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Methamphetamines Addiction, Withdrawal, Alternatives

Last Updated on January 8, 2024 by Carol Gillette

Alternative to Meds Editorial Team
Medically Reviewed by Dr Samuel Lee MD

Methamphetamine is a powerful stimulant drug, chemically similar to amphetamine, and is also referred to as meth, ice, crystal, crystal meth, crank, or speed. Various amphetamine compounds been in use since discovery in the 1890s.

Though methamphetamines were born in pharmaceutical labs, currently illegal labs also manufacture these compounds in great volume, to be sold on the streets. However, methamphetamine is also the active ingredient in Desoxyn©, and other prescribed pharmaceutical drugs used to treat ADHD, obesity, narcolepsy, as well as other off-label uses.1,12,13

Has methamphetamine addiction HIJACKED your life?
methamphetamine withdrawal success
Alternative to Meds offers a program like nowhere else in the world. Our facility has led the world on treating methamphetamine addiction and withdrawal now for 17+ years. We have published evidence regarding our success that we invite you to review. Our approach is based on rebuilding those systems in the body that drug use has interfered with or injured, not simply to continue to medicate the symptoms that drug use has laid in. Please watch the video for more details, and read the below information that will help you understand why our approach to treatment is so different, and so effective.
15 Years Experience by Professionals Who Understand Your Journey.
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Can You Get Addicted to Methamphetamine?

Yes, methamphetamine is an addictive drug. Users can develop an addiction to methamphetamine quickly, and quitting meth can result in withdrawal symptoms. Methamphetamine disrupts normal function in the brain, affecting the monoamines that include dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, and others.  The above video describes some of the mechanics of how these alterations occur, and their effects on mental and physical health.

Because methamphetamine drugs are highly fat-soluble, they easily cross the blood-brain area and quickly transport along the body’s entire CNS. Long term use of methamphetamine drugs can cause a number of severe and sometimes permanent changes in the body and brain.

Methamphetamines Side Effects

Methamphetamine has some of the most infamous side effects of any drug, and takes a violent toll on the body, affecting a person’s overall health, appearance, and hygiene. Methamphetamine users seek the drug for the effects of increased euphoria, energy, focus, and alertness. Effects also include suppression of appetite leading to weight loss. The following list outlines some of the major side effects of amphetamine drugs. 2-4

Methamphetamine side effects can include:
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Significant weight Loss
  • Dry mouth
  • Anxiety and panic
  • Severe mood swings and depression
  • Violent or erratic behaviors
  • Rapid heart rate or irregular heart rhythm
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Tremors, convulsions, and seizures
  • Change in sleep patterns (periods of sleeplessness and insomnia or binge sleeping)
  • Delusions, paranoia, and hallucinations
  • Sores on the body, skin, lips and face
  • Damage to reproductive organs, growth, and development
  • Damage to all organs and tissues in the body (including blood vessels, bleeding in the brain, muscles, heart muscles, severe deterioration of teeth, liver, heart, kidneys, etc.)

Methamphetamines Withdrawal Symptoms

Methamphetamine withdrawals are not considered as immediately dangerous and life-threatening as alcohol, opioids and benzodiazepines, but there may be an increased risk of stroke, seizures and complications during methamphetamine withdrawal.5

Some methamphetamine withdrawal symptoms include:
  • Profound depression
  • Intense drug cravings
  • Anxiety, panic, and severe panic attacks
  • Fatigue and lack of energy
  • Itchy, watery, and swollen eyes
  • Change in sleep patterns (periods of sleeplessness and insomnia or binge sleeping)

How Long Do Methamphetamine Withdrawal Symptoms Last?

Methamphetamine withdrawal lasts an average of 14 to 20 days, with peak withdrawal symptoms coming at about the 2-week mark (Day 10-14). Withdrawal symptoms begin within 24 hours after the last use of the drug as rebound effects from the extreme highs that meth brings when used. Therefore, the first withdrawal symptoms are feelings of being very low, fatigued, depressed, lethargic, sleepy, and jittery.

How Alternative to Meds Provides an Alternative to Addiction

Methamphetamine withdrawal responds remarkably to our Sedona rehab treatments. We use proven protocols to treat the cravings and other discomforts during the rehab program.

Our focus is to assist the client to gain relief from mental, emotional and physical pain that may occur during cessation, while correcting the causes that led to meth use in the first place. In these ways, balance provides the keys to success.

The video describes various non-drug approaches to help mitigate withdrawals and promote healing. You can find out much more about alternatives to stimulants on our website, as well.

How Does Meth Work in the Body and Brain?

Meth produces a high that can injure your brain and body for life unless treatment begins early enough. The drug has accrued many nicknames over the years, including ice, crystal, glass, speed, crank, and others. All of these names describe this potent and addictive stimulant, that is long-lasting once ingested. The drug acts quickly on the CNS and can lead to severe physical and psychological dependence, sometimes after a short period of use.

methamphetamines addictionSimilar to other stimulants, such as cocaine, even a very tiny amount of methamphetamine can induce tachycardia (racing heart rate) and irregular heartbeat. After consuming more substantial amounts, the drug produces other life-threatening effects such as elevated body temperature, coupled with increased blood pressure, heart attack, organ failure, heat exhaustion or stroke. Chronic use leads to extreme weight loss, scabs and lesions on the skin, dental decay, hair loss, and muscle and other tissue atrophy.

