Amphetamines are stimulant drugs that speed up the central nervous system. They increase your breathing rate, heartbeat, and brain activity. As a result, your focus improves and you feel less fatigue.
Many people (such as college students and young professionals) abuse prescription stimulants looking for a concentration boost. Some like the energy they get from amphetamines that keep them going when they’d normally be tired.
Unfortunately, what starts as amphetamine abuse can quickly turn into an addiction.
Types Of Amphetamines
There are quite a few different types of amphetamines. Most are closely monitored prescription drugs, but some are illicit and have no medical use.
Prescription amphetamines are often used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or narcolepsy (sudden sleep attacks or difficulty staying awake). They include:
- amphetamine/dextroamphetamine (Adderall)
- dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine)
- dexmethylphenidate (Focalin)
- methylphenidate (Concerta, Ritalin, Quillivant)
- lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse)
- methamphetamine (Desoxyn)
Though these are prescriptions, you can buy them on the street, too. Some people fake ADHD to get a prescription or visit multiple doctors to obtain extra pills to sell.
Illicit methamphetamine is highly addictive. Many dealers or manufacturers cut it with other substances to stretch the supply. Cutting agents lower the quality of the drug and make it even more dangerous since you don’t know what’s in it.
Ecstasy (3,4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or MDMA) is an amphetamine that has no medical use. It alters your sensory perception, which means it may make you see colors differently or hear distorted sounds. It also gives you energy so you can stay up all night.
MDMA (or “molly”—its powdered form) is commonly abused at raves and music festivals.
Amphetamine Abuse Potential
Most amphetamines are Schedule II controlled substances. They have a high potential for abuse. Abusing them will likely lead to psychological addiction. Still, it’s legal to use them under medical supervision or prescription.
Schedule I Controlled Substance
MDMA is the exception. It’s a Schedule I controlled substance because it is completely illegal, even for medical use.
Controlled substances are illegal to possess except with a prescription from your healthcare provider. You may be criminally prosecuted, fined, or sent to rehab if you’re found with an illicit amount or type of amphetamine.
The controlled substances act is in place to protect people from abusing these drugs and becoming addicted.
Effects Of Amphetamine Abuse
Many people who abuse amphetamines use them in a binge and crash cycle. They take repeated, overlapping doses of the stimulant to maintain the high until they are so exhausted they crash.
Binging on amphetamines may result in amphetamine-induced psychosis or schizophrenia-like symptoms. Other amphetamine side effects are more likely to occur when you take frequent, high doses.
Physical Side Effects
Physical side effects of amphetamine abuse may include:
- raised blood pressure
- increased heart rate or irregular heartbeat
- insomnia (difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep)
- loss of appetite (which can lead to malnutrition and weight loss)
- physical exhaustion
Psychological Side Effects
Psychological side effects of amphetamine abuse may include:
- mood swings
- emotional issues, like depression and suicidal thoughts
- violent tendencies
- memory problems
- ongoing hallucinations
Other Possible Side Effects
Tooth decay (meth mouth) and skin sores can result from dehydration and poor nutrition that often accompanies drug abuse. Other long-term effects of amphetamine abuse are restlessness and tremors (involuntary movements of the body, such as shaking or twitching).
Amphetamine abuse can damage relationships and cause you to perform poorly in work or school. If you develop an addiction to amphetamines, it can take over your life. You may find yourself stealing money to pay for drugs and hiding your drug use from loved ones.
It’s possible to overdose on amphetamines by taking too much or combining different types of stimulant drugs.
You can also overdose by mixing amphetamines with different types of drugs, like alcohol or opioids. It’s hard to tell how much you can handle when you’re combining substances.
An amphetamine overdose may be indicated by dangerously high body temperature. Overdose symptoms could be hallucinations, convulsions, or a heart attack, which may be fatal.
If you’ve been taking amphetamines for a while, you’re likely to have withdrawal symptoms if you stop abruptly. Your body and mind will adjust to the drug and react adversely when it’s no longer present. Withdrawal symptoms tend to be worse with amphetamine abuse and addiction.
Some amphetamine withdrawal symptoms are:
- strong cravings
- mood swings (depression, agitation, anxiety)
- difficulty concentrating
- more appetite
- trouble sleeping
- body aches
The withdrawal process is difficult and keeps many people from stopping amphetamine abuse. But you don’t have to go through it alone. If you or a loved one are struggling with amphetamine abuse, help is available.
Treatment For Amphetamine Abuse & Addiction
Treatment for amphetamine abuse and addiction may include:
The goal is to help you stop using amphetamines for energy and focus. Instead, you’ll learn healthy habits that support whole-person wellness.
How Treatment Works
Behavioral therapy focuses on changing thought patterns that lead you to substance abuse.
Support groups integrate you with others who have similar struggles to help you share your burden and gain new perspectives. Exercise and nutrition nourish your physical health as you recover.
The best amphetamine treatment programs are tailored to your unique needs so you can get the most out of your recovery. To learn more about amphetamine abuse and treatment options, reach out to an Ark Behavioral Health specialist today.
Department of Justice/Drug Enforcement Administration - Drug Fact Sheet: Amphetamines
National Center for Biotechnology Information - Amphetamine-induced psychosis - a separate diagnostic entity or primary psychosis triggered in the vulnerable?
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration - Drug Scheduling
U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus - Substance use - amphetamines
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