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Amphetamine_wdl_220404.qxd 28/04/2004 12:19 PM Page i GETTING THROUGH
Amphetamine_wdl_220404.qxd 28/04/2004 12:19 PM Page ii CONTENTS
About this book
Making the decision to stop using

Amphetamine withdrawal
Getting started
Getting through withdrawal
Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre Inc.
Original edition by Dr Nik Lintzeris, Dr Adrian Dunlop and After withdrawal
Updated (2004) by Dr Adrian Dunlop, Sandra Hocking, Dr Getting back on track if you ‘slip up’ Notes for supporters
Useful contact numbers
Amphetamine_wdl_220404.qxd 28/04/2004 12:19 PM Page 2 MAKING THE DECISION TO STOP USING AMPHEATMINES ABOUT THIS BOOK
This book is written for people who are thinking about

You may find it helpful to make a list of the positives and the or trying to stop using amphetamines, even if just for a
negatives about using amphetamines. Put simply, the posi- short period of time.
tives are the things you like about using amphetamines; the Information in this book will help you understand what’s negatives are the reasons why you want to stop. You may going on during withdrawal. There are also suggestions for also find it helpful to talk to someone to help you decide.
how you can make it easier for yourself and those around This might be a non-using friend, your health worker or a you. It is only a guide. For more help, we suggest that you professional counsellor. Confidential 24-hour drug and alco- talk to your doctor, counsellor or other health worker. hol telephone counselling and information services are avail- able in all Australian states, and they are a good way of get- This book doesn’t cover everything about coming off ting further help. Contact numbers are listed on page 36.
amphetamines – you may have had experiences that are dif- ferent to those included here. We hope that there are things Many people find that stopping amphetamines can be diffi- that you find helpful, even if you have gone through with- cult because, even after making the decision to stop, they still miss some things about using. This is normal and it often takes time to find things other than amphetamines You can use this book as one of a range of strategies to help you make the decision to stop using and support you through withdrawal. Other options that may be useful Another reason many people find it difficult is that they for- include counselling, medication, natural therapies and get the ‘negatives’ – the reasons why they wanted to stop in the first place. So the list of negatives you make is impor- tant because it helps focus you on all the reasons for stop- MAKING THE DECISION
People decide to come off amphetamines for different rea- TO STOP USING AMPHETAMINES
sons and they often have different long-term goals. Some Like a lot of things, using amphetamines has some good people want to stop using forever; others just need a break sides to it but it can also have its problems. These are going from it. Whatever your reasons are for starting withdrawal to be different for different people. It is worthwhile thinking or what your long-term goals are, the main job ahead of you about what’s involved in going without amphetamines.
What things will you miss about using? How is using affect- ing you and how could your life be better if you were not Amphetamine_wdl_220404.qxd 28/04/2004 12:19 PM Page 4 Positives about using amphetamines
What is withdrawal?

If you use certain kinds of drugs - such as tobacco, alcohol, amphetamines, tranquillisers (‘downers’, eg Valium, Serepax), caffeine or heroin - regularly and for long periods of time, your body goes through a number of changes. It adapts to having the drug in your system on a regular basis and your body only functions ‘normally’ when you have taken that drug. When you stop using, your body has to readjust. Withdrawal is this period of readjustment. Your body has to get back to a state of working ‘normally’ with- out the drug. The type of symptoms that people go through during withdrawal varies according to the kind of drug they are withdrawing from, but the principle is the same.
Negatives about using amphetamines
Body adapted to amphetamines
Amphetamine_wdl_220404.qxd 28/04/2004 12:19 PM Page 6 How long will the symptoms last?
Common symptoms in amphetamine
People vary in the severity of withdrawal symptoms they
will experience and how long the symptoms will last, even people who have been using the same amount. Some peo- ple do it easier than others. The more you know about Time since last
Common symptoms
what’s happening, what to expect and what to do, the bet- amphetamine use
ter you will cope with withdrawal. If you really fear going through withdrawal, don’t know what’s going on and expect to ‘do it hard’ – then you probably will.
Other important factors include your general state of health and nutrition, the length of time you’ve been using the drug, how much you’re using on a regular basis, and what’s going on in the environment around you during withdrawal.
