According to SAMHSA, “Individuals dependent on stimulants experience profound loss of control over stimulant intake, presumably in response to the stimulation and disruption of endogenous reward centers.” As a stimulant, amphetamine can be abused and may cause a person to take high doses of the drug in order to feel its effects. While amphetamine detox is not as rigid as the detox plan for other drugs (like opioids), there are still common amphetamine detox treatment methods.
Tapering Off Amphetamine Use
As stated by the NIDA, “Depending on the patient’s situation, the first steps in treating prescription stimulant addiction may be to taper the drug dosage and attempt to ease withdrawal symptoms.” This is what is often done during amphetamine detox. There aren’t any approved medications for treating amphetamine addiction, but tapering off the drug slowly and monitoring withdrawal effects can be the first step in detox treatment.
However, detox does not constitute treatment for addiction, and an individual who is addicted to amphetamine must attend addiction treatment following detox in order have a chance at full recovery from amphetamine addiction.
People who are withdrawing from amphetamine will experience severe symptoms, most of them psychological. One of the most intense symptoms caused by amphetamine withdrawal is depression. In fact, according to SAMHSA, “The period of depression experienced by amphetamine users is more prolonged and may be more intense” than that of cocaine users. Therefore, “amphetamine users should be monitored closely during detoxification for signs of suicidality and treated for depression if appropriate.”
Some of the medications used to treat these and other symptoms of amphetamine withdrawal include:
- Certain antidepressants
- Disulfiram (for severe withdrawal symptoms)
- Amantadine (for severe withdrawal symptoms)
- Modafinil (“anti-narcolepsy agent with stimulant-like action”)
In detox, behavioral treatments are very common. While they may not treat some withdrawal symptoms from amphetamine specifically, they have many strong points when it comes to being included in the amphetamine detox treatment process. For example:
- Behavioral treatments ready patients for amphetamine addiction treatment and help make the transition from detox to addiction treatment easier.
- Behavioral treatments help with many of the psychological aspects of amphetamine withdrawal.
- Behavioral treatments are important for treating the severe depression that sometimes accompanies amphetamine withdrawal.
One of the more beneficial aspects of behavioral treatments in amphetamine withdrawal is that there are many to choose from and that they can be tweaked and modified to fit the patient’s needs. Some of these treatments commonly used in amphetamine detox are:
- Cognitive-behavioral treatment
- Allows patients to look at their amphetamine addictions in a new way and learn coping skills for cravings and triggers, some of the hardest parts of amphetamine detox
- Contingency management
- Rewards patients for abstinence with helpful or pleasing prizes, helping the patient to reverse the changes made to the brain’s reward center by amphetamine
- Group therapy
- Allows patients to meet other patients who have similar experiences and to feel less alone which goes a long way in the treatment of depression and anxiety, often experienced by withdrawing amphetamine addicts and abusers
Amphetamine detox is not always considered necessary for amphetamine addiction and abuse treatment, but it can make the journey toward recovery shorter and more successful, especially when a person attends addiction treatment afterward.