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Sober Nation

Putting Recovery On The Map

10-16-12 | By

Quitting Meth For Good – How To Quit And What To Expect

If you or a loved one is struggling with methamphetamine addiction, you know that it is a physical and psychological trip through hell that seemingly has no end. Quitting meth for good is your only option.

Meth is a powerful stimulant that robs your ability to experience pleasure, you lose memory functioning and those who are addicted to meth undergo severe and often shocking physical transformations that make them look like the living dead. You or a loved one desperately wants to stop the cycle of abuse and quit meth for good, but it’s pull may seem too strong and you may feel alone, defeated and even trapped by your addiction. Quitting meth is no easy task, but with help recovery is more than possible.

You may hear the deck is stacked against you. You may read graphic statistics and read that only a tiny percentage of users are able to quit meth. While quitting methamphetamine is a difficult journey, you need to cast the doubt aside because YOU CAN QUIT.  Your life is waiting for you… and with some knowledge, direction and support you will be well on your way to break the chains of meth addiction and find the happiness and serenity that recovery brings.

Overview

Methamphetamine is one of the most vicious and dangerous drugs on the market. It is a highly addictive and potent stimulant that affects the central nervous system of those who use the drug. Meth comes in a white crystalline powder that is odorless, tasteless, and easily dissolves in water or alcohol. Meth is a synthetic drug that is commonly manufactured in large, illegal laboratories but can also be made in smaller laboratories based in abandoned buildings and other dwellings. Within the last few years, a “shake and bake” method was developed by manufacturers in which the key ingredients used to make the drug can be created in an empty two-liter soda bottle.

Methamphetamine is comprised of a variety of chemicals that are extremely toxic and highly flammable. The main ingredient in meth is pseudoephedrine which is commonly used in cold medications. While the “recipes” can vary, other chemicals used in the production of the drug include red phosphorus, acetone, sulfuric acid, anhydrous ammonia, and toluene among others. Many of these ingredients can be purchased at convenience and drug stores.

Crystal methamphetamine is a form of the drug that looks like glass fragments or shiny, bluish-white rocks. It is chemically similar to amphetamine (a drug used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder [ADHD] and narcolepsy). Meth users often go on binges where they don’t eat or sleep and continue to take methamphetamine to stay awake for days at a time.

Medical Detoxification: The Crucial First Step To Quitting Meth

The first and arguably most critical step in quitting methamphetamine is undergoing medical detoxification at a reputable treatment facility or hospital.  While the withdrawal symptoms of meth may not be as severe as other substances such as heroin or alcohol, these symptoms are highly uncomfortable and have the potential to threaten your life dependent on previously existing medical conditions, the length of time you have used the drug and the presence of other drugs in your system.

Benefits of Quitting Meth

Quitting methamphetamine now can help you recovery from any mental and physical health conditions as well as any long-term consequences that you may or may have not already suffered from addiction. There are improvements that will happen immediately, however others will happen over time.

Some benefits can include:

  • Reduced risk of arrest
  • Improved teeth
  • Improved skin
  • Lowered risk of heart attack
  • Improved financial situation
  • Return to a healthy body weight

Methamphetamine Withdrawal

Meth withdrawal symptoms can be both physical, mental and behavioral, and they can be be very intense, lasting for days or even weeks. The factor to determine the length of the symptoms is the amount of time the person has been addicted. Meth withdrawal is very different from other types of drug withdrawal because many of the effects are psychological rather than physical. Meth withdrawal can cause severe depression, as chronic meth use alters the brain chemistry, specifically the neurotransmitters which control enjoyment. There are those who come off meth and cannot experience pleasure in life. This state is called “anhedonia”, and while it is not permanent, it is one of the major reasons why it is common for those who detox themselves to turn back to methamphetamine. This is why it is crucial to seek out medical supervision during a withdrawal.

The chances of relapse during a meth withdrawal can be higher than other substances. This is because you can’t stand the way you feel. Quitting meth “cold turkey,” without outside help can lead to relapse, or symptoms of severe mood disorders.

