Many people wouldn’t expect methamphetamines to require a solid detox program. However, the meth detox and withdrawal period can be incredibly challenging.
Methamphetamine rewires the brain to change the way an individual thinks and feels. Because of this, it’s difficult to respond accurately to certain situations and rely on efficient decision-making. Depression, paranoia, and other negative mental health issues manifest during meth detox as well.
Detoxing in a medical setting will provide individuals with the safety and comfort to navigate the detox process without any further complications. Methamphetamine is an unpredictable drug, and the detoxification and withdrawal period can be equally unpredictable. What does an effective meth detox offer, and what makes this drug so dangerous and life-changing?
What Is Methamphetamine?
Methamphetamine is a highly addictive chemical substance used as a stimulant. This drug affects the body’s central nervous system, causing increased alertness, hyper-focus, high energy levels, and other stimulant-like effects.
Originally, methamphetamine was developed as a remedy for inflamed bronchial tubes. However, the stimulant properties were noticed, but the drug was found to have more harmful effects on the nervous system than originally expected.
Eventually, amphetamine and methamphetamine would be marketed as a drug for weight loss and the treatment of ADHD in adolescents and adults. However, the most commonly known form is crystal meth, the illegal stimulant currently running rampant in the United States.
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The explosion of crystal meth use has been overshadowed by the heroin and fentanyl epidemic. However, slowly but surely, crystal meth use has been making its way into every town and city in the United States.
The current form of this drug is a far cry from the crudely made versions of meth that were produced in clandestine labs in the South and Midwest in the 1990s. Instead, this is a nearly 100% pure version that’s produced in Mexican super-labs.
The purity of this drug makes it incredibly dangerous among users. The number of overdoses from methamphetamine has been quietly spiking because of the fentanyl overdose epidemic. In the past, overdoses from methamphetamine weren’t a common occurrence. However, that all changed with the cartel’s super meth arrival.
There are multiple forms in which methamphetamine exists illegally. However, the most common types are crystal meth and crank. Crank is a term used for a crude version of methamphetamine made in clandestine labs on a small scale.
This is typically done using lithium, sulfur, and Sudafed. You may have also heard the term glass used when referencing methamphetamine. Normally, glass refers to the more potent form of crystal meth created in Mexican super-labs.
How Is Meth Created?
On smaller scales within clandestine labs, over-the-counter cold medications containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine serve as the primary base for this drug. These components are cooked with a solvent chemical like acetone, freon, and red phosphorous. Water is added, then the acetone (or a similar solvent) is heated to extract methamphetamine.
Nearly every ingredient used to manufacture meth is poisonous, flammable, or hazardous to humans in other ways. The manufacturing process is completely unstable, and those making it are often users, putting themselves at risk for injury or death from explosions or chemical burns.
Some of the dangerous household items found in meth are:
- Acetone from paint thinner or nail polish remover
- Battery acid
- Iodine crystals
- Phosphorous, extracted from flares or matches
- Ether or chloroform
- Anhydrous ammonia from household chemicals
- Sulfuric acid or hydrochloric acid from drain cleaners
- Energy drinks instead of OTC medications
- Toluene from brake fluid
- Freon from air-conditioners
- Benzene or gasoline
- Lithium from car batteries
If you suspect someone you know is suffering from methamphetamine abuse disorder, it’s critical that you understand the warning signs of meth dependence. We’ll highlight the warning signs of meth dependence in the following section.
What are the Warning Signs of Meth Dependence?
Significant warning signs exist when it comes to meth dependence. Individuals that are dependent on the drug usually display some or all of the following signs of meth use:
- Staying awake for days on end
- Extreme paranoia
- Enlarged pupils
- Dry mouth
Whenever someone suffers from meth dependence, they usually lose a significant amount of weight. This can be one of the biggest red flags. Another indicator is the existence of multiple unfinished projects or the inability to stay on task. This is what’s known as “tweaking.”
If their supply of methamphetamine runs out, individuals will become extremely irritable. They also may sleep for several days at a time as a result of the crash phase of meth.
Because of the way methamphetamine interacts with the brain’s chemistry, detoxing without assistance can be incredibly difficult. The rollercoaster of emotions and the absence of a substance to keep them going can present significant mental health challenges.
Methamphetamine doesn’t cause physical dependence like that of opiates and opioids, but that doesn’t mean meth detox is a walk in the park. Individuals considering detoxing from methamphetamines should give serious thought to medically-assisted detox.
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What Can I Expect from Meth Detox?
Meth detox includes distinct characteristics that range in severity depending on the length of use and the amount the user ingests. The detox is highlighted by several clearly defined phases that each last for a short period.
The intensity of symptoms during meth detox also heavily depends on whether any other drugs were abused simultaneously. Additionally, individuals who inject crystal meth will experience a slightly longer and more severe detox period.
