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How to Stop Using Meth: 5 Stages to Meth Addiction Recovery

Are you wondering how to get off meth? Overcoming meth addiction can be one of the most difficult tasks a person will face. Meth not only permanently alters the brain, but it can also affect emotions and memory.

Crystal meth addiction can be combated with a mixture of therapy and medication and doing so in a treatment center makes the whole process a lot more effective. In a survey of 78 people who sought treatment for a stimulant addiction, a majority (56%) said they decided to go to rehab and were happy about that decision.

Continue reading to learn about the 5 stages of meth recovery so you know what to expect on your journey to overcoming addiction.

Making the Decision to Quit Meth

Meth use disorders are some of the most damaging and difficult to quit. However, recovery is very possible. Every year, many thousands of people successfully quit meth and begin long-term recovery.

There is a better life out there for you, a healthy, meaningful life full or connections and purpose. And you don’t need to hit “rock bottom” before seeking help. In fact, more than half of those (56%) who are recovering from a stimulant addiction said they hit rock bottom before seeking help but wished they had sought treatment earlier than that.

Some of the most important considerations to be aware of as you learn how to stop using meth are:

  • You should NOT quit, “cold turkey”
  • You should seek professional help

Quitting cold turkey means that you suddenly stop taking meth entirely. This can cause a wide range of extremely unpleasant symptoms that are collectively known as withdrawal. Not only is untreated withdrawal a generally bad experience, but it also makes it less likely you will achieve and maintain sobriety.

Professional help from a doctor, rehab, and/or therapist can make meth withdrawal substantially more comfortable and improve your chances of achieving sobriety. A mental health professional can also help identify the underlying causes of your meth addiction and teach you coping skills, among many other benefits, to reduce the chance of relapse.

Overcoming Meth Addiction: The 5 Stages

As is the case with any substance use disorder, the first few weeks of meth recovery are the most difficult, physically and mentally.

It’s important to note that individuals struggling with a crystal meth addiction often find that having support from those around them helps them break free of their addiction.

Stage 1: Withdrawal from Meth Addiction (1 Week to 1 Year)

medical professional holds hands of a meth addict in detox

The first stage of meth recovery is going through withdrawal, which is broken up into two phases: acute withdrawal and post-acute withdrawal.

Withdrawal occurs when an individual who is dependent on meth stops taking the drug or reduces their dose. Because their body has become so accustomed to the presence of meth, it will no longer function, “normally” without it. Withdrawal is one of the most difficult parts of overcoming addiction because of how hard it is on the body and the mind.

Sometimes individuals can experience serious complications, which is why it is important that withdrawal occurs in a safe environment, such as a detox program.

Medically supervised meth detox helps reduce the severity of these symptoms and may eliminate some entirely.

When individuals are able to go through supervised withdrawal in a treatment center’s detox program, the family can rest easy knowing that they are in a safe facility with trained staff and doctors that know exactly what to do for their patients.

Acute Withdrawal (1-3 Weeks)

Acute withdrawal is the first stage of meth withdrawal and is when symptoms are most numerous and severe. Symptoms during acute withdrawal are likely to be both physical and psychological and can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Exhaustion
  • Increased appetite
  • Intense meth cravings
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Difficulty concentrating

Post-Acute Withdrawal (3 weeks – 1 year)

Post- acute withdrawal occurs after acute withdrawal. It is typified by symptoms that are less numerous and less severe than those of the acute withdrawal phase.

Post-acute withdrawal symptoms are generally psychological in nature and diminish over time. Some of the most common post-acute meth withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Low energy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Less intense meth cravings

Stage 2: Honeymoon (After acute-withdrawal, early to mid-rehab)

Relaxed, happy looking man reclines head back on the couch

Once acute withdrawal has ended, the body can begin to rejuvenate. In the honeymoon stage, the body is able to survive without cravings and the patient may have more energy and be in a better mood.

The individual may feel like they have kicked their addiction, but that isn’t the case. Just because the body is feeling better doesn’t mean individual’s journey towards recovery has ended. In fact, it’s only just begun.

In many cases, the honeymoon phase begins while the patient is still in a rehab program and continues until shortly after the patient leaves rehab. During this time the patient is likely undergoing several different treatments and therapies, including:

  • Medications to alleviate withdrawal symptoms and cravings
  • Nutritional support
  • Medical supervision
  • Individual counseling
  • Group therapy
  • Diagnosis and treatment of co-occurring mental health issues
  • Mindfulness and meditation exercises
  • Spiritual counseling
  • Various holistic therapies like yoga, acupuncture, or massage therapy

Stage 3: The Wall (late to post-rehab)

Distraught man holds face in his hands

The wall comes after the honeymoon. It may happen towards the end of rehab or afterwards when the individual must start living and adapting to the “real world”.

The body becomes vulnerable to relapse, and this phase can last a while. It’s very difficult for individuals because they must fight their cravings and urges to use.

They may find little pleasure in daily life and have low energy. If the patient hits the wall in an addiction treatment center, they can receive help from support groups, and those around them experiencing similar situations.

It’s never good for an addict to be alone during this time. There is safety in numbers.

Stage 4: Adjustment (post-rehab)

Happy woman does stretches while on a jog on a tree-lined walkway

One of the final stages in overcoming meth addiction comes in the adjustment stage. This doesn’t mean that the individual is home free, but it does mean that they have a reduced risk for relapse.

This stage is when the individual has made life changes and is able to feel accomplished about the things that they do. Making positive lifestyle changes helps addicts see the light at the end of the tunnel and gives them something to work towards.

It is important that individuals create structured daily and weekly routines to provide stability. These routines should include regular exercise and adequate sleep. In fact, three in four people (74%) recovering from stimulant addiction said that physical activity has been the most effective coping skill for keeping them sober.

