Photo credit: WESSEL OOSTHUIZEN / SASPA
2016 Olympic Silver medalist Luvo Manyonga. From failed meth addict to silver medalist at the Olympic games — in less than two years. And this year? Gold medallist at the 2017 IAAF World Championships.
If you’re searching for how to quit crystal meth, you’ve come to the right place. Here you will find a website full of information and, hopefully, some inspiration that will help you in quitting.
You’ll hear the odds are against you. You’ll hear outlandish statistics, that only a small percentage of us ever quit successfully. Cast that out of your mind.
As you read these very words, well over a million people have successfully quit crystal meth worldwide and are living drug-free lives. You can, too. Life is meant to be much more than what you’re experiencing now.
The following is an adapted introduction to the 5 stages of meth recovery from Quitting Crystal Meth — What to Expect & What to Do: A Handbook for the First Year of Recovery from Crystal Methamphetamine.
The Stages – A Question of Timing
So you’ve decided to quit crystal meth. To begin with, you’ll need to understand that there’s no fixed recovery timeline that’s universal. Depending on how long you used, how much, your sex, your age, and other health factors, you will experience quitting at a “pace” uniquely your own. When it comes to timing, and what you’ll experience when, it’s all variable.
As Associate Director of UCLA Integrated Substance Abuse Programs, Richard Rawson, Ph.D., developed a 5 stage model of recovery from cocaine addiction that is useful for our purposes here. Not only does this model accurately describe my own personal experience with recovery from crystal meth, it seems to generally fit the experience of most of the addicts I interviewed for this book. Adoption of the 5 stage model provides an easy way in which to accurately discuss the otherwise slippery process of recovery from crystal methamphetamine.
Each stage is connected to the physical and emotional changes that a person goes through as the body repairs itself from long-term use. So the first stage is, for example, pretty obvious—Withdrawal. What isn’t so obvious is exactly how long this stage lasts.
The timeline used here is based on Dr. Rawson’s original study. Therefore, for our purposes, the Withdrawal stage lasts from Day 0 through 15, about two weeks. But it’s important to understand this is only a general estimate. Withdrawal can be as short as three days or as long as a month and, in some extreme cases, even longer. In Quitting Crystal Meth: What to Expect & What to Do, I’ll remind you of these variations in each chapter, but it’s good to know at the outset.
And to confuse matters more, sometimes you may experience the effects of two different stages simultaneously. This can often happen during transition periods between the stages. Also, how much time you spend in each stage will depend to some degree upon how active, both physically and emotionally, you become in your recovery. Many cofactors determine your particular timeline: your genetics, your activities, how long and how much you used, your sex and age, and other health factors, from depression to hepatitis.
Still, there are commonalities that most of us go through along the quitting journey. And there is some great advice on how-to quit from the many recovered meth addicts who’ve gone before. Again, when it comes to timing and what you’ll experience when, we can only give approximations. Remember, your journey of quitting meth is as individual as you are.
The Five Stages of Recovery from Crystal Methamphetamine
Stage 1: Withdrawal (Days 0 – 15)
Withdrawal usually lasts from 1 to 2 weeks, but it can last upwards of 4 weeks—and, in some extreme cases, longer. Also known as the “sleep, eat, and drink” stage, your body and brain are in healing overdrive. There’s a lot of damage meth caused that needs to be repaired before you can move forward.
Stage 2: The Honeymoon (Days 16 – 45)
The crash has lifted, your body has made those immediately needed repairs, and you are feeling physically and emotionally much stronger. You might even feel great, better than you’ve felt in years. And it’s only the beginning of the third week! Unfortunately, this upswing can lead to overconfidence and you might find yourself minimizing your past meth problem.
A lot of people will relapse here because of this overconfidence. But not you. You are prepared. You understand this Honeymoon won’t last. Still, there’s much to enjoy while it does.
And much to do in the meantime, while you’re feeling stronger.
Stage 3: The Wall (6 Weeks – 4 Months)
You hit it hard. All the positive, forward momentum from the Honeymoon crashes around you.
A seemingly insurmountable Wall of depression, boredom, and despair—it begins about 45 days into sobriety and it continues through month 4 or thereabouts. Rarely, however, does the Wall last longer than 3 months. So, keep in mind, it’s going to get better.
The Wall is often where people will relapse. You so want the feelings of boredom and loneliness to pass, crystal meth seems like the solution again. Though the danger of picking up is highest here, you can get past it.
Let’s look at what to expect and what you can do to get through this stage of your recovery. The Wall is not impossible to overcome, just tricky.
Stage 4: Adjustment (Months 4 – 6)
You’ve gotten over the Wall safely and it is now mostly behind you. The next stage is called “Adjustment” because that’s what characterizes this time period—adjusting, physically, socially, and emotionally, to life without crystal. You get relief from the overwhelming cravings and begin to find life interesting again.
Stage 5: Ongoing Recovery (Months 6 – 12)
Toward the end of the first year clean, crystal meth addiction can seem distant and almost tangential to your life. Or, it can be something you continue to think about, fleetingly, almost every day. Like all things on this timeline, it depends.
I like to call this part of the quitting journey “Ongoing Recovery” (also known as the “Resolution” stage) because, despite how foreign your crystal dependence may seem, it’s important to remember that meth addiction is a “chronic disease” and you are never cured.
Recovery is always ongoing.
For More Info…
If you’re interested in learning more about what to expect during the first year of recovery from crystal, check out the book excerpts on “Stage One: Withdrawal” and “What About Relapse?” found on this site, then head over to my blog for an ongoing conversation about the full and free life beyond crystal meth and addiction.
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This website is not intended to provide and does not constitute medical, legal, or other professional advice. The content herein is designed to support, not replace, medical or psychiatric treatment. Please seek qualified professional care.