What Is Meth Detox?
Anyone who is suffering from addiction to Meth, also known as Methamphetamine or Speed, is battling a life-threatening condition which requires treatment. Fortunately, recovery is possible for someone who undergoes meth detox. Meth detox occurs when someone stops using meth and experiences withdrawal under medical supervision. The premise of detox is simple: Meth addiction continues because the brain is so accustomed to Meth that the addiction will only end if the brain has time to readjust to operating without it. Detox is the first step to recovery from addiction because it safely deprives the body of the source of addiction, ideally at a specialized treatment facility under the care of medical professionals.
Meth detox is necessary because it helps patients manage withdrawal symptoms which can be uncomfortable and in some cases dangerous. Meth withdrawal happens when a person who is dependent on Meth stops using the drug or reduces their typical dose. Withdrawal occurs because meth (and many other addictive substances) alter the chemistry of the brain and body, to the point where they are no longer able to function “normally” without the drug. When the drug is removed, the body’s systems are thrown into chaos as they struggle to adapt. Nevertheless, in order to overcome Meth addiction, a person must stop using Meth, even though withdrawal is painful.
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Meth is a stimulant drug which is a legal ingredient in a number of FDA-approved medications for ADHD and narcolepsy. However, the drug is otherwise illegal in the United States to possess, use, or manufacture and is one of the most commonly abused substances in America. Meth is sometimes manufactured and sold as white powder and sometimes as “crystal,” which takes the form of white fragments or rocks. Meth can be injested, smoked, snorted, or injected. Whether powder or crystal, Meth is a powerful drug which causes people to feel a euphoric “rush” which may last anywhere from 8 hours to an entire day.
Like many other drugs, Meth overloads the neurotransmitters in the brain, which produces feelings of relaxation and pleasure. The effects of Meth on the nervous system are addictive and often compel users to use the drug repeatedly and in higher doses. In fact, people who are addicted to Meth may struggle to experience pleasure and happiness from anything else. In addition, long-term Meth abuse will damage a person’s mind. Methamphetamine abuse can result in insomnia, anxiety, violent behavior, psychosis, memory loss, and many other negative consequences. Meth is also notorious for its terrible physical effects, especially tooth decay and extreme weight loss.
Meth Withdrawal and the Detox Timeline
A person develops addiction to Meth partially because they first develop tolerance to the drug’s effects. After the initial exposure, the person’s nervous system becomes accustomed to Meth. Tolerance quickly leads to dependence, the forerunner of addiction, when the person “needs” Methamphetamine to “feel normal” and cannot concentrate on anything else.
Meth addiction is a major burden which does not easily fade away. Meth abusers who have a dependence or addiction will experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop using the drug. These symptoms result from the nervous system being shocked by the sudden absence of Meth from the body. Since withdrawal symptoms are often uncomfortable or even painful, people sometimes continue to abuse Meth to avoid withdrawal. They then often find themselves in a vicious cycle of withdrawal and abuse. Methamphetamine withdrawal symptoms include severe fatigue, hallucinations, paranoia, and suicidal depression.
Withdrawal is an unavoidable aspect of detox. When detox begins, patients often experience a “crash” which is characterized by depression and heavy sleeping. This initial phase usually lasts for ten days and may also involve hallucinations and anxiety. The most recent doses of Meth cycle out of the body during this phase of detox.
The “cravings” phase follows the “crash” phase. During this phase, patients experience extreme urges to use Meth. When they cannot satiate their cravings, patients often become depressed and unable to sleep. This part of the withdrawal cycle may last for up to ten weeks after detox.
During the subsequent months, patients may experience post-acute withdrawal symptoms, also known as PAWS, which generally are most powerful during the first six months. These symptoms include confusion, difficulty with concentration and memory, and emotional instability. In most cases, the post-acute withdrawal symptoms will begin to subside after six months. In some cases, withdrawal symptoms persist for up to two years, which is why detox patients should consider options for therapy and support groups during their extended recovery.
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Meth withdrawal can involve significant suffering, but meth detox can make the process much more comfortable. In any case, the pains and risks of Meth addiction are far worse. If you or someone you know is looking for meth detox, contact a dedicated treatment professional for more information on what to do and where to go. There are treatment centers throughout the country which specialize in detoxing patients from Meth and guiding them to a sober life.
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