Meth Withdrawal Symptoms and Detox in Women:

What to Expect

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Sadly, meth continues to increase in popularity among women as their drug of choice. So many get hooked on this drug, and then they are afraid to stop because of their fear of withdrawal. Fortunately, detox can help them get through this stage of recovery.

According to The Denver Post:

  • The number of people who died from methamphetamine in Colorado increased drastically in 2017.
  • In 2015, there were 139 overdoses because of the drug.
  • By 2016, that number had gone up to 196.
  • In 2017, there were around 280.
  • That is more than the number of people who died from heroin overdoses that year, which was 213.

Meth abuse and addiction is a major problem all over the country. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that in 2017, there were 1.6 million people who reported using the drug within the last year. For 774,000 of them, their last use was within the last month.

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Meth is a dangerous drug, and we want women to know that recovering from this addiction is possible. There are withdrawal symptoms, of course, but with the right treatment, many can be minimized or even eliminated. It can help to know what to expect when withdrawing from methamphetamine.

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Common Meth Withdrawal Symptoms

Once someone becomes addicted to meth, and then they stop using it, they are likely to experience withdrawal. These symptoms can range from mild to severe, and they can change as time goes on.

Some of the more common symptoms of meth withdrawal include:

  • Having intense cravings for the drug.
  • Experiencing severe fatigue.
  • Having symptoms of anxiety.
  • Having intense cravings for carbs.
  • Becoming depressed.
  • Experiencing symptoms of psychosis.
  • Having painful headaches.
  • Possible weight gain once appetite returns.

Methamphetamine is a very powerful and potent drug. It makes sense that its withdrawal symptoms would be just as strong.

Why Do People Experience Withdrawal When Quitting Meth?

People only experience withdrawal from meth once they have formed an addiction to it. For a woman who has only been abusing it, but who has not become dependent upon it, she probably will not have many negative symptoms. But that changes once she has become addicted.

When a person uses meth, the feeling of pleasure it gives them is due to the increased amounts of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is released when a person feels good. Using meth causes it to be released in excessive amounts, and over time, those higher levels become a person’s new way of feeling normal.

Once the drug is removed, dopamine levels in the brain drop, and the brain is no longer capable of making it on its own. That loss of pleasure is very distressing, and it is the reason people say that without drugs, they no longer feel like themselves. The absence of meth is what results in the withdrawal symptoms listed above, and they can be very difficult to go through.

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The Withdrawal Timeline

Once women learn more about meth withdrawal, they typically only have one question – how long does it last? It is important to understand the duration of these symptoms and what to expect as each stage of withdrawal comes and goes.

Stage One

This stage is known as the “crash” that so many people refer to when quitting meth. The individual is likely to experience a sharp decline in energy levels. Cognitive functions may be interrupted as well. During this stage, people typically do not experience much in the way of cravings. But they may become severely depressed or struggle with anxious feelings. There are also some who may become paranoid or even have hallucinations or symptoms of psychosis. This stage generally lasts three days after the last dose of the drug.

Stage Two

At the third day mark, many of the symptoms from the last stage have resolved somewhat. But this is when the cravings begin because the drug has finally made its way out of the body. The person will have strong urges to use, and they will be difficult to cope with. It is quite common for people to feel powerless because they are so used to feeling the confidence and happiness that meth causes them to feel. This stage can last for as long as 10 weeks.

Stage Three

The third stage is when people often experience Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome. We will talk more about what that is and what can be expected in just a moment. This stage can last as long as six months.

Stage Four

This stage begins at the seven-month mark following the last dose, and it can continue for up to two years. During this time, the brain is working hard to return to its normal level of functioning.

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)

People often experience PAWS after stopping the use of a particular drug. For those who are recovering from meth addiction, they may experience the return of withdrawal symptoms without warning.

Some of the more common signs and symptoms of PAWS may include:

  • Having problems with learning and other cognitive tasks.
  • Difficulty with problem-solving and decision making.
  • Memory problems.
  • Feeling irritable.
  • Having anxiety or panic attacks.
  • Severe depression.
  • Having intense cravings.
  • Difficulty sleeping at night.
  • Obsessive-compulsive behaviors.

PAWS is extremely difficult to go through, and it is why so many people end up relapsing after they quit using meth. The good news is that help is available to assist people in treating their symptoms so they can get relief.

Possible Complications

Stopping the use of meth can also result in some serious complications when a person is going through withdrawal. These should be taken very seriously because some of them can be life-threatening.

