Amphetamine Withdrawal and Detox

The decision to abruptly quit taking amphetamines can lead to a complicated physical response called amphetamine withdrawal which may be painful and difficult to go through without professional help. If you or someone you love is addicted to amphetamines such as Ritalin, Adderall, or Dexedrine and you’ve tried to quit but amphetamine withdrawal always gets in the way, call SJRP admissions at 833-397-3422 to learn more about our amphetamine detox programs.  Our Florida drug and alcohol rehab centers provide multiple levels of treatment and care for clients struggling with potentially dangerous drug addictions, including amphetamine addiction.

Amphetamines are prescription medications that are categorized as stimulants because of the direct impact they have with the central nervous system (CNS). Stimulants such as these work to dramatically increase the activity within the brain causing improved concentration, alert behavior, and improved reaction times. Amphetamines are sold under several names such as; Adderall ( dextroamphetamine/amphetamine hybrid), Ritalin ( methylphenidate), Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine) or methamphetamine.

Amphetamines are generally prescribed to individuals who are struggling with ADHD and have difficulty focusing for long periods, and as a result have difficulty with their studies and have a decreased level of work performance. Studies have shown that up to 20% of university students abuse prescription stimulants, often taking medication that was not prescribed directly to them. Other reasons for amphetamine prescription medications could be due to sleeping problems such as narcolepsy, or mental health disorders such as depression. Due to the high quantity of Amphetamines that are prescribed annually, it is no surprise that this prescription drug has addictive properties and once a prescription is written, it can be difficult to stop. In 2011, DAWN estimated that about 2.5 million ED visits resulting from medical emergencies involving drug misuse or abuse, this equates to

  • 790 ED visits per 100,000 population.
  • For those aged 20 or younger, the rate is 500 visits;
  • for those aged 21 or older, the rate is 903 visits.
  • For individuals who have become aware of their heightened dependence upon amphetamines, there are many options available to complete a safe and healthy amphetamine withdrawal and amphetamine detox

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What Causes Withdrawal?

The concept of amphetamine withdrawal is the total absence of consumption from a formerly dependent substance. Withdrawal can be done slowly over time or through an immediate halt of use of a drug or combination of drugs. While in comparison to other drugs that also have manipulative effects on the central nervous system and brain receptors such as opioids; often the withdrawal process for Amphetamines is not necessarily as intense as other narcotics or even similarly classified stimulants.

Drugs such as Amphetamines have a direct psychological impact on the brain and can produce unpredictable effects upon withdrawal- which is disclosed on the FDA’s warning label. These effects can include psychological dependence and potential disturbance of underlying or known health disorders such as anxiety and depression. After a person in recovery has ceased the use of the drug, their body has to adapt to the changes within the cognitive reward system as well as physical adjustments. It is imperative to seek treatment for amphetamine addiction withdrawal at a licensed detox center for the safest withdrawal experience where mental and physical health is the number one priority.

Diagnosing Amphetamines Withdrawal

It is not uncommon for individuals who are under the influence of amphetamines to experience incredibly intense withdrawal symptoms that manipulate normal functions of the human body.

One of the most classic and easily identifiable signs of amphetamine withdrawal is an intense and insatiable craving that will not release immediately and will last a few several days or longer.

How to identify amphetamine withdrawal syndrome

  • The discontinued use of amphetamines
  • Distortion to mood and behavioral patterns such as increased irritability and restlessness and depression
  • A drastic increase in appetite or noticeable changes in eating patterns
  • Disturbances to normal sleeping patterns or lack of sleep altogether, known as or classic insomnia.

In a study conducted by  Cantwell and McBride the most representative symptoms of withdrawal were identified as irritability (78%), aches and pains (58%), depressed mood (50%), and impaired social functioning (46%).

Amphetamine Withdrawal Symptoms

There is no identical withdrawal that will occur, each process of amphetamine termination will impact its user in different ways. Variables such as polysubstance abuse, which is the usage of more than one addictive substance; and co-occurring disorders- the conjunction of substance dependency and mental health disorder can be factors that will change the withdrawal experience for each person in recovery. However, several amphetamine withdrawal symptoms are almost guaranteed to occur in persons who are about to begin the withdrawal process.

