experience reduced cognitive function. This may cause confusion, difficulty focusing and reduced decision-making and problem-solving ability. This may last for some time after acute withdrawal, but cognitive function will gradually improve as the addicted person works towards recovery. Evidence-based treatment methods such as cognitive behavioural therapy can assist in this process.


While using meth or during withdrawal, some users will experience psychosis. Psychosis involves difficulty identifying what is real and what is not. It often involves visual or auditory hallucinations and delusions. The condition can lead people into very dangerous situations. Psychosis caused by meth use is usually temporary. An addicted person who has experienced psychosis will usually return to a stable mental condition as they progress in their recovery.

Cardiac and Respiratory Issues

Consistent meth use can have a profound effect on cardiac and respiratory function. This is part of why detox from the drug can be dangerous. During withdrawal, cardiac and respiratory function may be disrupted. Over time, if the addicted person sustains their recovery, the body will return to normal functionality.

Muscle Pain

During withdrawal, a person addicted to meth will often experience muscle pain or weakness. The body will have come to depend on the energy-supplying and pain-suppressing qualities of the drug and will struggle to function without it. Meth users also often neglect food, water and sleep, leading to physical exhaustion, weakness and dehydration.

Weight Change

While using meth, an addicted person may neglect their physical health. One of meth’s effects is to suppress appetite. The energy it provides means that a user will also remain active despite a lack of adequate sustenance. Many meth users become dangerously underweight and weak as a result of this. This means that, during recovery from meth addiction, a person may experience a quick and substantial increase in weight.

During withdrawal a person may still lack appetite. However, as they progress in their recovery, their appetite will return and they may also eat more to compensate for their lack of sustenance while using meth. Their metabolism will also likely function more slowly than it did while they were using. The resultant increase in weight is a positive aspect of recovery provided it is managed carefully. A healthy diet and some exercise will accelerate the body’s return to ordinary function.

Post-Acute Withdrawal

After the acute withdrawal phase, someone addicted to meth will still have a range of symptoms to cope with. These symptoms may last for some months. An addicted person will also have to cope with cravings and challenges throughout their recovery.

Common post-acute withdrawal symptoms include intense physical and psychological cravings, insomnia, exhaustion and irregular appetite. Psychological symptoms often include depression, anxiety and intense irritability. Some addicted people also demonstrate increased impulsivity during withdrawal. All of these symptoms can make a person vulnerable to relapse and must be managed with care. Evidence-based treatment will help a person to cope with these symptoms and maintain their recovery.

If a person has developed psychosis or paranoia as a result of their meth use, these conditions may also persist for some time. With appropriate treatment and dedicated recovery work, someone coping with these conditions will usually return to a healthy mental state after some time.

Maintain Focus After Withdrawal

It is important to understand that, long after the withdrawal process, addicted people will still have to cope with cravings and challenges. It is important to remain committed to recovery and any aftercare or support meetings that benefit recovery. This will help to remain vigilant and resistant to any cravings or relapse triggers that do emerge.

If you have any questions or concerns relating to withdrawal from crystal meth, contact Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centres today.

Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centres

Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centres

We offer residential and outpatient rehab treatment programs for addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders.

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