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Amphetamine Withdrawal Symptoms

What Causes Withdrawal? Types of Amphetamines. Amphetamine Withdrawal Timeline. Amphetamine Detox Protocol. Amphetamine Detox Treatment.

What is Amphetamine Withdrawal? 

Amphetamines are a class of stimulant drugs that include amphetamine, dextroamphetamine, and methamphetamine. Many people take amphetamines as a focus drug to help them with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Because amphetamines are addictive and cause side effects like wakefulness and weight loss, they are often abused. People often misuse amphetamines in an effort to improve their memory. A person can easily become addicted to amphetamine and may need to seek inpatient treatment for this issue. Amphetamine detox is where the recovery begins.

Drug dependence can build even if someone takes an amphetamine drug under medical direction for a prescribed and necessary purpose. When a person has been using amphetamines for a long period of time or at high doses, they are likely to experience physiological and psychological amphetamine withdrawal symptoms if they drastically reduce their dose or abruptly quit taking the drug. Amphetamine withdrawal symptoms can be challenging to get through without support.

Amphetamine Withdrawal Symptoms
Physical and chemical detox requires appropriate medical supervision, not possible at home

The use of amphetamines, legally or illegally, can lead to physiological and neurological changes. This is because the brain becomes reliant on substance use for the presence of amphetamines to function correctly. Amphetamines interact with brain chemistry to heighten and speed up the functions of the central nervous system (CNS), including body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. Amphetamines also increase levels of naturally occurring chemical messengers, such as serotonin, which, in turn, elevate attention, focus, 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. Amphetamine withdrawal symptoms then start to appear when the drugs wear off.

What Causes Withdrawal?

When the body becomes physically dependent on an amphetamine drug, abrupt cessation will lead to withdrawal symptoms. Likewise, when amphetamines are repeatedly abused, it gives rise to the development of psychological and physical dependence that ultimately results in amphetamine withdrawal when the drugs are no longer being used. When this happens, tolerance builds up, meaning it takes larger and more frequent doses of amphetamine to get to the same effects as before.

Prolonged amphetamine use causes a spike in the creation of the hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine, which is followed by lowered production of these hormones over time. This results in building up a physical dependence on amphetamine to produce these otherwise naturally occurring hormones in order to elicit pleasure for the user. Generally, amphetamine withdrawal is a result of the body recalibrating itself to function without the drug and, in most cases, it has hazardous effects.

amphetamine withdrawal symptoms

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Types of Amphetamines 

There are quite a few different types of amphetamines. Most are closely monitored prescription drugs, but some are illicit and have no medical use. 

Prescription Amphetamines

Prescription stimulants increase—or “stimulate”—activities and processes in the body. When prescribed by a medical practitioner for a specific health condition, like ADHD, they can be relatively effective and safe. However, it is considered abuse when they are not taken as prescribed, to get “high,” or when you take some prescribed for someone else. This can lead to dependence, withdrawal, and addiction.

There are three commonly misused types of stimulants: Lisdexamfetamine (e.g., Vyvanse), dexmethylphenidate (e.g., Ritalin), and stimulants that are combination dextroamphetamine and amphetamines (e.g., Adderall).

Lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse)

Vyvanse is a prescription drug, primarily used to treat symptoms of ADHD. The generic name of Vyvanse is lisdexamfetamine. It is a central nervous system stimulant. Is Vyvanse Addictive? There are certain outward signs of Vyvanse addiction that people may notice in their loved ones. People often use other drugs with stimulants to enhance their high such as mixing Vyvanse and Molly, and any polysubstance abuse increases the risk of experiencing adverse side effects., while others are related to behavior and lifestyle. 

Methylphenidate (Concerta, Ritalin, Quillivant)

Ritalin. or Methylphenidate hydrochloride—the generic for Ritalin, is a stimulant prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) treatment and to manage symptoms of narcolepsy (sleep disorder), but this prescription drug is also prone to abuse — begging the question, “can you inject Ritalin?” and “can you snort Ritalin?” It is also often abused as a party drug just like Adderall and considered a rave energy pill because it increases users’ focus and energy, producing bursts of activity and talkativeness — begging the questions, “can you mix Ritalin and alcohol?” and “how long does for Ritalin to leave your system?” 

