According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA1, approximately 1.6 million people or 0.6 percent of the population reported using methamphetamine within the last year in a 2017 survey. The same study says that the average age of new methamphetamine users was 23.3 years old in 2016. Overall, methamphetamine use affects many individuals within a broad age range each year in the United States.

While the use of methamphetamine, or crystal meth — a common form of the stimulant methamphetamine, is quite addictive, recovery is definitely possible. But, without the proper knowledge of detox methods, meth withdrawal can be dangerous. Remember, for the safety of yourself or your loved ones struggling with crystal meth addiction, it is always best to seek guidance from trained professionals at a treatment center. Read on to learn more about methamphetamine addiction, crystal meth withdrawal symptoms, and steps you can take when seeking treatment for crystal meth addiction.

What Is Methamphetamine?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse2, Methamphetamine is derived from the drug amphetamine. While methamphetamine has a similar effect on an individual’s body, it is much more powerful than amphetamine. Ultimately, methamphetamine is a highly addictive synthetic stimulant drug that affects the entire central nervous system.

The use of methamphetamines has increasingly become a problem among the general population because the drug is easy to buy and is made from relatively cheap products. Along the same lines, once methamphetamine is taken, it is very hard to stop further use. This is because the drug is highly addictive due to its influence on dopamine production in the body and the long-lasting euphoric high it provides. The first euphoric feeling that methamphetamine provides individuals can never truly be repeated, leaving many users on a continual chase for a high that can never be experienced again.

According to Medline Plus3, Methamphetamine has several common names, as well as street names for this drug.

Some common names for methamphetamine include:

  • Crank
  • Meth
  • Speed

Some common street names used for methamphetamine include:

  • Beanies
  • Chicken feed
  • Ice
  • Crystal
  • Tina
  • Crank
  • Crypto
  • Getgo
  • Mexican crack
  • Redneck cocaine
  • Tick tick
  • Tock
  • Cinnamon
  • Chalk

What Makes Meth So Addictive?

Crystal meth, one of the most common forms of the stimulant methamphetamine, is highly addictive. Crystal meth is the crystalline form of methamphetamine. According to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration4, it can be easily crushed, allowing it to be consumed in several ways, including swallowed, smoked, snorted, or injected. The color of methamphetamine can be white, yellow, brown, gray, orange, or pink.

Crystal meth is so addictive because it causes your body to release dopamine. Dopamine is a type of neurotransmitter that your body naturally produces. Your nervous system uses it to send messages between nerve cells, which is why dopamine is often referred to as a chemical messenger.

Dopamine also plays a large role in how humans feel as the neurotransmitter helps to control motivation, desire, and cravings. When high levels of dopamine are released in the body, it can cause feelings of euphoria or bliss. So, exposure to substances, such as crystal meth, that increase dopamine production in the body can become highly addictive.

Ultimately, using substances like crystal meth rewards your body with a dopamine high, giving you feelings of intense pleasure. Of course, these feelings of pleasure become harder to reproduce with repeated use of crystal meth. This leaves users in a constant cycle of chasing feelings of euphoria. This cycle is what makes stopping crystal meth use so difficult. But, when done with the guidance of trained health professionals at a treatment center, recovery can always be achieved.

If you or a loved one is struggling with crystal meth use, read on to discover some common signs and symptoms of meth addiction and some long-term effects of meth use that you should be aware of.

Signs and Symptoms of Addiction to Meth

  • Rotting teeth
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Acne or sores
  • Paranoia
  • Constant or intense scratching
  • Increased irritability
  • Confusion
  • Increased sex drive
  • An increase in body temperature
  • Convulsions
  • Withdrawing from home, school, or work
  • Spending a large amount of time looking for or using meth
  • Wanting to stop meth use but being unable to

Long-Term Effects of Meth Use

  • Anxiety
  • Seizures
  • Memory loss
  • Mood swings
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Sores on the skin
  • Violent and aggressive behavior
  • Extreme weight loss and signs of malnutrition
  • Increased risk of stroke
  • Increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease
  • Increased risk of contracting HIV and hepatitis through needle injections
  • Increased risk of nosebleeds from snorting
  • Increased risk of heart problems
  • Increased risk of damage to cells in the brain
  • Increased risk of lung issues like chronic cough, bronchitis, and pneumonia
  • Increased risk of major dental issues like gum disease, tooth decay, and tooth loss

Crystal Meth Withdrawal Symptoms 

Along with being aware of the common signs of meth addiction and the long-term effects of meth use, it is also very important for the safety of anyone struggling with meth addiction to be aware of the common symptoms associated with crystal meth withdrawal.

Some of the most common signs and symptoms of meth withdrawal include:

  • Red and itchy eyes
  • Fever
  • Anxiety
  • Tremor
  • Nausea
  • Mild paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Agitation
  • Excessive sweating
  • Increased appetite
  • Low energy and fatigue
  • Lack of motivation
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Decreased sexual pleasure
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Severe depression
  • Dehydration

Typically, the most intense symptoms of crystal meth withdrawal occur within 24 to 48 hours of the last use of the drug. After the first week of sobriety, most of the intense crystal meth withdrawal symptoms begin to taper off. But the effects of meth use can be experienced for months or even years after using crystal meth. Symptoms like depression and anxiety tend to persist on a long-term basis for individuals maintaining sobriety from crystal meth use.

