Ice Withdrawal and Detox
Also known as crystal methamphetamine (“crystal meth” or just “meth”), ice is an addictive stimulant drug that is commonly abused recreationally in the UK and beyond. When consumed, ice speeds up communication and interaction between your brain and body. Because of the potency and addictive nature of the drug – as well as its harmful side effects on the human system – it is categorised as a Class A substance in the UK.
Ice is typically abused for its powerful euphoric effects, which are highly addictive. Users can develop a physical dependence on the drug after only a short period of continued use. Once you become addicted to ice, it’s important to undergo a professionally supervised detox programme in order to overcome the addiction safely. The detox process is typically challenging and can be unpredictable, which is why ice detox and treatment should only be carried out under medical supervision in a qualified facility.
Ice is a very dangerous drug to abuse or even experiment with, due to its highly addictive nature. Also, using the drug in even small amounts poses a great risk to your physical and mental health. Nonetheless, ice can easily be found sold on the streets, due to its popularity as a recreational drug.
If you’ve been abusing ice and have developed a physical dependence to the drug, it’s vital that you seek professional addiction treatment from a qualified facility as soon as possible.
What is Ice?
Ice is normally found in the form of small pieces of clear crystals that look like ice chips, hence the name. Depending on the ingredients and manufacturing process used to make a batch, it can appear as a white or brownish crystal. It can also be found in powder form, which is a result of crushing the crystals. Notably, it has a strong smell and bitter taste.
Common other street names for ice include shabu, crystal meth, crystal, glass, and shard. The drug is consumed by smoking or injecting it. Its effects can be felt within three to seven seconds. If ice is swallowed or snorted, its effects will take longer to take hold – usually around three to five minutes if snorted, and 15 to 30 minutes if swallowed.
Because it is a potent central nervous system (CNS) stimulant, ice is used by some as a second-line treatment for those managing obesity or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). When taken in low doses, ice can lead to an increase in alertness, elevated mood, sharper concentration, reduced appetite, increased sexual desire, and also deliver an energy boost. However, when taken in higher doses, ice can result in a breakdown of skeletal muscle, psychosis, bleeding in the brain, and seizures, amongst other side effects. If abused chronically and at high doses, ice can precipitate rapid mood swings, delirium, hallucinations, paranoia, delusions, and violent behaviour.
Long-term abuse or high dosages of ice will likely lead to compulsive use; once dependence takes hold, withdrawal symptoms can occur when you cease using the drug. Heavy recreational use of ice can also result in experiencing post-acute withdrawal symptoms that can last for months after the normal withdrawal period.
What is Ice Detox?
Ice detox is the process of your body ridding itself of all ice-related toxins after you stop using the drug. People who’ve been abusing ice and have developed a dependence need to undergo a complete detoxification if they intend on achieving long-term abstinence. During detox, you’ll experience withdrawal symptoms, which will vary in severity and duration, depending on how badly you were abusing ice and how long you’d been abusing the drug.
There is no specified period for how long ice detoxification will last. The detox period varies from individual to individual and is largely dependent on the quantity of drugs abused and over what period. Withdrawal during detox usually has two stages: the acute phase that may last for seven to ten days; and the sub-acute phase that may last for at least another two weeks. Typically, withdrawal symptoms are most severe during the acute phase.
To help minimise withdrawal symptoms during detox, it’s strongly recommended that you undergo a medically assisted detox. This will comprise a variety of medication to minimise your withdrawal symptoms and ensure your detox process is as painless and speedy as possible. It’s important that you are under strict professional supervision during this process in order to prevent a relapse.
Once detox is complete, it’s advisable to immediately follow up treatment with rehabilitation and counselling.
Is Detox from Ice Necessary?
Detox is important, because without going through the process, it will be impossible to truly overcome ice dependence. Also, failure to completely detox increases your chances of suffering a relapse. A likely downside of trying to detox by yourself is that it can be difficult to fight the urge to resume abusing ice to enjoy relief from any unpleasant effects from withdrawal. Detox that is supervised by a medical professional minimises your chances of giving in to any temptations and will help you stay focused on maintaining abstinence.
Common withdrawal symptoms experienced during ice detox include:
How to Safely Detox From Ice
It is advised not to attempt a self-detox on your own at home. This is because not only is a home detox rarely successful, it is also quite unsafe. Instead, get professional help from a certified ice addiction treatment facility.
Whilst undergoing detoxification, your body will utilise every possible means to expel all ice-related toxins from your system. This includes vomiting, profuse sweating and diarrhoea, which can lead to dehydration and a loss of much-needed electrolytes.