Amphetamine/dextroamphetamine (Adderall)

Adderall is an addictive prescription stimulant with effects similar to meth. Although not everyone who uses Adderall will develop an addiction, people regularly taking Adderall at higher than prescribed doses are at an increased risk of becoming addicted. This is because Adderall works by increasing dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the central nervous system. In addition, taking psychoactive drugs like Adderall and mixing them with alcohol poses a great risk. Not only is mixing Adderall and alcohol bad, but it’s also deadly. Whether an Adderall and alcohol overdose happens accidentally or on purpose, it can lead to death.

Illicit Amphetamines

Though methamphetamine (meth) is sometimes prescribed, it’s also an illicit amphetamine. It’s sold on the street as a crystalline substance (crystal meth), powder, or liquid.  Crystal meth addiction has devastating effects. It can cause lung disorders, kidney damage, hyperthermia, psychosis, stroke, and cardiac arrest. 

amphetamine withdrawal symptoms
Amphetamine available on the street, like most other drugs is incredibly dangerous – as amphetamine is almost always mixed with a range of other ingredients to maximise profit for drug dealers.

Methamphetamine

Illicit methamphetamine is highly addictive. Many dealers or manufacturers cut it with other substances to stretch the supply. Cutting agents lower the quality of the drug and make it even more dangerous since you don’t know what’s in it. Common meth slang names include Speed, Ice, Crank, Cristina, Trash, and Chalk, to name a few. Methamphetamine can kill you. High doses can cause the body to overheat to dangerous levels.

Methamphetamine overdose nearly tripled from 2015 to 2019 among people ages 18-64 in the United States. What does meth feel like? Meth gives the user a rush of energy and intense feelings of pleasure. Meth releases a surge of chemicals known as serotonin and dopamine into the body. This is why most people who are “high” can’t sleep after meth use.

Crystal Meth

Crystal meths are usually a colorless and odorless form of methamphetamine that typically resembles small fragments of glass or shiny blue-white “rocks” of different sizes. Crystal meth addiction has devastating effects. It can cause lung disorders, kidney damage, hyperthermia, substance-induced psychosis, stroke, and cardiac arrest. Crystal meth can also be smoked, snorted, injected, or orally ingested. It usually has a higher purity level and may produce even longer-lasting and more intense physiological effects than the powdered form of the drug. 

Ecstasy

Ecstasy (3,4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or MDMA) is an amphetamine that has no medical use. It alters your sensory perception, which means it may make you see colors differently or hear distorted sounds. It also gives you energy so you can stay up all night. MDMA (or “molly”—its powdered form) is commonly abused at raves and music festivals.

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Amphetamine Withdrawal Symptoms

People who have been taking Adderall for a long time may notice that they feel hungover or intoxicated when they quit taking it. This can be a sign of amphetamine withdrawal. Other symptoms of Adderall withdrawal are irritability, depression, or other changes in mood. The person may have a hard time sleeping or feel unusually tired or fatigued. Individuals may also experience nausea, stomach cramping, or vomiting.

If you have been taking amphetamines for any length of time, typically, you will experience a “crash” lasting one to two days and then a longer period of withdrawal that may persist between five days and three weeks.

Examples of amphetamine withdrawal symptoms:

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

How Long Does Amphetamine Withdrawal Last?

Amphetamine withdrawal symptoms can begin in a few hours or a couple of days and can last for anywhere from five days to several weeks. This might start with an initial “crash” period. How hard and how fast amphetamine withdrawal symptoms start — as well as how long they last — depend on a number of factors. These include how much of the drug they use and how often, how long someone has been using these drugs, other physical and mental health factors, and whether the person is abusing other types of substances too (polysubstance abuse). The person’s weight, age, gender, and genetics can also impact their amphetamine withdrawal timeline.

Amphetamine Withdrawal Timeline

Those who choose the first step toward recovery and healing find themselves in the early stages of amphetamine withdrawal rather quickly. Within the first one to three days following the last dose of any amphetamine, side effects such as headaches and dizziness are likely to occur. During this time, relapse is most likely to happen [3]. However, support can help you get through this challenging period of early recovery.