Methamphetamines work by suddenly flooding the brain with dopamine, a chemical which activates and stimulates pleasure receptors. At the same time, the drug blocks the neurons from soaking up the over-abundant dopamine. This action produces the sustained stimulation and influence of the drug, which can last for many hours. Psychological symptoms are severe and include hallucinations, paranoia, delusions, aggressive, violent behavior, and the feeling of bugs crawling underneath the skin, which the person may begin to pick at incessantly. When the drug’s effects wear off, the crash is equally severe, and commonly leads the person to use again, seeking to avert the withdrawals. Meth users may adopt binge-use, meaning the person uses for a continuous period of days or weeks without sleep or food before stopping. (See below for more information.)

Resurgence of Methamphetamine Addiction Seen in the 2020s

A resurgence in methamphetamine use has recently occurred according to 2021 research published in the Journal of Current Neuropharmacology. The authors comment that traditional medicine has not found effective pharmaceutical treatments for what is now termed methamphetamine use disorder. As mentioned earlier, sedating antipsychotics are sometimes used to quiet dangerous or aggressive behaviors, and antidepressants are prescribed along with a short course of benzodiazepines. Medical prescribers resort to behavioral therapies along with medications to alleviate the disrupted sleep, anxiety, and deep depression that can occur after methamphetamine withdrawal but as the authors note, these all have limited efficacy.6

CBT reportedly offers the highest success rate of non-pharmacologic treatments for amphetamine addiction.7

Meth users who are court mandated to treatment have also shown a significant reduction in frequency of drug use when compared to outpatient services with no court supervision.9

EMTs are Trained to Deal with Extreme Methamphetamine Withdrawal

Police, emergency, and other caregivers have trained to be able to recognize and safely, calmly deal with the often extreme withdrawal symptoms that present with meth use. These can be daunting, and dangerous to others. Caregivers must be fully prepared and know how to respond to these. Sometimes antipsychotic drugs are used as an emergency measure to manage amphetamine-induced psychosis, especially where the behavior of the person presents a danger to themselves or others.8,10,11

  • Aggressive or violent behavior, hostility
  • Paranoia
  • Delusion
  • Hallucination
  • Extreme anxiety
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Deep lingering depression

During the first one to three days, the person may fall into an extended, deep sleep, due to exhaustion. Extreme drug cravings and a compulsion to binge on carbohydrates follow. The person will experience an inability to concentrate or focus, and may not be articulate or sequitur in speech. Paranoia and hallucinations may appear during this period. After five to seven days, the person may experience insomnia, mood swings, and intensified drug cravings. These present a set of challenging symptoms, and they can last for many weeks. Without treatment, the most usual occurrence is for the person to submit to the cravings and will relapse.

Sedona Treatment for Meth Addiction & Withdrawals

meth addiction treatment sedona drug rehabOur rehab offers holistic treatments in a calm, residential setting nestled in the midst of Sedona’s famous Red Rocks. Our team consists of over 40 highly trained doctors, specialists, and therapists, all of whom have acquired familiarity and experience in the field of addiction therapy. Our protocols include stabilizing the neurochemistry that has been altered by meth use. Should short-term medication be needed to help ease the person through the initial phases of withdrawal, our doctors can provide this option. Psychotic episodes are not unheard of with meth withdrawal. Should the client need temporary hospitalization and stabilization for safety reasons, the center is minutes away from a hospital equipped for such emergency situations.

With early intervention, the Alternative to Meds program can help you or your loved one to recover from meth use. We employ many holistic techniques (orthomolecular medicine, neurotransmitter repair, nebulized glutathione, neurotoxin removal, acupuncture, and many more) to return the body to normal functioning, including a deep cleanse to remove not only physical drug residues but other neurotoxic elements from the body. Once the CNS is relieved of this burdensome toxic load, the brain and body chemistry can begin to revert to normal. We also utilize targeted nutrition and supplements which bolster and refortify the body after drug use.

Typically, clients report feeling lighter, brighter, refreshed, calmer, sleeping better, and improved appetite and energy once the cleanse is complete. Cravings significantly reduce and can disappear entirely during this period, allowing the person to take full benefit from the psychological components of the program which follow the cleanse.

Find Out More

Alternative to Meds Center has been providing holistic, medically supervised addiction treatment protocols for almost 2 decades. Our approach is based on principles of orthomolecular medicine, nutritional therapies, neurotoxin removal, neurotransmitter rehabilitation, environmental medicine, psychological support, peer group support, and much more. You can find out more about these approaches to treatment on our services overview pages.

