Meth Detox, Withdrawal And Treatment Options

Detoxification (or detox) is the process by which your body rids itself of the toxins in its system. In order words, you will have to wait as all traces of the drug are removed from your body. The difficulty with detox is withdrawal, which is a direct effect of your body trying to adjust to the absence of a substance it has become accustomed to.

Withdrawal symptoms can be extremely uncomfortable – or in some cases, even dangerous. Treatment is important, because you will get all the help you need to deal with the symptoms and make them less unpleasant. This is often referred to as medical detox or medically-assisted detox. You can expect to be given maintenance medication to ease your symptoms, including antidepressants and other such drugs.

You may experience some physical and psychological symptoms after you stop using meth (especially if you’ve been injecting). You’re particularly likely to experience these if you’ve been using meth over an extended period of time. Some withdrawal symptoms can be life threatening – such as suicide ideation, hallucinations or delusion. Meth withdrawal symptoms are painful and traumatic. They can cause you to use more of the drug in the hope of counteracting the withdrawal process.

The symptoms of meth withdrawal occur with the sudden discontinuation or significant reduction in meth dosage. This means that after you quit meth, your body reacts. This is more apparent if you have become drug dependent and your body needs meth in order to function normally. Therefore, when meth is no longer in your body, you’ll go through withdrawal.

Normally, meth withdrawal may cause you to have difficulty thinking clearly. Quitting meth ‘cold turkey’ can even worsen the process further. This is because quitting methamphetamine all at once using the ‘cold turkey’ method is followed by severe withdrawal symptoms. Instead, tapering doses can help you reduce the intensity and severity of your meth withdrawal symptoms.

Withdrawal Timeline

Meth withdrawal is different for each individual. Certain factors contribute to the intensity, severity and duration of your meth withdrawal:

  • Your physical state – wellbeing, age, gender
  • Your personal body response and metabolism of meth
  • The amount of meth you’ve been consuming
  • How long you’ve been abusing meth
  • If you’ve combined your intake of meth with other drugs
  • Presence of co-existing physical and mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety disorder, diabetes or high blood pressure

However, the average meth withdrawal timeline is likely to follow this pattern:

From 0 to 3 days after your last usage, you may begin to experience feelings of depression, a need for more sleep and extreme fatigue and tiredness.

From 2 to 10 days after your last usage, common withdrawal symptoms include hallucinations, increased appetite, mood swings, aches and pains, lack of concentration and strong meth cravings.

From 7 to 28 days after your last usage, many symptoms disappear, but some endure, such as cravings, thinking deficits, moodiness, emotional flatness, and sleeping problems.

From 1 to 3 months after your last usage, most significant withdrawal symptoms ease-up and you start feeling much better, mentally and physically. However, cravings continue and can actually worsen to a peak after about three months. Additionally, protracted withdrawal symptoms continue, as your brain heals itself over the first year of abstinence.

Treatment Options

As far as treatment plans go, there are a few to choose from, depending on your personal preferences and what will be best for you or your loved one. One of those is residential treatment, which entails staying in a treatment centre for as long as six months or more. There are short-term residential treatment programmes available, where you may only have to stay in a treatment facility for three to six weeks.

Outpatient programmes don’t require you or your loved one to live in a residential facility for the duration of treatment. Instead, you will have to commute from home to treatment sessions at set times – often evenings and/or weekends. There are other treatment models which may fit into any of the aforementioned plans. They include group therapy/counselling and individualised drug counselling.

Rehab

As far as treatment plans go, there are a few to choose from, depending on your personal preferences and what will be best for you or your loved one. One of those is residential treatment, which entails staying in a treatment centre for as long as six months or more. There are short-term residential treatment programmes available, where you may only have to stay in a treatment facility for three to six weeks.

Outpatient programmes don’t require you or your loved one to live in a residential facility for the duration of treatment. Instead, you will have to commute from home to treatment sessions at set times – often evenings and/or weekends. There are other treatment models which may fit into any of the aforementioned plans. They include group therapy/counselling and individualised drug counselling.

Treatment options may be generally categorised into different types, due to the increasing diversification and evolution of individual programmes and treatment approaches. While every treatment programme or facility will have its own unique modalities, most follow a basic system that starts with detox and continues with therapy.

The differences in treatment modalities may be based on a number of factors, such as the particular group of people a programme or facility targets, or the approach it believes is best for achieving success. Nonetheless, you can expect to go through a general process that includes evaluation, detoxification, medication, therapy, and aftercare.

Our drug rehab programme includes all of the above treatment approaches.

Medication

The drugs currently used in detox are those that can help manage withdrawal symptoms and make the process less unpleasant. However, there is ongoing research into drugs that can reduce meth usage or take care of cravings, or even serve both functions.

One of the drugs showing the most promise for light use of meth is buproprion, which may reduce usage of the substance. It has also shown promise for reducing cravings. Other drugs shown to have the potential for reducing usage include naltrexone, mirtazapine, and topiramate.

As far as reducing cravings goes, many drugs have been tested but showed no success. However, some drugs have shown more promise, including naltrexone, nicotine, and rivastigmine, dextroamphetamine.

Therapy

Whether you opt for inpatient or outpatient treatment, you are bound to encounter therapy in one form or another. You will work with a therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist to get to the root of your problem and tackle it from there. There are a few therapy options that are widely adopted by therapists in the addiction recovery space, which are useful, both for addressing the mental illness and the substance abuse.

The therapy options you will most likely encounter are cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), pharmacological therapy, interpersonal therapy, and dialectal behavioural therapy. CBT is likely to be the most common and is aimed at helping you recognise negative thinking in order to help you approach challenging situations differently. This, like all the other therapies, is aimed at ensuring you maintain long-term sobriety.

Alternative Forms of Therapy

Besides the more popular types of therapy, there are other forms to explore which different programmes may offer. Some of the alternative forms of therapy you might come across include:

• Equine therapy
By engaging in the care of horses and other structured activities, you can begin to feel more self-competent. Also, the calming presence of an animal like a horse can give you a safe way to visit deeper emotional issues, without fear of judgement. Your therapist should then be able to recognise patterns that underlie your addiction.

• Art therapy
Whether it’s paint, beads, slay, or even a wooden board and nails, art therapy provides a more pleasing way for you to address issues that contribute to your drug problem. It’s almost like equine therapy in that regard.

• Yoga
Yoga and other mindfulness-based therapies may be used to increase awareness and help you connect with yourself again, as it’s believed you are disconnected from your body when you engage in substance abuse. There is even the Yoga of 12-Step Recovery programmes, which infuse the traditional 12-step recovery model with yogic philosophy.

• Emotional freedom techniques (EFT)
This is an energy-psychology technique that involves you tapping on a sequence of points connected to meridians or acupressure points on your body. As you tap, you will be required to mention the current problem or emotional issue. It is a useful technique for addressing the underlying causes of your addiction.

There are other alternative therapies available, including:

• Adventure therapy
• Biofeedback or neuro-feedback
• Psychodrama

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