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Is Detoxing from Meth at Home a Safe Option? (Doctor Recommendations)

Methamphetamine (meth) is an extremely potent stimulant drug that people can become addicted to within just a few uses. Tolerance forms quickly, meaning people need increasing amounts of meth to achieve the euphoric and energized high they are after.

If you want to stop using meth, you may think the easiest way is to detox at home. Doctors recommend that individuals get medical supervision to ensure their safety throughout the process. Ultimately, it isn’t safe to detox from meth at home without medical help.

Methamphetamine Addiction

Meth can be smoked, snorted, injected, or swallowed. Addiction can develop through any of these methods of use. 

Short-term effects of meth use are marked by increased energy, alertness, and a sense of euphoria. Adverse side effects often include irregular heartbeat, rapid breathing, and increased blood pressure and body temperature.

While these symptoms are expected to go away as you come down from your meth high, many long-term effects are associated with chronic meth use that can be irreversible. These include:

  • Meth mouth (severe dental decay)
  • Increased risk of contracting HIV and hepatitis B and C with shared needle use
  • Structural changes to the brain
  • Extreme weight loss
  • Intense itching that leads to skin sores
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Insomnia
  • Aggressive and violent behavior
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Irreversible heart damage

Many of the above symptoms are expected to resolve when meth use is stopped. It can take many months, however, for psychological symptoms to be fully resolved. 

Changes to the brain are likely to take more than a year to return to normal, if they do at all. Long-term meth users often struggle with regaining the old sense of their emotions and memory even after they have stopped using meth.

Withdrawing From Meth

Understanding the significant risks of long-term meth use may help people grasp the importance of detoxing from the substance as soon as they can. The withdrawal process is likely to be uncomfortable, but it will be much less unpleasant than struggling with the consequences of meth addiction that is left untreated. 

Withdrawing from any drug is a complicated process, and meth is no exception. Quitting a drug that your body has become dependent upon is a difficult thing to do because your body must make physiological adjustments to the substance leaving your system. As this process happens, you are likely to experience symptoms of withdrawal. 

Meth withdrawal can be very uncomfortable. Symptoms include:

  • Meth cravings
  • Increased appetite
  • Confusion and irritability
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Exhaustion
  • Insomnia and nightmares
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Paranoia

Withdrawal symptoms may begin to appear within just a few hours of your last use, depending on the severity of the meth addiction. They typically peak within two to three days and reduce in severity over a week. Most withdrawal symptoms should be resolved within a month. 

The physical symptoms of withdrawal are expected to be uncomfortable, but the psychological symptoms may be the most challenging. Cravings for meth and emotional instability can persist for many months after use stops.

Dangers of Meth Withdrawal

withdrawal dangers

While withdrawal from meth is a natural process, there are some dangers associated with it. The severity of the symptoms, and thus the dangers, is the worst in the beginning phase of withdrawal. For people with a long history of extensive meth use, the likelihood of experiencing dangerous withdrawal symptoms is greater. 

For people facing severe withdrawal symptoms, relapse and overdose are serious concerns. When people relapse on meth, they may not be aware of how their tolerance for the drug has gone down.

Often, people who relapse think they still need to take their last dosage level of meth to get the high they are looking for. After one’s tolerance has decreased, however, the body can no longer handle such high doses of the drug. The result can be an accidental overdose, which could be fatal.

Some people experience psychosis, another dangerous symptom of meth withdrawal. Auditory, tactile, and visual hallucinations, as well as delusions, may present themselves during withdrawal, just as they can during a meth high.

If someone is unprepared to confront such symptoms, they can be very overwhelming and cause people to behave erratically and in unsafe ways. It is highly challenging to cope with symptoms of psychosis by yourself, and people who do attempt to handle such symptoms on their own may find themselves in dangerous situations.

Someone presenting with symptoms of psychosis will need medical attention right away to ensure their safety and the safety of the people around them.

At-Home Detox vs. Medically Assisted Detox

Attempting to detox from meth by yourself at home can leave you without sufficient support should you encounter any severe or dangerous withdrawal symptoms. For this reason, doctors recommend attending medically managed detox centers that can monitor your vital signs and keep a close eye on the severity of your withdrawal symptoms. 

Overall, medically assisted detox provides you with the highest level of care and support to see you through the withdrawal process. In addition to managing uncomfortable physical withdrawal symptoms, participating in a medically assisted detox program can help you to control cravings and psychological symptoms. 

When left to detox on your own at home, it can be very challenging to resist the temptation of relapse. As a result, you may use meth to ease the pain of withdrawal. When enrolled in a detox program, however, you will be under close watch around the clock and far less likely to relapse during this unstable time. 

Additionally, studies have found that people who participate in medically assisted detox are more likely to go through the entire withdrawal process, complete their treatment programs, and maintain positive treatment outcomes when they return to their daily lives after treatment.

Medications Available for Meth Detox

meds for detox

Currently, there are no FDA-approved drugs for the treatment of meth addiction. However, medications can be prescribed to manage specific withdrawal symptoms as they present themselves.

Over-the-counter medications, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, can alleviate minor aches and pains associated with withdrawal. Antipsychotic drugs can be prescribed to manage symptoms of psychosis. People who struggle with severe anxiety, insomnia, or depression can also be given prescription medications to ease these symptoms.

Participating in a detox program is one way to gain safe access to medications that can assist you through the detox period.

What Happens After Detox?

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) explains that medical detoxification is only the first step in addiction treatment. Medically assisted detox, or medical detox, helps to ensure your physical and emotional safety during the withdrawal period, but it cannot treat the underlying causes of substance misuse. Detoxification alone does very little to change long-term habits of drug use. 

Following successful completion of the detox process, doctors and substance abuse treatment professionals highly recommend participating in an addiction treatment program. Well-rounded treatment programs provide individual and group behavioral therapy to help you gain an understanding of your patterns of substance use. 

Through therapy, you can recognize the triggers for substance use, replace negative coping strategies with positive skills, and form a plan and a support network that will promote your sobriety long into the future.

Sources

(July 2017). Everything You Need to Know About Crystal Meth. Medical News Today. Retrieved January 2019 from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/23207.php

(February 2016). Medical Detoxification. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved January 2019 from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/teaching-packets/understanding-drug-abuse-addiction/section-iii/7-medical-detoxification

(November 2014). Treatment Outcome of Alcohol Use Disorder Outpatients With or Without Medically Assisted Detoxification. Journal on the Study of Alcohol and Drugs. Retrieved January 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25343657

(December 2018). What is Ice? Alcohol and Drug Foundation. Retrieved January 2019 from https://adf.org.au/drug-facts/ice/

(June 2018). What is Methamphetamine? National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved January 2019 from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/methamphetamine

(December 2018). What to Expect from Meth Withdrawal. Verywell Mind. Retrieved January 2019 from https://www.verywellmind.com/what-to-expect-from-meth-withdrawal-22358

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