It’s in your best interests to undergo ice detox in a medical facility – such as a detox centre or hospital -where you will be provided a medically supervised detox that minimises the symptoms of withdrawal and any associated discomfort.
Medication-assisted detox is accomplished by a medical expert, administering medications that will significantly reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms. You can also be given other medication to effectively manage symptoms such as diarrhoea and nausea.
Ice Detox: What You Need to Know
You might be nervous about visiting a medical detox centre or undergoing an ice detox, but there is nothing to worry about. During a medically supervised detox, there will be professionals available every step of the way to care for all your needs. The care provided will ensure you stay as safe and comfortable as possible for the entire duration of the detox programme.
Ice Detox: Treatment Programmes and Process
The best way to treat the physical symptoms of ice abuse and withdrawals is via a detox programme. This can be applied in either an inpatient or outpatient facility, depending on the severity of your addiction.
Inpatient treatment offers the highest chances of achieving a successful recovery. Programmes last for 30, 60 or 90 days and require you to spend the duration of treatment in a residential treatment facility.
Outpatient treatment on the other hand is best suited for ice abusers with a less severe addiction who don’t require intensive care or constant supervision. Outpatient treatment has the benefit of giving you the opportunity to recover in the comfort of your home. However, there are downsides, such as its being much harder to avoid relapse triggers in enabling environments (such as your home) which formerly drove you to abuse drugs. Before choosing an outpatient programme to treat your ice addiction, be sure to consult with a medical professional or addiction specialist to discover what your best options are.
The detox process can be divided into three distinct stages. These are preceded by a comprehensive review of your current physical and mental health. Results of the review will provide useful information on how best to proceed with your treatment and in the formulation of your personalised detox plan.
The three stages of the medical detox process are:
- Evaluation: After your admission to the detox facility, your health and wellbeing will be carefully assessed. This will involve blood tests to determine how much ice is in your system. Results of the evaluation will be used to develop a detox plan that best matches your specific needs. The evaluation process will also consist of questions about your past and current drug use. It’s best to answer these questions honestly, as they are necessary for devising your long-term recovery plan. Evaluation will also reveal whether you have any co-occurring disorders.
- Stabilisation: This stage of the detox process will help minimise your withdrawal symptoms, stabilise your condition, and make you as comfortable as possible.
- Transition into further treatment: Close to the completion of the detox process, the next step of your treatment (which is rehabilitation) will be discussed, so you can continue with recovery free from any hindrances.
Treatment Methods and Options for Help
In the initial stages after quitting ice, you’re bound to feel mentally and physically unbalanced. Consequently, stabilisation is an important part of the detox process that will help you achieve a balanced state of mind.
Currently, the best approach to treating ice addiction is via a combination of psychological and behavioural therapies like contingency management treatment, cognitive behavioural therapy, and interventions. There are no medications recognised for the specific treatment of ice withdrawals or for facilitating detox. This is because no drug has yet proven to be wholly effective at counteracting the effects of methamphetamine on the body and brain. Nonetheless, antidepressants and other medications can be used in the short term to address any underlying mental health disorders or physical health problems resulting from ice addiction.
The combination of behavioural therapy, creative expression therapy, individually tailored counselling, 12-step support, family education, and medication offer a comprehensive approach to effectively treating ice abuse and dependence. Interventions such as motivational incentives and contingency management (which utilise tangible incentives) can also prove useful in maintaining abstinence from ice or other drugs.
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Detoxing from Ice at Home
Withdrawal symptoms after quitting ice can be uncomfortable and painful. The discomfort can be enough to drive you to do anything for another fix of ice, so as to alleviate withdrawal and keep the symptoms at bay. These symptoms can be life-threatening in certain circumstances, but aren’t always so. Nonetheless, it’s advised that you don’t attempt detoxing at home on your own, as not only can this lead to health complications, it also places you at great risk of suffering a relapse.
Detoxing away from home is beneficial, because your home environment is where you likely normally abuse ice. This means triggers and stressors that normally cause you to abuse ice will abound in your home and put you under a lot of pressure whilst attempting to quit.
Another danger of detoxing at home is that you’ll likely experience severe depression and anxiety, which are conditions you shouldn’t deal with on your own, especially if they give rise to suicidal or self-harm tendencies.
Instead of attempting detoxing from ice on your own, contact an addiction treatment centre for support and care from specialists with experience helping people safely negotiate what you’re going through.
Detox Options: How to Know if You Need Residential Detox
Detox can be provided on an inpatient or outpatient basis. In the case of the former, detox can be undertaken in a residential treatment centre if your addiction and withdrawal symptoms are severe. In such circumstances, you’ll need to have your health and overall wellbeing monitored round the clock in a residential rehab centre, whilst being provided intensive care. Medication can be applied as soon as you need it if there are any sudden changes in your condition.
