Amphetamines are powerful substances that produce heightened alertness, improved energy and awareness that can last for hours depending on the user, the type of amphetamine taken and the dose. Most amphetamine containing drugs are used in the treatment of ADD or ADHD but they can also be prescribed to treat narcolepsy and severe cases of obesity that have been seemingly unresponsive to other means or forms of treatment. Unfortunately, many mistakenly believe that if an amphetamine containing medication is prescribed, and taken only as prescribed, then there will be no subsequent risks of addiction and this couldn't be more wrong.
Repeat use of any substance that contains amphetamine places the user at a risk for a wealth of potentially serious side effects, tolerance and addiction being at the forefront of those. Left untreated, amphetamine addiction can have lasting repercussions including overdose, heart damage, and death. According to the Center for Substance Abuse Research, "in medical use, there is controversy about whether the benefits of amphetamines prescribed for ADHD and weight loss outweigh the drug's harmful side effects."
Using amphetamines, or amphetamine containing drugs, can have various effects on the user's mood, personality, habits and behaviors. These stimulants react in the central nervous system causing an, "increase in the synaptic activity of the dopamine and norepinephrine neurotransmitter systems," according to NeuroScience for Kids. The following short term effects are likely with amphetamine use:
- Elevated Blood Pressure
- Elevated Heart Rate
- Dilated Pupils
- Heightened Sense of Happiness, Grandeur or Power
- Increased Energy
Continued use of the amphetamine can cause an array of long-term side effects that may, or may not, dissipate when the drug use is discontinued. Some of the most serious potential long-term effects of amphetamine abuse include:
- Continued Insomnia and an Inability to Sleep Through the Night
- Hallucinations That May be Auditory or Visual in Scope
- Weight Loss Which Can be Dangerous if Excessive Weight is Lost
- Malnutrition Resulting From a Lack of Desire to Consume Food
- Violence or Aggressiveness
- Tremors and Shaking Which is Uncontrollable
Tolerance to amphetamine containing medications and drugs can develop rather quickly. At first, it may take only a small amount of the drug to produce the increased energy and alertness, but as tolerance develops and grows, the user will find that more amphetamine is required in order for the effects of the drug to be reproduced on the same level.
Amphetamines are generally consumed orally but they may also be snorted, injected or smoked. When amphetamine is smoked, the drug is vaporized using heat and then inhaled. When injected, amphetamine containing drugs are dissolved in water or another soluble liquid and injected intravenously using a hypodermic needle. In any method of amphetamine use, there are risks and dangers, but injecting the drug seems to be the most dangerous because:
- Amphetamine injections can cause serious infection at the injection site.
- Injecting amphetamines sends an immediate rush which can increase the risk of overdose.
- Injecting drugs increases the risk of disease transmission through shared needles.
- Injecting amphetamines results in enhanced euphoria which can heighten risk of injury or accident.
On the streets, amphetamine containing drugs may be referred to as Bennies or an array of other terms that describe the drug. The most common street names for amphetamine containing drugs include:
- Black beauties
- Pep pills
- Stay ups
- White Crosses
Using amphetamines can lead to heart attack, stroke, depression, withdrawal and other serious side effects. If you or someone you love is abusing amphetamine, it's important to seek professional help right away to ensure your safety and timely recovery. Many dangers associated with amphetamine use extend far beyond the scope of overdose. Additional risks include:
- Permanent Psychosis
- Organ Damage
- Permanent Damage to the Brain Cells
- Heart Attack
- Elevated Blood Pressure
- Kidney Damage
- Liver Damage
- Vitamin Deficiency
- Behavioral Disorders
- Skin Disorders
- Cardiac Arrhythmias
When amphetamines are taken for a period of time longer than just a couple of days, the risk for amphetamine withdrawal is heightened. As the user develops a physical dependence on the drug, the body adjusts to the substance and builds a tolerance which is later responsible for an increased desire and perceived "need" to use. Amphetamine withdrawal is not only difficult to cope with, it can also be potentially dangerous for the user if medical treatment is not provided to ensure the safety of the addict. Common symptoms and dangers of amphetamine withdrawal include:
- Excessive Sleeping
- Nagging Hunger That Won't Stop
- Cardiac Arrest
- Poor Coordination
- Upset Stomach
- Tremors and Increased Risk of Seizure
- Misperception of Sensory and Motor Skills
- Behavioral Changes Including Aggressiveness, Irritability and Short-Temper
- Hypersensitivity to Light, Sound or Touch
- Bi-Polar Disorder
- Nightmares That are Very Realistic
- Suicidal Thoughts and Ideations
- Treatment for symptoms of amphetamine withdrawal.
- Medical intervention to ensure the continued safety of the patient.
- Support to help the patient sustain continued abstinence from amphetamine use.
- Tapering the amphetamine off slowly to ensure minimal or reduced repercussions as a result of the withdrawal.
If you, or someone you love is addicted to an amphetamine containing drug, professional treatment may be the only viable solution to your recovery. Various types of treatment have been proven effective in helping those who are addicted to amphetamine to balance their lives back out and prepare for recovery. The most common treatment options generally include:
- Residential Detox
- Inpatient Treatment
- Outpatient Treatment
- After-Care Programs
- Support Groups
- Sober Living Homes
Due to the nature of amphetamine withdrawal, and the fact that many of the most dangerous symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, irregular heartbeat and elevated body temperature cannot be visibly seen, medical treatment in a controlled, residential detox facility is recommended at least during the early days of amphetamine addiction recovery. Following the detox period, in which the user adjusts to living without amphetamines, treatment can consist of:
- Continued medical intervention and support.
- Counseling in an individual or group program (ideally counseling will take place in both an individual and a group setting).
- Behavioral therapy including CBT, motivational rewards and incentive programs.
- Support through 12-step programs and groups such as NA.
- Your Commitment to Sobriety.
- Your Ability to Remain Focused.
- Your Overall Health.
- The Severity of Your Addiction.
- Your Individual Needs or Circumstances.