Amphetamine Withdrawal & Detox

If you are struggling with amphetamine addiction, know that there is hope to begin your life with a clean slate. Recovery is possible, and the first step is to rid your body of drugs. This is done through a process called detox, which can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending upon your unique circumstances. Detox is the gateway to your new addiction-free life. Here at The Recovery Village, we offer individualized medical detoxification services 24 hours a day. We are able to address complex detox situations, including clients who use amphetamines alongside other drugs.

As amphetamines exit your body, your brain chemistry changes profoundly. As psychiatric drugs, amphetamines alter the chemical makeup of the brain. Throughout the duration of your addiction, your brain has grown accustomed to a constant supply of amphetamine drugs. In the absence of amphetamines, your brain “feels” as if it is experiencing abnormal and unpleasant circumstances. This is one reason why withdrawal can be difficult. You may experience very strong cravings during this time.

amphetamine withdrawal Your brain is “asking” you for amphetamines because it relied on them for such a long time. Such cravings manifest not just physically, but also emotionally. For people who are addicted to amphetamines, it is often extremely difficult to imagine a life without the drugs. Relapse can be common during detox because of these cravings, especially if the person does not have medical guidance and supervision. In addition to cravings, there are other symptoms that show up during the amphetamine detox process. It is very important that you learn about withdrawal and keep an eye on these symptoms, as the severity of withdrawal symptoms is often tied to relapse rate. Some of the most common emotional effects that accompany withdrawal:
Tremors
Increased appetite
Excessive sweating
Fatigue
Headaches
Dizziness / Blurry vision
Nausea
Vomiting
Insomnia and/or restless sleep
Sleeping too much
Difficulty breathing
Muscle tension or aches
Some of the common physical effects that accompany withdrawal include:
Depression
Anxiety
Apathy
Irritability
Lack of concentration
Mood swings
Intense cravings
Vivid, unpleasant dreams
Hallucinations
Paranoia
Though some people may experience only mild cases of one or two of the aforementioned symptoms, other people may experience withdrawal more intensely. Symptom severity depends upon several factors, such as: Time period and dosage of amphetamine use, Your physical characteristics (age, weight, gender, health), Your psychological health, Chosen detox method, such as tapering or cold turkey
The drug detox process is made up of three major steps:

  • Evaluation The critical first step in freeing yourself from amphetamine addiction is to seek help. A professional will need to evaluate you to begin this process. The American Psychological Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders lists several criteria that define addiction. During evaluation, intake counselors will work to identify these criteria within you in order to move forward with a detox and treatment plan.
  • Detoxification: Detox begins as soon as you stop taking amphetamines. For most people, detox begins on their first day in amphetamine addiction treatment. During this time, your body will work hard to rid itself of amphetamines. There are many detox programs available — the key is to find the one that will work best for you. Some programs take place due to necessity, such as within hospital walls or in prison. For those not facing immediate legal or health concerns, detox more frequently takes place at a dedicated detox center or rehab facility. Detox may be the most infamous part of recovery, but our staff at The Recovery Village will use personal attention and possibly medication to make your experience as comfortable as possible.
  • Additional Treatment:Undergoing detox at The Recovery Village medical detox center means you have a clean foundation upon which to build new and healthy habits. However, the battle against addiction doesn’t end here. Your physical body may be rid of amphetamines, but amphetamine use disorder itself cannot be cured. Rather, you will need to learn and embrace strong sober living tools that will help you for the rest of your life as you face the temptations of amphetamine addiction.

For most people, those crucial tools can only be gathered through inpatient, outpatient or intensive outpatient treatment at a rehab facility. None is better than the other; rather, these types of treatment offer varying levels of oversight suited for different people’s individual needs:

  • Inpatient Rehab: You live onsite at The Recovery Village 24 hours a day for the length of time that your treatment team believes necessary. This may be one month or more. You receive treatment every day, ranging from one-on-one counseling to group therapy, to recreational therapies.
  • Outpatient Rehab: You live at home but commute to The Recovery Village as frequently as your treatment team believes necessary. This may be one day or seven days per week — it all depends upon your personal situation. You will likely participate in one-on-one and group therapies when you are on campus.
  • Intensive Outpatient Program: This is the most intensive form of outpatient rehab. Per the American Society of Addiction Medicine, IOPs must include a minimum of nine hours of therapy each week. This hourly commitment may sometimes be split up over the course of an entire week, over weekdays only, or split between just a couple of days. Most often, people spend three hours in treatment on three days every week. The hours can be completed during the day or in the evening, depending upon your work schedule. This usually endures for anywhere between 3 – 4 months, but can last for up to six months. After you complete your program and your treatment team feels you are ready to progress, you may be able to step down to a lower level of treatment such as regular therapy sessions with a counselor.
It is never totally safe to detox from amphetamines at home. Not only can this result in relapse due to a lack of accountability, but detox is dangerous because it presents the possibility of dehydration and malnutrition as your body uses any means possible (vomiting, sweating and diarrhea) to rid itself of amphetamines. At home, you do not have medical professionals monitoring your food intake and nutrient levels.
Every person who is entering recovery experiences detox uniquely. Thus, our team at The Recovery Village individually tailors our services to your needs. Though many people tend to complete withdrawal within a few weeks, some people take less time and still others take more time. It does not matter how long it takes for you to fully experience detox — all that matters is that you are taking the first step towards sobriety. Bearing in mind you may or may not adhere to this schedule, take a look at this typical timeline for complete detox from amphetamine drugs:

