Crystal Meth Withdrawal and Detox

Methamphetamine is a powerful stimulant that keeps you exhilarated, alert and awake. However, that’s just one effect of misusing the drug. More dangerously, it makes you paranoid, agitated, aggressive and confused. Long-term addicts can even suffer brain damage.

The crystal form – referred to as ‘Ice’ or ‘Crystal meth’ – is extremely addictive, and most people who’ve used it compare the effects to crack cocaine, as you smoke both substances and feel a deep, intense ‘high’ – the kind cocaine and other drugs or stimulants won’t provide.

Since 2016, there’s been increasing concerns about the spread of the Class-A drug across the UK, with arrests soaring by 500% since 2011. The drug is common with partygoers, who gave it the name ‘Ice’ and is linked to increased risk of HIV, Hepatitis C, unprotected sex, needle sharing and sexually transmitted infections.

Crystal Meth Withdrawal: What You Should Know

The adventures of Walter White and his partner, Jesse Pinkman, in the award-winning show Breaking Bad, popularised crystal meth in the UK. Despite campaigns by the UK government to raise awareness on the disturbing effect of the drug, many young people are battling addiction.

Crystal meth withdrawal symptoms happen when you decide to reduce your regular intake or stop altogether. Your body has adjusted to the drug and depends on it. Hence, you crave the drug to function normally. Recreational users who inject, sniff or smoke the drug can develop a dependency on meth after just one intake.

Why does someone go through withdrawal after quitting crystal meth?

Meth is so powerful and addictive that if you take it for two weeks or more, your body becomes dependent on the rapid invasion of chemicals. In order for the elastic brain to survive, it adapts by slowing down the rate at which it carries out most of its core functions.

Withdrawal happens because your body isn’t receiving the chemicals it needs to function. When you quit the drug, it takes time for it to completely leave your system and for your brain to learn how to perform those functions at a regular pace. The slowed-down function manifests in the form of dysphoria, fatigue and depression, amongst other symptoms.

Duration of the Crystal Meth Withdrawal Period

Withdrawal effects start manifesting 24 hours after your last dose. You’ll start to feel fatigue, despair, anxiety, hallucination, paranoia and insomnia. The duration of the withdrawal process is different for everyone, depending on how long you’ve been addicted to meth.

The first 24 hours are the hardest and most intense, usually lasting four weeks for most people, though that can be extended to six weeks for some long-term users.

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How to Get off Crystal Meth Without Rehab

Meth detox is a recovery journey that takes time. There is no quick fix to getting off and staying clean from meth on your own. You can complete meth detox at home, but we advise you to register with a rehab facility as an outpatient. As an addict, you’ll likely become violent, aggressive and a danger to yourself and those around you.

Some people are able to successfully complete the process with help from friends and family, without professional help from experienced health professionals, but how do you get past triggers and deal with issues that drove you to meth addiction in the first place?

It is possible to get off meth without rehab. You’ll need to have a support system, a detox plan, approval from your doctor, as well as medication that will help you cope with craving and withdrawal.

What is the Cause of Crystal Meth Withdrawal Symptoms?

Withdrawal symptoms manifest when a dependent stops using the substance. The symptoms get worse as your body goes through detox to remove meth from your system. Extreme meth usage reduces the levels of neurotransmitters (such as dopamine) and increases the chances of brain damage. It’s the reason why meth users experience mental issues such as cravings, difficulty problem-solving and depression, long after they quit.

It also explains why most people who truly want to quit, choose to stay at a rehab facility, instead of commuting from home. Rehab can only begin after detox. Because of the danger to your health during detox, it’s important a medical doctor is present to observe and guide the process. The severity of the symptom is determined by the period of time you’ve spent using (or have been addicted to) methamphetamine.

How Long does it Take before Crystal Meth withdrawal starts?

