meth abuse facts

Withdrawal symptoms  |  Withdrawal timeline  |  Detox |  Back to top

During World War II, methamphetamine was widely used to keep troops awake.

Of course, the health professionals administering the drug did not yet realize the extremely harmful effect this drug can have. Nor did they know that by the year 2020, the US would have an epidemic of methamphetamine abuse.

One of the driving factors behind methamphetamine abuse is the difficulty of meth withdrawal. Understanding how to detox from meth and overcome those withdrawal symptoms safely is among the first steps in getting help.

To learn more about meth withdrawal and detox, consult the complete guide below.

What Is Meth?

Methamphetamine is also known as crystal meth, crystal, ice, crank, and glass. It’s a highly addictive and potent stimulant that’s manmade and has been around for over a century.

When smoked or snorted, methamphetamine has an almost instantaneous effect on the brain. It causes the brain to release the neurotransmitter known as dopamine. The flood of that neurotransmitter impacts movement and motivation as well as the reward areas of the brain, causing the user to crave the experience again.

symptoms of meth withdrawal

Abuse facts  |  Withdrawal timeline  |  Detox |  Back to top

Meth is a highly addictive drug. It causes rapid dependency very quickly in regular users. Once the body has become physically dependent on the drug, users experience withdrawal symptoms within the first 24 hours of being abstinent from the drug.

Those withdrawal symptoms include

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Dehydration
  • Excessive sweating
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Hallucinations
  • Increased appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Paranoia
  • Red, itchy eye
  • Tremor
  • Severe depression
  • Stomach ache
  • Suicidal thoughts

meth withdrawal timeline

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In terms of the meth withdrawal timeline, symptoms typically peak within 7 to 10 days following abstinence and are typically completely gone within 14 to 20 days. Throughout this period, symptoms follow a steady downward progression.

However, the length of time it takes to overcome withdrawal, and how severe that withdrawal is, varies from individual to individual. Variations depend on how long the individual has been a user, how much meth they used, how often they used it, and whether or not they were taking other drugs or alcohol.

Comedown Versus Withdrawal

Although they look similar and have some similar symptoms, comedown and withdrawal are very different. The symptoms of a comedown include:

  • Anxiety
  • Decreased appetite
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Hopelessness
  • Insomnia
  • Lack of motivation
  • Muscle pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Sadness

Recreational users often experience a comedown with a number of these symptoms, and that comedown can even last a few days. They’re the result of imbalances in the brain and the exhaustion that follows the euphoria the drug induces.

Withdrawal, on the other hand, is the result of physical dependence on the drug. Meth withdrawal also lasts for several weeks and the symptoms are far more severe than a comedown. Indeed, the non-physical symptoms of meth withdrawal, such as depression and anxiety, can persist for months following abstinence and detox.

symptoms of meth detox

Abuse facts  |  Withdrawal symptoms  |  Withdrawal timeline  |  Back to top

There are two reasons that meth detox is necessary. The first has to do with the physical comfort and safety of the user. The second has to do with preventing a relapse before the meth recovery process can even begin.

In relation to the first, the physical symptoms of meth withdrawal can be extremely painful for the individual. Entering a detox program can ease this pain and provide the most comfortable and safe environment possible. Doctors and health professionals can even provide medication to relieve some of the worst symptoms at the peak of the meth withdrawal timeline.

In terms of preventing relapse or further drug abuse, making detox a more comfortable process means the individual is less likely to use drugs in order to ease the symptoms of withdrawal. Users know that all they have to do to feel better during withdrawal is to take more of the drug. But, of course, this only perpetuates the cycle of drug abuse and prevents them from having a real shot at sobriety.


What Does Meth Detox Look Like?

Meth detox is much the same as a detox from other hard drugs. It’s a chance to expel the drug from the system and align the body with the desire to stop using drugs.

And while every rehabilitation or detox facility will use different methods for getting there, most will want to know:

  • What drugs have been taken and in what amounts?
  • When and what was the amount of the last dose?
  • What is a typical dose for that individual?
  • How long has the individual been using drugs?
  • Has the individual tried a detox before?
  • What was the outcome of their last attempt at sobriety, if any?

With that information, an experienced medical team can create an appropriate detox program for the individual. The program might include medication, emotional support, and even a nutritional program. The team will work with the individual, monitor their progress, and be available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week until they feel ready to pursue the next step in their sobriety process.

What to Do After Detox

Detox is intended to expel a drug from the body and provide a sober framework from which to begin the real work of sobriety. Detoxing is only the first step in a long process and detox alone will not ensure sobriety.

Meaning that, after detox, an individual should immediately seek a meth recovery program. That may be in the form of an in-patient residential facility or an outpatient program. What works for the individual will depend on their own personal circumstance, but a detox professional can help make that decision.


Take the First Step on the Road to Recovery

Meth withdrawal can be extremely painful and even debilitating. That level of discomfort often causes users to return to the drug to ease their symptoms. But that situation can easily be avoided by entering a professional detox facility, which makes the withdrawal process safe and more comfortable.

If you find yourself in a vicious cycle of using meth and you’re ready to seek outside help, contact our facility today.

Medically Reviewed: September 25, 2019

Dr Ashley

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Dr Ashley Murray obtained her MBBCh Cum Laude in 2016. She currently practices in the public domain in South Africa. She has an interest in medical writing and has a keen interest in evidence-based medicine.

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Guide to Methamphetamine Detoxification.

Written By Jeff Mahre BA MFA MLIS - January 12th, 2017

Methamphetamine, also known as crystal meth, is a highly addictive and dangerous drug. If you or a loved one are addicted, reach out to us today. We can help you get started on a better life.