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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.

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 the size of the dose you’re used to, the size of your last dose, and the length of time you’ve been using the drug. 

Withdrawal duration also depends on the specific drug you’ve been using. Different drugs will each have a different half-life, which is the amount of time it takes for a drug to be reduced to half of its original concentration in your blood. A drug’s half-life is usually a good indication of how long a drug will affect you. The longer a drug’s half-life is, the longer it’s likely to affect you during withdrawal. 

Though the specific withdrawal timeline you experience may depend on a number of factors, you’re likely to experiencing something similar to the following symptoms:

Two days

You will likely experience your first withdrawal symptoms within two days of your last dose. If you were used to a high dose or if you’ve been using for a long time, you might experience symptoms in as little as six hours. Symptoms usually start out mild and then get worse over time. Beginning symptoms may include general discomfort, fatigue, and depression.

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Five days

Symptoms will get worse over the next few days, and they will likely reach their peak within five days. The peak is when your symptoms are at their most intense. At this point, you may feel deep depression, extreme fatigue, headaches, nightmares, and difficulty concentrating. 

Seven days

After your symptoms peak, they will start to dissipate, starting with the most uncomfortable physical symptoms first. Certain psychological symptoms, especially drug cravings, can linger for a long time. 

Two weeks

By your second week, most of your symptoms should be gone. Troublesome symptoms like depression and sleep problems may linger. In some cases, long-lasting psychological symptoms might need treatment to address effectively. 

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 NCBI 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.

Why Seek Addiction Treatment?

If you might be developing a substance use disorder related to amphetamines or another stimulant, you should learn more about addiction and how it can be treated as soon as possible. 

Addiction is a progressive disease that often gets worse unless it’s addressed, and it can be extremely difficult to get over on your own. When it’s ignored, addiction can lead to some severe consequences like medical and mental health problems. 

Addiction treatment can help you address your substance use problems and any underlying issues before they start to cause severe consequences. However, no matter where you are in the disease of addiction. There is help available. Start your road to recovery today by learning more about amphetamine addiction and how it can be treated. 

Sources

(May 2019) Substance Use- Amphetamines. U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM). Retrieved May 2019 from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000792.htm

(March 2007) Adderall. U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Retrieved May 2019 from https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2007/011522s040lbl.pdf

(September 2013) What are the Long-Term Effects of Methamphetamine Use? National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Retrieved May 2019 from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/methamphetamine/what-are-long-term-effects-methamphetamine-misuse

The National Center for Biotechnology Information. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64119/

(April 2004) The Amphetamine Withdrawal Syndrome. The Department of Health. Retrieved May 2019 from https://www.health.gov.au/internet/publications/publishing.nsf/Content/drugtreat-pubs-modpsy-toc~drugtreat-pubs-modpsy-3~drugtreat-pubs-modpsy-3-7~drugtreat-pubs-modpsy-3-7-aws

(April 2009) Treatment for Amphetamine Withdrawal. Cochrane Database System Review. Retrieved May 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19370579

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