Some of the complications that people often experience after quitting meth include:

  • Constipation, which can quickly lead to digestive problems, including impacted bowels.
  • Diarrhea, which can cause many health issues if it is left untreated.
  • Dehydration, which typically comes from not consuming enough liquids, as well as from diarrhea.
  • Joint pain, which can be quite severe; especially if the person has a prior history of pain.
  • Hyperventilation, which can lead to fainting episodes.
  • Irregular heartbeat, which can indicate a serious heart problem that needs to be addressed right away.

While meth is a dangerous drug, quitting its use in the wrong way can be just as risky, and in some cases, even more so. The risk of complications and severe symptoms is why it is best to recover through professional treatment.

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Quitting Meth: What are the Options?

Women who have a desire to stop using meth have plenty of options available to them. But please keep in mind that not all of them are good. There are many that can be quite dangerous, but because they seem the easiest, people are likely to try them. Still, it is important to know what the options are.

Cold Turkey

The term cold turkey is one that is used when a person decides to quit anything abruptly. It is most often connected with stopping the use of drugs. For someone who is addicted to methamphetamine, quitting cold turkey can be extremely difficult. It can result in severe withdrawal symptoms that are very hard to manage without some type of medical intervention.

The reality is that most people who attempt to quit meth cold turkey will end up relapsing. They will find that their symptoms are just too severe, and they cannot handle them on their own. They will turn back to using just to get some relief from them, and then the cycle of addiction begins all over again.

Drug Detox Kits

Drug detox kits are products that can be purchased online, at many big-box stores and at pharmacies. They claim to contain the necessary components to help people detox from drugs at home.

As a rule, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The same can be said about drug detox kits. As of now, there are no products like them on the market that have been FDA approved. That means that there could be risks associated with using them.

Someone who uses a drug detox kit to quit meth may get some relief from their symptoms but not much. These products will not prevent PAWS, and they could put people at risk for dangerous complications during withdrawal.

Self-Tapering

In many cases, a meth addict’s inclination may be to go cold turkey, but they might be too afraid to try it. As a compromise, they may decide to do a self-taper instead.

A self-taper is when a person slowly decreases how much meth they use, and/or how often they use it. In theory, it sounds good, and again, this is a method that is used by many detox programs but only with drugs that are legal. Like the other methods we have listed so far, this one also has some problems.

Even if a person is doing a self-taper, they are very likely to still experience withdrawal. Symptoms can become severe and can be just as bad as they would be if the individual would have quit cold turkey.  

Natural Detox Methods

There is so much emphasis placed on natural products that most people believe they are the way to go, even for drug detox. These individuals are very likely to try detoxing from drugs naturally at home before ever considering a professional program.

There are a number of different methods that they might use, such as:

  • Going through acupuncture.
  • Taking vitamins and supplements.
  • Increasing their fluid intake.
  • Fasting food to accelerate the detoxification process.
  • Getting more exercise.
  • Eating a healthy diet filled mostly with fruits and vegetables.

These all sound great, and actually, some of these methods are used during professional treatment programs. But they are missing one important ingredient, and that is medical supervision.

Again, the risk of complications is just too great; especially with a drug like meth. It is too dangerous to stop using it with only natural, at-home withdrawal treatments.

Professional Drug Detox Programs

The best way to recover from meth addiction is to go through a quality drug detox program. This allows the addict to work closely with a doctor and a team of medical professionals. By learning about the person’s medical and addiction history, the right type of treatment can be recommended.

There are many benefits to going through a medically supervised detox program. For instance, the risk of complications can be decreased drastically. People are more likely to stick with the program as well because their withdrawal symptoms are well controlled.

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The Risk of Relapsing and Overdosing on Meth

There are some cases of meth overdose that happen because a person just took too much of it. But that is not the norm at all. In most instances, people end up overdosing on methamphetamine because they relapsed after having quit. The question is, why?

When a person relapses, they generally go back to their old habits. That means they start using again by taking the same amount of the drug they always took. This is a problem because they typically have not accounted for changes in their tolerance levels.

Stopping the use of meth will result in immediate changes in drug tolerance. For an addict, the amount of the drug they once needed to get high may be too much for them when they relapse. Because they are unaware of that fact, they use an amount that has become toxic, and possibly even fatal.

When a person has overdosed on meth, they are likely to experience the following symptoms:

  • Chest pain
  • Becoming unresponsive
  • Falling into a coma
  • Heart attack
  • Agitation and anger
  • An irregular heartbeat, or one that has stopped altogether
  • Problems with breathing
  • High body temperature
  • Severe pain in the stomach

People may also develop kidney damage or even kidney failure. It is not uncommon for some to have seizures, have a stroke, or become extremely paranoid.