People who regularly use prescription drugs such as amphetamine-based weight reduction drugs (eg Tenuate, Duromine) or other drugs like Ritalin or Dexamphetamine will also experience withdrawal symptoms similar to amphetamine withdrawal when these drugs are stopped.
What kinds of symptoms will I have?
Withdrawal from amphetamines is described in detail on page 7. The list is a helpful guide to what you might expect Not all amphetamine users get all these symptoms and • return of normal sleep and levels of Amphetamine_wdl_220404.qxd 28/04/2004 12:19 PM Page 8 Factors influencing the severity
of withdrawal
A numbere of factors will influence your experience of
• Knowing what to expect• General state of health and nutrition• Length of time you’ve been using• Amount you’ve been using• What’s going on around you GETTING STARTED
The next section ‘Getting started’, provides some tips on how to prepare for withdrawal in way that promotes a safe and supported withdrawal experience.
Amphetamine_wdl_220404.qxd 28/04/2004 12:19 PM Page 10 At the beginning of your withdrawal, it is important to
on. People from Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and other sup- get a few things in order.
Organise a safe environment
It is important to have the right people around you
while you go through withdrawal. This means people
Going through withdrawal can be extremely difficult if there who will be supportive, spend time with you and help
are people around you who are using. Although it is possi- you get through the difficult moments. Before you start,
ble to do it, you’re just making it hard for yourself. Organise
make a list of these people (see page 12). Avoid anyone a safe environment before or at the beginning of your
who is going to make it hard for you, such as dealers or sup- withdrawal. A safe place is one where there won’t be any
pliers of drugs, people who may want you to score for drugs around you and where you are not going to be has- them, or anyone who you feel that you just couldn’t stand having around. A good doctor, community nurse or other counsellor can be a great support. Self-help groups such as • Go to a friend or relative’s house where you are not Narcotics Anonymous (NA) can provide a lot of support, and going to have ready access to amphetamines and where also provide you with a ’sponsor’ or support person.
you can’t be found by people who you don’t want Once you’ve made this list (it may only have one name on it), explain to these people what’s going on, how you’re going to be feeling, and what they can do to support you. If • Stay at your usual address, then put the word out that they aren’t aware of what’s happening, it’s difficult for them you are not going to be using for a while and for people to help. They may find it useful to read this book so they to stay away. You might even want to change your have a better idea about what is going on.
phone number. This doesn’t mean that you have to cut yourself off from them forever, just while you are trying Make sure that there are no drugs left around the house.
Organise support
Amphetamine_wdl_220404.qxd 28/04/2004 12:19 PM Page 12 Structure the day
List of support people
Getting through withdrawal can be easier if you take it one day at a time and focus on activities that help you cope with the effects of withdrawal. For the first few days you may feel like doing nothing but, as you go through withdrawal, you will begin to feel more active. It may help to think about how you will structure your days before you start. Having a routine can help you sleep and eat better and may help you to manage mood swings and cravings. Make a list of sug- gestions for structuring your day and fill it with activities that help you relax and avoid using. These may include doing exercise or visiting non-using friends (see Getting through
The role of medication
Medication can help reduce the severity of some withdraw-
al symptoms, but the medication may not stop the symp- toms completely. If a tablet existed that could take away all Suggestions for structuring my day
the symptoms then your doctor would give it to you, but no There is no single medication that is particularly effective for amphetamine withdrawal. Some medications can help with Amphetamine_wdl_220404.qxd 28/04/2004 12:19 PM Page 14 sional for advice. Don’t self-medicate as natural therapies can have side-effects like any other medication.
Some people turn to using large amounts of alcohol or tran- quillisers (‘downers’) to help them get through withdrawal.
A real danger with this is the risk of just swapping your habit. So, think about it; you may get to stop using amphet- amines, but end up with a pill or grog problem. Back to square one. Remember, withdrawal symptoms are your body’s way of getting back to normal without having to have a drug in your system. Flooding it with large doses of other drugs won’t help your body get back to normal.
