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Effects of Amphetamine Use: Short-Term, Long-Term, Side Effects, and Treatment

What Are Amphetamines Used For?

While amphetamines have clinical use, their potential for abuse and dependency is high. Legitimate use may turn into addiction. Amphetamines such as Adderall and non-amphetamine stimulants like Ritalin are gaining in popularity as recreational drugs, often abused for their euphoric and energy-producing effects.

Amphetamines are used to treat:

  • Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
  • Narcolepsy.

Are Amphetamines Harmful?

drugabuse_istock-61481478-teen-girl-balancing-pill-on-table-with-fingerAn amphetamine high produces a rush of excitement and energy throughout the body. However, as use continues:

  • The body builds up a tolerance to the drug.
  • Increasingly larger amounts are required to get the same “high” feeling.

Some users seeking more powerful highs may crush and snort or inject amphetamines to produce strong effects rapidly. By doing so and/or taking excess doses, you put yourself in great danger.

Using amphetamines without the direction of a medical professional is extremely risky, especially when amphetamines are combined with alcohol or other drugs.

Short-Term Effects of Amphetamines

Amphetamines can be addictive because of the effects they produce. As stimulants, they act on the central nervous system to produce the following short-term effects:

  • Quicker reaction times.
  • Feelings of energy/wakefulness.
  • Excitement.
  • Increased attentiveness and concentration.
  • Feelings of euphoria.

Those seeking the feelings described above may take amphetamines at larger doses than those prescribed or abuse them recreationally. However, the effects of amphetamines on the mind and body aren’t all positive. In fact, abuse of these drugs leads to a range of negative side effects.

Amphetamine Side Effects

Amphetamine side effects can range from mild to quite dangerous, and they depend on:

  • The user’s medical state.
  • The user’s body composition.
  • The dosage of amphetamine taken.

Heart palpitations

Side effects of amphetamines on the body and mind can include the following:

  • Dry mouth.
  • Headache.
  • Hostility.
  • Nausea.
  • Cognitive impairment.
  • Severe anxiety.
  • Lack of appetite.
  • Teeth grinding.
  • Dizziness.
  • Increased heart rate.
  • Heart palpitations.
  • Rapid breathing rate.
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure).
  • Increased body temperature.
  • Erectile dysfunction.
  • Irregular heartbeat.

It’s important to note that high blood pressure, increased heart rate, and irregular heartbeat can all set off dangerous cardiovascular events, which can be deadly.

Mixing amphetamines with alcohol is especially dangerous, since the drugs work in conflicting ways on the central nervous system. In general, alcohol depresses a number of processes in the body, while amphetamines work in the opposite direction—the net result could elicit a number of dire health consequences, such as fatal cardiac arrhythmias.

Long-Term Effects of Amphetamines

Long-term and heavy amphetamine use brings upon:

  • Paranoia.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Violent behavior.
  • Cravings for the drug.
  • Compulsive drug-seeking behavior.
  • Convulsions.
  • Respiratory problems.
  • Loss of coordination.
  • Obsessive behavior.

Amphetamine Dependency

Alarming Numbers of Young People Are Getting Stimulants Without Prescriptions

A surprising number of young individuals are able to acquire stimulants in spite of not having prescriptions for them. This is a widespread problem that can give way to rampant misuse. Where do these people acquire these prescription medications?

According to a survey conducted by Recovery Brands in 2016, a surprising majority of young people between the ages of 18 and 28 get their ADHD medications from their friends. Another 20.4% get their hands on them by means of their families.

Frequent and long-term use of amphetamines can lead to drug dependence. Drug dependence thresholds are different for different people, making it more difficult to determine a specific duration or amount of drug use that would lead to the development of addiction. What is clear, however, is that amphetamine addiction can happen to both:

  • Recreational users.
  • AND
  • Those with legitimate prescriptions.

While amphetamines are often sold and bought on the street and abused for a number of different reasons (e.g. for their reputation as “smart drugs” or “study drugs” that can enhance school performance), the fact is that those with prescriptions are just as susceptible to drug abuse. Remember: the fact that a drug is prescribed by doctors does not mean it is not addictive.

Amphetamine dependency is especially dangerous because it comes with tolerance. Tolerance to amphetamines means that users will need higher doses to regain the same “high.” Using a higher dose of amphetamines:

  • Exposes users to more severe symptoms of amphetamine use in the short and long term.
  • Puts users at higher risk for drug overdose, which can easily lead to death.

Amphetamine Withdrawal Treatment

Woman with insomnia

Amphetamine withdrawal treatment can be a difficult process. Amphetamine withdrawal often leads to a wide array of withdrawal symptoms, including:

  • Anxiety.
  • Feelings of panic.
  • Nightmares.
  • Increased appetite.
  • Strong cravings for the drug.
  • Somnolence or increased sleep duration.
  • Paranoia.
  • Confusion.
  • Irritability.
  • Violent behavior.
  • Severe depression.
  • Suicidal thoughts.

While these symptoms are uncomfortable and difficult to handle, they can be overcome. Management of amphetamine withdrawal does not require detoxification, but appropriate observation of the patient’s symptoms requires vigilance by clinical staff (Julien et al., 2011). A rehab program with supervised medical detox can help you rid your body of amphetamines while managing your symptoms and increasing your comfort.

Find Amphetamine Addiction Treatment Programs

If you or someone you love is having problems with amphetamine addiction, there is a way to get help. Rehab programs are located throughout the U.S., and many offer specialized treatment that can cater to individual needs. You can use SAMHSA’s Behavioral Services Locator to search for treatment centers. Many state government websites will also provide local drug and alcohol resources to those in need. To find your state government’s website, do a web search for your state name and ‘.gov.’ Once your state website is located, substance use resources shouldn’t be hard to find, and they should provide further phone contacts for your assistance.

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is a leading provider of addiction treatment programs and has trusted rehab facilities across the country. Please call us free at today and let us help you leave amphetamine behind for good.

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