Methamphetamine is a powerful stimulant drug. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), it is a Schedule II drug. There are some limited prescription applications for meth, but for the most part, meth is notorious as an addictive, dangerous substance of abuse.
Its use can result in comedown effects that are uncomfortable and similar to a hangover from alcohol. While time is ultimately the only cure for a meth comedown, there are some things you can do to support recovery.
Meth binds to the brain very quickly, releasing a flood of dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. When regulated naturally by the brain, these mood-elevating neurotransmitters are important for keeping mood and physical energy stable.
When a drug like meth is abused, the brain releases floods of these neurotransmitters, causing greatly elevated energy, mood, and attention. As meth leaves the body, these neurotransmitters do not just disperse back to normal levels. They are reduced to below-average levels, leading to feelings of depression, exhaustion, and cravings for more of the drug to feel better.
To avoid becoming addicted to meth, do not take the drug if it is offered to you. If you do take meth, you may experience a comedown, which is like a hangover after the drug wears off.
Comedowns from drug abuse are uncomfortable, physically and psychologically. You may crave more of the drug, but it is important to stay away from it to let your brain and body recover.
After abusing drugs like meth, you will experience a comedown the next day. Methamphetamine can usually be detected in blood and urine tests for three days after you take the drug, even once, because your body is still breaking the substance down.
Although the initial rush and high from meth lasts a few hours, you may experience related effects for up to 12 hours after taking it, depending on how large your dose was. As the drug is metabolized through your liver and kidneys, the feelings of euphoria, anxiety, intense energy, and alertness will wear off. This is when comedown symptoms may begin.
Like a hangover from drinking too much alcohol, the symptoms from a meth comedown will typically last between four to 24 hours, and a lot of the experience can depend on how you manage the symptoms.
You may sleep for most of the day; depending on how much meth was abused, you may sleep into the next day, too. You may experience sleep disturbances, like frequently waking up or having nightmares. You may be very hungry when you wake up, but your stomach may be upset. You may crave more meth as well as other stimulants like nicotine, caffeine, and sugar.
If you can treat yourself well, finding healthy ways to relax, you will feel better the next day.
Ready to get Help?
We’re here 24/7. Pick up the phone.
If you are not dependent on meth, the comedown is the worst of what you will experience, as long as you do not take more of the stimulant drug.
Like easing a hangover, you can take some basic self-care steps at home. Here are the top five steps you can take to ease a meth comedown:
Drink water, fruit juice, or tea to keep yourself well-hydrated. Meth increases the body’s internal temperature and causes you to move a lot, but you likely forgot to drink water while you were intoxicated. Your body will need water to flush the drug out of your system through the kidneys.
Take a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) like ibuprofen or acetaminophen to ease joint pain, muscle aches, or headaches while you recover. You may also benefit from stretching or taking a hot bath to ease muscle tension.
If you can, take the day off any mentally or physically strenuous activity and relax at home. Nap when you need to because your sleep overnight was likely disturbed by meth being metabolized out of your system. Avoid caffeine or sugar as much as possible, as they can trigger interrupted sleep and mood disturbances later.
When you are awake, find something that can hold your attention when you experience cravings. Watch television, read a book, or engage in another form of relaxing self-care.
People who abuse meth often crave sugar, which contributes to a phenomenon called meth mouth, which is severely damaged teeth. You may crave sugar to stimulate your brain while you are experiencing the comedown from meth, but eating only junk food can lead to more physical discomfort later.
Consider eating fruit instead of a candy bar, and focus on eating healthy, balanced meals centered on vegetables and lean protein. This may not immediately benefit your comedown symptoms, but it can help you feel better in the days following.
You may experience cravings for more meth while your comedown symptoms are in full swing because your brain’s reward system now associates that drug with feeling good. It is very important not to take any more meth. Not only will it not help in the short term, but abusing this drug for weeks can lead to dependence and addiction, which can harm your physical, mental, financial, and social health.
A comedown is the natural result of abusing a drug like meth that radically changes how much dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine are available and active in your brain. After rapid changes to how much of these neurotransmitters your brain releases and uses, there will be a deficit.
The next day, your brain cannot produce a normal amount of neurotransmitters to manage your mental and physical state. This leads to crankiness, fatigue, feeling sick, depression, anhedonia, and cravings for more of the drug.
Comedowns are not the same thing as withdrawing from meth. Withdrawal symptoms occur when your body is physically dependent on a drug like meth to feel normal. When the drug is not present, your body cannot regulate itself for a long time, and you may need medical help to manage some of the symptoms from long-term substance abuse. While there are a few similarities between a comedown and withdrawal, like your brain chemistry, withdrawal typically takes longer, feels more intense, and can be a risky process.
Withdrawal from meth may last for seven to 10 days after your last dose. Medical supervision from a detox program is important to keep you from relapsing. Medical assistance can also ease any intense or uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.
If you worry that you cannot stop yourself from acquiring and abusing the drug, consider entering an inpatient detox program. This may also be important if you have physical side effects like heart disease from abusing meth long term. Medical professionals can diagnose and treat these issues while you also detox.
In comparison, a comedown by itself does not usually require medical attention. However, if you have taken meth, it’s a sign of a problem. Consider finding a therapist or doctor who specializes in addiction treatment to get help for issues with substance abuse. Most people who take meth get this drug illicitly and abuse it recreationally, which is dangerous.
(October 29, 2013). Methamphetamine. Center for Substance Abuse Research (CESAR). Retrieved January 2019 from http://www.cesar.umd.edu/cesar/drugs/meth.asp
Comedown: What is a Comedown? DrugWise.org.uk. Retrieved January 2019 from https://www.drugwise.org.uk/comedown/
(February 19, 2017). What Happens to Your Body When You Use Ice? ABC News Australia. Retrieved January 2019 from https://www.abc.net.au/news/health/2017-02-20/ice-what-happens-to-your-body-when-you-use-the-drug/8275654
How to Manage a Comedown. Reach Out Australia. Retrieved January 2019 from https://au.reachout.com/articles/how-to-manage-a-comedown
Meth Withdrawal Symptoms + Timeline. Mental Health Daily. Retrieved January 2019 from https://mentalhealthdaily.com/2014/04/25/meth-withdrawal-symptoms-timeline/