What is amphetamine withdrawal?
Are amphetamine withdrawal symptoms your biggest fear? Fearing these symptoms can keep you in addiction’s hold. However, the way out of these ill symptoms is through a quality detox and rehab treatment program.
Specifically, amphetamines are stimulants of the central nervous system. This means the drugs in the amphetamine category stimulate or speed up your body’s natural functioning, particularly when it comes to the brain and spinal cord. You can buy these drugs on the street or abuse prescription drugs, such as in the case of Adderall addiction.
You start feeling amphetamine withdrawal symptoms when you reach addiction. Moreover, your brain relies on having amphetamines in your system at this point to function properly. If you stop taking the drugs, you’ll feel the ill effects of withdrawal, which is your body’s cue to give it more of what it wants. It’s also the result of your brain and body trying to adjust to functioning without the drugs it became dependent on.
You fear these amphetamine withdrawal symptoms because they are unpleasant. Some of these effects include depression, irritability, anxiety, fatigue, concentration problems, and appetite changes. You oftentimes feel a crash after stopping your dose for about two days. However, these light symptoms soon give way to more intense amphetamine withdrawal symptoms by day two or three of detox.
Your more intense amphetamine withdrawal symptoms last around five days. During withdrawal, you need help from a quality detox and rehab treatment program, one able to provide safe and professional detox. In addition, this type of program also helps you get through the worst symptoms using helpful medications and other services.
What Are Amphetamines?
Amphetamine addiction has become a major challenge facing the people of our nation. Prescription stimulants like Adderall and Dexedrine, along with illicit amphetamines like methamphetamine and ecstasy, are highly addictive and disruptive when used as recreational drugs. Understanding more about these medications and drugs and how they work in the body creates an ability to recognize the signs of addiction, so individuals can learn how to get help in treating this challenging issue.
Amphetamine is a central nervous stimulant. Its use results in an increase in certain types of brain activity, resulting in a feeling of higher energy, focus, confidence, and in a dose-dependent manner, can elicit a rewarding euphoria. According to the Center for Substance Abuse Research, amphetamine was first synthesized in Germany in the late 1800s; however, its stimulant properties were not discovered until about the 1930s, when it began to be used to treat nasal congestion.
As time went by, amphetamine began to be used to treat a variety of conditions, from alcohol hangovers to weight loss. It was also used to treat two conditions for which it is still known today: hyperactivity in young people (including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and narcolepsy, a condition in which people fall asleep suddenly. Occasionally, it is used to treat depression.
Amphetamine Addiction And Abuse
Amphetamine is abused in several ways. Of course, it is possible just to take the pills and experience a mild high that way. However, some people crush the pills and snort them, creating a faster, stronger high. One of the quickest ways to get high from amphetamine or methamphetamine is to dissolve the powder in water and inject it. This method gets the drug into the bloodstream and to the brain almost immediately, creating an intense high.
Students often abuse amphetamine through off-label use as a study aid. These individuals consider that the high energy and focus that result from using the drug can help them perform better on tests and in school. However, an article from TIME discusses a study that showed
students who use amphetamines do not perform any better; in fact, they often perform worse. Nevertheless, the drug does make people feel like they can focus more and do better even if the opposite is true. More significantly, this level of abuse can lead to more severe, illicit use of the drug to get high.
The 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reports that about 4.8 million people in the US abused prescription amphetamine medications that year, equivalent to about 1.8% of the population that is 12 and older. The National Institute on Drug Abuse, on the other hand, reports that about 1.2 million people use methamphetamine; this is about 0.4% of the population.
Signs of Amphetamine Addiction
There are multiple ways of recognizing amphetamine addiction, including physical and mental symptoms and changes in behavior as described here:
- Visual, auditory, or tactile hallucinations
- Inability to keep up with work, school, or home responsibilities
- Much of the person’s time spent seeking or using the drug
- Missing pills from a prescription
- Changes in groups of friends and difficulties with relationships
- Loss of interest in previous activities
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure
- Decreased appetite and weight loss
- Digestive upset
- Mood swings
- Paranoia and anxiety
In the case of methamphetamine, dental problems, skin sores, and severe weight loss are highly visible signs that the drug is being abused, as described by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Amphetamine Withdrawal Symptoms and Detox
Amphetamine withdrawal includes a week of mild and moderate symptoms. Once you break through these ill effects in detox, you enter rehab for lengthier treatment of your addiction’s root causes.