To help you better understand the withdrawal process, we’ve compiled the following timeline of amphetamine withdrawal symptoms that most amphetamine abusers find themselves struggling with when they enter detox:

The first 36 hours

During this time, cravings are strong, and the desire to “feel better” is often enough to make you change your course of action. Don’t be fooled, though. This period is short, and the cravings will start to dissipate in a few more days if you remain strong. Depression and irritability are expected during the first few days. These symptoms will also lighten up as you progress through the withdrawal process.

Week 1

Towards the end of your first whole week without amphetamines, you will begin to feel much better. Cravings are lessening with each day you remain clean, and the worst symptoms of amphetamine withdrawal are passed. Although you may still feel tired, headaches and general irritability are likely gone by now.

Week 2

Many recovering amphetamine abusers begin to experience worsened insomnia during this stage of recovery. If you’re working with an amphetamine detox center, you may be given medication to help you sleep at night. In addition, certain foods, herbal supplements, and staying active during the daytime hours can help you get better sleep at night.

Week 3

At this point, you’ve nearly made it a month without amphetamines and you’re likely feeling almost “normal” again. The drugs are no longer in your system, which means your detox is complete. However, your journey to recovery is just beginning. Be sure to seek long-term counseling and care to ensure your continued success in recovery.

Post-Acute Withdrawal Symptoms

When withdrawal effects last longer than two weeks, they are considered protracted or post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS) [4]. Chronic users may experience PAWS effects that can last up to a year.

Amphetamines have a profound effect on various parts of the brain. Some of the signs and symptoms of PAWS include:

  • Problems with short-term memory
  • Impaired ability to focus, concentrate, or maintain attention
  • Lack of self-control
  • Depression with or without suicidal ideation/behaviors
  • Inability to experience pleasure (anhedonia)
  • Cravings
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep problems
  • Physical complaints with no medical origin

Amphetamine Withdrawal Psychosis

Psychosis is when a person loses contact with reality. Different things can cause it — one of them being amphetamines. Both use of and withdrawal from amphetamines can cause psychosis. Symptoms are similar to schizophrenia and can occur even in healthy people.

Amphetamine psychosis doesn’t subside until the substance leaves the body. This can take anywhere from a few hours to several days. Psychotic symptoms can include hallucinations and delusions. Psychotic symptoms have been reported to be present in 13 to 45% of amphetamine users.

Symptoms of withdrawal psychosis are comparable to those of active amphetamine use psychosis. Early signs may include agitation and paranoia. Insomnia and other sleep disturbances are common during the initial “crash” phase of amphetamine withdrawal, which can increase the risk of psychosis. For most people, all symptoms of withdrawal from amphetamines, including those related to psychosis, subside within three weeks.

Not all amphetamine users will experience amphetamine psychosis. It depends on factors such as metabolism and mental health conditions.

Amphetamine Withdrawal Symptoms
It’s use has been associated with dental problems, with users often grinding their teeth whilst under the influence.
  • Agitation
  • Paranoia
  • Grandiose delusions
  • Visual/auditory hallucinations
  • Disorganized thinking
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Rapid illogical speech
  • Increased/erratic motor activity

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Signs of Amphetamine Withdrawal

As with any addiction, amphetamine abuse will often lead to the eventual deterioration of the person’s physical health. Although prescription amphetamines don’t necessarily have the kind of visible effect on a person’s appearance as compared to illicit amphetamines like crystal meth, those closest to them may be able to recognize subtle changes.

Here are some of the biggest red flags to watch for if you’re concerned about amphetamine addiction in a loved one.

  • High blood pressure
  • High body temperature
  • Dry mouth
  • New, unexplained acne
  • Rapid breathing and/or heart rate
  • Dilated pupils
  • Recurring insomnia
  • Reduced appetite and/or weight loss
  • Increased energy (able to stay up later, work out longer, etc.)

Unusual Behavioral Changes

The most notable amphetamine symptoms are behavioral in nature. In addition to intense focus and a drastic increase in energy, you’ll likely notice an overall “high” effect and a variety of other unusual, out-of-character traits.

