Methamphetamine Withdrawal

Withdrawal from methamphetamine is not, by itself, medically dangerous. Generally, people need more sleep during this period and within a few days will begin feeling much better.

Upon beginning detox from methamphetamine, users may have medical issues that are caused or exacerbated by the drug. For instance, attention must be given to infections, including abscesses (from injection) or skin infections (from picking). Also common are lung problems, including painful or difficult breathing, and burns resulting from methamphetamine use (e.g., pipe burns on the lips) or manufacturing (e.g., chemical burns).

In addition, methamphetamine users frequently have significant dental problems that must be addressed. These problems stem, in part, from the acidic nature of the drug, lowered saliva production, methamphetaminerelated cravings for sweet soft drinks, and poor dental hygiene. These problems may go unnoticed during acute intoxication, but after detoxification, they can be a constant source of pain, which may trigger relapse.

Methamphetamine users are frequently involved in behaviors that place them at risk for a variety of infections. These include HIV and other sexually transmitted infections and hepatitis C, making careful screening and treatment for these infections critical.

Methamphetamine use generally leads to a great deal of chaos in a person's life. Users often neglect many areas of their lives and/or fail to take care of themselves in a variety of ways. As with the general population, individuals who use methamphetamine may neglect health issues. They may have a chronic condition such as diabetes, high blood pressure or asthma that needs to be brought under control. They also may have any number of acute conditions (e.g., flu or an infection). By having these acute conditions cared for, the individual may feel more comfortable during a very difficult period.

Psychotic Symptoms

In addition to these medical issues, a person withdrawing from methamphetamine may face a number of psychiatric or emotional issues. Methamphetamine use is known to cause psychotic symptoms. Most typical is paranoid thinking or paranoid delusions. Users become terrified that the police are after them or that they are being watched and someone is listening to them. These fears may be associated with panic reactions. This combination makes it difficult for these individuals to feel safe leaving their home. Methamphetamine users sometimes experience other psychotic symptoms such as auditory, visual and tactile hallucinations.


The other common psychiatric issue faced by people withdrawing from methamphetamine is depression. Methamphetamine impacts the dopamine system, which controls the feeling of pleasure. When methamphetamine is removed from the user's body abruptly, the result is significant feelings of depression.

As individuals withdraw from methamphetamine, key among the symptoms they experience are feelings of confusion, difficulty thinking or concentrating, and problems remembering things.

Because methamphetamine detoxification is not medically dangerous, people do not necessarily need a hospital stay unless they are a danger to themselves or others or are so agitated or cognitively impaired that they cannot safely travel to the treatment center. In these cases, psychiatric hospitalization is indicated. In most instances, however, detox can occur in a residential program or in an intensive outpatient or partial hospitalization treatment program.