Methamphetamine is a potent and dangerous stimulant that can cause profound changes in the brain. Even after a single use, the brain’s reward pathways can be affected, leading the individual to seek the drug again. After using meth repeatedly, the brain begins to depend on the drug to stabilize the altered brain chemistry.
The meth comedown, also referred to as a meth crash, is basically a precursor to withdrawal. The individual coming down from a meth high will experience a boomerang effect, with symptoms emerging that are the opposite of the way the drug made them feel when high. The stages of meth come down are fairly predictable, and will become more severe as the meth addiction intensifies.
There are some measures to take to help mitigate the stages of meth come down. When the individual decides to stop doing meth, the full detox and withdrawal process commences, with three distinct stages, including the emerging symptoms, peak symptoms, and subsiding symptoms.
What is Methamphetamine?
Methamphetamine, also referred to as crystal meth, speed, meth, crystal, ice, and crank, is a highly addictive synthetic stimulant. Methamphetamine can be taken is different ways, such as smoked, swallowed in pill form, snorted, or injected. The drugs effects come on quickly, and fade quickly, leading to continued abuse and addiction.
People under the influence of meth may not sleep for days, while also not eating. This can cause serious health consequences for the meth user. Some of these include:
- Serious dental decay, known as ‘meth mouth’
- Premature aging of the skin
- Severe weight loss
- Slow healing sores
- Cardiac arrest
- Liver failure
- Mood disorders
About Meth Addiction
Although both are stimulants, meth is about three times more potent than cocaine. Methamphetamine affects the brain by increasing the levels of dopamine. By rapidly increasing dopamine levels in the reward center of the brain, the brain imprints the experience as something positive and to be repeated. However, with extended use of this dangerous drug, the brain’s natural dopamine receptors are destroyed. The immediate effects of meth include:
- Adrenaline rush
- Surge of energy
After continued use, these initial feelings of a meth high are followed by:
- Extreme itchiness
- Feeling empty, loss of identity
Meth addiction can develop very quickly and is one of the most difficult substances of abuse to quit. However, meth addiction is treatable when the individual is fully committed to long-term recovery.
About the Meth Crash
To gain a better understanding of the meth comedown, or crash, it is necessary to have a basic understanding of methamphetamine. This manmade drug is composed of amphetamine and hallucinogenic properties, often derived from flammable household products like drain cleaner, batteries, paint thinner, or battery acid. News reports of explosions at “meth houses” are the consequences of these makeshift labs where the explosive concoctions are formulated.
Because methamphetamine is not a naturally occurring drug, such as cocaine, the comedown effects are more intense and ragged. The human body is not able to metabolize these dangerous ingredients, and the impact to the brain is significant. The drug’s effects can last between 6-12 hours, after which the individual will experience a crash. The comedown refers to the period when the drug is wearing off, causing the person to experience a highly unpleasant symptoms. Symptoms of the meth comedown include:
- Increased appetite
- Mental confusion
- Sleep disturbance
- Intense depression
- Drug cravings
- Memory problems
- Thoughts of self-harm or suicide
The 3 Stages of Meth Come Down
The stages of meth come down begin to be experienced between 12-24 hours following the meth was ingested. The first stage of the comedown involves intense fatigue and lethargy, mood swings, and disruptions in eating and sleeping habits. This first stage of meth come down lasts just a day or so.
The second stage of the meth crash occurs on days 2 and 3 after the last dose of methamphetamine. This is the stage that the individual experiences the most intensified symptoms, including agitation, unable to feel pleasure, irritability, unpredictable behaviors that include violent acting out.
The final phase of the meth withdrawal can last about two weeks, depending on the severity of the meth addiction. The symptoms will gradually subside over this phase, and include cognitive issues, depression, cravings, anxiety, and sleep problems.
How to Manage the Meth Comedown
Meth detox and withdrawal can be very difficult to endure and the cravings hard to resist. Individuals who attempt meth withdrawal on their own often fail to complete the detox process and will revert back to drug use to stop the suffering. For this reason, obtaining a safe, medically assisted detox and withdrawal is advisable.
During the detox process, a team of trained detox specialists will monitor vital signs and provide measures to help alleviate the withdrawal symptoms. With meth withdrawal, psychological support is also key to completing the detox process, as the symptoms of anxiety, paranoia, and depression can be very intense. The detox team is prepared to provide this psychological support and safely guide the individual through the detox and into the intensive outpatient program.
