Medical detox is widely considered the safest, most comfortable, and effective method of treating methamphetamine (meth) withdrawal. If a person is using meth, detox can play a vital role in reducing unpleasant symptoms and preventing relapse while meth and other toxins are being eliminated from the body.
The duration and severity of detox and withdrawal depend on multiple factors. These include the person’s typical route of administering the drug, such as swallowing, smoking, snorting, or injecting. The duration and intensity of abuse and individual biological/genetic factors also play a role.
On average, however, most meth is naturally purged from the body in around 72 hours. Persons who have used meth chronically or heavily may take longer to clear if from their system. Of note, most drug screens don’t identify the presence of meth after this time, although tests using hair samples can detect it for up to 90 days.
Meth has a half-life, on average, of about 12 hours, meaning that the concentration of the drug in a person’s body will be reduced by 50% by that time. This also means that many effects will begin to subside if they have not already.
If a meth user is trying to prepare for a drug test or legitimately wants to abstain, they will sometimes try to detox and withdraw at home. This approach may include various strategies as an attempt to expedite the process. Unfortunately, these techniques are not clinically proven to assist with meth withdrawal, however. Futhermore, medical and addiction professionals strongly advise against undergoing detox at home for several reasons.
For one, and perhaps most significantly, meth withdrawal symptoms can be intense and highly unpleasant. Although they are not generally life-threatening, there is always a risk for unpredictable adverse complications. Also, the onset of these symptoms often compels the person to begin using meth again to relieve the unpleasant effects and feel better.
Common effects of withdrawal include fatigue and sleepiness (hypersomnia), vivid/unpleasant dreams, depression, psychosis, and increased appetite. Intense drug cravings will also manifest that will add to a person’s discomfort. These urgers alone are frequently responsible for relapse related to many substances, and if not controlled, it will rapidly lead to a return to drug use.
Another reason that at-home detox kits and methods often do not work is that this strategy does nothing to help to prevent a person from using again. Moreover, although he or she may succeed at detox, the factors that contributed to meth use in the first place, such as mental illness, stress, or environment, have not changed. A person who does not undergo intensive treatment to address these issues and develop more robust coping skills is far more likely to relapse than those who get long-term professional help.
Addiction is a chronic disease and should be addressed as such through comprehensive rehab programs that include therapy, counseling, relapse prevention, and other means of support. Without professional treatment, individuals may never learn about the underlying causes of their addiction or get the tools they need to sustain sobriety for an extended period.
There are, however, a few methods that people who opt to detox at-home use in the hopes of producing a negative drug screen. That said, please keep in mind that a significant amount of scientific research suggests these methods are often unsafe and ineffective.
Increasing Fluid Intake
One popular method that individuals use is to increase fluid intake dramatically, especially water. The theory is that drinking an excessive amount of fluids can help to dilute the meth concentration in an individual’s body and increase urinary output and purging of toxins. Some who do this also make use of herbal supplements or kits that claim they can increase the chances of a person passing a drug test.
There are drawbacks to this approach. One, people who analyze drug test results can often identify diluted urine, which is flagged as being deliberate. In either case, the person will probably be required to re-do the test. And again, there is no guarantee that the dilution method will be effective.
Also, it is possible to be overhydrated and develop hyponatremia, a health disorder that can be dangerous. When this occurs, sodium concentration in the bloodstream becomes abnormally low, and cells are inundated with water and swell. This effect can result in nausea, confusion, lethargy, irritability, muscle weakness, seizures, or coma, and death.
Consuming an Excessive Amount of Fiber or Laxatives
Another way a person might try to expel meth from their system is to excrete it through feces versus urine. Consuming high fiber foods or taking fiber supplements can help aid in this process. Laxatives could also be utilized on a short-term basis.
One of the main disadvantages of this is that the use of laxatives in the absence of a legitimate medical problem can be hazardous and is considered substance abuse. Moreover, their use is not needed and will interfere with normal bodily processes, at least temporarily. Abuse of laxatives can cause severe stomach pain, cramping, rectal bleeding, and bloody stools.
Like dilution, a person preparing to undergo a drug test should not presume that this method will yield a negative result.
The theory that intense exercise can help has been put forth for a couple of different reasons. It will cause profuse sweating, which is another means of purging and may be used to get meth and out of an individual’s system. Two, intense exercise such as running or biking, will probably encourage a person to drink more water and other fluids, which can also help with elimination.
As with these other techniques, drawbacks include the fact that this may not be enough to pass a drug screen when that is the person’s primary objective. Also, a person who is not accustomed to that intensity of exercise could become severely dehydrated if they don’t drink enough water. He or she could also encounter extreme fatigue, injury, or other health complications that result from putting too much stress on one’s body.
Niacin is a B-vitamin that can be purchased over-the-counter and is thought to help the body’s metabolic process and eliminate toxins.
However, it’s important to know that niacin, especially when used in excessive amounts, is associated with several unpleasant side effects. These include flushing, itching and rashes, and nausea and vomiting.
Not everyone who uses these techniques does so with the intent of passing a drug test. As noted, some individuals are truly motivated to recover from meth abuse and want as much help as possible to expedite the process. As a professional substance abuse treatment center, however, we can not stress enough how vital it is to seek expert medical and mental healthcare and support during this process.
There are also online drug-passing kits available that claim to boost metabolism or conceal the fact that urine has been diluted. Some products also include chemicals purported to mask the presence of drugs or their metabolites in bodily fluids. Still, no professional organizations, including the AACC (American Association for Clinical Chemistry), approve of them, and no scientific evidence exists that guarantees that they will work.
Why Medical Detox And Professional Treatment Are Essential
By choosing to undergo medical detox, individuals are ensuring their safety and improving their comfort. In a residential setting, persons are monitored around-the-clock and can be administered medications to relieve many of the most severe withdrawal symptoms and prevent complications.
After detox, individuals are urged to continue the recovery process by enrolling in a comprehensive addiction treatment program, such as those offered by Just Believe Recovery. If you are struggling to quit using meth or other drugs, you owe it to yourself to ensure that you never go back to using again. Call us today—we can help!