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Quitting Meth Safely

Methamphetamine is a powerful central nervous system stimulant and highly addictive drug.1 Though its various potential routes of use may influence its effects, people who use meth often experience an immediate rush followed by a relatively prolonged period of elevated mood, alertness, and increased energy.1

Methamphetamine is a Schedule II controlled substance that’s only legal form in the United States is a physician-prescribed oral pill; however, non-medical meth use predominantly involves illegally manufactured supplies of the drug.2

People who illicitly misuse meth may swallow, snort, smoke, or inject the drug.1 Meth use is associated with an increase in several types of neurotransmitter activity in the brain. Dopamine—a brain chemical important in regulating feelings of pleasure and reward—is thought to contribute to meth’s long-lasting euphoria and repeated use of meth, which may ultimately put people at risk for meth addiction, and a desire for quitting meth.1

This article will cover topics related to quitting methamphetamine, including:

  • What happens when you quit meth.
  • Potential dangers of quitting meth cold turkey.
  • How to quit meth safely and comfortably.

What Happens When Quitting Meth?

With methamphetamine misuse over time, people may develop physical and psychological dependence.1 As a person’s system gets used to the drug, stopping meth use may become increasingly difficult due to withdrawal symptoms.

After dependence develops, quitting meth may result in withdrawal symptoms as people adjust to the recently discontinued drug use. Meth withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Extreme fatigue.3
  • Lack of energy.3
  • Sleep disturbances.4
  • Irritability.4
  • Anxiety and depression.3
  • Confusion.3
  • Paranoia.3
  • Drug craving.4

Symptoms may last anywhere from days to months, depending on the duration and severity of misuse.1, 3 Acute stimulant withdrawal symptoms typically subside within 2 to 10 days.3

During this time, and possibly thereafter, a person may experience meth cravings, or an overwhelming desire to use the drug. Environmental cues, including people, places, and things, time of day, or emotions may induce meth cravings.3

Although quitting meth may be challenging, recovery is possible with resources and support.

Potential Dangers of Quitting Meth Cold Turkey

Abruptly quitting meth cold turkey (or very suddenly) can be unpleasant, but in some cases may also be associated with certain withdrawal complications. While stimulant withdrawal is not often associated with significant medical risks or severe physical discomfort, mental health issues such as dysphoria and depression may sometimes develop.

In some instances, these psychological changes can entail “medical dangers” of their own, as they may be associated with self-harming behaviors.4

Dysphoria is an intense, depressive state characterized by overwhelmingly negative thoughts and feelings. Dysphoria can be a relatively severe and prolonged issue when a person stops using stimulants like meth and, when present, may involve suicidal thoughts and attempts.4

Supervision is paramount during the withdrawal process as it may safeguard a person from acute, adverse reactions and heightened risk of self-harm. People who want to quit meth may want to consider treatment in a detox facility or program to help them safely manage the detox and withdrawal process.3

How to Quit Meth Safely

People quitting meth may benefit from the supervision and care of medical professionals to facilitate a safe recovery. Under the guidance of a professional detox program, people can have their withdrawal progress monitored and have any withdrawal complications addressed, should they arise. Detoxification can take place in both inpatient and outpatient settings, as well as dedicated detox centers.3

Although there are currently no medications specifically approved to treat meth withdrawal, healthcare providers can provide supportive care to keep people as comfortable as possible and manage accompanying physical and mental health conditions with medication if needed.4 Rest, a healthy diet, exercise, and abstinence are considered best practices when withdrawing from meth.3

Treatment for Meth Addiction

Following detox, seeking further treatment can be helpful for achieving long-term recovery. As there are currently no medications specifically approved to treat stimulant use disorders, meth rehab may focus on a combination of behavioral therapies (such as contingency management and cognitive behavioral therapy), individual and family counseling, relapse prevention skills training, and peer support.3, 5 Contingency management is currently the only treatment modality with ample evidence to support its effectiveness in treating stimulant use disorders; however, other modalities may be used.3

Therapists and doctors can help people identify factors that may have contributed to a methamphetamine use disorder and recognize environmental or emotional cues that trigger meth cravings. Meth treatment centers can help people gain insight into their addiction and learn to effectively cope with life’s challenges throughout their recovery.

Before entering treatment, contact treatment programs to ask questions and find out if it’s the right fit for you or a loved one. Factors to consider include:

  • Accreditation. When accredited, a program has met or exceeded a set of standards as delineated by governing bodies in the field of addiction.
  • Cost. Finding out the cost of a treatment program in advance can help a person budget accordingly and determine if a specific program is feasible for them.
  • Insurance accepted. Inquire about whether a facility accepts insurance—and specifically if they are in-network with a certain insurance provider. This can increase financial accessibility and reduce out-of-pocket costs. Follow up with your insurance provider as well to verify in-network benefits.
  • Clinical programming. Identifying a program tailored to one’s needs is important. Ask for a weekly schedule to determine what a typical day or week entails. Inquire about different therapies used to treat substance use disorders (SUDs) or co-occurring mental health conditions.5

If you or someone you love is experiencing meth addiction and seeking treatment, call our caring team at to learn more about quitting meth and using insurance at one of American Addiction Centers’ facilities. We’re available 24/7 so no matter when you call, we’re ready to help you get started on a new path.

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