Young woman holding amphetamine pill bottle
Amphetamines are stimulant drugs that are legally prescribed for the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) but with alarming frequency, are obtained illegally for non-medical use 1. The use of amphetamines leads to neurological and physiological adaptations that cause the user to experience withdrawal symptoms if they abruptly lower their dose or quit using the drug altogether 1. While not typically life-threatening, the symptoms of amphetamine withdrawal can be extremely uncomfortable and may cause a person to experience intense craving for the drug. Seeking the help of a professional treatment facility can help to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms, and increase the likelihood that a person will remain sober throughout recovery.
In this article you will learn more about:
- Amphetamine withdrawal symptoms.
- Amphetamine withdrawal timeline.
- Post-acute withdrawal syndrome.
- Amphetamine withdrawal treatment.
- Medications for amphetamine withdrawal.
- Finding a treatment program.
Amphetamine Withdrawal Symptoms
Those who have developed dependence or amphetamine addiction, whether due to prescribed use or amphetamine abuse, will experience symptoms of withdrawal once they stop taking the drug or dramatically reduce the dose 1. Withdrawal occurs when the body becomes reliant on a substance to function normally 3. The acute withdrawal syndrome is a by-product of neurochemical changes that takes place with chronic drug use and can manifest as uncomfortable psychological and physiological symptoms when attempts to slow or quit amphetamine use are made 3.
The severity and length of withdrawal symptoms varies from person to person but will typically depend upon several factors, such as:
- The length of time a person has been using amphetamines.
- The amount of amphetamine a person was using when they stopped.
- The presence of polydrug abuse (i.e., other drugs abused in addition to amphetamine).
Some common physical and psychological symptoms one might experience during the acute stages of withdrawal include 4,5:
- Increased appetite.
- Uncontrollable or repetitive movements.
- Slowed movements and thoughts.
- Aches and pains.
- Hypersomnia, or excessive sleep.
- Graphic and unpleasant dreams.
- Anhedonia, or the inability to feel pleasure.
- Amphetamine cravings.
- Depressed mood.
- Suicidal thoughts or behaviors.
In addition to the symptoms listed above, a person who is in the acute stages of withdrawal will likely suffer impairment in social, educational, occupational, and/or other areas of functioning 5. While these symptoms are not usually life-threatening, they can be extremely uncomfortable and contribute to relapse.
If you or a loved one is trying to quit using amphetamines, contact one of our dedicated representatives at 11111 . They can help you make an informed decision about the next steps you can take towards recovery.
How Long Does Withdrawal Last?
Acute amphetamine withdrawal symptoms will most likely occur within 36 hours of the last dose and typically subside within a week or two 4,6. Some psychological withdrawal symptoms may persist for months or even years after acute withdrawal has resolved.
Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome
Withdrawal symptoms that persist for an extended period of time—well beyond the resolution of acute withdrawal syndrome—are referred to as post-acute withdrawal or protracted withdrawal 6. Relatively long-term symptoms may be present in those who have an especially difficult time readjusting to the absence of amphetamine after prolonged abuse.
The protracted withdrawal symptoms that are associated with quitting amphetamines may include 2,6:
- Amplified response to stress.
- Deficits in verbal and non-verbal fluency.
- Impaired memory and decision-making.
- Impaired ability to think abstractly.
- Slowed physical movement and response to stimuli.
- Decreased attention span.
- Inability to regulate emotional responses.
- Impaired self-control.
- Depressive symptoms.
If you or a loved one is experiencing protracted withdrawal symptoms, it is important to contact a mental health or addiction professional to help deal with your persisting symptoms.
Amphetamine Withdrawal Treatment
Man discussing amphetamine withdrawal with therapist
While it is possible to quit using amphetamines alone, it may be beneficial to seek formal treatment for amphetamine withdrawal. Without proper support and treatment, both the acute and protracted symptoms of amphetamine withdrawal can easily trigger a relapse. Some good options for detox and treatment of amphetamine withdrawal include:
- Detox Programs: Professional detoxification programs provide you with a thorough evaluation of past and present medical and psychiatric symptoms 7. Monitoring and stabilization of any distressing acute symptoms also occur and social services help facilitate your transition from amphetamine detox to a formal treatment program 7.
- Inpatient Treatment: Inpatient treatment programs can last anywhere from 28 to 90 days and often provide detox services. These programs require that you live at the facility for the duration of treatment and often combine a number of interventions, such as individual therapy, group counseling, medical care, and relapse prevention.
- Outpatient Treatment: Outpatient treatment programs allow you to live at home and fulfill your home, school, or work obligations while still receiving addiction treatment.
If you or a loved one is struggling with an amphetamine addiction, call our hotline at 11111 to get more information about detox and addiction treatment options.
There are no medications currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to specifically treat amphetamine withdrawal. However, modafinil is a stimulant medication that has shown promise in reducing the symptoms of cognitive deficiency and reduced attention span that are commonly associated with amphetamine withdrawal 2.
Aftercare consists of any ongoing treatment services following the completion of an amphetamine recovery program. The relapse rate for those who are recovering from amphetamines is high, even for those who have received treatment 2. More than 50% of those who seek treatment for a stimulant addiction will relapse within a year of recovery 2.
Fortunately, there are many programs and services that are available to those recovering from amphetamine addiction. Some of these options include:
- Individual Therapy: Therapists providing individual therapy may utilize a variety of therapeutic approaches, such as behavioral therapies and psychotherapy. Ongoing therapy can equip you with necessary relapse prevention and coping skills.
- Support Groups: Support groups include 12-step programs as well as alternative groups, such as SMART Recovery. These groups provide education, support, and mentoring throughout your recovery. One of the many benefits of attending support group meetings is a sense that you are not alone in the struggle with addiction, which can be a healing element in itself.
- Sober Living Homes: Sober living homes are residential facilities that provide a safe and drug-free place to live while a person is learning how to live life in a sober way. These