Amphetamine dependence and abuse is rampant because of how easily it is produced and inexpensively it is offered. Amphetamine use is concerning because it causes a variety of devastating health consequences, including physical and neurological disorders, amphetamine-induced mental disorders, and health and social consequences of amphetamine use.
The first phase of any treatment for addiction to drugs or alcohol is abstinence followed succinctly by withdrawal and detox. A wide range of dysphoric symptoms can be produced during stimulant withdrawal, which occurs when an abuser stops using amphetamines. Individuals may initially experience a “crash” period when they stop using amphetamines.
“Crash”ing or the beginnings of withdrawal may be characterized by:
- Intense drug craving
Intermediate withdrawal phase characteristics include:
- Loss of physical/mental energy
- Diminished interest in the surrounding environment
Late withdrawal phase characteristics include periods of intense drug craving with objects and people in the addicted person’s life become triggers for relapse.
Comprehensive assessments of the patient’s psychological, medical, and history of drug use, are requirements for the treatment of stimulant abuse and addiction. It is also important that patients receive a thorough physical examination (including blood and supervised urine samples for analysis) due to the possibility of unreliable/incomplete information gleaned from the addict. Recognition that poly-drug abuse is common, should also be a consideration addressed in the treatment plan. Pharmacological intervention may be necessary during stimulant-induced drug states, according to the Textbook of Substance Abuse Treatment.
The evidence established about the treatment for amphetamine dependence and abuse is very limited. It shows that pharmacological treatments have only partial benefits for amphetamine dependence and abuse.
Some of the medications tested for possible treatment of amphetamine addiction:
Fluoxetine seems to decrease craving, but only in short-term treatment. Imipramine may increase duration of observance to treatment in medium-term treatment. No other benefits, aside from these, can be found. It is suggested by this limited evidence that no treatment has provided unequivocal proof of efficacy of pharmaceuticals for the treatment of amphetamine dependence and abuse. Although a great number of people with amphetamine dependence and abuse exist worldwide, very few controlled trials in this issue have been conducted. There continue to be no promising results, biological or psychosocial, being further investigated, according to NCBI.
In a report to congress from The National Institute on Drug Abuse, the most effective treatment for amphetamine addiction seems to be behavioral treatment. There are no specific medications that counteract the effects of amphetamines. There are also no medications that will prolong abstinence from the drug. Amphetamine addiction is a chronic and relapsing, but treatable disease of the brain. Treatment that focuses more on the individual than the drug abuse appears to have a higher success rate, according to NIDA.
It is important to note that any successful treatment plan is as individual as the addict seeking help. There is no cookie-cutter solution. It may take a whirlwind of change touching every aspect and facet of the addict’s life, but with willpower and diligence, successful recovery is possible.