A number of medications that many people find useful are listed in the following sections, together with other ways of WITHDRAWAL
Amphetamine_wdl_220404.qxd 28/04/2004 12:19 PM Page 16 Cravings
‘Cravings’ are urges to use drugs. These urges are a normal
part of any addiction and everyone gets them during with- drawal. Some important points about cravings: • Cravings are a common symptom of amphetamine with- • Cravings are not caused by a lack of willpower or moti- vation, and they don’t mean that the withdrawal isn’t • Urges to use are not constant. They come and go, and vary in intensity with time. Cravings are only very severe for short periods of time, usually less than one hour, and then settle down to a more controllable level.
How to cope with cravings
• Cravings are often triggered by physical or psychological discomfort. You will have cravings as you go through It is important that you are prepared for cravings – you will uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. The cravings get them. Different people have different ways of coping.
become fewer and easier to cope with as you get over Remember, cravings are usually only very severe for short periods of time, then the severity of the craving reduces to a level which is easier to deal with. The goal is to get • You will get more cravings if something or someone through this severe period. The following methods have upsets you or, obviously, if you’re presented with the opportunity to use or score. So, if you want to get through this withdrawal, you have to make sure that you Delay the decision about using for one hour
avoid these high-risk situations (see page 27).
When a craving is severe, the big question is: ‘Am I going to • You will probably still get cravings, even after you’ve use?’ It’s normal when you get cravings to go through the gone through withdrawal, but they usually become easi- struggle between the desire to use and the desire to remain er to cope with after withdrawal because they are not drug free. The more you try to battle this out, the more anx- accompanied by physical symptoms. The longer you go ious you become and the more severe your craving without using, the less severe the cravings become. It’s becomes. So delay this decision; put it off for an hour. Don’t like a hungry cat – if you feed it, it will come back again and again. If you don’t, it will (eventually) go away.
Amphetamine_wdl_220404.qxd 28/04/2004 12:19 PM Page 18 You may use, you may not – that’s something that you can Unfortunately, disturbed sleep is part of what you can Distract yourself with some activity during this hour
expect when withdrawing from amphetamines. You may be Cravings can occupy your thoughts a lot. The more you familiar with being awake for long periods, even several think about them, the bigger they become. One way to days, and then the ‘comedown’ – sleeping heavily for days.
avoid this is by putting your energy into other things such as This occurs because of the changes that are happening to listening to music or a relaxation tape, watching TV or a your nervous system and brain as your body gets used to video, cleaning out the fridge, talking to someone (but not working normally without amphetamines. After the initial about drugs) or going for a walk with someone ‘safe’.
comedown, you may experience difficulty falling asleep, dis- Remember, concentration can be difficult during withdraw- turbing dreams, nightmares or night sweats, waking up in al, so don’t plan to do anything too complicated (such as the middle of the night, or waking up early in the mornings.
It can take a number of weeks before your sleep pattern returns to normal (more if you have been using for many
years or if you have been using tranquillisers recently). It is After the hour, ask yourself ‘Why
important to remember that disturbed sleep is a normal
don’t I want to use?’ and ‘What
part of withdrawal, and that it is not permanent. have I got to lose?’
Hints for better sleep).
Amphetamine_wdl_220404.qxd 28/04/2004 12:19 PM Page 20 Hints for better sleep
7. Do some exercise during the day. This will make your 1. Lie down to go to sleep only when you are actually body more physically tired. Exercise may include walk- sleepy. For some people, this means going to bed a lot ing, having a swim, yoga, gym or any other activity you enjoy. Avoid stimulating activity before going to bed.
2. Do not use your bed for anything except sleeping. Do not 8. Most of the thinking and worrying that we do in bed read, watch TV, eat or worry in bed. Sex is the only needs to be done, it just does not need to be done in exception to this rule (remember to do it safely). If you bed. Take the time earlier in the day for thinking and wor- have found that reading helps you fall asleep, feel free to rying. Write your thoughts down on a piece of paper to break this rule and read in bed but do it for no longer than pick up tomorrow. Then, if the thoughts come when you are in bed, say to yourself ‘I have thought about this today. I will think about it tomorrow. Now is the time to 3. If you do not fall asleep within about 30 minutes of turn- sleep.’ This will not work every time, but if it works only ing out the light, get up, go to another room, and do half the time, that’s better than not at all. something that is not too arousing (for example, read a magazine or watch TV). Stay up as long as you wish, and 9. Cut down on stimulants such as caffeine or cigarettes, then return to your bedroom when you feel sleepy. The especially late at night. Alcohol can make you sleepy; goal is to associate your bed with falling asleep quickly.