Another struggle many former meth users deal with is the inability to experience pleasure. This inability to experience pleasure is also known as anhedonia5 Essentially, many former meth users experience anhedonia because it can take as long as two years for dopamine levels to return to normal after the last use of the drug.

While there will be struggles during a crystal meth detox, recovery can be achieved and maintained. Ultimately, it is important to understand the symptoms of meth detox and the timeline associated with crystal meth withdrawal because symptoms can be dangerous to an individual’s health and safety. Check out more about the timeline of crystal meth withdrawal below.

Timeline of Crystal Meth Withdrawal

The most difficult time and most intense withdrawal symptoms experienced during a crystal meth detox generally occur within the first 24 to 48 hours after the last use of the drug. But withdrawal symptoms can persist for weeks, months, and even years after the last use of the drug.

The following is a common breakdown of a crystal meth withdrawal timeline:

Phase 1: First 48 Hours

As discussed, the first 48 hours are often the most difficult in the timeline of crystal meth withdrawal. This first phase is known as the “crash” period. During this time, individuals will experience intense symptoms of nausea, abdominal cramping, and sweating. Due to this experience, it is essential that individuals are monitored in order to avoid extreme hydration. During this phase, there will also be a sharp decline in an individual’s cognitive, or mental, function and overall energy levels.

Phase 2: Days 3–10

During the second phase in the crystal meth withdrawal timeline, withdrawal symptoms typically reach a peak three to 10 days out from the last use of the drug. An individual may experience severe depression, anxiety, or fatigue symptoms during this time as the body attempts to find equilibrium without meth. Drug cravings will be heightened during this phase, and individuals may experience muscle aches, shaking, or tremors.

Phase 3: Weeks 3–4

In the third phase of a typical crystal meth withdrawal timeline, most of the intense physical withdrawal symptoms will begin to subside during the third to fourth week of crystal meth detox. While the physical symptoms will begin to subside, intense drug cravings will probably continue during this time. Along with intense drug cravings, symptoms of fatigue may linger, and depression may be experienced. So, it is essential to have a support team and detox plan even a month out from the last use of the drug.

Phase 4: One Month+

Finally, after a month without crystal meth use, the fourth phase in the crystal meth detox timeline will be reached. During this final phase, the worst of the withdrawal symptoms have typically subsided. But psychological symptoms like depression and anxiety may be in full effect because the body’s dopamine levels have not had enough time to return to normal functioning. The symptoms of depression and anxiety can last for many months or even years after the last use of the drug. Typically, depression and anxiety are worse for individuals who engage in prolonged use of the drug. Ultimately, phase four in the crystal meth withdrawal timeline is where recovery from addiction truly begins.

Crystal Meth Treatment

While crystal meth detox is not as dangerous as detoxing from other drugs such as opioids or cocaine, there are still dangers associated with crystal meth withdrawal. One of the biggest concerns associated with crystal meth withdrawal is dehydration. So, it is beneficial to be under medical guidance when dealing with crystal meth withdrawal symptoms and when trying to stay hydrated through a balanced diet. Overall, medical detox is very useful for receiving nutritional and hydration support during the throes of crystal meth withdrawal.

Meth Withdrawal Medication and Treatment Plans

Unfortunately, there are not currently any FDA-approved prescriptions specifically designed to ease the methamphetamine withdrawal process like there are with other drugs such as opioids. So, the most common crystal meth treatment methods for withdrawal symptoms continue to be centered around medical supervision and behavioral interventions.

Common Behavior Interventions and Behavioral Therapies

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Contingency management
  • Motivational interviewing

Medications That Help Manage Crystal Meth Withdrawal Symptoms

While there are not currently any FDA-approved medications to help with the methamphetamine withdrawal process, some prescriptions are given to help prevent short-term physical symptoms like tremors, nausea, and vomiting. Some prescriptions are also given to help with psychological and mood symptoms during recovery from addiction to crystal meth.

Medications used during methamphetamine withdrawal or recovery management are usually selected because they help ease one of the following:

  • Damage caused by meth
  • Depression, anxiety, or other psychological struggles
  • Drug cravings experienced during withdrawal or recovery

The following are some commonly prescribed medications that help ease crystal meth withdrawal symptoms:

  • Bupropion: A common antidepressant often used to help individuals quit tobacco.
  • Modafinil (mild stimulant properties): A medication that is commonly used to treat narcolepsy and ADHD but can also help ease crystal meth cravings.
  • Fluoxetine: A common medication used to help individuals overcome panic attacks and ease the symptoms of anxiety.

Remember, when going through crystal meth withdrawal symptoms, it is always in your best interest to seek help or guidance from trained health professionals at a trusted treatment center.

How Windward Way Recovery Can Help

If you or a loved one are currently struggling with crystal meth addiction, there is hope and a road to recovery waiting to be started at the Windward Way Recovery Treatment Center. Here, at Windward Way Recovery, we understand the struggles that come along with drug addiction and recovery. Our qualified and professional staff will be there to help you or a loved one through the difficult process of crystal meth withdrawal.

The Windward Way Recovery staff is available any time, day or night, to assist you or your loved one through the journey of drug addiction recovery. Begin the path toward recovery today by filling out this form or calling us at (855) 491-7694. Located in the Midwest and proudly serving the community of Franklin, California, Cardinal Health is open to patients across the United States. We know the first step is often the hardest, but we will be here for you or your loved one every step of the way. The road to sobriety starts here.

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