Amphetamines make up one of the most commonly used and abused drugs in the world, with both prescription drugs like Adderall and street drugs such as meth and crystal. With a highly dependence inducing profile, strong withdrawal symptoms, and deleterious effects on the mind and body, amphetamine addiction can be deadly for users.
Amphetamines are frequently prescribed to treat ADD and narcolepsy, but are also used as performance drugs, and abused in party and club scenes. Over time, they often cause depression, anxiety, and physical health problems such as lost hair and teeth, gastrointestinal damage, and irreversible organ damage, which could lead to organ failure.
If you or a loved one is potentially abusing amphetamines of any kind, it’s important to understand the symptoms and your options for treatment.
Amphetamine Addiction Symptoms
Individuals who are addicted to amphetamines typically show a range of mental and physical symptoms. For example, users who are high on amphetamines typically show an increase in energy, increased self-confidence, agitation, manic behavior, and paranoia. They will also display an elevated heart rate, irritability, sweating, jaw clenching, shaking or tremors, and insomnia while on the drug, with the effects and duration of symptoms depending on the type of amphetamine and its half-life.
Over the long-term, amphetamine addicts typically begin to show rapid weight loss, sleeplessness, paranoia, psychosis, tics, depression, emotional and sensory blunting, and down periods, where they are extremely tired.
Many may also begin to show jerky movements, experience hallucinations, delusions, show new personality traits, or motor skill impairment after considerable exposure to the drug.
Amphetamine Addiction Withdrawal
Amphetamine withdrawal is characterized by a crash period, which can extend anywhere from 3-10 days and potentially longer in the case of a slow-release amphetamine. Amphetamines interact with dopamine and GABA receptors in the brain, causing cold and flu-like symptoms, general malaise, depression and anxiety, hallucinations and delirium, and a risk of seizures during withdrawal. Individuals also experience a condition known as emotional blunting, where they feel and experience very little until the brain re-adapts to normal levels of dopamine and GABA.
1-10 Days – users coming off amphetamines experience a crash, where the stimulant wears off and they are exhausted. Because many people don’t sleep while on amphetamines, this period can be extremely tiring and traumatic and individuals may suffer from severe fatigue and depression, with a risk of suicidal ideation.
10-24 Days – Most users experience a plateau of symptoms, where they experience cravings, anxiety, hallucinations, and paranoia. Their energy begins to come back, which manifests itself in paranoid reactions, anxiety, and potentially panic attacks.
24+ Days – Withdrawal symptoms begin to abate and users slowly return to normal.
Amphetamine withdrawal can last anywhere from 3-8 weeks and sometimes longer. While withdrawal symptoms are rarely directly dangerous, they can cause depression, anxiety, and fatigue related side-effects, which can be dangerous and deadly. It is important that individuals seek out medical supervision during withdrawal to prevent potentially long-lasting harm.
Amphetamine Addiction Treatment
Amphetamine addiction is one of the hardest substance use disorders to beat, simply because users crash extremely hard when quitting. This causes many to relapse, just to abate symptoms. At the same time, amphetamine addiction is treatable, and a range of specialized medical attention is available to help you through it. Rehabilitation centers offer counseling, detox, behavioral therapy, and medication to manage symptoms, tackle the root causes of addiction, and offer behavioral training to identify behaviors contributing to addiction.
With additional steps including skills training to help tackle stress management and reckless behavior, amphetamine addiction treatment works to offer substance abusers the tools they need to get their lives back.