The psychological impact of crystal meth is instantaneous after the first ingestion. In some addicts, withdrawal starts 12 hours after the last dose, but it mostly happens within 24 hours. No one can predict how each individual will experience the withdrawal period. Acute episodes last days and even weeks and can distort your perception of what is real and imaginary.

Crystal Meth withdrawal timeline

Meth withdrawal is life-threatening. In fact, thoughts of suicide, depression, delusion and hallucination are common signs. The first stage of withdrawal lasts 48 hours after your last meth intake.

The crash phase is where you experience a significant drop in your ability to perform normal functions, due to low energy. Most meth addicts don’t usually crave meth during this period, but feel very tired, depressed and spaced-out. The meth stays in your body for three days, which is why the crash is so intense.

Crystal meth cravings timeline

The craving for crystal meth starts on the third day after you’ve stopped using. Your body relied on the ‘high’ the chemicals released into your body to function. Without the drug, you crave this ‘high’ and its subsequent effects.

Craving is accompanied by sleep disorders, mood swings, body pain, lack of energy, headaches and slow cognitive function. Researchers found that the typical second phase lasts 7-10 days, until symptoms gradually subside.

Preparing for Crystal meth withdrawal

To adequately prepare for crystal meth withdrawal, you have to be informed about the process of detox, the symptoms that manifest during this period, the health dangers, as well which detox option is right for you, and how to stay clean post-rehab.

After the second week, you’ll experience low level symptoms, such as mood swings and sleep disorders for the next two weeks until your brain functions and neurotransmitter levels normalise.

The best detox option is to register at a certified rehab facility, where you’ll be safely rehabilitated and equipped to re-enter the world and deal with any triggers.

Crystal Meth withdrawal is Highly Individual

There are several factors that determine how an individual reacts to detox and withdrawal. Your response to withdrawal depends on the length of drug use, whether large amounts were taken, whether meth was combined with other Class-A stimulants or if you have any pre-existing health conditions, such as anxiety disorder, diabetes or depression.

Tapering vs. Cold Turkey Crystal Meth Withdrawal

Most people who stop using meth quit by going ‘cold turkey. They just stop and never go back. There is no treatment or rehab plan. People who quit this way experience the most severe, intense feelings, which manifest through acute, psychotic and depressive symptoms.

For those who find it impossible to quit cold turkey, tapering reduces the risk of severity of withdrawal symptoms. Cut back on the number of times you use a week and the quantity consumed, until you gradually quit.

Treating Crystal Meth Withdrawal Symptoms

The first step to treating symptoms is getting medical help. Your experience with symptoms will differ from other people, so the treatment options will differ. Symptoms peak on the fifth day, so we advise you to seek professional help when you experience severe or life-threatening episodes.

A medical professional prescribes medication and effective therapies, such as a 12-step recovery programme and longer rehab stays to treat meth withdrawal symptoms.

Avoiding Relapse during Protracted Withdrawal

For people who have taken meth for a lengthy spell (some as long as 5 to 10 years), withdrawal symptoms are longer than one month. During this period, you’ll experience cravings, your mind remains fuzzy, you won’t receive any enjoyment from life’s pleasures and you’ll think a little dose of meth will make it better. The only way to avoid relapse is to register at a rehab facility, where you’ll learn strategies to manage your cravings and deal with the emotional need to ‘get high’.

Which treatments work for Crystal Meth addictions?

Currently, the most effective way to treat crystal meth addiction is through behavioural and psychological therapies. There are medications that help people cope better with withdrawal symptoms but none have proved effective in restoring the devastating effect meth has on the brain and body. Options for meth addiction treatment include medical crystal meth detox, addiction rehab, behavioural therapy and aftercare.

Other help for Crystal Meth Addiction

Apart from traditional rehab facilities and medical detox, other treatment options include joining a support group, registering as an out-patient at a treatment centre, visiting a clinical psychologist, 12-step support and individual, customised counselling.

