Withdrawal From Amphetamines: Ease the Symptoms (& Timeline)

Repeated use of an amphetamine drug can lead to drug dependence. Withdrawal symptoms can then occur as the drug processes out of the body. These may include intense cravings, mood swings, emotional lows, sleep problems, issues thinking clearly, aches and pains, and fatigue.
No medications are designed specifically to manage amphetamine withdrawal, but some medications and supportive care can help to ease the symptoms and control cravings.

Generally, amphetamine withdrawal takes about a week.

What Are Amphetamines?

Amphetamine drugs include illicit drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine. They also include prescription stimulants, such as those used to treat ADHD like Adderall (amphetamine/dextroamphetamine).
These drugs are extremely addictive as they can produce an intense and euphoric high. In the same sense, the crash or low can be significant when the drugs wear off. Amphetamines typically take effect quickly and then wear off quickly.

Signs of Amphetamine Withdrawal

Drug dependence can build even if you are taking an amphetamine drug under medical direction for a prescribed and necessary purpose.
These drugs interact with brain chemistry to speed up and heighten the functions of the central nervous system, including heart rate, body temperature, and blood pressure. They also increase levels of naturally occurring chemical messengers, such as serotonin, which, in turn, elevate focus, attention, and pleasure.
With regular use, the brain can struggle to keep itself regulated, and its chemical levels can be unstable without the drugs. This can lead to drug dependence. Withdrawal symptoms then appear when the drugs wear off.

Cocaine and pills on black surface

Symptoms of amphetamine withdrawal include the following:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Disturbed dreams and insomnia
  • Increased appetite
  • Tremors
  • Agitation
  • Hallucinations
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Headache
  • Muscle tension and aches
  • Significant drug cravings
  • Slowed motor skills and impaired coordination

Withdrawal from amphetamine drugs is typically mostly psychological with mood, thinking, and sleep disturbances, along with difficult cravings, being the most intense symptoms.

Withdrawal Timeline

The timeline and duration of amphetamine withdrawal can depend on many factors, including which drug was taken. Cocaine, for example, is a fast-acting amphetamine that wears off quickly, while methamphetamine can stay active in the body for longer.
Snorting, smoking, or injecting drugs can intensify the high, as well as the crash, and lead to higher levels of dependence and therefore more significant withdrawal symptoms. Personal metabolism and other biological and genetic factors can also influence dependence and withdrawal.

  • Cocaine: Withdrawal symptoms from cocaine can start almost immediately after the drug wears off, which can happen within minutes to hours after taking it. Typically, acute withdrawal symptoms will only last a few days, but cravings for cocaine and depression can continue for a few months after stopping use.
  • Adderall: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns that stopping this medication after taking it in high doses for a long time can lead to significant depression and fatigue as well as sleep disturbances. Adderall withdrawal can start within hours after stopping the drug, and significant symptoms typically last three to seven days. Mood, concentration, and sleep disturbances can continue for several weeks to months, as can drug cravings.
  • Methamphetamine: Meth can stay in the system a little longer than cocaine and remain active for around eight hours. This means that the crash may start later than for other amphetamines; therefore, withdrawal symptoms may take 12 to 24 hours to appear.
    Meth withdrawal can be intense. It can make it hard to feel any pleasure at all without the drug. Generally, symptoms will peak within a week, and acute withdrawal usually lasts about two weeks. Mood, sleep, and cognitive issues can persist for weeks to months. Cravings for the drug may persist for months.

How can you end addiction? Get a call from our experts and find out!

How can you end addiction? Get a call from our experts and find out!

Managing Amphetamine Withdrawal

The more significant the level of drug dependence, the more intense withdrawal symptoms will be.  According to a study on individuals dealing with amphetamine dependence, nearly 90 percent experienced withdrawal symptoms when stopping use. The effects of these drugs can be so intense that when they wear off, the “comedown” makes users want to keep taking them. Relapse, or a return to drug use, is a common risk factor during amphetamine withdrawal. Suicidal thoughts and actions, as well as overdose, are additional hazards of amphetamine withdrawal.

No specific medications are designed to treat amphetamine withdrawal. Certain symptoms of withdrawal, such as mood disturbances and insomnia, may be managed through pharmacological means, however.
Significant amphetamine withdrawal is best managed through a medical detox program. Clients can get around-the-clock assistance, monitoring, and supportive care in these programs. During amphetamine withdrawal, nutrition, a set sleep schedule, and encouragement are all very important. It can take some time for the brain to reset and regulate, and being in a supportive environment is helpful.
Counseling and therapy sessions can offer tools to minimize and prevent relapse as well as provide coping mechanisms for triggers and mood regulation. Support groups can be beneficial too. On average, a medical detox program lasts about a week or two. You should continue with a complete addiction treatment program to form healthy habits and allow your brain to continue to heal. Detox is only the beginning of your recovery journey.