Table of Contents
- Amphetamine Addiction: What Are the Symptoms, Effects, Treatment, and Recovery?
- What Are Amphetamines?
- How Are Amphetamines Abused?
- What Is Amphetamine Addiction?
- The Effects of Amphetamines
- Amphetamine Addiction Recovery
Amphetamine Addiction: What Are the Symptoms, Effects, Treatment, and Recovery?
Amphetamine addiction is a serious problem in the United States and it is estimated that about 10 million people have tried amphetamines at least once. The number of current users has been estimated to be between 1.5 million and 2.2 million people, but the actual number may be much higher because many users are not willing to admit that they have a problem with the drug.
What Are Amphetamines?
Amphetamine is chemically related to methamphetamine and was first synthesized in 1887 by Lazar Edeleano. It came into use as an inhaler for nasal congestion in 1932 and was widely used to treat a variety of ailments and disorders such as obesity, depression, ADHD, and narcolepsy.
This class of manmade drugs acts as a central nervous system stimulant, increasing the activity of the nervous system and resulting in heightened feelings of attention, alertness, and energy. Amphetamines also increase blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory rate. Adderall, Vyvanse, Dexedrine, and Desoxyn contain amphetamine.
How Are Amphetamines Abused?
These drugs may be abused by people who want to stay awake, lose weight, or merely to get high. Prescription amphetamine may be swallowed, dissolved and injected, crushed and snorted, or even smoked.
For illicitly abused amphetamines, there are several street names such as copilots, eye-openers, lid poppers, pep pills, speed, uppers, wake-ups, and bennies. Dexies, chalk, crank, crystal, speed, zip, ice, crystal, glass, and goofballs are variants of amphetamine and methamphetamine street names.
Many students abuse amphetamine as a study aid. They believe that the drug provides them with high energy, keeps them awake, and enhances their focus. This is all done to perform better in school and in tests.
Research, however, has found that students who use amphetamines do not perform any better than those who did not use the drug and in reality, performed worse. Because the drug does make people feel like they can focus more and do better leads to a more severe misuse of the drug to get high.
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that in 2015, the most commonly prescribed stimulant type among people age 12 and older was amphetamines, and in the previous year over :
- 11.3 million people used amphetamine products
- 5.3 million people misused prescription stimulants
- 4.8 million misused amphetamine products
What Is Amphetamine Addiction?
Amphetamine is a highly addictive substance and the way it acts on the body results in changes in the brain’s behavior. A surge in the release of neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine results from the use of the drug and is followed by a subsequent inhibition in the reuptake of these chemicals.
The surges in and decreased reuptake of dopamine affect the brain’s reward system and the person, over time, loses the ability to feel pleasure without the drug.
Amphetamine abusers end up feeling depressed and even suicidal when they are not using the drug. The addictive properties of the drug also fuel cravings to keep using the drug making any effort to stop the use extremely difficult.
The Effects of Amphetamines
Although the euphoria and pleasure of the use of the drug are immense, amphetamines also have many potentially harmful effects. The effects of amphetamines are associated with the dose used, method of use, and if it were combined with other drugs. Amphetamine abusers are typically polysubstance users and will combine the drug with alcohol, marijuana, and ecstasy. The effects of amphetamines can last for many hours after use.
Some of the short-term effects are:
- Decreased feelings of tiredness.
- Heightened sense of intelligence, creativeness, or power.
- Improved feelings of well-being.
- Increased energy and alertness.
- Reduced social inhibitions.
Some of the risks that quickly follow are:
- Dry mouth.
- Heart palpitations or irregular heartbeat.
- Increased body temperature.
- Tremors or muscle twitches.
The long-term effects may include:
- Chronic breathing difficulties.
- Consistently irregular heartbeat.
- Frequent bouts of dizziness or vertigo.
- Repetitive motor movements (stereotypy).
- Skin problems.
- Vitamin deficiencies.
- Stroke and possibly death
The psychological effects of long-term amphetamine abuse are:
- Aggressive or violent behavior.
- Cognitive impairment.
- Mood changes.
- Panic attacks.
- Psychosis resembling schizophrenia, including paranoia, hallucinations, and skin-picking.
- Suicidal thoughts or actions.
Depending on the method the drug is taken, these effects may also occur:
- Damage to your nasal passages.
- Hepatitis B and C.
Furthermore, an amphetamine abuser’s lifestyle can be severely impacted by these possible results:
- Financial difficulties.
- Legal issues.
- Lowered inhibitions that result in STDs or unplanned pregnancy.
- Relationship conflicts.
- Declining performance at work or school and even job loss.
What Is the Treatment for Amphetamine Abuse and Addiction?
he treatment for amphetamine abuse and addiction is challenging because, with chronic use, the brain structure has undergone changes. Severe depression and the loss of pleasure from abstinence from the drug can pose a major obstacle to avoiding relapse. However, treatment can help people understand and adjust their behaviors based on triggers of amphetamine use.
Effective treatment for amphetamine addiction includes:
- Addiction education
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy
- Family counseling
- Motivational Interviewing
Detox from amphetamine is usually the initial step in the recovery process or precursor to treatment. The body and mind need to stabilize and revert to a healthy starting point prior to beginning the recovery journey. Medical staff and qualified substance abuse professionals will assist in an inpatient medically supervised detox facility to help safely and comfortably remove the toxic drug.
The amphetamine withdrawal symptoms are not life-threatening but may be psychologically difficult and physically uncomfortable. Attempting to self-detox poses a high risk of giving up or relapsing. Some of the main withdrawal symptoms are fatigue, increased appetite, insomnia or hypersomnia, unpleasant and vivid dreams, psychomotor retardation or agitation as well as dysphoric moods – the feelings of unhappiness, irritability, anxiousness, or dissatisfaction with life.
After the detox process is complete, recovery work with counselors and other treatment professionals aims to change the thoughts and behaviors that contribute to and maintain amphetamine use. There are several treatment options where this can be done:
- Inpatient or residential treatment where there is around-the-clock supervision, intensive addiction treatment therapy, and medical support.
- Outpatient treatment is where treatment happens while still living at home but attending treatment at an outpatient center or clinic at least once per week. This is a less intensive option that helps less severe addiction and for those who are highly motivated and disciplined.
- Partial hospitalization. This is a time-intensive form of outpatient treatment where you live at home but attend treatment during daytime hours. You participate in a combination of individual and group counseling. People who have recently completed inpatient treatment often step down to this form of treatment.
- An intensive outpatient program (IOP) is where the client lives at home but receives counseling for 6-9 hours a week.
- Recovery support groups are free self-help groups available in the community such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA), or alternative secular programs, such as SMART Recovery.
Amphetamine Addiction Recovery
Recovery is a lifelong process and it is recommended that those who have undergone addiction treatment continue their recovery with some form of aftercare to prevent relapse.
Amphetamine abuse can take a major toll on your life and the lives of those who care about you, but it need not need to continue. Reach out for help today to get off amphetamines for good. West Valley Detox is the premier facility for treatment and recovery from amphetamine addiction. Our staff is highly trained in all aspects of drug addiction, including a thorough psychological evaluation and medical detoxification. We are committed to providing the highest level of care for our patients.