What causes Methamphetamine withdrawal?

A withdrawal syndrome or discontinuation syndrome is a set of signs and symptoms occurring in discontinuation or dosage reduction of a drug.

Methamphetamines are usually absorbed into the bloodstream and distributed quickly. The biochemical structure is similar to that of the neurotransmitters (norepinephrine and dopamine) from the human brain. As they have a similar biochemical structure, they have the ability to stimulate the same receptor sites for these neurotransmitters. By doing that, they induce a “fake” (unnatural) euphoria.

When a methamphetamine-addicted individual is not taking the drug, dopamine release will be diminished to levels lower than normal, inducing anhedonia (inability to enjoy everyday pleasures), dysphoria (chronic discontent), and other symptoms of withdrawal that motivate repeated drug taking.

After frequent and high doses of methamphetamine, the failure to continue taking the drug produces a withdrawal syndrome characterized by psychological depression, irritability, extreme fatigue, and prolonged periods of restless sleep.

Symptoms of Meth withdrawal

Withdrawing from methamphetamine is not a pleasant process. To ensure safety and care the addict should seek help with an addiction specialist.

Symptoms of methamphetamine withdrawal include:

• Depression
• Decreased energy
• Increased sleeping
• Teeth grinding
• Night sweats
• Irritability
• Anxiety
• Craving
• Anhedonia
• Suicidal thoughts

Duration of Meth withdrawal

Methamphetamine is a fast-acting drug. In general, according to researchers, it appears that the methamphetamine withdrawal timeline varies from few days to 3 weeks.

The withdrawal syndrome begins within the first 24 hours of abstinence, and it reaches its peak within the first 7-10 days following discontinuation of the drug. After that, there is a steady decline in the intensity of symptoms following this peak.

Methamphetamine withdrawal syndrome has an average duration of about 14-20 days. Studies show that 14 days is the most commonly reported duration of the withdrawal syndrome.


Meth Withdrawal Timeline

The Methamphetamine withdrawal timeline has three distinct phases.

During the 1st withdrawal phase, the user enters into a phase characterized by agitation, anxiety, depression, and drug craving. In this state, the user still remembers the drug effects and the stimuli associated with it. These memories produce a severe craving for the drug as the user wants to regain the feelings the drug provided. In the middle period of the first phase, drug craving is “replaced” by fatigue, depression, loss of desire for the drug, and insomnia accompanied by an intense desire for sleep. In the late period of the 1st withdrawal stage, the user experiences an incredible desire to sleep followed by an abnormally high desire to eat.

As soon as the users get through the first phase of withdrawal, they enter the 2nd withdrawal phase with effects that are opposite to those of the drug. In this phase, the users experience effects like loss of physical and mental energy, fatigue, limited interest in the surroundings, and anhedonia. These symptoms are gradually increasing in intensity during the first 96 hours following the first phase of withdrawal. At this stage, memories of the euphoric state induced by the drug consumption stand in marked relief due to the anhedonia experienced at this point in withdrawal. If the user can maintain drug abstinence for 6 to 18 weeks, the anhedonia and dysphoria have an attenuated effect upon the individual.

During the 3rd, the last withdrawal phase, the individual may experience some periods of drug craving. The user can also experience conditioned combinations of stimulus properties of both and the drug and withdrawal hyperphagic effects in the form of intense cravings. This state of craving is triggered by conditioned stimuli like circumstances and objects that were previously associated with the drug effects. If the individual experiences these cues without the related drug effects, then the ability of these cues to drug craving will attenuate over time. Over the time, the drug abuser will experience lesser and lesser intense drug cravings.