The option of outpatient treatment is best suited for individuals with a milder addiction, who are experiencing less severe withdrawals. Such patients do not need constant monitoring and care, so can safely receive treatment from home.
If your withdrawal symptoms are not life-threatening and you’re not at great risk of suffering a relapse, a residential detox might not be necessary. Nonetheless, regardless of the severity of your addiction or withdrawal phase, residential detox is generally the best approach to treatment, as you’ll have access to the most comprehensive treatment and care possible. This increases your chances of actually making a full recovery.
After you stop using ice (regardless of the method of ingestion), physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms will likely manifest within a short period of time. Withdrawal symptoms are most likely to occur if you’ve been abusing ice continuously and/or chronically over an extended period of time and have developed a dependence on the drug.
Ice withdrawal symptoms are typically painful, traumatic and are also capable of causing you to abuse even more ice in an attempt to avoid experiencing the withdrawal phase. However, taking more ice to avoid withdrawal will only lead to a worsening of your condition, until inevitably you become a full-blown addict. This can also lead to an eventual accidental overdose. If your ice abuse has reached this stage, the best step is to seek admission and treatment in a detox and rehab facility.
Ice Withdrawal: Symptoms and Signs
Ice withdrawal symptoms are a result of your body and brain being exposed to the effects of ice continuously over an extended period of time. This leads to physical dependence, which in turn will induce withdrawal symptoms once you stop using the drug. The withdrawal symptoms you will experience in such a scenario include:
- Cravings for ice
- Increased appetite
- Confusion and irritability
- Aches and pains
- Nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea
- Insomnia, restless sleep and nightmares
Psychological Withdrawal and Detox
Psychological withdrawal symptoms typically last for longer than those that are physical. When it comes to ice, psychological withdrawal symptoms can be just as bad as or more complicated than their physical counterparts. This is because ice affects the brain on a chemical level, which impacts your emotional and psychological state during and after consumption of the drug.
Psychological withdrawal symptoms can vary, depending on a variety of factors, but typically witnessed symptoms include:
- Panic episodes
- Feelings of rage
- Psychotic behaviour
- Severe mood swings
- Low impulse control
Several types of therapy can be utilised to treat psychological ice withdrawal. Inpatient detox might be required if withdrawal symptoms are especially severe. A medically assisted detox will effectively rid your system of ice safely and thus mitigate any unpleasant side effects of detox withdrawal. Outpatient programmes that apply group and individual therapy can also be beneficial.
Other beneficial types of therapy for psychological withdrawal include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy, support groups, 12-step programmes and dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT).
Is Ice Withdrawal Dangerous?
During the initial stages of ice withdrawal, you will likely be mentally and physically unstable, due to the withdrawal symptoms being experienced. Your condition needs to be stabilised before you can continue with the rest of recovery.
Ice withdrawal is only dangerous if the condition isn’t properly cared for. This is because withdrawal symptoms can lead to physical or psychological harm if not properly managed. For instance, symptoms such as diarrhoea and vomiting can lead to your becoming dangerously dehydrated if not promptly treated by providing you with fluids and restoring your electrolyte balance. Also, withdrawal symptoms such as depression and anxiety can result in suicidal ideation.
Meanwhile, psychosis and paranoia can lead to self-harm or violent outbursts that endanger those around the recovering addict. Therefore, it’s better to treat withdrawal in a professional facility, where you can be provided a medically assisted detox to minimise your symptoms.
What Influences the Severity of Withdrawal?
A variety of factors influence both the severity and duration of withdrawal. They include:
- Personal traits: Traits such as your mental and physical condition will influence how you experience withdrawal. Each individual experience is often unique, depending on their own personal traits and condition.
- How ice was used: If you were smoking ice, your withdrawal will likely differ from that of someone who was injecting or ingesting the drug. Those who smoke or inject ice often experience more severe withdrawal. Also, if you were mixing ice with other drugs, your withdrawal will likely be worse.
- Period of use: The longer you’ve been abusing ice, the more severe and drawn out the withdrawal symptoms will be.
- Dose of ice typically used: The higher the dose of ice and frequency of use will result in longer and more intense withdrawal.
- How you quit the drug: If you abruptly stop abusing ice after an extended period of usage, your withdrawal will likely be more severe. However, if you gradually taper down your use, withdrawal symptoms will be less severe.
Ice Withdrawal Timeline
How ice withdrawal is experienced differs from individual to individual. However, below is a basic outline of how ice withdrawal will progress.