Contact us today. Ask us about insurance coverage, as we are fully licensed and take most private insurance. We advise to not delay in seeking treatment. Methamphetamine addiction rates are once again on the rise, bringing a new epidemic of mental and physical health woes. The quicker you or your loved one enters recovery, the better the chances for sustainable success in recovery. No one should be left to drown in the misery of addiction. Let us help you to recover using the most effective program available for the treatment of methamphetamine withdrawal.


1. Yasaei R, Saadabadi A. Methamphetamine. [Updated 2023 May 1]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: [cited 2024 Jan 8]

2. Berman SM, Kuczenski R, McCracken JT, London ED. Potential adverse effects of amphetamine treatment on brain and behavior: a review. Mol Psychiatry. 2009 Feb;14(2):123-42. doi: 10.1038/mp.2008.90. Epub 2008 Aug 12. Erratum in: Mol Psychiatry. 2010 Nov;15(11):1121. PMID: 18698321; PMCID: PMC2670101. [cited 2024 Jan 8]

3. National Toxicology Program. NTP-CERHR monograph on the potential human reproductive and developmental effects of amphetamines. NTP CERHR MON. 2005 Jul;(16):vii-III1. PMID: 16130031. [cited 2024 Jan 8]

4. Danborg PB, Simonsen AL, Gøtzsche PC. Impaired reproduction after exposure to ADHD drugs: Systematic review of animal studies. Int J Risk Saf Med. 2017;29(1-2):107-124. doi: 10.3233/JRS-170743. PMID: 28885224; PMCID: PMC5611805. [cited 2024 Jan 8]

5. Cryan JF, Hoyer D, Markou A. Withdrawal from chronic amphetamine induces depressive-like behavioral effects in rodents. Biol Psychiatry. 2003 Jul 1;54(1):49-58. doi: 10.1016/s0006-3223(02)01730-4. PMID: 12842308. [cited 2024 Jan 8]

6. Moszczynska A. Current and Emerging Treatments for Methamphetamine Use Disorder. Curr Neuropharmacol. 2021;19(12):2077-2091. doi: 10.2174/1570159X19666210803091637. PMID: 34344291; PMCID: PMC9185770. [cited 2024 Jan 8]

7. Lee NK, Rawson RA. A systematic review of cognitive and behavioural therapies for methamphetamine dependence. Drug Alcohol Rev. 2008 May;27(3):309-17. doi: 10.1080/09595230801919494. PMID: 18368613; PMCID: PMC4445690. [cited 2024 Jan 8]

8. Glasner-Edwards S, Mooney LJ. Methamphetamine psychosis: epidemiology and management. CNS Drugs. 2014 Dec;28(12):1115-26. doi: 10.1007/s40263-014-0209-8. PMID: 25373627; PMCID: PMC5027896. [cited 2024 Jan 8]

9. Marinelli-Casey P, Gonzales R, Hillhouse M, Ang A, Zweben J, Cohen J, Hora PF, Rawson RA; Methamphetamine Treatment Project Corporate Authors. Drug court treatment for methamphetamine dependence: treatment response and posttreatment outcomes. J Subst Abuse Treat. 2008 Mar;34(2):242-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2007.04.005. Epub 2007 Jun 27. PMID: 17596903. [cited 2024 Jan 8]

10. Lapworth K, Dawe S, Davis P, Kavanagh D, Young R, Saunders J. Impulsivity and positive psychotic symptoms influence hostility in methamphetamine users. Addict Behav. 2009 Apr;34(4):380-5. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2008.11.014. Epub 2008 Nov 24. PMID: 19097704. [cited 2024 Jan 8]

11. McKetin R, McLaren J, Lubman DI, Hides L. Hostility among methamphetamine users experiencing psychotic symptoms. Am J Addict. 2008 May-Jun;17(3):235-40. doi: 10.1080/10550490802019816. PMID: 18464001. [cited 2024 Jan 8]

12. FDA l=drug label Desoxyn (methamphetmine hydrochloride) [published Feb 2015 revised] [cited 2024 Jan 8]

13. Mechler K, Banaschewski T, Hohmann S, Häge A. Evidence-based pharmacological treatment options for ADHD in children and adolescents. Pharmacol Ther. 2022 Feb;230:107940. doi: 10.1016/j.pharmthera.2021.107940. Epub 2021 Jun 23. PMID: 34174276. [cited 2024 Jan 8]

Originally Published Sep 13, 2018 by Lyle Murphy, Founder

This content has been reviewed and approved by a licensed physician.

Dr. Samuel Lee

Dr. Samuel Lee is a board-certified psychiatrist, specializing in a spiritually-based mental health discipline and integrative approaches. He graduated with an MD at Loma Linda University School of Medicine and did a residency in psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. He has also been an inpatient adult psychiatrist at Kaweah Delta Mental Health Hospital and the primary attending geriatric psychiatrist at the Auerbach Inpatient Psychiatric Jewish Home Hospital. In addition, he served as the general adult outpatient psychiatrist at Kaiser Permanente.  He is board-certified in psychiatry and neurology and has a B.A. Magna Cum Laude in Religion from Pacific Union College. His specialty is in natural healing techniques that promote the body’s innate ability to heal itself.

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