Rehabilitation options for Crystal Meth

There are two main rehabilitation options for treating meth addiction; inpatient and outpatient facilities.

Does Treatment for Crystal Meth Addiction Work?

There is no official, medically approved treatment for meth addiction or abuse. However, several medications such as Naltrexone, Bupropion and Methylphenidate help decrease craving, reduce meth use and alleviate withdrawal symptoms in people fighting to kick addiction.

Addiction Helper has helped many people find help for crystal meth addiction through treatment designed for meth addiction.

Information on Crystal Meth detox and Treatment

When you’re ready to quit meth, the first step is detoxification to rid your body of the chemicals. Detox is used to help recovering addicts cope with emotional symptoms. The brain is very powerful and without the right support system, it overrides your will to stop. A crystal meth detox centre provides a safe and supportive environment for you to detox from meth.

Inpatient facilities offer 24-hour residence and treatment for people trying to quit meth addiction. Outpatient treatment is for people who consider themselves able to handle withdrawal symptoms and cope with relapse triggers that are common amongst addicts. We advise inpatient care, where you’ll be under the supervision of experienced professionals.

What is Crystal Meth Detox?

Crystal meth detox refers to the process of cleansing your body of chemicals and toxins associated with methamphetamine addiction. The withdrawal symptoms of meth abuse are painful and exhausting. Attempts to quit sometimes result in a full-blown addiction or overdose. At a detox facility, you’ll be medically supervised to avoid health complications and dangerous risks that arise from acute withdrawal symptoms.

How to safely detox from Crystal Meth

To safely detox from crystal meth, please enrol in a residential detox treatment. If you can’t afford inpatient care, register as an outpatient and detox from home. A medical professional can access your situation based on your medical history, length of addiction, pre-existing medical condition, age, gender and other factors, to determine if it’s safe for you to detox at home.

During detox, stay healthy by eating nutritious food, monitor symptoms of depression, look out for acute or protracted symptoms and visit a doctor if you start experiencing suicidal thoughts.

Medically Assisted Crystal Meth Detox

There is no medication approved for treating meth or combating the craving. However, through the combination of behavioural and psychological therapies, you can detox safely, get help for rehabilitation and learn to sustain your recovery journey in a world full of temptations and triggers.

Crystal Meth detox: What to expect

The first thing to understand is that detox is only the first step in the lifelong journey to sobriety and abstinence from drugs. The length of detox and withdrawal depends on how long you’ve been addicted to ‘Ice’. Most long-term users experience protracted withdrawal symptoms that take longer than a month to dissipate.

In the acute phase that lasts 7-10 days, expect to feel joint and muscle pain, feverish, depressed, nauseous, hungry, sleep deprived, paranoid and extremely tired. The sub-acute phase is where you’ll have lucid dreams and your appetite improves dramatically. You’ll also experience a lack of will to enjoy life, as well as drug craving. These symptoms continue for two to three weeks.

How to detox from crystal meth at home

There are more people who detox at home than those who register at a detox facility. Ensure that the environment is drug-free and you have a support system to guide you through to the end. If you have a psychiatric diagnosis or existing medical condition, you should register as a residential withdrawal to manage withdrawal symptoms better.

Make sure your support system do their own research and know what to look out for during detox, such as signs of acute withdrawal or a medical emergency. Create a plan and ask your support friend(s) to stick to it during detox. You’re also going to need a proper follow-up plan for post-detox rehabilitation.

How to know if you need residential detox

This is a decision to make with your loved ones, since they’re also affected by your drug use. Talk to your doctor or treatment provider, who will advise if a residential detox for meth addiction is the best route to follow.

Some people need to register at a meth detox facility during the first 10 days when the symptoms are most intense. However, an expert who has physically accessed your needs can better advise you on the best type of detox, whether home or residential.

If you’re experiencing psychotic symptoms, combining meth with other substances or you’ve tried and failed on previous occasions, these are signs that you need residential detox.