Other lifestyle changes that promote meth recovery include:

  • Continuing to see a mental health professional
  • Attending support groups, like Narcotics Anonymous (NA)
  • Healthy eating habits
  • Building supportive relationships
  • Discovering and pursuing hobbies
  • Conducting regular check-ins with healthcare professionals

Stage 5: Resolution (6 months of sobriety)

Happy, confident man leans on balcony railing overlooking city below

The resolution only begins once an addict has reached 6 months of sobriety. This momentous milestone signifies that the individual has learned everything they can, worked through their issues, are feels good about who they are. The individual understands what needs to be done to maintain sobriety and is motivated to remain sober.

During and after the resolution stage, it is important that the individual in meth recovery continues to practice relapse prevention techniques, such as attending support groups, individual therapy, and regular check-ins with supportive friends, family, and sponsors.

Treatment Options for Someone Looking to Overcome Meth Addiction

There are two major types of rehabs that treat meth addiction: inpatient rehab and outpatient rehab.

Inpatient meth rehab requires patients to reside at a facility where they attend treatment. Inpatient rehab completely separates patients from their triggers, AKA the people, places, and situations that motivate meth use. It is widely agreed that inpatient rehab provides patients with the best chance of a lasting recovery. However, it is more expensive and more disruptive to a patient’s life.

Outpatient meth rehab requires patients to attend treatment at a facility for a few hours a day and then to return to their home. Outpatient rehab allows patients significant flexibility and the ability to continue to meet their personal, familial, and professional responsibilities. It is also less expensive than inpatient rehab, though may also be less effective.

How to Support Someone Who Is Recovering from Meth Addiction

Friend comforts a loved one struggling with meth addiction

One of the most critical things you can do for someone who is getting off meth is to provide them with healthy, appropriate support.

Educate yourself on meth addiction, the recovery process, and how to avoid being an enabler. You should absolutely encourage professional support and help them get it.

It can be tough but try to remain non-judgmental. Remember, meth addiction is not a choice. It is a disease that requires medical and mental health interventions to overcome.

More active steps you can take to help someone in meth recovery include:

  • Create and enforce healthy boundaries
  • Participate in family therapy
  • Attend support groups together
  • Celebrate sobriety milestones and small wins

We’re Here to Help You Overcome Your Meth Addiction

If you’re trying to quit meth, getting professional help is one of the most important steps you can take.

Legacy Healing Center is dedicated to helping you or your loved one overcome meth addiction. We believe in treating the mind, body, and soul, using a tried-and-true holistic approach. Some of the many meth addiction treatment services we offer are psychotropic medications, clinical therapy, peer support, and aftercare programs.

Call 888-534-2295 anytime to find out how we can help you get off meth.

How to Get Off Meth FAQs

What are the withdrawal symptoms from meth and how long do they last?

Acute meth withdrawal generally lasts between 2-3 weeks. Acute meth withdrawal symptoms include fatigue, exhaustion, increased appetite, intense meth cravings, irritability, mood swings depression, anxiety, disturbed sleep patterns, paranoia, hallucinations, and cognitive impairment.

Post-acute meth withdrawal symptoms generally last one year or less. Post-acute meth withdrawal symptoms include depression, anxiety, fatigue, low energy, difficulty concentrating, and meth cravings.

What are the best ways to manage cravings and triggers for meth use?

The best way to manage cravings and triggers for meth use is to attend professional counseling and therapy. Therapy can help patients identify triggers and develop healthy coping mechanisms. Different types of therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), can be useful in helping patients modify their thought patterns and behaviors.

Other helpful methods for managing meth cravings and triggers include:

  • Mindfulness, meditation, and breathing exercises
  • Creating a support system and attending support groups
  • Incorporating regular physical exercise into your daily routine
  • Creating and following a relapse prevention plan

How can I build a support system to help me stay sober from meth?

Here are some steps that you can take to build a support system as you are overcoming meth addiction.

  • Involve friends and family and ask for their support
  • Attend and participate in support groups such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and SMART Recovery
  • Participate in ongoing therapy and counseling
  • Build friendships with other sober people and positive influences
  • Utilize virtual support options when necessary
  • Engage in volunteer work
  • Take part in rehab alumni support groups and events
  • Celebrate milestones with loved ones

What are the potential consequences of meth relapse and how can I avoid them?

The most concerning consequence of meth relapse is an abandonment of recovery and a return to active use. Returning to regular meth use can lead incarceration, injury, disease, family and work problems, issues in interpersonal relationships, and death.

However, even if relapse does occur, most of the consequences can be avoided with immediate intervention. For many individuals, either a stint in inpatient or outpatient rehab will be the most effective way to get back on track. Other interventions may work as well, such as attending support groups or consulting with a sponsor.

The best way to avoid these consequences is by preventing relapse entirely. There are numerous relapse prevention strategies that you can use, such as avoiding triggers, making healthy lifestyle changes, attending support groups, and continuing to see a therapist.

Is there anything I can do to help myself heal the physical and emotional damage caused by meth use?

There are many things you can do to help heal the physical and emotional damage of meth.

Rehab, both inpatient and outpatient, is the most effective method of overcoming meth addiction and the damage it can cause. Attending ongoing therapy and counseling are also very effective.

Other practices that can help improve physical and mental health include meditation, yoga, mindfulness, and regular exercise.

Sources

  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2014). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition).
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). Methamphetamine Research Report Overview.
  3. Narcotics Anonymous. (2024). Homepage.
  4. SMART Recovery. (2024). Homepage.
  5. Medical News Today. (N/A). What to Know About Meth Addiction.
  6. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). What Treatments Are Effective for People Who Misuse Methamphetamine.
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