Does Amphetamine Addiction Require Detox?

Amphetamines, including methamphetamine are some of the most abused central nervous system stimulants. This type of substance abuse can lead to tolerance and users require larger doses to get the same effect.

Users find themselves using the drugs in a binge pattern: taking large doses to maintain the high and then crashing when the binge comes to an end. As time wears on, users find the crash increasingly painful because their dependence on the amphetamines is producing withdrawal symptoms.

Amphetamine use disorders require professional addiction treatment and generally the first stage of treatment is detoxification—the group of interventions used to ease or eliminate the discomfort caused by withdrawal symptoms.

However, there has traditionally been less emphasis on treating stimulant withdrawal than opiate or alcohol withdrawal. This can lead people to believe that they don’t need a formal detox period. This is incorrect.

To learn more about the detox process used when treating amphetamine addicts, call 800-768-8728(Who Answers?). Our specialists will walk you through all the steps and make sure that you understand each intervention and the role it plays. They can also help you to locate a rehab program with a detox component that will meet your needs.

Stimulant Withdrawal

Sedative, alcohol, an opiate dependence produce distinctly different symptoms than amphetamine withdrawal. This is one reason why clinicians have been slow to adopt an aggressive treatment approach. As a result, no medications have been specifically cleared by the Food and Drug Administration to treat amphetamine withdrawal. This is an acceptable state of affairs because amphetamine withdrawal rarely presents medical complications or severe discomfort.

The series of symptoms experienced usually end within several days of amphetamine abstinence, but they may persist for up to a month, longer if permanent brain changes have occurred as a result of use.

Potential Danger

Despite the rarity of medical complications, there are a potentially fatal withdrawal symptoms.

People who stop using amphetamines may risk severe dysphoria, marked by depression, as well as negative thoughts and feelings. This may be profound enough to trigger suicidal feelings and attempts. On one hand, this may be wholly the result of depriving the brain and body the stimulant high they desire. On the other, some experts posit it may be the result of what the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration terms an “individuals acute realization of the devastating psychosocial consequences after a binge ends.”

All stimulant users will experience some depression when they stop using, but amphetamine users typically experience more intense and prolonged symptoms than cocaine users. Therefore, amphetamine users are closely monitored for signs of suicidal intent and treated for depression when warranted.

Patients with recent stimulant use may also experience cardiac complications. Therefore, chest pain and cardiac symptoms are thoroughly monitored by detox staff.

Seizures are also a possibility and persistent headaches that might signal bleeding around or in the brain are quickly supervised and addressed.

If amphetamine users have also been abusing other drugs and alcohol, they will also experience the withdrawal symptoms associated with those substance use disorders.

For these reasons alone, professional detox cannot be skipped over. Doing so could end fatally.

Withdrawal Symptoms

There are relatively few withdrawal symptoms when compared with detox from opiates or alcohol, but the few that exist may be quite severe. They include:

Amphetamine Addiction

Anxiety and depression are common amphetamine withdrawal symptoms.

  • Insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Amphetamine craving
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Anxiety
  • Increased appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Paranoia
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Psychomotor retardation

In addition, a great deal of research demonstrates changes in both the serotonergic and dopaminergic systems of the brain, which can lead to an inability of users to take pleasure in anything. Further, areas of the brain that control memory and attention in animals demonstrated abnormalities when regularly exposed to amphetamine.

Management of Withdrawal

Generally stimulant withdrawal is treated by assisting patients in maintaining abstinence. Intensive outpatient treatment may be sufficient if no medical complications present themselves.

A small study in Thailand determined anti-depressant mirtazapine reduced some symptoms of amphetamine withdrawal, but it is not approved and further research is needed. It is possible that some supplementary medication may be used to treat your individual symptoms, like insomnia and depression.

To learn more about the importance of professional detox for amphetamine addiction, call 800-768-8728(Who Answers?). The more you learn, the more likely you are to succeed when you enter treatment.