Common amphetamine withdrawal symptoms for amphetamines include:
- Slow reactions and movements
- Aches and pains
- Agitation, irritability, nightmares, and depression
- Fatigue and intense sleepiness
- Increased appetite
- Twitches and other body movements
Your amphetamine withdrawal experience is unique to you. Therefore, your health, mental condition, length of addiction, dosage, genetics, biology, and other factors determine how your amphetamine withdrawal proceeds and feels. The process is usually not life-threatening. Being in a professional detox helps you gain the medical supervision and comforts you deserve. This also keeps you safe from relapse during amphetamine withdrawal, a common problem when going through the symptoms at home.
You can also experience PAWS, post-acute withdrawal syndrome, which is a withdrawal that lasts longer than two weeks. Some, such as anxiety or depression, last as long as a year. PAWS effects include short-term memory problems, inability to concentrate, attention problems, lost self-control, depression, suicidal thoughts, and inability to feel pleasure. Some of the other PAWS effects are fatigue, sleep problems, drug cravings, and physical complaints.
Examples of Amphetamine Withdrawal Symptoms
- Fatigue and/or sleeping for unusually long periods of time
- Increased appetite
- Uncontrollable body movements and twitches
- Slowed reaction and movement
- Confused thoughts
- Body aches and pains
- Irritability and/or agitation
- Lucid dreams or unpleasant dreams
- Emotional outbursts
Medications for managing amphetamine withdrawal during detox
No medication has been demonstrated to be effective in alleviating amphetamine withdrawal, but some medications may be useful with some symptoms.
Antidepressants have been used for withdrawal-induced depression with some benefit, although the onset of action is delayed and relapse to use while taking antidepressants can result in hypertension or serotonin syndrome. Mirtazapine is used at Drug and Alcohol Services South Australia and has resulted in some improvement in symptoms. It may be continued for depressive symptoms in the response to treatment is evident.
Short-term use of benzodiazepines (diazepam 5 to 10mg QID PRN) and antipsychotics (olanzapine 2.5-5mg BD PRN) for control of irritability and agitation can be helpful, particularly in the inpatient setting. Care should be taken to limit access to large quantities of medications and to avoid the development of benzodiazepine dependence. These medications should be prescribed for a maximum of seven to 10 days.
Modafinil is also used at Drug and Alcohol Services South Australia and has been demonstrated to result in some improvement in symptoms, but this is not an approved medication for amphetamine withdrawal treatment.
A person with a dual diagnosis has a mental disorder and an alcohol or drug problem. These conditions occur together frequently. About half of people with a mental disorder will also have a substance use disorder at some point in their lives and vice versa. The interactions of the two conditions can worsen both.
When a person is diagnosed with a mental illness and a substance use disorder, they are said to have co-occurring disorders. Though the disorders can exist separately from one another, when they coexist in the same person, they usually cause the symptoms of both disorders to be amplified. It is common for a person with co-occurring disorders to have more severe symptoms than a person with only one of the disorders.
Co-occurring disorders are defined by the dual diagnosis of a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder in the same person. These diagnoses can be made at the same time, or they can be made one after the other, but the two disorders occur simultaneously in the same person.
Treatment and Therapies for Amphetamine Addiction
Treating amphetamine addiction can be challenging because of the changes in brain structure that occur with chronic use. The sometimes severe depression and loss of pleasure when drug use is stopped can be a significant obstacle to avoiding relapse. Nevertheless, therapies that help people understand and adjust their behaviors based on triggers of drug use can contribute to the individuals being able to get and stay on the path to recovery. These therapies include:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for amphetamine addiction
- Motivational Interviewing
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy
- Family Counseling
- Addiction education
- Peer support or 12-Step group participation
Reclaim Your Life From Amphetamine Withdrawal and Addiction
Amphetamine addiction is a chronic disease that can cause significant health, social, and economic problems that should not be taken lightly. We Level Up Washington can provide you, or someone you love, the tools to recover from this condition with a professional and primary mental health treatment to ease amphetamine withdrawal symptoms. Feel free to call us to speak with one of our counselors. We can inform you about this condition by giving you relevant information. Our specialists know what you are going through. Please know that each call is private and confidential.\
We Level Up Washington Mental Health Center: Primary Mental Health Treatment with Secondary Co-Occurring Treatments
At We Level Up Washington, our primary focus is providing comprehensive mental health treatment for individuals with conditions like cocaine addiction. While we do not directly provide detox services, we offer secondary treatment programs that address co-occurring addiction-related mental health disorders.
Our evidence-based approach to mental health treatments aims to improve your overall well-being and help you overcome the challenges of cocaine addiction. Contact us today for a complimentary mental health evaluation and take the first step towards a transformative recovery journey.
Inpatient medical detox and primary addiction treatment services may be available at affiliated facilities within the We Level Up Treatment Centers network.