If a meth overdose is suspected, it is important to get immediate medical care. Acting quickly enough may result in recovery, but the after effects may linger for as long as a year.

Meth Addiction Treatment for Women

When a woman suffers because of an addiction to methamphetamine, she may have a very hard time asking for help. But professional treatment is the very best way to stop using because it helps her do so safely.

A person who is addicted to meth actually has two types of addictions; a physical one and a mental one. They physically need the drug to function, but they also believe that they need it as well. That is why it is so important to treat both aspects during recovery through detox and rehab.

Meth Detox

As we mentioned earlier, drug detox is such an important part of the recovery journey. It addresses the physical side of the addiction and offers treatment for withdrawal.

When someone detoxes from meth, the treatment they receive will help to address their symptoms as toxins are cleansed from the body. Once they are gone, the body can regain a sense of homeostasis, but that can take some time.

Medical Detox

Most people who go through the detoxification process for meth will be recommended for medical detox. They are given medications to help them with their withdrawal symptoms. For example, they may be offered an anticonvulsant if the doctor feels they are at risk for seizures. Benzodiazepines may be given to help with anxiety, or antidepressants may be prescribed for symptoms of depression.

It is important to note that while medical detox is important, these medications are not meant for long-term use in most cases. Some of them can be addictive on their own, and so doctors need to be very careful about how long they allow their patients to take them.

Holistic Treatments for Withdrawal

Earlier, we mentioned natural methods for withdrawal and how important they can be. Many drug detox programs also have holistic treatments that help to address withdrawal very well.

A person’s nutrition is very important, and this is especially true for someone with a meth addiction. The drug causes a decrease in appetite, which is why so many who use this drug are malnourished. Holistic detox treatments often involve nutrition therapy, which can help the individual feel better faster.

Going to Drug Rehab for Meth Addiction

Detoxing from meth is one of the hardest parts of the recovery process. But after it is completed, it is important to move on to drug rehab. This is when the addict will start working on understanding and addressing the reasons behind the addiction.

Women may turn to meth abuse for a number of reasons. They may like the way the drug gives them more energy to complete everyday tasks. They may enjoy the fact that they need less sleep. It could be anything, really.

The goal of rehab is to determine what led to the addiction and then treat the cause. This is done through many types of therapy, including individual counseling sessions and group sessions.

Meth Rehabilitation Programs for Women

There are so many different types of treatment programs for meth addiction. It truly is a matter of personal preference, and what will work the best for each, individual person.

Some women will need to enter into an inpatient program because they need a high level of care. Others may do quite well in an outpatient treatment program or an IOP. There are also some whose addictions are so severe that they need sober living.

Getting Treated for a Co-Occurring Disorder

Quite often, women battle co-occurring disorders, and they chose to use meth to self-medicate their symptoms. These mental health conditions can be debilitating, and women often feel as though they have no other choice but to use drugs.

Some of the more common co-occurring disorders that typically affect women include:

During drug rehab, these and any other co-occurring disorders will be diagnosed if they were not previously. Once the underlying cause of the addiction has been determined, the right treatment can be started.

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Will Getting Treatment Reverse the Effects of Meth for Women?

It can take quite some time before a woman starts to feel more like herself again after quitting meth. The effects of the drug are very serious, and it can take a very long time to heal.

After about three months, many women find that their cognitive abilities have improved significantly. But memory and motor function can take as long as four years to return to normal.

Meth mouth is a condition that is quite common among methamphetamine addicts. It is characterized by stained, rotting and crumbling teeth. If recovery occurs quickly enough, a dentist may be able to save the individual’s teeth, but that does not always happen. Sometimes they are too diseased to save, and they have to be removed. It all depends on how long and how often the person was using.

The Importance of Getting Ongoing Treatment for Meth Addiction

Once rehab is over, many women make the mistake of believing that they are cured. Unfortunately, addiction is a disease, which means it cannot be cured. But it can be treated, and continuing to get help and support is the key for a woman who is addicted to meth.

Many treatment providers recommend a step-down approach for meth addicts. For example, they may begin treatment by living in a sober living home and attending an IOP as an outpatient. Afterward, they may be ready to move on to traditional outpatient treatment and NA meetings.

How Women Can Begin Their Recovery From Meth Addiction Right Away

At Women’s Recovery, we want you to know that there is nothing to be ashamed about if you are addicted to meth. This drug is powerful, and it does not take long to form an addiction to it. Whether it’s at our Denver or Dillon facility, we are here to help you if that is where you are, currently.

Do you have questions about meth withdrawal and/or the recovery process? Please contact us today.

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