24 – 72 hours: During this period, you will experience exhaustion and feel the need to sleep for longer periods of time. You could also experience depression, anxiety, panic, or suicidal ideation. Instances of paranoia or hallucinations have also been reported. Supportive medical interventions can be effective during this period.
Week 1: After the first week, you’ll begin experiencing strong ice cravings, as well as feelings of hopelessness. Anxiety, mood swings, agitation, irritability, tiredness, insomnia, increased hunger, poor concentration, pains, and headaches are also not uncommon.
Week 2: After two weeks, you’re likely to still keep experiencing depression, mood swings, cravings, and sleep problems. Other withdrawal symptoms will begin to stabilise and continue at reduced levels.
Weeks 3-4: After a month, your condition should have improved. This involves much better sleep, energy levels, and mood.
Bear in mind that the above is just a generalisation, as not everyone experiences ice withdrawal the same and according to the aforementioned timeline.
Avoiding Relapse during Protracted Withdrawal
Ice abstinence has several potential long-term effects; one in particular is the withdrawal period extending into a protracted one. This doesn’t happen to everyone and how it’s experienced typically varies from person to person.
Protracted withdrawal effects are usually psychological and may include the following:
- Problems with motivation
- Restlessness and anxiety
- Feelings of depression
- Periods of major dissatisfaction
- Occasional cravings for ice
Experiencing a relapse during this period can jeopardise all the recovery progress you’ve made, which means you will likely have to resume treatment from start. To avoid a relapse during protracted withdrawal, take advantage of support and aftercare services. Also, stay busy to keep your mind off cravings and avoid your normal stressors and triggers. Visiting support groups can also be beneficial.
Understanding Ice Withdrawal
Ice is a type of d-methamphetamine: a powerful, synthetic stimulant drug. The use of ice will result in a surge of dopamine levels in the brain, leading to feelings of euphoria and excitement. Constant and continued use of ice over an extended period of time will lead to your brain undergoing a ‘down regulation’ as the number of neurons in your brain that work with dopamine decreases. This results in a drop in the natural production of dopamine in your system, as your body becomes increasingly dependent on the influences of ice to create more dopamine at high levels.
In such a situation, if you suddenly stop using ice, dopamine levels in your brain will drop drastically, resulting in a number of painful withdrawal symptoms. Ice’s most severe withdrawal symptoms are not physical, but rather emotional and psychological. However, there are also some unpleasant physical symptoms such as vomiting, fever, and diarrhoea.
Severe anhedonia is a commonly reported ice withdrawal symptom. It is the inability to experience feelings of satisfaction or pleasure, which results in a feeling of misery, but this is only temporary and will pass after the detox stage is complete. The cause of anhedonia can be traced directly to the massive drop in dopamine production that occurs when you quit using ice.
After Rehab Support
Aftercare can be described as any ongoing support or care you can receive after finishing a treatment programme. Aftercare is essential to avoiding relapse and maintaining recovery. An addiction treatment facility can help you arrange any of the following types of aftercare plan:
- Sober living or halfway homes
- Group counselling or individual counselling
- 12-step programmes
What to Do After Detoxification
After your detoxification programme is completed it should be immediately followed by a rehabilitation programme. Rehabilitation after detoxification is important, because it ensures your recovery is more comprehensive. While detox treats the physical aspects of your addiction, rehabilitation will treat its psychological aspects, as well as provide you the tools you need to achieve long-lasting abstinence. Detoxification that isn’t followed by rehabilitation puts you at risk of eventually suffering a relapse, as you will be mentally unprepared for what comes next.
Support groups will provide you all the assistance you need to stay abstinent long-term and adjust to life without relying on the influence of drugs. They are a great way to transition from residential addiction treatment to living independently, without abusing drugs.
What treatments are effective for ice abusers?
Inpatient or outpatient care can be applied to treat an ice abuser, though inpatient treatment is most likely to deliver the best results. Whilst admitted as an inpatient, the addict can be treated via a medically assisted detox programme, followed by a variety of therapies such as combining behavioural therapy, creative expression therapy, one on one counselling, individually tailored counselling, 12-step support, family education, and medication. Interventions such as motivational incentives and contingency management (which make use of tangible incentives) can also prove useful in maintaining abstinence from ice or other drugs.
How long does withdrawal from ice last?
Ice withdrawal usually lasts from one to two weeks. In some extreme cases, it can last for four weeks or longer. Most cravings last at least four to five weeks.
What recovery programme is right for me?
