Understanding how amphetamine withdrawal is likely to impact your recovery from addiction is crucial to future success with sobriety. Withdrawal symptoms are common when someone stops using a substance after they have become physically or psychologically dependent upon it. These symptoms can make stopping drug use seem impossible.
But getting answers to questions, such as how long does amphetamine withdrawal last, can make a difference in the outcome of a person’s recovery. Knowing that there’s an end in sight and how to deal with withdrawal while it lasts helps someone feel more positive about their future drug-free life.
How Amphetamines Create Dependency
Amphetamines and prescription stimulants create dependency in a few ways. First, they can create physical dependency because of the ways they affect your brain. Specifically, amphetamines increase the amount of certain hormones and chemicals in your brain, including dopamine.
The impact of amphetamines in your body is that you have more of these hormones than you normally would. That increases the way you feel pleasure. Consequently, the way you feel normal amounts of pleasure can become broken; in some cases, people addicted to amphetamines can’t feel normal pleasure at all.
These hormones also cause you to feel like you have more energy and can do things faster and longer. Your body becomes used to this way of functioning, so when you take the amphetamines away, you start to get withdrawals. Withdrawal symptoms are your body’s way of saying that something’s changed and perhaps something has gone wrong because it thinks that being high on Adderall or other amphetamines is normal now.
These drugs can also create psychological dependency. Your body isn’t the only one used to this amphetamine-driven state of affairs. You’re mentally and emotionally used to it as well, and when you’re not experiencing it, you can feel like something is off. You may feel like you need the drugs to accomplish things in your life, such as school or work. This behavioral dependence can also drive people back to amphetamines when they are trying to quit.
What Happens When You Go Cold Turkey to Quit Amphetamines?
Going cold turkey means to stop using the drugs suddenly (often without any type of professional intervention). Cold turkey amphetamine withdrawal can be uncomfortable — and in some cases, dangerous.
When you stop taking amphetamines, the dopamine levels in your body suddenly drop. Other chemicals that regulate functions such as heart rate and blood pressure also change levels suddenly. These sudden changes can lead to withdrawal symptoms that range from mild and annoying to severe and scary.
Common Adderall withdrawal symptoms, for example, can include:
- Feelings of depression or anxiety
- Problems sleeping
- Vomiting and other digestive distress
- Severe fatigue
- Twitching or shaking
- Otherwise unexplained aches and pains
- Vivid or frightening dreams
- Changes to appetite
- Feelings and behaviors as if you’re intoxicated, including slow thoughts and slurred speech
The Stages of Amphetamine Withdrawal
How long does amphetamine withdrawal last? The immediate and main withdrawal symptoms typically last a few days to no more than two weeks. But post-acute symptoms can show up weeks, months or even years later.
Immediate Withdrawal Symptoms
How hard and how fast withdrawal symptoms start — as well as how long they last — depend on a number of factors. Those include how long someone has been using these drugs, how much of the drug they use and how often, other mental and physical health factors and whether the person is abusing other substances too. The person’s age, weight, gender and genetics can also impact their withdrawal time line.
However, on average, amphetamine withdrawals typically start the first day you stop using the drugs and may follow a time line similar to that described below.
- Days 1 through 3. During this time, someone addicted to amphetamines is likely to feel a physical crash as their body begins to run on normal amounts of dopamine. They may sleep a lot and feel exhausted and depressed.
- Days 2 through 12. For up to two weeks, withdrawal symptoms can come and go. They may include strong cravings for the drug, mood swings, problems concentrating and all the symptoms described in the section above.
- From day 7 onward. After about a week, withdrawal symptoms do tend to become less severe and some begin to go away. Mood swings, problems sleeping and cravings for the drug of choice may continue.
Post-Acute Withdrawal Symptoms
After about a month of remaining clean of amphetamines, many people begin to be mostly free of most withdrawal symptoms. With a few months, they also tend to be able to sleep normally again and have a more consistent mood. However, occasional withdrawal symptoms can crop up from time to time, and cravings for the drug can reappear at any time throughout the rest of life. These post-acute withdrawal symptoms are one reason that it’s important to have a support structure throughout long-term recovery.
Supervised Amphetamine Withdrawal
Some people try to handle these issues with home remedies for amphetamine withdrawal. Those can range from trying to grin-and-bear through the withdrawal period to attempting to manage the symptoms with natural and over-the-counter concoctions.
In truth, the FDA does not approve any medication for amphetamine addiction treatment (as it does with opioid addiction, for example). But that doesn’t mean that professional treatment options are not available.
Supervised amphetamine withdrawal in a residential or outpatient setting offers the support that many people need to get through these first weeks of sobriety. Clinical professionals may be able to offer interventions for physical symptoms, such as medications to treat nausea, and a variety of therapies can help ensure you stay motivated and on track with recovery despite the challenges of withdrawal. Having professionals monitor your withdrawal an also increase your safety in cases where your body reacts negatively to these changes and your blood pressure or other vital function suffers.
In some cases, professionals may help you taper your amphetamine use. That means you don’t go cold turkey. Instead, in a supervised setting, you slowly reduce how much of the amphetamine you take. This lets your body slowly acclimate to the lower level of dopamine and other chemicals, so it doesn’t react with the panic of withdrawal. Taper methods of rehab are often an option for those who have become physically dependent on prescription stimulants such as Adderall.
Why Withdrawal Often Leads to Relapse and How to Get Ahead of This Cycle
Withdrawal from amphetamines — and many other substances — is difficult to get through. It can be painful and even scary. In extreme cases, withdrawal symptoms can even worrisome for your physical health.
These are some of the reasons so many people who try to go it alone in recovery end up relapsing. Without the right support, it’s often easier to return to drugs than it is to fight through withdrawals. But FHE Health can help. Call us today or contact us online to find out about treatment options for amphetamine addiction that help you make it through withdrawals so you can concentrate on long-term recovery.