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Medically Reviewed By: Elena Hill, MD, MPH -

How to Get Off Methamphetamine: Tips & Treatment Options

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Getting off methamphetamine can be extremely difficult, as it is a highly addictive substance. While there aren’t any medications that can help with a methamphetamine use disorder directly, the condition can be effectively treated with a comprehensive addiction treatment program. Cognitive behavioral therapy is often part of the treatment plan. 

What Makes Quitting Methamphetamine Hard?

Methamphetamine is a powerful stimulant that can easily cause physical and psychological dependence with repeated use.[1] It is also sometimes cut with the opioid fentanyl, which is itself highly addictive and a frequent cause of overdose deaths. An individual taking methamphetamine may not know their drugs have been laced with other substances.

Methamphetamine can be highly addictive. Unfortunately, unlike opioids and alcohol, there are no pharmacological agents or medications that have consistently been proven to help prevent methamphetamine use, which makes methamphetamine use disorder (MUD) in some ways more challenging to treat. 

Methamphetamine Withdrawal Symptoms 

A person quitting methamphetamine must first engage in a period of drug abstinence. This is called detox, and it can be very uncomfortable, with the person experiencing a variety of withdrawal symptoms that will typically increase in intensity, peak, and then slowly get better.

Methamphetamine withdrawal can vary in intensity, generally depending on how long and how heavily a person has been using methamphetamine, but it is typically characterized by the following symptoms:

Methamphetamine withdrawal can be broken into two phases.[3] The first is the acute withdrawal stage. This is where symptoms are most intense, and it generally lasts 7 to 10 days. The second phase, where some symptoms disappear entirely and others are generally less severe, is the subacute phase. This phase can last another few weeks to even months, depending on the individual. 

Many people choose to go through acute withdrawal at an inpatient detox facility, which is also the recommendation of many experts. These facilities can help you feel more comfortable and support you as you go through the worst of withdrawal. 

They also put additional barriers in place toward accessing drugs, which can make resisting potentially very strong drug cravings less difficult. Ultimately, if you undergo meth withdrawal with professional supervision, relapse is less likely.

Tools to Make Quitting Meth Easier

While some substance use disorders can be treated in part with medication (such as Suboxone for opioid use disorder), there aren’t any drugs approved to treat a methamphetamine use disorder. A doctor may prescribe you medication to reduce some of your withdrawal symptoms, but there is not yet a way to treat the addiction more directly. 

Some areas of promise that may help treat methamphetamine addiction easier in the future include the following:

At this time, the mainstays of MUD are behavioral therapies. 

Valuable Treatment Options

Methamphetamine use disorder is currently treated mostly with cognitive behavioral therapy. This is a common therapy used to treat substance use disorders, where a person practices identifying what draws them to use drugs and how to reconstruct the way they think about drugs and potential triggers for drug use to better avoid using drugs. 

This can often be combined with other types of therapy and counseling, such as family counseling to help people in the person’s life understand their addiction and repair some of the damage addiction may have done to their relationship. Strong, healthy relationship-building is often a very useful way to reduce a person’s drug use. It fosters a strong support network the person can turn to when they are tempted to relapse.

Many people go to addiction support groups, which can further help to build healthy relationships with others and also give you an outlet to talk with people who have firsthand experience with the same issues.[6] The right support group for you will depend on your preferences and needs, but there are many different kinds for people of various backgrounds. 

Is Quitting Meth ‘Cold Turkey’ Safe?

Quitting methamphetamine “cold turkey” is unlikely to cause you serious harm, but it isn’t the best way to quit. While the definition of the term can vary, cold turkey usually implies trying to quit on your own abruptly, usually without professional help. 

Quitting on your own doesn’t carry any real medical benefits, and it means you aren’t going to learn the strategies professionals can teach you to avoid drug use long-term. Even if you get through withdrawal without help, which isn’t easy in itself, that doesn’t “cure” addiction. There is no cure for addiction, but it can be effectively treated.[7]

The best way to get off methamphetamine in the long term is with professional help. Treatment comes in a wide array of options, ranging from inpatient programs to virtual care, so you can easily find the right level of support for your situation.

Medically Reviewed By: Elena Hill, MD, MPH

Elena Hill, MD; MPH received her MD and Masters of Public Health degrees at Tufts Medical School and completed her family medicine residency at Boston Medical Center. She is currently an attending physician at Bronxcare Health Systems in the Bronx, NY where she works as a primary care physician as well as part time in pain management and integrated health. Her clinical interests include underserved health care, chronic pain and integrated/alternative health.
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  1. Methamphetamine. National Institute on Drug Abuse. May 2019. Accessed November 2022.
  2. Withdrawal Symptoms in Abstinent Methamphetamine-Dependent Subjects. Addiction. October 2010. Accessed November 2022.
  3. The Nature, Time Course and Severity of Methamphetamine Withdrawal. Addiction. September 2005. Accessed November 2022.
  4. Motivational Incentives Research in the National Drug Abuse Treatment Clinical Trials Network.  Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment. June 2011. Accessed November 2022.
  5. Efficacy of Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation in Patients With Methamphetamine Use Disorder: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Double-Blind Randomized Clinical Trials. Frontiers in Psychiatry. May 2022. Accessed November 2022.
  6. Benefits of Peer Support Groups in the Treatment of Addiction. Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation. September 2016. Accessed November 2022.
  7. Drugs, Brain, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction. National Institute on Drug Abuse. July 2020. Accessed November 2022.

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