however, it also has a waking effect after several hours If you return to bed and still cannot sleep, then get up sleep, so that it often results in a poor night’s sleep over- again. Do this as often as necessary until you fall asleep all. Hot drinks such as camomile, valerian tea or warm milk at night can help put you to sleep. 4. Get up at the same time every morning, 7 days a week, Medication for sleep
regardless of how long you have slept. This will help your Certain medications are used by some people to treat insomnia and agitation. However, medication is of limited 5. Do not nap during the day. Even a 5 minute nap in front value in trying to help you return to a normal pattern of of the television can take the edge off your sleepiness, sleep. All sedative drugs work by producing abnormal sleep.
and make it harder for you to sleep at night. They may ‘bomb you out’ for a while but they don’t encour- 6. Do some form of relaxation. While doing relaxation dur- age your body to get back into a normal sleep pattern.
ing the day, make sure that you do not fall asleep.
Sedative drugs reduce what is called ‘delta wave’ sleep and However, at bedtime, feel free to fall asleep in bed dur- this is the part of sleep that is most important in ‘charging ing the relaxation. Relaxation methods can be particular- your batteries’. So these drugs lengthen the time it takes for ly useful for people who wake during the night and then the return of your normal sleep pattern.
have trouble falling asleep again, or for people who are If these pills are taken for more than a week or so, then your light sleepers. Relaxation methods are described on the body gets used to them and you will experience more prob- Amphetamine_wdl_220404.qxd 28/04/2004 12:19 PM Page 22 lems with sleep when you try to stop them. If you are going There are a number of simple relaxation methods that to use such medication, don’t take them for more than a you can use. One very effective method is the use of relax- week, and only take them as directed by your doctor. ation tapes; these are pre-recorded cassettes that you can The sedatives that are routinely used are of two types: listen to whenever you feel tense or worried. Use head- • Benzodiazepines
phones if possible. These tapes are available at pharmacies, There are a large variety of these drugs (eg Serepax, community health centres, general practitioners or commu- Mogadon, Valium, Normison, Rivotril, Ducene, Murelax, Another very effective way to relax is to practice the fol- • Antidepressants
lowing steps. Read the instructions and familiarise yourself Antidepressants (eg Deptran, Endep) may be prescribed with them before having a go. Be patient and give yourself in low doses. These drugs can be useful as sedatives several tries before expecting to experience the full bene- to promote sleep, and have an effect in lowering anxi- fits. It can take time to learn how to relax. The more you ety and feelings of agitation. Some people get side practice, the better you get at it. Although these instructions effects such as blurred vision, dry mouth and dizziness.
may be adequate, many people find it helpful at first to get If you experience any problems, see your doctor.
further training, either individually or in classes. Talk to your Antidepressants can be dangerous in high doses, so only take them as directed by your doctor.
Relaxation techniques
Normal routine
It is very common to get agitated and irritable during
Sit in a comfortable chair or lie down somewhere comfort- withdrawal, so it is important to do things that will help you
able in a quiet, warm room where you will not be interrupt- relax. There are lots of ways to do this, and different people ed. Wear comfortable clothing and take your shoes off.
find different things more effective. Everyone has simple Close your eyes. Notice how you are breathing and where ways to relax such as watching television or videos, listen- ing to music, warm baths, doing simple exercise (such as going for a walk with a friend), light reading. Start to breathe slowly and deeply. Fill your lungs right to Do whatever works for you.
the top. Hold your breath for a couple of seconds and then breathe out slowly, and empty your lungs completely.