  • Sleeping disturbances such as, extreme tiredness, insomnia, trouble with falling asleep, and completing a REM cycle and vivid or terrifying dreams.
  • Changes to day to day behavior, such as increased aggravation, recklessness or violence in some cases
  • Decreased mood, is one of the most common occurrences of amphetamine withdrawal symptoms along with depression and anxiety. For individuals who have been diagnosed with mental health problems or are unaware of underlying cognitive dysfunction, the withdrawal process can be dangerous due to the negative cognitive consequences that often can induce thoughts of self-harm and suicide.

Physical Symptoms of Withdrawal

Amphetamine withdrawal symptoms are similar to that of other psychostimulants such as cocaine, methamphetamine, or MDMA.

Some of the physical symptoms of withdrawal can manifest as

  • Overall lack of energy resulting in extreme fatigue and lethargic behavior which inhibits the ability to function properly
  • Reduced reflex reaction time
  • Muscular shakes, tremors, and uncontrollable twitches
  • Gastrointestinal disturbances such as abdominal cramping, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting
  • Dizziness and overall confused state of being
  • Tingling sensations that proliferate the skin
  • Delayed respiratory function and reduced breathing capacity
  • Cardiac complications, abnormal heartbeat, and in some cases cardiac arrest.

In the most extreme cases it is not unusual for some individuals with complications to experience grand mal seizures, or distortions to their reality resulting in hallucinations or a state of delirium. If you identify any of these signs do not hesitate to call 911 with hesitation for these cases to require immediate medical attention.

Psychological Symptoms of Withdrawal

Being that Amphetamines are a powerful psychostimulant, it is more common to experience intensified cognitive symptoms of withdrawal in comparison to physical side effects. The most prevalent amphetamine withdrawal symptoms are an increase in anxiety and depression. This can occur in individuals who were diagnosed with mental health disorders, previously had no experience with mental health problems or individuals who were struggling with mental health disorders but were not officially diagnosed. Symptoms of anxiety and depression can appear as:

  • Lack of social activity
  • Reduced interest in recreational or former hobbies
  • Fatigue and sleeping problems such as insomnia
  • Aggravated behavior
  • Increase in negative thought patterns or thoughts of self-harm
  • Inability to concentrate for long or short periods
  • Difficulty with memory both short or long term.

Amphetamine Withdrawal Timeline

There are two primary stages of the amphetamine withdrawal timeline; acute and post-acute.

Acute Withdrawal:


This is the first phase of initial withdrawal, during this period cravings will be extremely intense, and there are likely to be changes in a depressive mood, appetite, and energy levels.

5 days to 14 days

Over the next few weeks, it is not unlikely for a patient to experience mood swings, cravings, depression, chronic pain, and sleeping disorders. If symptoms persist this is classified under the category of protracted withdrawal.

Post-Acute Withdrawal (PAWS)

The signs and symptoms of post-acute withdrawal can last up to three weeks to several years post amphetamine treatment. Lingering effects of withdrawal can be decreased cognitive function in regards to memory and retention, the decline in social activities and changes to sexual and emotional responsiveness is not uncommon.

Factors Affecting Withdrawal Duration

How long does amphetamine withdrawal last?

Well, it depends on various factors. Amphetamine withdrawal duration can vary from patient to patient and there are a variety of elements that can impact the overall withdrawal process.

The primary factors that will impact the duration include:

  • Metabolism and body mass
  • Age of substance user
  • Frequency of amphetamine use
  • Presence of a co-occurring disorder
  • Height of dosage of amphetamine

Amphetamine Detox & Withdrawal Treatment

There is so much more to amphetamine withdrawal treatment than just the initial amphetamine detox. For lasting success and continued sobriety, it is best for persons in recovery to seek behavioral therapies that work to develop positive coping mechanisms. This will aid the patient in resisting the urge to continue the use of amphetamines after completion of treatment and work as a preventative measure to avoid relapse in the future. Some of the recovery therapies that are provided at St. John’s Recovery Place and work to assit in the process of amphetamine withdrawal treatment are:

Medical Detox

One of the programs that can be used to aid a patient through the withdrawal stage is medical detox. Medical detox is conducted in a three-phase process of evaluation, stabilization, and preparation for the next step in the rehabilitation phase. A patient is slowly weaned off of the substance that is being abused, in such a way that the withdrawal symptoms are not as severe as they would be without medical assistance. This type of detox should not be attempted at home, only through outpatient or inpatient care facilities.

