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Crystal Meth Detox Centers

Woman sits with her head down as therapist writes notesThe detoxification process for methamphetamine, also referred to as crystal meth, is generally not life-threatening.5 Although it is possible to successfully detox without medical assistance, it can be very difficult.

One of the risks involved with methamphetamine withdrawal is intense cravings for the drug.1,2 These cravings can lead to relapse. Another complication seen during detox is depression, which may be more severe and long-lasting than depression from cocaine withdrawal.1, 2 If not managed properly, depression can lead to relapse and is sometimes associated with suicidal thoughts or behaviors.1,2

Medical and psychiatric monitoring at crystal meth detox centers can reduce the incidence of complications from withdrawal. Many detox clinics also provide treatment to address meth use and any underlying issues that contribute to or worsen addiction, such as trauma, mental health disorders, and physical health concerns.

Withdrawal Symptoms and Duration

Symptoms of crystal meth withdrawal can be uncomfortable and distressing. They include: 1, 2, 4

  • Anxiety.
  • Depression.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Fatigue.
  • Increased appetite.
  • Insomnia.
  • Intense cravings.
  • Irritability.
  • Paranoia.
  • Psychosis.
  • Slowed physical activity, including movement or speech.
  • Vivid dreams that may be unpleasant.

People attempting to detox may relapse to feel happy or even normal.

Crystal meth withdrawal symptoms usually appear within a few hours to several days after last use.2 Symptoms tend to subside within several days but in some cases can persist for 3-4 weeks.1

Various factors can influence the intensity of withdrawal symptoms. These factors include method of use (snorting, smoking, or injecting), the amount and frequency of use, length of time of use, other substances used with crystal meth, and physical or mental health issues.

Anhedonia, or the inability to feel pleasure, is commonly associated with recovery from stimulants such as meth.1,2 People attempting to detox may relapse to feel happy or even normal. Research has demonstrated that high doses of methamphetamine also alter specific systems within the brain that control pleasure, mood, social behavior, appetite, digestion, sleep cycles, attention, memory, and sexual desire.1

Finding and Using Detox Centers

Therapist talks to group of people about detox centersMethamphetamine detox centers can be inpatient or outpatient facilities. Due to the limited medical complications associated with detox from methamphetamine, some recovering users may be able to detox on an outpatient basis. People who are well-suited to outpatient detox are in good physical and mental health, have stable housing and supportive family or friends, and can avoid triggers that could potentially lead to relapse.

Inpatient detox facilities are usually a better fit for people with more severe or long-lasting addictions to crystal meth, a history of multiple relapses, co-occurring mental or physical health issues, unstable home environments, and a lack of supportive relationships.

There are several different detox settings and options to choose from, including the following:

  • Inpatient clinics. Inpatient centers provide detox services followed by intensive therapy in group and individual settings to help people gain the skills to maintain sobriety. This setting reduces daily stressors and exposure to triggers, and staff work with people to develop an aftercare plan to increase the likelihood of continued abstinence.
  • Outpatient facilities. An outpatient facility can prescribe a detoxification regimen and monitor recovery progress for those with relatively less severe methamphetamine dependence.1 Those in recovery can keep up their daily routine at work, school, or home while still receiving quality addiction treatment. Once the detoxification process is complete, people participate in group and individual therapy to address the causes and triggers for addiction.
  • Standalone detox facilities. These types of facilities provide services during the withdrawal period only. Medical and psychiatric staff are on hand around the clock, providing monitoring and care to ensure that each person is as safe and as comfortable as possible. The staff work closely with each person to develop an individualized plan of action upon completion of detox, generally involving other forms of treatment.

Continued treatment helps people make healthy lifestyle changes, provides support, and teaches them skills to prevent relapse.

Detox programs can also screen for health problems. Crystal meth users often suffer from dental problems such as “meth mouth,” skin sores, or extreme weight loss.4 Intravenous users or those that engage in risky sexual behavior are at a higher risk of contracting HIV and hepatitis viruses.4 Chronic use of meth can also lead to malnutrition, increased risk of tuberculosis, and cardiac problems, and it may raise the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.2,4

Changes in brain chemistry and function from methamphetamine abuse can last significantly longer than the detox period. Some changes can take up to a year to resolve, while others may persist indefinitely.4 Mental health disorders are common in those with addiction,3 and some may self-medicate these disorders with crystal meth.

Continued treatment can provide people with skills to manage these concerns without relapsing. Detox simply clears the body of the drug, while continued treatment addresses underlying causes and co-occurring medical or psychiatric issues. It helps people make healthy lifestyle changes, provides support, and teaches them skills to prevent relapse.

Medications

At this time, there are no medications specifically used for detox from crystal meth.1 Research is being conducted to identify medications that can help ease withdrawal symptoms.1

However, some medications can be used to ease some of the symptoms. These include antidepressants to help manage depression associated with stopping methamphetamines.1 Medications can also be used to help promote sleep, such as trazodone, Benadryl, or Vistaril.1

Detoxing at Home

Individuals that remain in treatment for 90 days or longer have better outcomes.

The risk of relapse, severe depression, potential for suicidal thoughts or actions, and lack of supervision from medical professionals can make detoxing at home very dangerous. Avoiding formal treatment also reduces the likelihood that potential issues can be identified and managed appropriately, such as dental problems, sores or infections on the skin, HIV, hepatitis, tuberculosis, depression or other mental health disorders, malnutrition, vitamin deficiencies, and additional medical problems.

Attending a medically supervised detox is especially important, along with following up detox with further treatment. Studies indicate that individuals that remain in treatment for 90 days or longer have better outcomes.3

Sources

  1. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2006). Detoxification and substance abuse treatment. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. P76-81.
  2. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders DSM-5. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association. P569-570.
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2012). Principles of drug addiction treatment: A research based guide (3rd edition).
  4. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2017). Methamphetamine.
  5. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (1999). Treatment for Stimulant Use Disorders.

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