Meth Overdose: Signs, Symptoms and Withdrawal Timeline

signs of meth use

When methamphetamine is classified, it falls under the category of Schedule II stimulant. More often than not, it takes on the form of a pill, a shiny crystalline formation. This is what’s known as crystal meth, or a white powder. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, when misused, the drug can be highly addictive. However, small doses are able to help in the treatment of conditions such as narcolepsy and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Using a drug on a regular basis will have an effect on your brain chemistry. This will directly impact how pleasure is experienced. In turn, stopping the use of the drug can seem nearly impossible once an individual has started doing so.

What is meth addiction?

Meth addiction occurs when an individual cannot bring themselves to stop using it even with bad consequences. It’s different from dependence, which is more about needing more of the substance in order to get a particular effect experienced before. When someone is coming off of a dependency on a drug, physical and mental consequences occur. This is generally known as withdrawal.

Addiction, on the other hand, does not need physical dependence to happen. It’s worth noting that one of the most common traits of addiction is physical dependence, which perhaps explains why the two terms are sometimes confused.

The causes of addiction in general vary depending on the individual. Sometimes, it has to do with the life experiences of a person and their environment. They could be influenced by friends who are already taking illicit drugs, for example. However, there are also genetic factors that could lead to a higher risk of addiction developing.

Meth addiction comes with a lot of side effects. This includes aggressive behavior, brain damage, memory loss, and mood issues. However, the most extreme result of using meth is an overdose.

What is meth withdrawal?

As previously mentioned, when an individual’s body is coming off of dependency, several physical and mental consequences manifest. They are dependent on how much meth the individual used, how long they used it, and their frequency. Another key factor includes whether or not the individual abused other substances and was involved in polydrug use. Withdrawal is also affected by exactly how the drug was consumed. For example, when meth was abused through injection, they will experience a more intense, longer withdrawal process than those who used other methods.

Symptoms and signs of meth withdrawal include, but are not limited to:

  • Agitation
  • Confusion
  • Dehydration
  • Excessive sweating
  • Fatigue 
  • Fever
  • Hallucinations
  • Increased appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Itchy, red eyes
  • Loss of motivation
  • Nausea
  • Paranoia
  • Stomach ache
  • Tremors

The mental health of an individual will also suffer, experiencing symptoms like anxiety, severe depression, and even suicidal thoughts.

There is no specific total endpoint for withdrawal from meth. It varies from case to case. However, the peak of withdrawal’s most acute phase is usually on the second or third day after the last use. It usually starts to ease after around a week. The psychological symptoms, including agitation, sleep disturbances, drug cravings that tend to intensify, and mood swings, will persist for several weeks. Depression can take even longer to recover from, ranging between several months all the way to a year. This depends on just how severe the depression becomes.

The known timeline for the symptoms of withdrawal is broken down below:

  • 48 Hours

Typically known as the “crash” point, this phase happens within the first day of stopping use. The first day or two finds former users starting to feel their energy plunge, and their cognitive function starts to decline also. Abdominal cramping, sweating, and nausea also come into play here.

  • 3-10 Days

At this point, withdrawal symptoms are at their peak. The body is doing its best to adjust without having meth in it. While this happens, users in recovery will experience extreme fatigue, severe depression, and anxiety. Others may go through muscle aches that linger, intense cravings for the drug, and shaking.

  • 14-20 Days

Usually, withdrawal symptoms last up to three weeks. However, even when the physical symptoms start to subside, drug cravings can still persist with the same intensity. Depression and continuous fatigue are not unusual at this time.

  • 1 Month and over

By this time, the worst is over. Physical symptoms still remaining will fade as time passes. Some people may have to grapple with psychological symptoms like depression for much longer.

what does meth smell like
How Long Does Meth Last?

What constitutes a meth overdose?

In general, an overdose happens when an individual accidentally—or purposefully—takes a drug that reacts with their body in a bad way. This will result in negative side effects, largely due to the dosage being way too much for the body to manage. When left untreated, an overdose can lead to fatal consequences.

The University of Arizona’s MethOIDE (Methamphetamine and Other Illicit Drug Education) found that most deaths related to meth happened when the body suffered from heatstroke that led to multiple organ failure. Blood pressure spiking sharply to the point of causing a hemorrhage is another reason, alongside liver failure. There are also rare cases wherein there were contaminants in the drug which triggered lead poisoning.

Every single time a person decides to use meth, they risk themselves suffering an overdose. Since meth is a substance that needs to be bought illegally, there’s no possibility for an individual to know the drug’s actual purity or strength. Moreover, they will have no assurance of just how safe it is—if at all.

What are typical symptoms of a meth overdose?

  • Agitation
  • Arrhythmias
  • Chest pain
  • Hallucinations
  • Hyperthermia
  • Hypotension or hypertension
  • Labored or difficult breathing
  • Psychosis
  • Seizures
  • Slow or rapid heartbeat

Just how impure crystal meth is could lead to the risks increasing. This is because mixing drugs and other substances could lead to dangerous interactions with possibly dangerous results. It’s practically impossible for the amount of meth in each dose to be gauged as well. When crystal meth is combined with alcohol or other drugs, the side effects can increase alongside the possibility of overdosing.

How much meth does it take to overdose?

There are several factors that come into play when it comes to overdosing on meth. This includes the user’s tolerance, health, and weight. It also involves how pure or impure the meth is. However, there are some numbers to consider.

Typically, overdoses happen when a user takes a dose as little as 100mg all the way to 1000mg in the same day. Chronic users can drive that number up dramatically, going all the way to 5000mg and beyond.


A Schedule II stimulant, methamphetamine typically manifests in the likes of a white powder, a pill, and a shiny crystalline formation (crystal meth). Meth addiction is a very real problem with hazardous side effects like brain damage and memory loss. When someone stops using and moves towards recovery, they will also experience withdrawal symptoms in the physical and mental sense, including hallucinations and suicidal thoughts. The worst side effect of them all is overdose, whose symptoms range from labored or difficult breathing to seizures all the way to psychosis.