Elavil (Amitriptyline) Detox: Side Effects And Timeline

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D. on October 11, 2021

Elavil, also known as amitriptyline, is a tricyclic antidepressant. Chronic use of this drug can cause physical dependence and withdrawal. Treating symptoms of Elavil withdrawal can be most safely accomplished through inpatient or outpatient detox.

How To Detox From Elavil

Elavil, a brand name for amitriptyline, is a prescription medication. It belongs to a class of drugs known as tricyclic antidepressants, which can cause physical dependence with chronic use.

Discontinuing Elavil too quickly, or stopping it all at once, may cause symptoms of withdrawal, which can be physical, emotional, or psychological in nature.

The safest way to stop taking Elavil after a period of chronic use, or drug abuse, is to talk to your doctor about recommended detox options.

Learn more about how to detox from antidepressants

Who Needs Elavil Detox?

Detox programs are recommended for people who have a history of substance abuse, addiction, or those who otherwise have severe drug dependence from chronic drug use.

Elavil detox may be recommended for people who:

  • have been taking Elavil for at least six weeks
  • take high doses of Elavil regularly
  • have a history of Elavil abuse or addiction
  • have a substance use disorder
  • are at risk for severe Elavil withdrawal

Withdrawal occurs as a result of physical drug dependence. This can develop over time because of Elavil’s chronic effects on certain chemicals, also known as neurotransmitters, in the brain.

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How Elavil Detox Works

Detoxing from Elavil typically occurs through a tapering process. Tapering off Elavil involves reducing the amount of Elavil you’re taking (your dosage) over a period of time.

For instance, your doctor may begin with reducing your dosage little by little, with clear instructions on how much to take and when to reduce your dosage again.

If you are addicted to Elavil, or have a history of Elavil abuse, entering a formal drug treatment program or detox facility for treatment may be recommended for safety purposes.

Side Effects Of Elavil Detox

Stopping Elavil may cause certain side effects, known as symptoms of withdrawal, once you begin weaning off Elavil. Stopping it all at once may cause more intense symptoms.

Elavil withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • nausea
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • upset stomach
  • low energy
  • fatigue
  • return of depression

If you were prescribed Elavil for a medical or mental health condition, stopping Elavil may cause a return of symptoms it was intended to treat, including pain, anxiety, depression, or migraines.

What Factors Can Affect Elavil Detox?

Detoxing from Elavil doesn’t look or feel the same for everyone. A variety of factors can affect both the types of symptoms experienced, how long they last, and their intensity.

For example:

  • dose taken
  • duration of drug use
  • use of other drugs
  • co-occurring disorders
  • drug abuse or addiction
  • body composition
  • genetic factors

People with certain medical or mental health conditions may also be at risk for more intense or potentially severe symptoms of Elavil withdrawal.

In serious cases, withdrawal symptoms may mimic symptoms of Elavil overdose, which might include: irregular heartbeat, confusion, or seizures.

Amitriptyline Detox Timeline

Amitriptyline (Elavil) is typically prescribed for use one to four times daily. Depending on the level of dependency, withdrawal symptoms may develop within hours of your last dose.

The estimated timeline for detoxing from Elavil will largely depend on whether you taper off Elavil gradually, or stop it all at once (not recommended).

Weaning off Elavil may take several weeks. During this time, withdrawal symptoms may come and go. The intensity of withdrawal, and how long it lasts, can vary based on personal factors.

Risks Of Amitriptyline Detox

Elavil detox is not known to be dangerous. However, it can be uncomfortable, and may cause a return of symptoms it is typically prescribed to treat.

Stopping Elavil too quickly, or all at once, may cause more severe symptoms of withdrawal. Medical treatment for this may be needed, depending on the symptoms experienced.

Medical Detox Programs

Medical detox is a type of detox program that offers medical supervision and treatment for people who are experiencing drug withdrawal.

What medical detox can offer:

  • withdrawal symptom relief
  • around-the-clock monitoring for medical concerns
  • a quiet place to detox from Elavil
  • referral for drug abuse treatment (as needed)

Medical detox programs typically require staying in a detox facility or rehab center overnight for 24-hour care and support.

Elavil (Amitriptyline) Detox FAQs

Amitriptyline is a prescription drug that’s used for the treatment of depression, as well as neuropathic pain, migraines, and disordered eating in both teens and adults.

Find answers to frequently asked questions about Elavil detox here.

Getting Elavil fully out of your system may take several days or potentially weeks.

This will depend on factors such as:

  • how often you take Elavil
  • the dosage amount
  • how long you’ve been taking Elavil
  • metabolic rate
  • method of use
  • liver and kidney function

Missing a dose of amitriptyline, or stopping it abruptly, may cause symptoms of withdrawal such as headache, dizziness, fatigue, and nausea.

Weaning off amitriptyline, also known as completing a taper, is typically recommended for those who wish to stop taking it.

Weaning off amitriptyline may not be required for people who have been taking the drug for less than six weeks, or those who take it infrequently (i.e. not daily).

Find Amitriptyline Detox And Addiction Treatment Today

Getting help for Elavil abuse or addiction typically begins with detox. If you’re looking for detox for yourself or a loved one taking Elavil, we may be able to help.

Contact our helpline today to learn more about Elavil detox and to find treatment options for Elavil abuse that are capable of meeting your or your loved one’s needs.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D. on October 11, 2021

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