195 Amphetamine Withdrawal (292.0)

DSM-IV-TR criteria

A. Cessation of (or reduction in) amphetamine (or related substance) that has been heavy and prolonged.

B. Sysphoric mood and two (or more) of the following physiological changes, developing within a few hours to several days after Criterion

  • fatigue
  • vivid, unpleasant dreams
  • insomnia or hypersomnia
  • increased appetite
  • psychomotor retardation or agitation

C. The symptoms in Criteria B cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

D. The symptoms are not due to a general medical condition and are not better accounted for by another mental disorder.

Associated features

This happens when an individual who has reduced or discontinued the use of amphetamines that was originally used for a long time or in heavy amounts. The symptoms may vary depending on the level of dependence. Dysphoric mood and psychological changes such as fatigue, unpleasant dreams, trouble sleeping, and an increase in appetite will be noticeable. Depression or anxiety can be a very common part in withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal can last from 3 days to 2 weeks depending on the severity.

Child vs. adult presentation

Children have been prescribed amphetamines for many different reasons throughout the years, but prodominately it was prescribed to them for the treatment of ADHD. Withdrawl symptoms in children have been known to be very slight because this prescribing for hyperactivity has been relatively stopped or regulated. More of the cases of amphetamine withdrawal is seen in adults because of the heavy recreational use of amphetamines such as ecstasy and methamphetamines. Adults have also been seen with more withdrawal symptoms because they use amphetamines for their success in helping drop the pounds.

Gender and cultural differences in presentation

There are no significant differences in males and females when it comes to withdrawal because it will be present in most cases, no matter how severe the symptoms are, if the individual has been using the drug heavily or for a prolonged amount of time. Culturally there are also no differences in the symptoms of amphetamine withdrawal throughout the world.


Withdrawal can happen at any age or severity depending on how long and how much of the amphetamine has been used. It is only present when the individual reduces or stops the use, and it will continue to show its effects for as long as 2 weeks. Because of this, there are low success rates of overcoming the withdrawal symptoms since most choose to continue to use amphetamines in order to reverse the effects.


This is only caused by environmental factors. It is specifically brought on by the lowered levels of amphetamines in the body once there has been a regulated tolerance for the substance in order to function. Environmental factors such as family or legal intervention might also play a role in developing the reason for the reduction or elimination of the use, which will spark the presentation of the withdrawal symptoms.

Empirically supported treatment

  • There are no specific medications that are used in effectively treating all of the withdrawal symptoms. Amphetamines have been studied as being a very good treatment, but there are conflicting reports as to how effective it is on reducing or eliminating the symptoms in order to let the individual overcome the addiction. Hospital detoxification is primarily the safest way to get through the symptoms and be closely evaluated especially for the chronic users, who may show significantly severe withdrawal symptoms.
  • Below is a video from the reality show Intervention, where families come together to help their loved ones with addiction. This video shows two females, the focus for this section is Amy, who is addicted to methamphetamine.


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Abnormal Psychology Copyright © 2017 by Lumen Learning is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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