You may notice changes things like these, for example:

  • Increased aggression, irritability
  • Paranoia and anxiety
  • Seeing or hearing things that aren’t there (hallucinations)
  • Sudden mood swings
  • Increases in impulsivity and risk-taking
  • Changes in sexual behavior
  • Spending more money; making major purchases on a whim
  • Disregard for safety, participating in more dangerous activities than usual
  • Overconfidence; acting like they are “bulletproof”

If your loved one says that they are taking amphetamines to treat ADHD as prescribed by their doctor, think critically about their claims. A person who starts treatment for ADHD may very well exhibit significant behavioral changes, but those changes should only bring them up to a normal level of activity, not make them seem manic or high. If you are able to confirm that your loved one has a legitimate prescription but their symptoms still cause you concern, you may want to encourage them to revisit their dosage or diagnosis with their doctor(s).

Amphetamine Detox Protocol

The amphetamine detox protocol can vary based on individual needs and the substance of abuse, but involves the following three steps:

  • Evaluation: A full assessment of a person’s past and current medical and psychological conditions and social history. This step also involves testing a person for the presence of addictive substances. This information is used to determine the appropriate level of care that the individual will need.
  • Stabilization: This involves managing acute intoxication and withdrawal in a safe and supervised setting. Medications are often administered during this phase to help alleviate any physical withdrawal symptoms. Treatment professionals will also help you understand what to expect during the amphetamine detox process and other treatments during this stage.
  • Preparation for further treatment: Treatment professionals will encourage continued treatment to support successful recovery outcomes.

Amphetamine Detox Medication

As mentioned earlier, no medications are approved to specifically manage amphetamine withdrawal. In clinical studies, a few medications were able to reduce symptoms.

  • Aripiprazole is an antipsychotic medication that may relieve some of the symptoms of amphetamine withdrawal.
  • Provigil is a brand name for the medication modafinil. It has shown promise in alleviating some symptoms associated with withdrawal from methamphetamine, as well as cocaine.

Doctors may prescribe medications to relieve specific withdrawal symptoms, such as insomnia. Frequently used medications that provide help for amphetamine withdrawal include:

  • Trazodone is a sedating antidepressant medication sometimes prescribed as a sleep aid. This medication can help with cases of severe insomnia.
  • Benadryl can help with sleep and agitation during the amphetamine detox process.
  • Antidepressants are another treatment option if a person in amphetamine withdrawal develops significant clinical depression during the amphetamine detox and treatment process. 
  • Analgesics are an option for the relief of headaches and other minor aches/pains.

Benefits of Treatment for Amphetamine Withdrawal

It is extremely difficult and sometimes dangerous for you to quit on your own. Amphetamine withdrawal symptoms are often severe and, in extreme cases, fatal. Going to a drug rehab eases your recovery process and helps to reverse the harm caused by amphetamine addiction. Some of the benefits of medical detox in an inpatient treatment setting include:

amphetamine withdrawal symptoms
Together with your addiction manager at the treatment center, you’ll agree upon a care plan and goals for your stay in the facility and detox from amphetamines addictions.
  • Medically-assisted amphetamine detox: Treatment is monitored and designed by a team of medical professionals who are on-site 24/7 to ensure you receive the proper support.
  • Therapeutic environment: Inpatient rehab center provides a safe, peaceful, and nurturing environment that helps recovery.
  • Improved treatment outcome: Inpatient drug rehabs have a higher success rate than home amphetamine detox, community treatment, or outpatient treatment.
  • Access to experienced addiction specialists: Inpatient drug rehab staff has some of the best addiction specialists to deliver an evidence-based program.
  • A wider range of therapies to overcome the root cause of addiction:  Inpatient drug rehabs include as many therapies as possible to ensure the comprehensive and holistic treatment to make sure they address the underlying co-occurring mental health condition that often causes or a result from your addiction.

Amphetamine Detox Treatment

To start your amphetamine detox, you must first go through an evaluation. This step is critical in starting your journey toward recovery. During this step, a medical practitioner will evaluate your usage of amphetamine and your symptoms of amphetamine withdrawal to determine the proper amphetamine detox treatment plan.

After the evaluation is detoxification. This stage starts as soon as you stop abusing amphetamines. Your body starts to work hard in order to cleanse itself of the drug. There are several amphetamine detox programs available and it’s crucial to find one that’s right for you. The staff at the Detox Facility should be available to help you through the ups and downs of the amphetamine detox process and to make it as comfortable as possible.