Dangers of detoxing at home

Crystal meth is a dangerous stimulant that produces extremely intense reactions in people. Some addicts believe that inpatient detox is a waste of money or lack of self-will and discipline. Several who detox at home relapse to stave off the withdrawal symptoms. This leads to the risk of meth binge, overdose and deep psychological lows. However, detox at a facility ensures the symptoms and cravings are well managed.

How long does Crystal meth detox take?

The most difficult period is the first three days when your body is cleansing itself of toxins and harmful chemicals. Duration for crystal meth detox differs according to individuals, frequency of meth use and level of dependence. Physical symptoms reduce to manageable levels after 10 days. Prolonged withdrawal lasts three to six months in some individuals, as the mental and emotional symptoms such as cravings are much harder to kick.

Crystal meth withdrawal and detox timeline/stages

First three days: This is where physical symptoms manifest. They start between 12 to 24 hours after your last drug intake. Symptoms include irritability, negative mood, depression and exhaustion.

Four to ten days: this is the acute stage and it usually peaks on the tenth day. Symptoms that occur here include decreased sexual pleasure, lack of willingness to get out of bed in the morning and paranoia.

Second to fourth week: your mood starts to stabilise and symptoms are more manageable. In the second week, you regain appetite and energy, but you’ll still feel fatigued and anxious. In the fourth week, you’ll enjoy better sleep and improved mood. However, nervousness and anxiety might linger.

Crystal Meth Detox process

Evaluation: the doctor working with a medical team evaluates your physical wellbeing and determines the amount of meth in your body. This helps them create a customised detox programme for you. The doctor also asks questions about drug and medical history to determine which medication will be the right fit.

Next, you will go through detox in a safe environment. After this stage, the real work begins. You’ll participate in group counselling with other recovering addicts, as well as individual therapy, where the therapist will help to unearth deep seated issues that led to your drug abuse and coping strategies to avoid relapse.
After rehab, there are 12 step programmes, sober homes and alternative programmes via which you can build on the lessons and skills formed during rehab.

Why detox is a must

Crystal meth is cheap, the process of making it hazardous and the effect on the body and brain life-threatening. In England, meth is one of the most addictive drugs and some people become addicted after just one usage.

Long-term users develop cognitive and emotional difficulty, because meth affects function and structure of the brain, linked to memory and emotion. Even after recovery, some mental and emotional functions never work at optimal level. Detox increases your chances to recover full cognitive abilities and gets you on the road to recovery.

Helping a loved one in Crystal Meth Detox

If your loved one is undergoing crystal meth detox, the first step is to let them know you’ll be there throughout the entire journey. When undergoing detox at home, note down what worked and on which days the symptoms were worst. Go through the list of symptoms with the person, so they’re not surprised when they manifest.

Make sure they stay hydrated and provide nutritious food during detox. Develop a plan to deal with craving and watch for severe symptoms such as seizures, self-harm, suicide and depression. Avoid caretaker burnout by enlisting the help of others during the detox process, as it leads to poor quality of care.

Care Programmes and Treatment Facilities

Options for care programmes include: community services (such as Crystal Meth Anonymous, meeting in your area), free addiction rehab, day care treatment facilities, outpatient programmes, private rehab clinics and emergency addiction rehabs suitable for your detox needs.

Coming to terms with Crystal Meth Addiction

Meth effects last up to eight hours, but as they wear down, you will experience the comedown’. As the comedown symptoms set in, many people take more to feel the same ‘high’. This leads to increased side effects and eventually, meth addiction. You know you’re addicted when you develop a dependence on the chemical. Signs include: extreme drug craving, knowing the harm yet unable to stop using, extreme highs when you use and extreme lows during the comedown. If you’re exhibiting any of these symptoms, it’s time to get help before the long-term effects destroy your life.

