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Concurrent Alcohol and Amphetamine Abuse

Table of Contents

The Problem of Alcohol and Amphetamine Abuse

Just because two substances can each be obtained legally does not mean that they are safe together. The risk associated with alcohol and amphetamine use increases when these addictive substances are used simultaneously.

Key Statistics

Amphetamine abuse is something that many people may not consider problematic but deserves serious consideration since millions of teens and adults are prescribed the medication monthly.

Reports from the American Association of Poison Control Centers state:

  • More than 15,500 cases involving amphetamine abuse were reported to poison control centers in 2013.
  • Of those reports, the majority were unintentional overdoses.
  • 3 deaths were confirmed from amphetamine abuse exclusively, with thousands more needing medical treatment.

Amphetamines are manmade stimulant drugs that doctors prescribe for:

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

Being a stimulant means that amphetamines can increase activity level, attention, alertness, and energy in a way similar to cocaine.

There are several brand names for oral amphetamines with Adderall being the most recognized.

When used as prescribed, these medications are effective with some side effects, but when combined with alcohol, problems frequently occur.

The stimulant properties of amphetamines can mask the intoxication from alcohol. Conversely, the depressant effects of alcohol can blunt the stimulant effects of amphetamine. As a result, when consumed in combination, users can end up using dangerous, toxic levels of both.

Teen Amphetamine Abuse

Prevention is a key factor in limiting amphetamine abuse by a teenager

Due to their level of access to the substance, teens and young adults abuse amphetamines at levels higher than the rest of the population. Unlike other types of drug use that have decreased in this demographic, amphetamine abuse is increasing overall, especially in high school students. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that between 2011 and 2014:

  • Lifetime amphetamine abuse has increased from 5.2% to 6.7% among those in 8th grade.
  • Past year amphetamine abuse has increased from 6.6% to 7.6% among 10th graders.
  • Past year use of Adderall specifically has increased from 6.5% to 6.8% of 12th grade students.

When you pair this information with that statistic that 60.2% of 12th graders abused alcohol in the last year, the prevalence of alcohol and amphetamine abuse becomes clearer.

Prevention is a key factor in limiting amphetamine abuse by a teenager. To prevent abuse:

  • Educate yourself and your teen regarding the addictive qualities of amphetamine medications and the myth that they aid academic performance.
  • Keep an accurate count of amphetamine medication in the home.
  • Be sure that your teen takes the medication rather than saving it to abuse later.
  • Keep the prescription in a safe, locked location.

Signs and Symptoms

Effects of Amphetamine Abuse

  • Cardiovascular issues including higher blood pressure and irregular heartbeat.
  • Decreased need for sleep.
  • Decreased interest in eating that can lead to stunted growth and malnutrition.
  • Anger and/or irritability.
  • Euphoria with temporarily increased sense of self-worth.
  • Speaking excessively/quickly.
  • Headaches.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Muscle tremors and twitching.
  • Paranoia and suspicion.

Effects of Alcohol Abuse

  • Speech problems including slurred or confused words.
  • Depressed or irritable mood.
  • Poor coordination, including trouble walking.
  • Diminished decision-making abilities.
  • Attention and memory problems.

When abused, amphetamines have the ability to minimize the tired and groggy feelings associated with alcohol intoxication. Abusers will take amphetamines when drinking to extend the time that they can drink heavily. This extended time increases the risk of alcohol poisoning from overconsumption leading to organ damage and death. In turn, alcohol can intensify the pleasurable influence of amphetamines.

Effects of Alcohol and Amphetamine Abuse

There is no debate that alcohol and amphetamines are both very addicting when abused. Additionally, over time, people develop tolerance to these drugs, which means more of the substance is required to achieve the same results. This increases the risk of overdose. Long-term, concurrent abuse of amphetamine and alcohol can lead to:

  • Serious depressive, anxious, or psychotic symptoms.
  • Skin disorders from picking and scratching.
  • Ulcers.
  • Extreme fatigue.
  • Major organ problems including heart and liver damage.
  • Rhabdomyolysis, or muscle necrosis.
  • Thoughts of suicide.
  • Convulsions and seizures.
  • Stroke.
  • Death

Alcohol and Amphetamine Abuse Treatment

People addicted to alcohol and amphetamines need to seek professional treatment. Suddenly stopping use without observation can be difficult, uncomfortable, and potentially deadly due to withdrawal symptoms.

Once someone decides to stop abusing alcohol, a period of supervised detoxification is necessary to avoid these risks.

Detoxification is a medically supervised process of allowing the body to process and remove any remaining trace or influence of drugs. During this process, medical professionals will:

  • Monitor vital signs.
  • Administer medications to improve comfort.
  • Discuss follow-up treatment options.

After detoxification, treatment of alcohol and amphetamine abuse will focus on several areas including:

Fusce vitae
  • Drug and alcohol treatment. Drug and alcohol treatment will emphasize the role that the substances play in the life of the user. Work will be done to minimize people, places, and situations that maintain and encourage use. Relapse prevention will be discussed to avoid future use.
  • Mental health treatment. Many people seek drugs and alcohol as a way to self-medicate mental health issues. Specific mental health treatment can target symptoms and encourage healthier coping skills to improve functioning.
  • Medication. In an attempt to maintain recovery, a doctor may prescribe medication. Several medications exist to reduce the pleasure associated with alcohol use. If a doctor prescribed the abused amphetamine to treat ADHD symptoms or another condition, a non-stimulant medication will be more appropriate here.

These treatments can occur in a range of settings including inpatient and outpatient facilities.

Don’t wait to get your life back. Many recovery programs are designed to treat those who have struggled with multiple substances. Call 1-888-708-0796 to discuss treatment options. All calls are confidential and will address your individual needs.

Resources, Articles and More Information

For more information, please see the following articles:

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