The process does not end once the amphetamine detox process is complete. Continuing with aftercare is crucial to your success. While your body may be physically rid of the drug, your mind is still recovering. During this time it is crucial to learn and embrace strong sober living tools that will help you resist the temptations of amphetamine usage.

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Amphetamine Addiction Treatment

First and foremost, if you think that a loved one is abusing amphetamine, you should first research amphetamine addiction and the risks associated with it, so that you can better understand what your loved one needs. Next, you must plan an intervention to provide your loved ones with options to battle their addiction in a safe and supportive environment. During this intervention, make sure that you offer compassion and support instead of judgment. 

Lastly, offer your support throughout the entire treatment process. In addition, prolonged amphetamine use can have severe physical and psychological effects which include amphetamine withdrawal symptoms, so it is essential to seek treatment as soon as possible. Inpatient drug rehab offers intensive care that can help you get through the early stages of withdrawal promptly. We Level Up treatment rehab & detox center can provide you, or someone you love, the tools to recover from amphetamine addiction with professional and safe treatment. 

Medically-Assisted Detox

Detox is often considered the first stage of treatment. It will help you navigate the complicated process of withdrawal, but it doesn’t address patterns of thought and behavior that contribute to drug use. Various treatment approaches and settings can help provide the ongoing support necessary to maintain long-term sobriety after you complete detox.

Cravings are very common during detox and can be challenging to overcome. This often leads to relapse. Constant medical care provided during inpatient treatment helps prevent relapse. Clinicians can provide necessary medication and medical expertise to lessen cravings and the effects of withdrawals.

Psychotherapy 

Several different modalities of psychotherapy have been used in the treatment of mental health disorders along with addiction, including:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – is an effective treatment that involves making changes in both the patterns of negative thoughts and the behavioral routines which are affecting the daily life of the depressed person for various forms of depression.
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy – is a comprehensive mental health and substance abuse treatment program whose ultimate goal is to aid patients in their efforts to build a life worth living. The main goal of DBT is to help a person develop what is referred to as a “clear mind.” 
  • Person-Centered Therapy – is a strategy that allows and encourages clients to understand and resolve their concerns in a safe, supportive environment.
  • Solution Focused Therapy – is an approach interested in solutions that can be quickly implemented with a simple first step leading to further positive consequences.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Drug abuse and mental health disorders often co-occur. In many cases, traumatic experiences can result in a mental health disorder and substance abuse. Dual diagnosis rehabilitation treats both of these issues together. The best approach for the treatment of dual diagnosis is an integrated system. In this strategy, both the substance abuse problem and the mental disorder are treated simultaneously. Regardless of which diagnosis (mental health or substance abuse problem) came first, long-term recovery will depend largely on the treatment for both disorders done by the same team or provider.

Medication-Assisted Treatments

Medication-Assisted Treatments (MAT) for substance use disorders and mental health disorders are commonly used in conjunction with one another. This includes the use of medications and other medical procedures. During your rehab, the staff from your treatment facility will help you identify what caused your addiction and teach you skills that will help you change your behavior patterns and challenge the negative thoughts that led to your addiction. Sometimes, the pressures and problems in your life lead you to rely on substances to help you forget about them momentarily.

The answer to “How long do amphetamines stay in your system?” lies in the stimulant’s detection period. Knowing the answer can help you better understand how it can impact your health. Please, do not try to detox on your own. The detox process can be painful and difficult without medically-assisted amphetamine detox. However, getting through the detox process is crucial for continued treatment. We Level Up provide proper care with round-the-clock medical staff to medically assist your recovery. So, reclaim your life, and call us to speak with one of our treatment specialists. Our counselors know what you are going through and will answer any of your questions.

amphetamine withdrawal symptoms
With the availability of treatment that safely facilitates detox and therapy, quitting drugs cold turkey isn’t the only option for overcoming addiction.

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Sources

[1] NCBI – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK545066/
[2] NIH – https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000792.htm
[3] NIH – https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a616004.html
[4] DEA – https://www.dea.gov/sites/default/files/2020-06/Amphetamines-2020_0.pdf
[5] Amphetamine Addiction – We Level Up NJ