Crystal Meth Rehabilitation Programme

There are some signs you’ll exhibit if you’re a crystal meth addict. These include insomnia, aggressive behaviour, sweating, decaying gums, violent tendencies, cycles of depression and euphoria, paranoia and more. If you’re displaying some of these characteristics, it’s time to enrol in a rehab programme.

State-supported facilities cost less, but the care and treatment is not as good as a private facility. Options for treatment abound in places such as London, Liverpool, Blackpool, Manchester and other areas across the UK.

How to care for someone going through crystal meth withdrawal

The first step is to understand the withdrawal process and what it entails. Knowing the effects prepares you for handling withdrawal symptoms like mood disorders, depression, aggressive behaviour and more. Call a doctor and enquire about recommended prescription for meth withdrawal.

Help them obtain a psychiatric and medical evaluation to ensure you’re equipped to see them through the withdrawal process and create a therapy programme with a professional to discuss ways to cope with withdrawal.

Motivational Incentives

The use of motivational incentives to help meth users abstain has been widely successful. Contingency management rewards recovering addicts for good behavior, in a bid to help people reach their recovery goals and increase rehab attendance. A flagship programme called Motivational Incentives for Enhancing Drug Abuse Recovery provided amazing encouragement for meth users in recovery.

Free Resources

There are some websites that provide useful resources for meth users on the road to recovery:

  • Crystal Meth Anonymous: This is a 12-step programme with a purpose to help you stop using meth and stay drug-free.
  • Dual Recovery Anonymous: If you’re recovering from multiple drug addiction, this programme is for you.
  • Families Anonymous: For loved ones who’ve been affected by the addiction of someone in your family.
  • Online support groups: Covers various issues from drug addiction, withdrawal symptoms and coping post-rehab.

Key facts about Crystal Meth abuse

  • A person can become addicted to crystal meth after a single use.
  • Crystal meth is the drug of choice for young partygoers in the UK, especially people aged between 15 and 40.
  • It’s cheaper than cocaine, heroin and several other illicit drugs.
  • The easiest way to identify a crystal meth addict is by ‘meth mouth’, where the gums and mouth rot and teeth start falling out.
  • Crystal meth can be consumed by injecting, swallowing, smoking, snorting and also ingested rectally.
  • Long-term effects include impaired motor skill and brain damage.

Rehab centres near you

Registering at a rehab centre helps you develop healthy coping habits that reduce the risk for relapse. If you have a solid support system at home, you can attend a rehab centre in your area. It also offers the opportunity for loved ones to attend group counselling with you and help you make amends to those you’ve hurt whilst under the influence.

Contact us for help with Crystal Meth Withdrawal and detox

The detox process from crystal meth sometimes makes all the difference in the severity of side effects from withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal effect is different for every meth user. Some manage it well, under the supervision of a medical profession, while others still experience thoughts of suicide, psychosis and self-harm as a result of protracted acute withdrawal.


Is withdrawal from meth dangerous?

Meth is a dangerous substance and the decision to quit should not be taken lightly. Meth withdrawal symptoms become dangerous with signs like hallucination, psychosis, suicidal thoughts and delusion. The first step after the decision to quit is to get professional advice. Do not go through withdrawal alone or you’ll risk a relapse.

Where can you detox from meth?

There are three options when you decide to detox from meth. The first is the home detox option, which is fairly popular, but not advised. You conduct the detox at home with a supportive loved one looking after you. The second option is to detox at an inpatient facility. This option is suitable for long-term users battling craving or those who’ve tried to quit in the past, but were unsuccessful. The third option is outpatient facility, where patients can start the detox process at home and visit a rehab facility to get help coping with withdrawal symptoms.

What kind of medication will my doctor prescribe?

There are no medications targeted towards treating meth addiction or alleviating symptoms, but some pharmacology medications work to reduce symptoms. They include:

Naltrexone: Potential to increase abstinence and reduce use of methamphetamine.

