Meth Detoxification

Meth detoxification is one of the first steps in treating meth use and addiction. The approach used for meth detoxification varies depending on the user, but needs to be followed by further treatment to help a meth user stay sober. More about meth detox.


Methamphetamine detoxification, or meth detox, is when a meth user stops using meth and allows the drug to leave their body completely. This process usually takes several days, and may be accompanied by signs of meth withdrawal. For those with an addiction, detoxification is not a cure, but it is one of the first steps in treating a meth problem. Though the time considered necessary for meth detox is fairly short, the effects of meth on the person's mind and body can be very long-lasting.

When a meth user stops taking meth, their body starts to clear itself of the drug and they begin meth detoxification. Detoxification may be voluntary, when a person is trying to quit, or involuntary, when a person does not have access to meth. Especially for those with a physical or psychological addiction to meth, detoxification can be accompanied by signs of meth withdrawal. Some of the signs of meth withdrawal can include:

  • Feeling down or depressed
  • Fatigue or extreme sleepiness
  • Insomnia
  • Changes in appetite
  • Nervousness
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Intense cravings for meth

The withdrawal symptoms for meth are not as extreme as for some other drugs, but it is still wise to have medical advice as well as a supportive environment when going through meth detoxification. Support from family, friends, or professionals can help meth users avoid relapsing during meth detox, when drug cravings can be very strong, and can also be helpful for watching for other problems that may come up during detoxification. Some meth users may need extra support and care during meth detox, sometimes including hospitalization, if they have other medical conditions such as:

  • Addictions to multiple drugs
  • Seizures
  • Depression
  • Psychosis or other severe mental illnesses, either because of or in addition to their meth addiction

It is especially important for meth users with these problems to have medical guidance through the meth detoxification process. A doctor or counselor can help the meth user decide on the best approach to detoxification and the next steps to take after meth detox to prevent relapse.

Detox is only a first step in treating a meth addiction. After meth detoxification, it is very important for a meth user to get further therapy and counseling to help them stay sober. There is currently no medication developed specifically for meth detoxification, withdrawals, or addiction, but some medications may be used to help treat some of the problems meth users face during the early phases of treatment. Long term meth treatment generally requires ongoing therapy and support, often through an organized support group such as Narcotics Anonymous, as well as treatment of other health problems affecting the meth user, including mental illnesses.

Though meth detox rids the user's body of meth, it does not undo the damage that meth causes to a user's body and mind.  Some of the damage done to a meth user's brain seems to heal a year or two after detoxification, but the person may still struggle with physical and psychological health problems related to meth use. Addiction to meth can be a life-ling struggle for recovering meth users, even if they do not relapse into meth use. For this reason, those struggling with meth addiction need a good support system to help them stay sober long after meth detox.


San Luis Obispo County Drug and Alcohol Advisory Board, "Detoxification: Position Statement" [online]
Alan I. Leshner, Office of National Drug Control Policy Publications, The National Methamphetamine Drug Conference, "Treatment: Effects on the Brain and the Body" [online]
New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, "Methamphetamine: Abuse and Addiction" [online] 
Marvis Doster RN, North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem Methamphetamine Summit, "Methamphetamine: Intoxication, Detoxification, Withdrawal and Treatment" [online]

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