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The Effects of Amphetamine Use

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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 such as Ritalin are gaining in popularity as recreational drugs, often abused for their euphoric and energy-producing effects.

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

Are Amphetamines Harmful?

drugabuse_istock-61481478-teen-girl-balancing-pill-on-table-with-fingerWhile amphetamines have clinical use, their potential for abuse and dependency is high. Legitimate use may turn into addiction, and amphetamines such as Ritalin are gaining popularity as recreational drugs, often abused for their euphoric and energy-producing effects.

An 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 combined with alcohol or other drugs.

If you are suffering from an amphetamine abuse problem, call to discuss treatment so you can find your way back from addiction.

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:

  • 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 use aren’t all positive. In fact, abuse of these drugs leads to a range of negative side effects.

Side Effects

The side effects of amphetamines usage can range from mild to quite dangerous, and they depend on:

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

Side effects of amphetamines can include the following:

Heart palpitations

  • 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 bring 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 Getting Stimulants Without Prescriptions

A surprising number of young individuals are able to acquire stimulants in spite of not having a prescription 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 family.

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 develop into 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, 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 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 in the short and long term.
  • Puts users at higher risk for drug overdose, which can easily lead to death.

Amphetamine Withdrawal Treatment

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

Woman with insomnia

  • 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 facility with supervised medical detox can help you rid your body of amphetamines while managing your symptoms and increasing your comfort.

If you or someone you love is having problems with amphetamine addiction, there is a way to get help. Call us at today and let us help you find a rehab facility and leave amphetamines behind for good.

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Patrick Condron, M.Sc., M.A.C., is an addiction specialist and drug and alcohol counselor. He is Executive Director of Lazarus House, Inc., a transitional residential program for men and women who continue to work on their recovery towards independent living.
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