There are other more sophisticated relax- Focus your concentration on your breathing and keep a slow, deep, rhythmic pattern going throughout your relax- ple get a lot out of things such as medita- tion, yoga and tai chi. If you are familiar with After 5–10 minutes, when you have your breathing pattern familiar with them, it will be difficult to learn established, start the following sequence, tensing each part of the body on an in-breath, holding your breath for 10 sec- Amphetamine_wdl_220404.qxd 28/04/2004 12:19 PM Page 24 onds while you keep your muscles tense, then relaxing and The six-second breath
The six-second breath can be used anywhere and any time when you feel anxious. Controlling your rate of breathing is After you have completed the whole sequence and you are one of the most important things you can do to stop your still breathing slowly and deeply, imagine yourself in a calm anxiety from getting out of control. If you keep your breath- and peaceful place (eg at the beach, by a lake or in some ing to one breath every 6 seconds, this will help. You can other favourite place). Try to ‘see’ yourself there as clearly breathe in over 3 seconds and out over the next 3 seconds.
as possible (the sound of birds, the colour of the water, the This can be done in stages eg in–in–in, out–out–out and so sun on your skin etc), concentrating your attention on it.
Continue to breath deeply and rhythmically. After this, go on to visualise yourself in another peaceful place of your choice Medication for relaxation
in a similar way. Finally, give yourself the instruction that, Some kinds of medication can take the edge off agitation when you open your eyes, you will be perfectly relaxed but during withdrawal. Your doctor will advise you on what’s best for you. However, as with everything else, don’t expect the medication to work on its own. These medica- tions should only be taken as directed by your doctor, and Relaxation sequence
don’t stay on them for more than a week or your body will 1. Curl your toes hard and press your feet down – get used to them and you may have problems when you try 2. Press your heels down and bend your feet up – Mood swings
3. Tense your calf muscles – then relax. It is very common during amphetamine withdrawal to expe- 4. Tense your thigh muscles, straighten your knees and make your legs stiff – then relax. 5. Make your buttocks tight – then relax. At times you will feel exhausted, have low levels of energy, be unmotivated to do anything or just constantly tired. At 6. Tense your stomach as if to receive a punch – other times you will feel restless, irritable, anxious, agitated and angry. All of these symptoms are a normal part of going 7. Bend your elbows and tense the muscles of your 8. Hunch your shoulders and press your head back One of the most important things in coping with these into the cushion or pillow – then relax. symptoms is to remember that they are part of ampheta- 9. Clench your jaws, frown and screw up your eyes mine withdrawal and they will go away eventually. Other things you can do to cope with these mood changes include 10. Tense all your muscles together – then relax. use of relaxation techniques, exercise, try to get regular Amphetamine_wdl_220404.qxd 28/04/2004 12:19 PM Page 26 sleep and eat well. All of these things play a part in your Aches and pains
mood. If you think your feelings are getting out of control, It is common to get headaches or general aches and pains see your health worker or counsellor.
in your body. These are caused by increased muscle ten- Strange thoughts
sion. The worst of the pains generally settle down within the first week or two. The following things may help: Some people experience mild paranoia or a feeling that peo- ple are ‘out to get them’. Others may misinterpret things • Warm baths, spas and saunas
they see and hear around them (for example, briefly seeing Use bath salts or bath oils at home, and check out your things that aren’t there out of the corner of their eye or thinking that the sound of a car going by is someone calling • Massages
their name). These experiences are common during periods Great if you can organise a professional job, but even of amphetamine use and may continue (or even get worse) getting a friend to do it or doing it yourself can work won- Having these symptoms does not mean that you are going • Light exercise
mad, and they generally settle down as long as you don’t Going for a walk, a swim, a jog, a bike ride or even just use amphetamines. If the symptoms continue after with- doing stretching exercises can help – anything that you drawal or get worse, or if you feel concerned, you should feel up to. Don’t overdo it and try to avoid high impact discuss them with your doctor, counsellor or health worker.
