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Characterizing methamphetamine withdrawal in recently abstinent methamphetamine users: a pilot field study.

BACKGROUND: Methamphetamine dependence has become a significant problem, but methamphetamine withdrawal symptoms have not been well studied.

METHODS: This prospective observational pilot study was designed to examine withdrawal symptoms, mood, anxiety, cognitive function, and subjective measures of sleep over a 4-week period in six patients entering residential treatment for methamphetamine dependence.

RESULTS: Methamphetamine withdrawal symptoms, mood, and anxiety symptoms all resolve fairly quickly within 2 weeks of cessation of methamphetamine. Sleep was disrupted over the course of the 4-week study. No clinically significant alterations in blood pressure or heart rate were identified. This study did not demonstrate any alterations in cognitive function over the 4 weeks of the residential stay.

CONCLUSIONS: This pilot study points toward the need for a double-blind, placebo-controlled amphetamine withdrawal paradigm in humans where changes in sleep, cognitive function, and withdrawal measures can be explored more fully.

SCIENTIFIC SIGNIFICANCE: This study extends the literature by pointing toward a methamphetamine withdrawal syndrome that includes alterations in measures of sleep quality and refreshed sleep, early improvement in depression and anxiety symptoms, most striking during the first week, but persisting into the second week.

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