Amphetamine withdrawal medications that are often used in medically assisted treatment are antipsychotics, sleeping aids, and antidepressants to counter the psychological side effects of the abused substance. This form of treatment must be used in conjunction with behavioral therapies to ensure longevity and avoid an uneventful relapse.

Outpatient Detox

Outpatient detox treatment is often the method of choice for individuals who want to complete a full cycle of withdrawal and detoxification but may not have the option for residential treatment. These reasons may include finances, family obligations, or the inability to acquire a leave of absence from work, university, or other pursuits.

Outpatient detox and amphetamine withdrawal management are often conducted by partial hospitalization, behavioral therapies, and recovery treatments that are conducted during the day but do not require an overnight stay at a residential facility or a hospital. This option gives a patient a balance of rehabilitation and the normalcy of everyday life.

Detoxing at Home

While for some the concept of detoxing at home in a friendly and familiar space might seem preferential to seeking treatment at a facility.

So is it possible to detox at home?

Yes. But this is NOT RECOMMENDED!

It is entirely possible to undergo the complete withdrawal process while remaining at home. This can be done through non-supervised, self voluntary detox, BUT it is seldom recommended; or; can be completed via partial hospitalization outpatient care. In this case, the outpatient detox is preferable due to part-time supervision of doctors and nurses who are closely watching the person in recovery ensure they are not experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms that require hospitalization and are mentally stable to return home.

Dangers of Quitting Cold-Turkey

It is rarely advised to terminate the use of amphetamines without being under the supervision of a medical practitioner. Choosing to participate in inpatient or outpatient care is strictly a personal choice; both options are drastically safer than a voluntary detox.

Many of the side effects of withdrawal are psychological, however, this does not make them any less dangerous to the person in recovery. Symptoms of a quick amphetamine detox may include

  • Aggression and violent behavior
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Paranoia, hallucinations and reality distortion
  • Slowed respiratory function
  • Sleeping problems and night terrors
  • Uncontrollable body movements
  • Suicidal and thoughts of self-harm with intent
  • Pain encompassing the whole body

Finding a Detox Center

  • Location: The location of an amphetamine detox rehabilitation center is an entirely personal preference. Some individuals in recovery choose to enroll in treatment centers that are further away from home due to the increase in privacy and decrease in distractions that can slow the rehabilitation process. Others choose centers that are closer to home to stay in touch with family, friends to ease any feelings of isolation and make the overall transition from home to residential life a little easier while undergoing amphetamine withdrawal symptoms treatment.
  • Cost: How much does detox cost? This is often the number one factor that helps those choosing a treatment center to make their final decision. There is a common misconception that rehabilitation treatment centers are not affordable for every budget, but this is not the case. Many times the cost of detox programs can be partially covered by insurance programs that are widely accepted. Other forms of payment can be done through cash, major credit institutions, or in-house payment plans that vary in each treatment facility. It is imperative to inquire with every admissions counselor to see what options are available to make treatment the most cost-effective.
  • Effectiveness: A recovery center can obtain a license and operate with the basic facilities required by law. That is why it is so important to fully research every option for treatment to see what amenities and facilities are provided for each patient. Factors such as the staff to patient ratio, recovery therapies provided, and the overall rate of recovery that the addiction treatment center has in comparison to the number of patient admissions.

How Detox Helps

For patients in recovery who have been struggling with the use of amphetamines, whether long term or long term, this can be akin to a second lease on life. Detox and rehabilitation can not only assist in cleansing the body, but also the mind. With the variety of behavioral treatments that are available, each patient can develop healthier patterns that will help improve one’s quality of life and introduce using a more positive mindset. Along with the implementation of recovery therapy treatments, patients will have the opportunity to socialize and build a strong support system that will aid in the recovery process and even beyond.

Getting Help for Amphetamine Withdrawal

Dependence and subsequent addiction to amphetamines can be difficult to acknowledge and even more difficult to accept when it comes to seeking help for treatment. The first step to recovery is realizing the need for rehabilitation through amphetamine withdrawal and amphetamine detox and the rest will fall into place. Every person has varying needs and whether inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation is preferred, there are many options available to help you or a loved one create a plan for recovery that will last for a lifetime.

If you or someone you love needs help with amphetamine withdrawal, contact SJRP admissions at 833-397-3422 today to discuss amphetamine withdrawal treatment programs at our Florida drug and alcohol rehab centers.