Withdrawal Timeline

The following are common withdrawal symptoms associated with meth:

  • Chest pains
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Paranoia
  • Mood swings
  • Weight loss
  • Slow movements and thoughts
  • Inability to feel pleasure
  • Bad dreams
  • Reduced heart reate
  • Increased risk of strokes, seizures and heart attacks

One may expect the detox process to last between one to two weeks, but it can last much longer depending of the severity of symptoms, how long you have been using, and the amount of crystal meth you abused. During this process, medical staff will employ a variety of methods to help minimize the symptoms associated with withdrawal and will evaluate you for any co-occurring disorders that can impact your recovery. It is absolutely critical that you are both mentally and physically stable before entering the next phase, which is drug treatment.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), crystal meth withdrawal symptoms can begin anywhere from a few hours to a few days after the most recent dose.

Duration of Withdrawal Timeline For Meth
Days 1 – 3 Symptoms can begin after the 24-hour mark and remain at peak levels during the next seven to ten days. Users experience fatigue and sleep more often than normal. Feelings of depression will also set in.
Days 4 – 10 After day four, symptoms grow more complex. Strong cravings begin around this time. Users may experience mood swings and find it difficult to concentrate or remain motivated. In some severe cases, paranoia, hallucinations and extreme anxiety may occur.
Days 11 – 30 Users will typically start to experience insomnia during this time. Depression and cravings usually continue.
Days 31+ About a month after quitting, most users begin to feel better. Many of their withdrawal symptoms lift, though feelings of depression may remain. Cravings may come and go during this period as well.

Questions To Ask Yourself

Do you feel like you can’t live with meth and can’t live without it? Is it causing damage to your life but you still desire it’s effects? If you are still on the fence about making the decision to quit, there are a few different questions you may want to ask yourself. It is not easy to answer these questions honestly. As addicts, we don’t want to deal with our emotions. Ask and answer these questions as honestly as you are able. Write your answers on a sheet of paper and write them somewhere you can look back

  • Do I lie, steal or cheat in order to get my next high?
  • How has meth impacted my life in negative ways?
  • What will happen to me if I continue to use?
  • What do I really want to do with my life?
  • How is meth keeping me from that?
  • What have I lost as a result of my methamphetamine addiction?
  • Am I truly happy on meth?
  • How would my life improved if I stopped using?
If you or a loved one is trying to quit meth, it’s not going to be easy—but it is possible. A five-minute phone call can make all the difference. Call 1 866 317-7050

Can I Quit Cold Turkey?

While it is possible to quit meth cold turkey, it is not recommended. If you do it alone it is very likely that you will relapse and have to go through the whole process again. A person coming off meth may feel extremely and horribly depressed, and their brain will crave the drug to make them feel better again. A former may user may also sleep a lot (due to not sleeping for a certain duration of time, as well as depression.) Former meth user’s appetite may increase due to the lack of proper nutrients.

The main risks of stopping meth cold turkey can include:

  • Extreme cravings
  • The feeling of hopelessness
  • Psychotic symptoms
  • High relapse potential
  • Suicidal ideation

Tips and Suggestions

If you do decide to enter a treatment facility to recover from your meth addiction, there are a few helpful tips beforehand that you can do to help make a smooth transition back into the real world:

  • Delete your dealer’s number – This can be a temptation when you get out of treatment, so do yourself a favor and disconnect from dealers and friend’s who used methamphetamine.
  • Change your phone number – By doing this, your dealer and old friends won’t be able to contact you when you transition to a new way of life.
  • Get rid of your paraphernalia – That cotton you have hiding in your drawer? Those empty bags you never threw away. Get rid of it. Throw out anything that reminds you of using.
  • Support is key – Finding friends that are on the same path as you make’s a world of difference in the recovery process. Make sure they are supportive and encouraging.
  • Seek the appropriate dental care – Many users can develop “meth mouth” while addicted to meth which ruin teeth, so it is wise to seek out a proper dentist.
  • Seek medical attention – If you are an intravenous user, seek out the proper medical attention for any related problems (abscesses, HIV, hepatitis, collapsed veins).