• Medication
Eating again
Medications such as aspirin or paracetamol can also Most people who use amphetamines regularly have a poor help, but only take them as directed as excessive use appetite and often have lost a lot of weight. It is important that you start to eat well again. Usually people’s appetites improve within days of their last use. Try to eat healthy High-risk situations
foods, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, and stay away There are some situations which make you feel like using again. These high-risk situations vary from person to per- son, and are often related to the circumstances in which It is also a good idea to drink lots of fluids – at least 2 litres you were using amphetamines in the first place – the peo- a day. Avoid alcoholic drinks (these will dehydrate you) and ple you used with or scored from, the places you link with drinks containing caffeine (eg tea, coffee, cola). Try to drink using (such as a certain nightclub, friend’s house or part of only water and fruit juices. Cordial mixed with water and town) or the time of day (or night) when you used amphet- non-fizzy mineral waters are also very good. Try to keep the fluids going in throughout the day, taking small sips all the time. Drinking a lot of fluids will help your kidneys flush out the toxins that have accumulated in your body.
Amphetamine_wdl_220404.qxd 28/04/2004 12:19 PM Page 28 Not being able to deal with these high-risk situations is a It is not advisable to begin heavy counselling during with- common reason why people ‘slip up’ and start using again.
So think about what the high-risk situations for you might be • Working through such issues can often be emotionally over the next few days. Make a list.
painful and cause a lot of anxiety. Opening a ‘can of worms’ during withdrawal may make you want to go and There are a number of ways to try to deal with them.
use, and may put your withdrawal in jeopardy.
• The first is to try to avoid the situation wherever possi- • People often aren’t thinking too clearly during withdraw- ble. Which of your risk situations can you avoid, and how al. There isn’t much point in trying to work on stuff that’s are you going to do this? This may mean staying away bothering you while you are feeling irritable, agitated, from certain people, places or events.
tired and run down, are having mood swings, poor sleep and difficulty concentrating as part of withdrawal.
• Another way to cope is to have a plan ready in case you do find yourself in a high-risk situation. Think about your Our advice is to deal with one thing at a time. First, get
risk situations. What will you say if you find yourself in through the withdrawal. When you are feeling better physi- cally and mentally and you aren’t hanging out as much, then • Remember the coping strategies you used before – how you can choose to deal with all the other heavy stuff.
to cope with cravings, how to relax.
It’s all too much
It’s very common for people going through withdrawal
There are many different types of counselling. Counselling
to feel as though they’re not going to get to the end of
during withdrawal is aimed at helping you get through
their withdrawal – which may be 3 days, 10 days or 3
this period and then looking at what you want to do
weeks away. Goals that are too far away in time often next. Sometimes this is called ‘supportive counselling’.
Towards the end of withdrawal, you may want to look at The best way to cope with this common difficulty is to stop counselling to help you avoid using again. This is sometimes thinking in terms of days or weeks, and to concentrate on
called ‘drug counselling’, and might include relapse preven- the immediate future. Can you make it to tomorrow morn-
tion or coping skills therapy to help you stay off the drugs.
ing without using? If tomorrow seems too far away, can you get through the next hour without using? After all, you may In general, while you are going through withdrawal, it is rec- feel better then (and the next day you may regret having ommended that you don’t try to get into heavy counselling about stuff that happened to you years ago, nor try to ‘work out’ your personal, relationship or family problems. This type of counselling is sometimes called ‘psychotherapy’. Amphetamine_wdl_220404.qxd 28/04/2004 12:19 PM Page 30 In other words, break up the withdrawal into short peri-
Sex and withdrawal
ods and deal with each one on its own:
A lot of people notice that their sex drive increases when ‘One day at a time’.
coming off amphetamines. Others find that it decreases.
This isn’t going to make your withdrawal easier or harder (but maybe more interesting, it just depends where you’re at and your partner). It’s always a good idea to practice safe sex. So remember to have plenty of condoms and water- based lubricant (such as K-Y® Brand jelly) handy.
What next?
The day will come when you start to feel much better and
you are through the worst of withdrawal. It’s worthwhile to have something prepared that you will enjoy as a reward for all you have been through (other than amphetamines or It’s at this point that you should start to think about what to do next. It’s worthwhile talking to someone about your options. These may include counselling, going to a long- term rehab program or changing your scene to get away from all the things that are likely to get you using again.
