Putting the call out for more research: the poor evidence base for treating methamphetamine withdrawal

Drug Alcohol Rev. 2011 Mar;30(2):216-22. doi: 10.1111/j.1465-3362.2010.00240.x.


Issues: Treatment seeking for methamphetamine withdrawal is low in Australia. Insufficient knowledge regarding the withdrawal syndrome of methamphetamine and the appropriate management of these symptoms may be a contributing factor to the low treatment attendance.

Approach: A systematic review was performed using a range of electronic databases.

Key findings: Common methamphetamine withdrawal symptoms include symptoms relating to depression, agitation, cognitive impairment and fatigue. These symptoms may last anywhere from a few days to a few months. Methamphetamine withdrawal is most commonly undertaken in an outpatient setting, and psychosocial interventions remain the primary treatment approach in Australia. Two withdrawal scales (Amphetamine Withdrawal Questionnaire and Amphetamine Cessation Symptom Assessment) have been validated for the assessment of methamphetamine withdrawal. Only a small number of medications for methamphetamine withdrawal have been investigated, and to date no medications stand out over the others.

Implications: Current recommendations for methamphetamine withdrawal tend to be based on clinical opinion and subsequently vary between settings. More research in the area is essential to ensure the development of more targeted, timely and effective withdrawal treatment interventions.

Conclusion: The review exposed a lack of well-conducted research targeted towards the management of methamphetamine withdrawal. Further research is essential, and should focus on understanding the nature of methamphetamine withdrawal, its duration, course and effective treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Amphetamine-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Amphetamine-Related Disorders / therapy*
  • Biomedical Research / standards
  • Biomedical Research / trends*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / standards
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / trends*
  • Humans
  • Methamphetamine / adverse effects*
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / psychology
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Methamphetamine