Can I Die From Meth Withdrawal?

It is extremely unlikely that a methamphetamine user will die from withdrawal. For some, the process can be dangerous, however this is mainly in pact because dehydration can occur. Dehydration and other potential complications during the detox process are unlikely to be fatal. Whether you are quitting meth cold turkey, or tapering your use, it is crucial that you undergo the process of withdrawal under professional supervision. With around the clock are, you are able to avoid any serious consequences of trying to do it alone.

Medications

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved any medications for the treatment of crystal meth withdrawal symptoms.

However, there are supportive medications that can be used alongside therapy to help ease the intensity of the detox process. Those symptoms can include anxiety, intense cravings, fatigue, and depression.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has made medication development for crystal meth addiction a priority, and NIDA’s National Drug Abuse Clinical Trials Network has made great strides to find medications that enhance the user’s ability to cope with meth withdrawal.

The Importance of Treatment

Drug treatment will allow you to overcome the underlying reasons why you are addicted to meth, and through counseling and therapy you will gain the life and coping skills needed to pursue recovery while guarding against the triggers that lead to relapse. Inpatient drug rehab centers that specialize in meth addiction allow you to recover in an environment away from the temptations of your home environment so you can focus solely on your recovery and allow you to focus on quitting meth.

Since each addict is different, you need to look for treatment facilities that provide a variety of therapeutic treatment options and will be able to provide you with an individualized treatment plan specifically created for your own recovery goals.

For information of different facilities, don’t hesitate to call the Sober Nation hotline. 866-317-7050.

Therapies such as cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT) and contingency management-type therapies in individual and group settings are extremely beneficial to addicts quitting meth, since they help to identify problem behaviors and thinking and provide incentives for positive changes.

You also need to consider the length of time needed give you the best chance to recover. While many drug treatment facilities offer programming that lasts 30 days, you may consider finding a meth treatment program that lasts for 60 days, 90 days or longer. Many meth addicts will experience a recurrence of withdrawal symptoms (often referred to as the wall) about 45 days after quitting meth. Undergoing meth addiction treatment for a longer period of time will allow treatment staff to help you work through this wall.

Added Support

Long-term recovery from meth addiction will require you to  find those resources that will provide you the support and encouragement you need to continue working your program of recovery. Once you finish meth rehab, your treatment facility should offer aftercare and intensive outpatient programs that focus on relapse prevention and the continued application of the skills needed to successfully function at work, home or school.

Many aftercare programs offered by rehab centers may also offer sober living environments such as halfway houses where you can receive the support of your peers who are in recovery. Additionally, continued participation in Twelve-Step groups such as Crystal Meth Anonymous or similar support groups will help you remain centered in the recovery community.

Do You Want To Quit Meth For Good?

When a person is in the grips of a methamphetamine addiction, getting the drug becomes far more important than keeping up with simple priorities like school or work. Meth users may suffer from poor judgement and engage in a risky lifestyle or hazardous sexual behavior. A period of heavy meth use is generally followed by a crash in which a person cannot control his or her sleepiness. There will be heavy drug cravings during this time period that can lead to another binge.

Meth addiction is frightening and trying to find the help that you need can be a frustrating process. When people try meth they usually don’t think they will become addicted. They often start using meth recreationally at social gatherings, however, before long they begin using it alone. As time passes they find they are unable to stop.

You Don’t Have To Do It Alone

Methamphetamine addiction has devastating impacts on the user as well as their family, friends and community. If you or a loved one is struggling with meth abuse, it is critical to find the resources, treatment, and support you need to overcome your addiction and reclaim your life.

There are many people who have achieved long term sobriety from meth and so can you. The experienced staff at Sober Nation are ready to talk you through what is happening in your body and explain the symptoms and sensations that you are experiencing. Medical personnel can also keep your loved ones informed of your status as you go through this process while treating you or your loved one with the compassion and respect they deserve. Some of the expert staff of Sober Nation are recovering addicts themselves and are an active part of the recovery community around you, so they understand the pain and frustration that you experience. Turn your goal of recovery into reality and call Sober Nation today.

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