It’s important to consider what level of care best suits your condition. The ideal recovery programme for you will be determined by a careful evaluation of your condition. If your risk of withdrawal is low – or your withdrawal symptoms are not very severe – outpatient care, whereby you will be provided in-group and individual therapy, as well as prescription medications to treat symptoms of withdrawal, can be sufficient. However, if your withdrawal symptoms are severe, inpatient or residential treatment (where you will be provided round-the-clock care and a medically assisted detox) may be more appropriate
Am I addicted?
Symptoms of addiction to ice include:
- Increased tolerance to the drug and thus an increase in dosage
- Failed attempts at quitting ice
- Using false pretences to source more of the drug
- Lack of interest in things you once enjoyed – especially activities not revolving around using ice
- Dereliction of home, school or work responsibilities and duties
- Sudden mood swings
- Continued abuse of ice, even though well aware of its negative effects
- Developing new risky habits and behaviours, such as driving whilst under the influence
- Spending more time with others who are known drug abusers
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you fail to use the drug
Why is ice called a ‘club drug’?
Ice is referred to as a ‘club drug’ due to the feelings of euphoria and energy boost it provides when used. The resultant effects enable users of the drug to party and dance for long periods of time, without becoming tired. However, the ‘coming down’ effect can leave the user feeling worn out for an extended period of time.
Is withdrawal from ice dangerous?
Withdrawal from ice isn’t generally considered to be life-threatening, but if the condition is not properly managed or cared for by medical personnel, it can lead to physical or mental health complications.
Where can you detox from ice?
It’s strongly advised that you detox from ice either in a hospital or addiction treatment centre. This way, your health and overall wellbeing can be monitored and appropriate care provided as necessary in response to any changes in your condition. Do not attempt detoxing from ice at home on your own, as this can be dangerous.
How long does ice detox take?
Stay in a detoxification programme typically lasts three to ten days. Some people may spend less or more time going through detox, depending on the severity of their abuse and addiction. You could be discharged after detoxification or stay on for residential treatment, which can last for 30 to 90 days or longer.
Can you die from ice withdrawal?
If proper medical care isn’t provided during detox, withdrawal could lead to health complications and possibly even prove fatal. It’s recommended that when you chose to quit the drug, you seek the aid of medical professionals. Such medical assistance can help minimise withdrawal symptoms and ensure the withdrawal process is as safe as possible for you.
What else can I do to recover from ice abuse?
Aside from receiving professional addiction care, stay healthy by eating well and exercising. Also, don’t spend time in places or with people that enable the use of ice, so as to avoid a relapse. Participate in support groups that will motivate you towards staying abstinent long-term.
How can other people help me in my recovery?
Your family and friends can help your recovery by showing you love and standing by your side during recovery. Also, your family and friends can participate in family counselling and similar programmes to learn how to support your recovery.
Are there medications to help with ice detox?
There are no approved medications specifically for ice detox, but the following drugs can help with your withdrawal symptoms:
- Dexamphetamine can lessen cravings and ease withdrawal symptoms
- Naloxone and Varenicline (Chantix) have some benefit in reducing cravings for ice
- Bupropion (Wellbutrin) is a useful antidepressant that can aid recovery
- Modafinil will aid wakefulness and increases concentration
Can I detox from ice at home?
You can, but it isn’t recommended. This is because home remedies only care for the physical aspects of your addiction and not the psychological ones. Furthermore, home remedies are limited in how much care they can provide – especially if your withdrawal symptoms are severe. It will be far safer to place yourself under the care of an inpatient programme, where a medically assisted detox and proper rehab can be provided.
What influences the severity of withdrawal?
The following factors influence the severity of ice withdrawal:
- Personal traits: Traits such as your mental and physical condition will influence how you experience withdrawal. Each individual’s experience is often unique, depending on their own unique traits and condition.
- How ice was used: If you were smoking ice, your withdrawal will likely differ from that of someone who was injecting or ingesting the drug. Those who smoke or inject ice often experience more severe withdrawal symptoms. Also, if you were mixing ice with other drugs, your withdrawal will likely be worse.
- Period of use: The longer you’ve been abusing ice, the more severe and drawn out the withdrawal symptoms will be.
- Dose of ice typically used: Higher doses of ice and frequent use will result in a longer and more intense withdrawal period.
- How you quit the drug: If you abruptly stop abusing ice after an extended period of use, your withdrawal will likely be more severe. However, if you gradually taper down your usage, withdrawal symptoms will be less severe.
Is detox from ice necessary?
Detox is necessary for addiction recovery, as it will flush your system of all ice-related toxins and give your body and brain the opportunity to stabilise without the influence of the drug. Medically assisted detox will make getting past withdrawal symptoms far safer and easier. Without going through detox, addiction recovery is impossible and you will likely relapse.
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