Once you’ve stopped taking any addictive substance you’ve been dependent on, regardless of the amount of time, the body naturally goes through-… how shall we say it, an “adjustment period” while getting used to not having that substance flowing through its systems. Certainly, withdrawing from amphetamines is no exception.
In fact, that initial period of not using amphetamines are, for most people, the hardest. By far! The withdrawal symptoms can become excruciatingly painful or discomforting, lasting anywhere from a few days to a week or more. And given the symptoms (see list below) may actually become health- or life-threatening, addiction professionals nationwide recommend medically-assisted detox for those seeking to recover from amphetamine dependency.
Although in the short-term, the synthetic stimulants known as amphetamines can provide the user with a temporary experience of higher focus, increased energy and confidence, as well as euphoria, the continued use of amphetamines can, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), swiftly lead to long-term health complications, including:
- Loss of muscle control
- Depression and intense fatigue when not using the drug
- Low or no appetite
- Significantly increased heart rate and blood pressure
- Sleep disturbances, insomnia
- Severe mood swings
- Dangerously high body temperature
- Risk of seizure or stroke
Once a person stops using amphetamines and wants to “kick the habit,” the detox process can be extremely trying and more harsh than one might expect. Further, when facing some of the withdrawal symptoms—the ones more challenging to cope with—serious health risks can quickly arise.
The more severe health threats stemming from amphetamine withdrawals may include:
- Cardiac arrest (heart attack)
- Seizures or stroke
- Suicidal ideations
When an amphetamine user chooses to have medical assistance when they detox from the drug, the addiction treatment staff have the training and resources at hand to make the detox process safer and smoother.
Besides providing a clean, comfortable place to detox, as well as adequate rest, relaxation and healthy meals, if a serious health threat occurs—either psychologically or physically or both—and requires medical supervision and care, then the doctors, nurses and trained addiction professionals on hand can provide immediate and appropriate medication, treatment or counseling to assist the person going through the detox process.
It’s important to note, the withdrawal symptoms from amphetamine use can be so severe as to generate a relapse, in order to put a stop to the discomforting effects of not having amphetamines in one’s system. Given many people report having ongoing urges to use for some time after stopping use, it can literally be life-saving to have a medical team to support you while you complete the detox process.
If you have medical support around you when you’re withdrawing from amphetamines, no matter your level of amphetamine use or how long you’ve been chemically dependent on them, you’re substantially more assured of a safer detox, especially if any intense side effects arise. Severe anxiety or a panic attack, a skyrocketing heart rate, seemingly non-stop insomnia, intense pain or discomfort, and especially the onset of a seizure or stroke, can all be handled medically and much more immediately, professionally and safely when medically-trained staff are caring for you 24/7.
Time-wise, amphetamine detox typically takes about a week or so, although some people may experience withdrawal symptoms lasting for some time longer. One should be particularly aware that psychological side effects may persist and “challenge” a person’s recovery.
Fortunately though, with medically-assisted detox, not only will the majority of physical symptoms be well under control after a week or so (after stopping amphetamine use), but some important knowledge about both the nature of addiction and recovery will be introduced before completion of the detox process. Typically, this information will explain why going directly into either an inpatient or outpatient treatment program will help ensure one develops a firm foundation for lifelong recovery.
 National Institute on Drug Abuse website. “Prescription Stimulant Medications (Amphetamines)”