Modafinil: There are mixed results for the use of modafinil to treat withdrawal symptoms. However, one study shows that when used with cognitive-behavioural therapy, there is reduced meth usage.

Dextroamphetamine: This drug helps to reduce meth craving and is available as a prescription tablet.

Buproprion: this is one the most popular medications in combating meth addiction. It helps light meth users by increasing the amounts of dopamine and norepinephrine in the body to weaken uptake caused through meth intake.

What makes crystal meth addiction recovery difficult?

The power of meth is three times the efficacy of cocaine and is known as one of the hardest drugs to quit. Dependence on meth happens when your brain rapidly adjusts to the presence of meth and leads to addiction faster than other addictive substances.

One of the reasons why addiction is harder is because the withdrawal symptoms are more intense than other substances. There is no established drug to help reduce pain, stop craving or manage addiction – the likes of which is accessible to alcoholics and cocaine addicts. This makes it tougher for crystal meth addicts to recover.

Drawbacks of Medication therapy for crystal meth

Most of the medication currently available is still undergoing testing, while their efficacy for long-term users is minute. The success rate for using medication to treat meth addiction is low. Some of the medications tested for meth craving didn’t produce any success and medications that worked seemed to show minimal efficacy.
Medication is no substitute for support and should be used in conjunction with individual and group counselling.

What are the various popular Slang or Street Names for Crystal Meth?

Speed, crank, Tina, chalk, gak, cookies, go fast, uppers, tweek, dunk, no doze, go-go- juice, pookie, rocket fuel, garbage, white cross and scooby snax.
When combined with cocaine, ecstasy, crack and coffee, it is called fire, hugs and kisses, twisters, part and play, shabu and biker coffee.

How long does crystal meth detox last?

The detox period isn’t specific, because a user’s drug usage and level of dependency vary. However, the general timeline suggests that it lasts for a month. Physical detox takes three days, while acute symptoms manifest until the tenth day. Beyond that, you’re dealing with anhedonia, mood swings, cravings and concentration difficulty for an additional two weeks.

Why detoxing at home can be harmful

Detox from crystal meth can sometimes be life-threatening. Class-A drugs should be cleansed from the body in a rehab facility, where a trained doctor and health professionals (who have experience working with meth users) can design a programme that makes it safe and easier for you to detox.

Physical and psychological effects are sometimes horrifying to watch. Taking care of someone in such a state could ruin your relationship with them if you don’t have a tough skin or have never had to deal with drug withdrawals in the past.

There is also the risk of protracted acute symptoms, where the patient still suffers from psychosis, sleep deprivation, depression, nausea and other symptoms, weeks into the detox.

Does withdrawal last long?

For users who haven’t used for a long time, withdrawal isn’t a long process. In fact, some start experiencing relief after two weeks, and by the fourth week are better able to manage symptoms. Long-term users risk a lengthier period of withdrawal due to the emotional and psychological effect of meth use.

What can I do to succeed at Crystal Meth recovery?

Attending therapy sessions regularly helps you learn how to cope with triggers. There are methods with good success rates in helping people stay clean. They include:
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), functional magnetic resonance imaging, 12-step programmes, contingency management, aversion therapy and the matrix model.

What are the effects of crystal meth withdrawal?

  • Agitation
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Fatigue
  • Hallucinations
  • Anxiety
  • Aches and pains
  • Irritability
  • Intense cravings
  • Psychosis
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Severe hunger

What are the different types of crystal meth detox?

‘Cold turkey’ is the most effective method, because it involves complete abstinence from the drug. Small doses and other types of detox have proven ineffective for some long-term users. The second method is tapering, where you reduce the amount you consume and frequency of drug use, until you stop. This method is advised for those who’ve been evaluated and advised not choose the cold turkey method.

The third option is inpatient care, where you enter a detox facility to receive help from healthcare professionals. Alternatively, you could opt for outpatient care if your doctor approves and you have no history of psychiatric illness or medical conditions that require special care.

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