Like many drugs, amphetamines were originally manufactured as a treatment for serious medical conditions. Commonly prescribed for attention deficit disorder and narcolepsy, amphetamines are also misused to promote weight loss and prolonged wakefulness. These drugs stimulate the central nervous system, resulting in feelings of euphoria and increased energy. Amphetamine abuse is a growing concern in this country and requires medically supervised detox and treatment. This page contains essential information about amphetamine addiction treatment.
How Is Amphetamine Addiction Treated?
If you or someone you love is struggling with amphetamine abuse, there are amphetamine addiction treatment options available. The treatment for amphetamine addiction typically involves three main steps:
Step 1. Amphetamine Detox
When you arrive at a treatment center, the primary goal will be to detoxify your body of stimulants. Clearing your mind and body of harmful substances will allow you to proceed with full stimulant addiction treatment. At first, you may feel life without amphetamines will be impossible, but the detox process will allow you to begin envisioning a life free of these drugs.
Once detox begins, you’ll experience withdrawal symptoms. The severity of the symptoms will depend on the severity of addiction. As the stimulants leave the body, the brain chemistry begins to change as the brain strives to function without amphetamines. As this renormalization process unfolds in the brain and body, withdrawal symptoms can occur, such as:
- Intense anxiety
- Excessive sweating
- Nausea and vomiting
- Inability to concentrate
- Mood swings
- Difficulty breathing
- Muscle tension or aches
The withdrawal symptoms can be overwhelming, which is why it’s imperative to seek assistance with amphetamine withdrawal treatment. Attempting to detox at home is often unsuccessful and dangerous and should not be attempted. Discontinuing the use of amphetamines altogether after misuse can result in severe withdrawal symptoms and even death.
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How Long Does Amphetamine Withdrawal Last?
Because so many different substances are included under the category of amphetamines, the length of the withdrawal period can vary. However the average withdrawal starts on the first day of amphetamine detox and lasts around 1-2 weeks.
For the first few days, a person experiencing amphetamine withdrawal is likely to experience a sudden decrease in energy. This is the body adjusting to the sudden lack of a substance that it has likely learned to rely on to function.
As the first few days give way to a week or more, withdrawal symptoms will be sporadic and occasionally severe, taking the form of any combination of the physical and mental effects listed above.
Most symptoms do tend to clear up after 7 to 10 days, but some may linger for a few weeks still. Cravings for amphetamines are still common, even after withdrawal is mostly over, illustrating the importance of undergoing amphetamine detox in a safe, supportive environment.
Step 2. Residential Amphetamine Addiction Treatment
The acute period of withdrawal is only several days but the long term symptoms can last several days. Residential amphetamine addiction treatment is, therefore, the best option for most people, especially if you have experienced prolonged reliance on amphetamines or if you have other mental disorders. Residential treatment is always the best treatment for meth addiction. When you are identified as a candidate for residential treatment, you will live onsite for the duration of your recovery and will receive daily care and medical observation.
While living in the residential addiction facility, the staff will work to maintain your comfort. You will receive intensive daily therapies and will regain some of the life skills that addiction may have stunted. Through various therapies and support groups, you will gradually regain control of your life and improve your daily function.
Inpatient rehab treatment is expected to continue from a few weeks to a few months. Your length of stay depends on your individual circumstances and how you respond to stimulant addiction treatment.
Step 3. Outpatient Amphetamine Addiction Treatment
In cases where residential care is simply not an option, it’s possible that a lower level of care such as outpatient stimulant treatment may be the next best thing. Outpatient amphetamine addiction treatment options include:
In most cases, group therapy is a significant part of an outpatient amphetamine treatment plan. By creating a supportive environment, group sessions encourage those working towards recovery to explore their experiences related to their substance use disorders. Sessions are led by licensed therapists who evaluate progress and make recommendations. Support groups are also offered to the family of those seeking treatment so that they learn how to best support recovery progress.
Group therapy typically addresses the following topics:
- Working through recovery
- Managing stress and anxiety
- Fending off cravings
- Establishing healthy relationships
- Working through past trauma
Individual therapy can help tremendously with treatment for amphetamine addiction. This form of therapy provides individuals in treatment with the opportunity to meet one-on-one with a therapist to learn new coping skills, practice healthy communication, and maintain hope and strength. A substance use disorder is rarely an isolated issue and individual therapy assists with identifying the root of the dependence.
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Why Do You Need to Treat Amphetamine Addiction?