If you get halfway through withdrawal and you are feeling as Remember, things are going to be different when you’re no though you can’t finish, it is important to remind yourself longer using and you’ll need to plan for these changes.
that you have been coping with the symptoms for the last few days. Look at what you did then that helped you cope, Getting back on track if you ‘slip up’
and continue with it. After all, it has been working. Your doc- tor, counsellor or health worker can help you through any Giving up amphetamines is not easy. Many people slip up difficult periods. Or you can contact your local 24-hour alco- (‘lapse’) at some point along the way. Don't be too hard on hol and drug information, counselling and support service.
yourself if you do slip up (use when you didn't want to or People from Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and other support use more than you planned). It does not mean you have failed or that you have lost control, but it is a sign you may Amphetamine_wdl_220404.qxd 28/04/2004 12:19 PM Page 32 need to take action to avoid using again. Try to get back on • Don't use alone – if something goes wrong or you have
track straight away – a slip doesn’t mean you have to go a severe reaction, being on your own can make you feel back to using the same as you did before withdrawal.
much worse. Having someone with you means you have Learn from your lapse. Think about what happened that led you to use this time? How could you have avoided it? What will you do next time in a similar situation? Remember safe using hints
It's true that some people who start withdrawal do get back into using again ('relapse'). Learning to read the warning signs and to recognise difficult (high-risk) situations can help • Don’t share fits, spoons, water, swabs, tourniquets you avoid going back to your old patterns of use. Some peo- ple go through more than one withdrawal before they give • Don’t mix drugs• Stay with the person if they are having a bad reaction If you do use again, you need to be aware of a few things • Always ring an ambulance if you think someone has that will reduce the risk of harm to your safety and your • Don't use as much as before – your tolerance drops
while going through withdrawal and your risk of over- dose increases because you get a greater effect from using less. If you do start using again, don't use as much as you did before – your body may not be able to • Don't mix your drugs – mixing drugs increases your risk
of having problems, including overdose.
• Test a new supply before using – the scene may have
changed while you have not been using. There may be different gear around or you may be scoring somewhere new. Your risk of problems increases if you aren't sure about the strength of what you're getting. Test what you're using by having a small amount first.
Amphetamine_wdl_220404.qxd 28/04/2004 12:19 PM Page 34 NOTES FOR SUPPORTERS
drawal passes – the symptoms may be hard to cope with at the moment, but they will not go on forever.
Many people can provide support to a person withdrawing from amphetamines. Partners, friends, family members, There are times when, as a support person, you may feel general practitioners and counsellors can all play an impor- frustrated and impatient with the person you are helping.
tant role during the withdrawal period. Providing support This is normal. It is important that you have someone to talk and reassurance during this time can help someone through to and get support from. A friend, counsellor or doctor can be helpful. If there are times when you are unsure of how Supporting someone withdrawing from amphetamines is not always an easy job. There may be occasions when sup- There are confidential drug and alcohol telephone coun- porters feel unsure of how to help, what to do or what not selling and information services in all Australian states, and to do, and where to turn when things aren’t going smooth- they are a good way of getting further help. ly. There are, however, several important steps to follow.
Contact numbers for these services are listed on To start, become familiar with what happens during with- drawal. Read the contents of this booklet so you are aware of what the person is going through and things they should Someone who is withdrawing may already be aware of what they should be doing, but may find these difficult to remember or to do. Encourage the person withdrawing, especially when they are going through difficult periods, and help them recognise successes throughout their with- During difficult periods, it is useful to go over the reasons why the person initially decided to stop using ampheta- mines. At times, they may not feel as though they are cop- ing and may waver in their willingness to continue the with- drawal. Look again at the pros (positives) and cons (nega- tives) of returning to drug use. This may help them be clear on the benefits of returning to their original goal of getting through the withdrawal period. It is also important to look at how far they have already come and to remember that with- Amphetamine_wdl_220404.qxd 28/04/2004 12:19 PM Page 36 USEFUL CONTACT
Following is a list of telephone information or counselling services. These can provide advice or referral to other treat- We would like to thank the clients and staff of Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre,VIVAIDS: the Victorian drug user group, K Morgan, D Brogan and R Stephens. The devel-opment of the first edition of this book was supported by funding from the VictorianDepartment of Human Services.


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