Once detox begins, withdrawal symptoms begin to manifest. Symptoms occurring during withdrawal include the following:
- Increased appetite
- Loss of motivation
- Red eyes
These symptoms occur intermittently during the meth withdrawal timeline. The following section includes an example meth withdrawal timeline. Initially, the methamphetamine withdrawal timeline begins with the crash phase. This begins somewhere around the first 12 to 24 hours after the individual’s last use.
Afterward, acute withdrawal symptoms usually peak somewhere around two to three days after the last use. This period includes possible psychosis, mood swings, agitation, intense drug cravings, and insomnia.
Between days four and six, withdrawal symptoms may begin to subside slightly as a user goes back achieves several days of sobriety. Most acute symptoms completely vanish after seven days. However, post-acute withdrawal symptoms sometimes linger for up to six months.
These withdrawal symptoms are marked by the sudden return of certain withdrawal symptoms for a short time. Intense cravings normally follow, only lasting a matter of hours or less. Post-acute withdrawal symptoms are not consistent and may be extremely sporadic.
However, post-acute withdrawal symptoms pose a significant risk of relapse because of their unpredictability. Medically-supervised detox may provide significant relief from challenging symptoms associated with detox and withdrawal.
Individuals that choose to go through at-home detox may face increased odds of relapse and other medical challenges. Let’s examine the dangers of at-home detox.
What are the Dangers of At-Home Meth Detox?
Going through detox at home means passing on the option to have medical staff present during this period. Not only does this increase the odds of experiencing medical challenges such as increased heart rate and blood pressure, but relapse chances are higher as well.
Triggers are present daily in the life of an individual with substance abuse disorder. During the initial detox phase, a user’s willpower isn’t quite strong enough to deal with the challenges of environmental triggers.
Additionally, there are no medications available to provide relief from the most severe symptoms of detox. Because of the severity of these symptoms, this presents an additional risk of relapse. When symptoms hit their peak, individuals will engage in drug-seeking behavior with the goal of eliminating withdrawal symptoms.
Taking advantage of the benefits of medically-assisted detox gives users the greatest odds of successfully achieving recovery. The benefits of medically-assisted detox are highlighted in the following section.
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Benefits of Medically-Assisted Detox
Individuals with the goal of recovery have greater advantages by entering medically-assisted detox. In this environment, users are given access to the following benefits:
- 24/7 monitoring by medical staff and professionals to ensure that no health challenges become too severe.
- Medical staff will also prescribe medication to perpetuate relief from the symptoms of withdrawal. This may include benzos, muscle relaxers, and antidepressants.
- Mental health support is also available during the most intense periods of detox.
- Access to a healthy diet planned by specialists to promote vitality and recovery
What Happens After Meth Detox?
After meth detox, individuals can enter some form of a meth addiction treatment program. This is the next logical step in the process of recovery.
It’s recommended that treatment begins immediately after detox while the process is still fresh in the mind of the user. The negative feelings associated with detox and the withdrawal process are used as motivation during treatment and a clear recollection of this process for it to be effective.
Inpatient or outpatient rehab are the two primary options, depending on the specific situation of the user. The ideal form of treatment is inpatient, where clients take up residence at a treatment facility for 30, 60, or 90 days.
Clients participate in regular meetings with mental health professionals and have opportunities to participate in other group counseling sessions and activities. They are also provided with three robust meals a day to promote wellness.
Outpatient rehab is an option for clients that don’t have the option of living at a treatment facility. However, they are required to participate in the same form of counseling and treatment sessions, normally for a period of somewhere between 10 and 20 hours per week.
Additionally, outpatient clients may also be required to engage in some form of group meeting outside of the facility. This includes a 12-step program like Narcotics Anonymous or something similar.
Regardless of the specific choice, the end goal is long-term recovery from methamphetamine addiction.
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Long-term Recovery from Meth Addiction is Possible
Long-term recovery is experienced when all of the critical elements of recovery come together in the appropriate manner. This includes:
- The appropriate form of detox
- Inpatient rehab or outpatient rehab services
- Mental health treatment
- Aftercare services and continued treatment
Aftercare services are vital for long-term recovery. This is the portion of recovery when clients exit treatment programs and re-enter society on a permanent basis without the daily guidance of counselors. It’s critical that clients take the things they learned and apply them to real-world situations.
Additionally, continuing a mental health wellness regimen via appointments with counselors and other elements is vital. Group meetings may also promote long-term recovery in the form of NA and other types of engagement.
At Icarus Behavioral Health, we specialize in providing clients with each form of treatment that promotes long-term recovery afterward. We have years of experience and compassionate staff that are genuinely concerned with your wellness.
Contact one of our Admissions specialists today to obtain information about the intake process or any other questions you might have. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to our compassionate specialists now!