Methamphetamine is a neuro-toxic stimulant that is highly addictive. It typically comes in a crystalline form or in a powdered form. “Crystal Meth” is the name used when referring to the crystalline form of methamphetamine. It comes in clear crystal chunks or shiny blue-white rocks. Methamphetamine is classified as a Schedule II Controlled Substance by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which is defined as a substance “with a high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence.” Crystal meth can be ingested in different ways (e.g., smoked, injected, snorted, swallowed, etc.). The most common way it is ingested is via smoking. Users will melt down the crystalline substance and smoke it out of a glass pipe, similar to the way crack cocaine is used. Meth works by acting on certain neurotransmitters. The presence of methamphetamines in one’s system creates a surge of dopamine in one’s brain, which produces a feeling of excess pleasure; this is described as the rush of euphoria that is experienced by methamphetamine users.
Detox is the process that rids one’s body of all foreign and abused substances. When an individual habitually abuses crystal meth, his or her body will become accustomed to functioning with it present in its system, and when it is absent it will result in unpleasant side effects. These are known as withdrawal symptoms. The half-life, meaning the length of time the substance will remain in one’s system until the concentration in one’s blood has been reduced by half, of crystal meth is between 9-24 hours. Hence, when detoxing from crystal meth, withdrawal symptoms will typically begin about 24 hours after one’s last dose. While every individual is different, the general detox timeline and respective withdrawal symptoms from crystal meth are as follows, provided by the American Family Physician Journal:
- 2 to 24 hours after one’s last dose: drug begins to wear off and a depressed mood may set in.
- 24 to 72 hours after one’s last dose: what is referred to as “the crash” is experienced with symptoms such as exhaustion, extreme anxiety, panic, suicidal ideations, hallucinations, drug cravings, depression, etc.
- Around 4 days after one’s last dose: additional withdrawal symptoms may present, such as decreased sexual satisfaction, paranoia, an inability to feel pleasure…etc.
- Between days 7 to 14 after one’s last dose: withdrawal symptoms will gradually begin to lesson and dissipate.
The exact timeframe for crystal meth detox varies from person to person, as it depends on a variety of contributing factors such as the quantity used and period of abuse. Withdrawal symptoms from methamphetamines, though physically uncomfortable are not typically life-threatening.
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