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Amphetamine Withdrawal & Detox

Written by Thomas Christiansen

& Medically Reviewed by Benjamin Caleb Williams, RN

Medically Reviewed

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This article was reviewed by a medical professional to guarantee the delivery of accurate and up-to- date information. View our research policy.

Last Updated - 6/17/2022

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Amphetamines are part of a class of drugs called stimulants. These drugs can increase focus, alertness, activity and memory. Amphetamines are sometimes used in treating those with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), narcolepsy, and sometimes for those with Parkinson’s disease. Amphetamines can create a feeling of euphoria and pleasure, known as a high, because of chemicals called endorphins that they release in the brain. This process can create a craving for more of the drug, leading to an addiction to the substance.

As amphetamines are consistently used, the body becomes more accustomed to the presence of the drug, causing a condition known as tolerance. This can lead to a larger amount of amphetamines being needed to try to reach the same level of high and can lead the person misusing amphetamines to use increasingly large amounts.

Amphetamines can also create dependence, where the body’s nervous system becomes accustomed to the presence of the drug and adjusts for its presence. This causes the body to require a readjustment during amphetamine detox as it becomes accustomed to the lack of amphetamine.

Amphetamine Withdrawal

Amphetamine withdrawal does not cause the same extent of withdrawal symptoms that opioids or other substances could cause. Amphetamine withdrawal will, however, create cravings due to the absence of the highs caused by the endorphins released during amphetamine use. Stopping the use of amphetamines removes the stimulatory effect that the body’s neurological system has become accustomed to and can lead to changes in the electrical conduction of the heart and changes in sleep patterns.

Stopping the use of amphetamines can also lead to mood changes and irritability. The most severe mood consideration related to the withdrawal of amphetamines is depression. This can, for some, lead to suicidal thoughts and may even lead them to attempt suicide.

Amphetamine withdrawal can be tapered, which is when the amount of the drug used is gradually decreased instead of suddenly stopped. This will avoid some of the more severe or sudden symptoms that are experienced during amphetamine withdrawal.

Amphetamines can also be stopped suddenly, or “cold-turkey.” This method of stopping amphetamines can be harsher on the body and could lead to dangerous heart issues.

Amphetamine Withdrawal Symptoms

Amphetamine withdrawal symptoms are mostly related to mood and psyche. Physical symptoms can vary depending upon the person and are not typically severe or life-threatening. The issues  that can be experienced with amphetamine withdrawal are:

  • Depression: Depression is especially severe when amphetamines are stopped suddenly. Depression can last the longest of any symptom of amphetamine withdrawal and in extreme cases can lead to suicide.
  • Irritability and paranoia: In the initial stages of withdrawal, those detoxing from amphetamines may experience irritably and exhibit paranoid behavior.
  • Sleep disturbances or fatigue: As the stimulatory effects of amphetamine start to disappear, fatigue is common.
  • Changes in appetite: It is common to experience appetite changes as amphetamine levels decrease.
  • Loss of pleasure: Also known as anhedonia, this effect is a loss of pleasure in things that previously caused pleasure may be experienced during amphetamine withdrawals.

These symptoms may be monitored during both inpatient treatment and outpatient treatment for someone who is detoxing from amphetamines.

Amphetamine Detox Timeline

The amphetamine withdrawal timeline is longer than withdrawal timelines for many other types of substances due to how long amphetamines take to break down in the body. Initially, irritability and moodiness may be experienced in the first several hours as withdrawal starts. This will give way into depression that can be managed and treated by the professionals in your detox facility. Exhaustion is also a difficulty experienced during the initial week of detoxing as the stimulatory effect of amphetamines is removed. The depression that can occur upon stopping amphetamines can sometimes last beyond the brief period during and after detox, and may require more long-term antidepressant treatments.

Some of the side effects from amphetamine use, such as hallucinations, paranoia, and cognitive deficits, may never fully resolve for those who have used larger amounts of amphetamines, even when full detox is complete.

There is no set amphetamine detox protocol, and the treatment varies for everyone depending upon the amount of amphetamines used, their unique medical make up and their response to stopping amphetamine use.

Amphetamine Detox in Washington

When undergoing detox from amphetamines the choice that enhances your chances of success the most is using a professional detox center, such as the Recovery Village Ridgefield, to monitor and treat the symptoms experienced. Having caring and experienced professionals to assist you through the detox process, both physically and emotionally, will help you to have the best chance of not only detoxing, but remaining sober.

The professionals in a detox center can provide both medical treatments and cognitive-behavioral therapy that will promote your optimal chances of recovery. The Recovery Village Ridgefield is there to help you through the difficulties of detoxing from amphetamines and offer support in maintaining sobriety.