The way in which overuse of amphetamines can dramatically alter the brain’s chemistry creates serious complications. Addiction to amphetamines can result in the following symptoms:
- Loss of interest in daily activities
- Hiding drug use
- Anger when confronted
- Compromising morals to obtain amphetamines
- Rapid aging and serious dental concerns
- Anxiety, confusion, and paranoia
- Hallucinations and delusions
- Violent behavior
People who overuse amphetamines are at a high risk of developing a tolerance for the drug. As you require more and more of the drug to achieve the same level of euphoria, your risks of a fatal overdose increase.
Individuals who attempt to discontinue use on their own can experience severe and unmanageable withdrawal symptoms that only a medically supervised detox can manage safely and treat effectively.
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How Long Is Amphetamine Addiction Treatment?
Treatment duration can vary based on individual treatment needs and life circumstances. From the time you enroll in an amphetamine addiction treatment program, you can usually expect the treatment process to be anywhere between 30 and 90 days—statistics show that the longer the treatment, the better the prospects of long-term recovery. Dedicated inpatient treatment will likely take 30 days but could be longer, especially if there are compounding mental health concerns. Moreover, individuals who want to maximize their chances of lifelong sobriety will engage in a program of aftercare following treatment.
What Therapies Are Used in Amphetamine Addiction Treatment?
Several different therapies are used in treating amphetamine addiction. Cognitive and behavioral therapies can help to reconfigure daily behaviors and relaxation therapies can ease the pain of withdrawal.
Medical Treatment for Amphetamine Addiction
In cases where withdrawal symptoms are severe and overwhelming, treatment doctors will prescribe pharmaceuticals to ease the distress of amphetamine detox. There are various medications that can be prescribed to alleviate symptoms and enable you to focus on actual detox. Some of these medications are:
- Antidepressants. Depression is a common side effect during withdrawal. Serious depression can delay successful treatment and may be abated with an antidepressant.
- Anti-Anxiety Medications. It is common to experience extraordinarily high levels of anxiety, especially during the beginning withdrawal stage. An anti-anxiety medication can help to regulate anxious feelings.
- Sleep Aids. As treatment continues, many people experience insomnia. In some cases, over-the-counter sleep aids, like melatonin, are effective. In other cases, a stronger prescription sleep aid is necessary.
Holistic Treatment for Amphetamine Use
In addition to medical intervention, relaxation therapies, such as yoga, meditation, massage, and art therapy, are effective for soothing symptoms during stimulant addiction treatment. Learning how to center their breathing and their thought process can help individuals manage severe symptoms and regain control of themselves.
Neurotherapy, also known as “neurofeedback,” is a treatment method that involves assessing the pathways in a person’s brain responsible for addiction. It’s been shown to be effective in treating opioid use disorder by helping users reduce cravings, and the same benefits are thought to extend to those who become addicted to amphetamines.
In Neurotherapy, a trained practitioner uses a machine called an electroencephalogram (EEG) to map a person’s brain waves. The user plays a game that monitors their response to positive and negative stimuli as electrodes attached to their scalp provide feedback on the EEG.
Over time, Neurotherapy is intended to prompt an improvement in brain activity so that the person being treated is able to resist negative feelings such as cravings.
Expressive Arts and Music Therapies
As the name suggests, expressive arts and music therapies aim to help people in recovery for amphetamine use get in touch with themselves and express their feelings and emotions.
Conventional talk therapy is intended to help people in treatment open up about their experiences and start to understand the reasons they make certain decisions and take certain actions. Sometimes, though, talking isn’t enough on its own.
Expressive therapies are more creative and may reach a different set of people than psychotherapies like CBT and DBT alone. Music, art and dance therapies are often used in tandem with traditional talk therapies — this makes them part of a group of “integrative” therapies.
In expressive therapy, people in treatment are encouraged to use nonverbal forms of expression to share their feelings, illustrate core memories and show how certain things make them feel and react using artistic creations, sounds or motions. This offers a different set of dimensions to express themselves that some people may prefer as an amphetamine treatment option.
Lifelong Recovery From Amphetamine Addiction
Research has demonstrated that prolonged amphetamine abuse can cause long-term damage and side effects. After inpatient amphetamine addiction treatment is over, the next challenge is maintaining lifelong recovery. This requires an ongoing commitment to living a lifestyle that supports sobriety. Often people in this stage of recovery find ongoing help and support from 12-step and other peer support groups as well as individual therapy. With time, many people in recovery from amphetamine addiction have found that their cravings recede and sobriety gets easier.