Methamphetamine is a powerful stimulant. When used, it releases a “feel-good” chemical in the brain called dopamine. This chemical causes a rush of euphoria that lasts from five to 30 minutes.
When this initial rush ends, meth users experience an increased sense of well-being, decreased appetite and increased energy. These lingering effects can last from six to 12 hours.
Once the effects end, dopamine drops below normal levels and individuals endure a crash, also known as a comedown. A comedown is a period of exhaustion that occurs because the body is drained of energy.
Meth increases energy levels in the body. This causes the body to think it has unlimited amounts of energy, leading people to avoid sleep and engage in excessive activity. But when the body’s energy is depleted, meth users experience a crash marked by fatigue or extreme exhaustion.
Symptoms of a meth comedown include:
While coming down from methamphetamine, people typically sleep for extended periods — sometimes for up to three days.
But according to the Center for Health, Identity, Behavior and Prevention Studies at New York University, a meth crash lasts at least one to two days. It takes even longer, seven to 10 days, for the body to reach normal energy levels.
The comedown phase is an early stage of meth withdrawal. Symptoms of a crash are typically less severe than the withdrawal effects felt when the crash ends. But a crash can be dangerous if individuals have thoughts of self-harm.
Coming down off meth is also dangerous if people give in to the intense drug cravings. This can increase a person’s tolerance to the drug, which can lead to dependence and methamphetamine addiction.
Because the euphoric effects of methamphetamine do not last long, people often repeatedly use the drug to maintain their high. This pattern, called binge and crash, sustains the pleasurable effects of the stimulant for longer periods of time.
During the binging stage, individuals use the drug every few hours. They usually self-administer meth until they either run out of the stimulant or choose to stop using it. In many instances, they do not eat or sleep while binging on the drug.
When the binge ends, the crash begins. The entire process typically lasts from three to 15 days, according to a 2017 report by the Fordham Law Review.
In many cases, individuals do not need to go to a hospital to overcome a meth comedown. Like an alcohol hangover, people can usually manage the symptoms of exhaustion at home.
To alleviate the distressing effects of a meth crash:
However, call 911 or contact a meth hotline if you have thoughts of suicide or self-harm while coming down from meth. If you experience more severe symptoms of withdrawal after the crash, consider seeking rehab.
If you need medical assistance during a meth crash, medical professionals are equipped to help. They provide care to people coming down from methamphetamine in two stages.
The first stage involves observing clients to ensure they get some sleep and do not intentionally harm themselves. After sleep, clinicians conduct an evaluation to ensure that the most serious symptoms associated with the crash, such as suicidal thoughts, have subsided.
The best way to stop crashes is to stop using meth. But people often struggle to overcome meth abuse and addiction on their own.
Meth rehab can help. These facilities employ medical professionals who are trained to assist people experiencing a comedown and other methamphetamine withdrawal symptoms. Treatment can also teach people to live fulfilling lives without the stimulant.
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