  • Days 1 – 3: As amphetamine cravings begin, you may experience restless sleep and consequent exhaustion. When you’re awake, you may suffer from headaches and some dizziness as well. Because your brain is going through drastic changes, you might feel irritable or even depressed. In the most severe cases of withdrawal, people experience paranoid thoughts, but that situation is rare.
  • Days 4 – 7: As you progress into your first full week without any amphetamine use, your symptoms may begin to lessen in severity. You will have gotten through the most difficult part of detox, though cravings are likely to continue. You may still be very sleepy and fatigued.
  • Days 8 – 14: During this time, many people experience insomnia, and when they do sleep, have unpleasant dreams. This is also when your hunger returns to a normal state after having been suppressed by your amphetamine use. You may continue to feel moody.
  • Days 15 – 28: Symptoms from the second week of detox may continue to present through the end of the first month. Even though the amphetamines are all out of your physical system at this point, the mental effects such as cravings sometimes remain present.

Remember, this timeline does not reflect an exact schedule and should be viewed as a guide rather than an absolute. For some people, detox symptoms from the very first few days persist for several months. For others, most symptoms are completely gone within just 10 days. It all depends upon your personal situation and unique chemical makeup.

It’s also important to remember that relapse is a common part of recovery. It may take you more than one detox to truly enter and maintain recovery. Relapse is especially common if your first detox experience was at home. Home detox presents difficulties that you do not face at an accredited detox center, such as a lack of accountability. That is why it is crucial to detox with professional assistance.

amphetamine addict with zombie face
Some people choose to “kick cold turkey,” or suddenly stop using amphetamines without tapering down gradually on dosage. While efficient, cold turkey withdrawal can be the most difficult way to experience detox. Symptoms will onset sooner and more severely due to the lack of drugs in your system, and cravings for amphetamines can feel crushing. To avoid slipping into relapse and make sure you’re detoxing safely, it’s important to avoid quitting amphetamine cold turkey at home, and instead turn to a detox center for professional help.
Death from amphetamine withdrawal is rare but still possible. Especially if you are detoxing from amphetamines and another substance, such as heroin or alcohol, death is a possibility. In addition to physical complications, amphetamine withdrawal can cause serious emotional problems as well. Any existing mental illnesses may be exacerbated without the presence of the drug to mask them. For example, depression can result, depending on your level of addiction and unique genetic makeup. Some people feel so low that they experience suicidal ideation. To prevent any dangerous complications from amphetamine withdrawal, it is important that you undergo a doctor-supervised detox.
Amphetamine Withdrawal
In some cases, doctors may recommend the use of pharmaceuticals to help you in your detox journey. Due to the litany of side effects that accompany amphetamine withdrawal, there are multiple medications that may help mitigate some of those issues. Some medications commonly used to help alleviate withdrawal symptoms during amphetamine detox include:

  • Antidepressants – Depression is a very common side effect of amphetamine stoppage. Thus, your doctor may prescribe an antidepressant medication such as sertraline (which goes by the brand-name Zoloft).
  • Anti-Anxiety Medications – Due to the high levels of anxiety that may accompany withdrawal, your doctor may prescribe a medication from the benzodiazepine family. These have potential to be addictive as well, so their use requires close oversight.
  • Sleep Aids – After the initial energy “crash” that follows amphetamine stoppage, many people experience insomnia. From over-the-counter options (like the man-made hormone melatonin) to controlled substances (like benzodiazepines), your doctor will work with you to find the best solution to your sleep problems during withdrawal.
  • Secondary Symptom Assistance – In order to ensure your comfort, your medical team will also seek to alleviate the many minor physical side effects that accompany amphetamine withdrawal. They may use over-the-counter medications for nausea, headaches and body aches.
  • Medications for Other Substance Addictions – Often people who have amphetamine addiction disease are also addicted to another substance. This means treatment medications ought to be tweaked. Alcohol use disorder is a very common co-occurring addiction. If you have an alcohol problem, your doctor may prescribe disulfiram, which has long been used to create unpleasant side effects if the user drinks any alcohol. It is not harmful; it is a deterrent. In addition to alcohol use disorder, opiate addiction is another condition that commonly occurs alongside amphetamine addiction. Since the 1960s, the opioid methadone has helped addicts manage cravings and avoid relapse.
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Amphetamine Withdrawal & Detox
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Amphetamine Withdrawal & Detox was last modified: July 12th, 2017 by The Recovery Village