Comprehensive Outpatient Treatment for Meth Addiction
Treating meth addiction required a structured and intensive program that helps individuals shift addict behaviors towards new, productive trigger responses. The addiction creates deeply etched disordered thought processes that lead to the subsequent reflexive action to use the drug. To break free from this pattern, new ones must replace them and become habit.
An intensive outpatient program (IOP) can provide the layers of therapy and education that will not only help the client shift their dysfunctional thoughts and behavioral responses, but will equip them with the needed skillset to sustain recovery for the long run. In most cases, the IOP will require 25-30 hours of participation each week, and allows the individual to reside at home or in sober living during the treatment process.
An IOP will include the following services:
- Individual psychotherapy. These private sessions with a psychotherapist help the individual in recovery identify any underlying emotional issues or attachment disorders that need to be resolved. In addition, cognitive behavioral therapy can assist the client in identifying the thought/behavior patterns that are keeping them stuck in addiction.
- Group therapy. Group therapy is a major component of the IOP. A trained clinician will facilitate these small group sessions are facilitated who will present a topic of discussion and then guide the group toward learning new insights and sharing their personal experiences, frustrations, and challenges.
- 12-step program. The Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step program is often incorporated into the IOP, with recovery meetings and step work included.
- Classes. Classes are provided to teach the addict about how addiction develops and how drugs impact the central nervous system and the brain. The classes also focus on relapse prevention planning as well as teaching important recovery skills.
- Medication. In some cases, the recovering meth addict may also have a co-existing mental health issue. It is imperative that both the mental health disorder and the addiction are treated at the same time for best recovery results.
- Holistic activities. Teaching individuals who to work through stress and emotional issues is intrinsic to a sustained recovery. Holistic activities can be useful in promoting relaxation and reducing stress. These might include yoga, mindfulness meditation, journaling, and art therapy.
A meth addiction is treatable. Individuals who actively embrace their recovery and practice the strategies taught in rehab have an excellent chance of overcoming their addiction to methamphetamine.
Meth Dual Diagnosis
A dual diagnosis is the condition when a methamphetamine addiction coexists with a mental health disorder. It is very common for a meth user to have a co-occurring mental health issue. Sometimes the meth user will access the drug as a means to self-medicate an existing mental health disorder, and other times the drug itself can lead to a mental health disorder.
Common meth dual diagnoses include:
- Meth and depression. Depression is the most common co-occurring mental health condition with methamphetamine abuse.
- Meth and anxiety disorder. Generalized anxiety disorder and social anxiety are prevalent among the 40% of meth users with an anxiety disorder.
- Meth and psychosis. Meth-induces schizophrenia or psychosis affects up to 46% of meth users.
When a dual diagnosis occurs, it is critical that the individual seek treatment at a program that specializes in treatment co-occurring disorders. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that meth users have structural and functional alterations in the limbic system of the brain, which may predispose them to acquiring a co-occurring mental health disorder. Skilled psychiatric intervention at a dual diagnosis program will help manage the mental health issues while in treatment for the addiction.
Staying Off Methamphetamine after Rehab
Going through a medical detox and rehab is only the beginning of the recovery journey. To continue in a sustained recovery, the individual must continue to engage in treatment. This equates to accessing certain resources and aftercare services that will reinforce sobriety and help them stay the course. These might include:
- Sober living. A home environment that is supportive of recovery is a must. Sober living housing provides a drug and alcohol-free space that uses regular drug testing to deter relapse.
- Ongoing cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). For a meth addiction, making core shifts in thought-behavior patterns is imperative. Outpatient therapy, both individual and group sessions, can help continue that effort.
- N.A. or A.A. meetings. Social support is an importance source of recovery reinforcement. Participating in the meetings offers an opportunity to gain a sponsor and to eventually be of service to others new in recovery.
- Holistic therapy. Incorporating holistic practices into recovery can help regulate emotions and stress levels, which can stave off relapse.
Phoenix Rising Behavioral Provides Orange County Intensive Outpatient Programming
Phoenix Rising Behavioral is an outpatient addiction treatment program in South Orange County, CA. Phoenix Rising can refer the individual to a medical detoxification program to assist them during the detox and withdrawal phase of recovery from a meth addiction. Following detox, Phoenix Rising provides an intensive outpatient program (IOP) for focused therapy and addiction education to help the individual overcome a methamphetamine addiction and to achieve a sustained recovery. Change your life today and contact Phoenix Rising for effective outpatient recovery services today. Call us at (877) 299-5694.