Signs and Symptoms of Amphetamine Use, Abuse, Addiction & Facts

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What Are Amphetamines?

Amphetamines are drugs that are classified as stimulants. They work by rewarding the user with extra dopamine in the brain; causing the user’s central nervous system to be stimulated. The increase in the dopamine is very habit forming because it creates a euphoric feeling and overall sense of well- being.

While the effects of amphetamine use may be enjoyable, the high ends with a noticeable crash, leaving the user tired, irritable and even physically  sick (if the addiction has reached an advanced stage). The body builds a tolerance to amphetamines causing a user to increase the dosage to maintain the initially experienced euphoric effects.

Difference Between Amphetamines and Cocaine:

Although the physical experience of using amphetamines and cocaine is similar, amphetamines can last several hours while the high of cocaine usually lasts less than one hour. Cocaine is derived from the coca plant, and amphetamines are created with synthetic ingredients in a lab.

Common street names for amphetamines include:

  • Speed
  • Tweak
  • Uppers
  • Crystal
  • Pep pills
  • Wake Up

There are prescription drugs (such as Adderall or Ritalin) which can be considered amphetamines as well. These drugs are widely prescribed to young people which is becoming a more controversial practice.  The goal is to help the users stay alert and focused, but often there can be unknown long term consequences, particularly if the patient becomes accustomed to ingesting medication to achieve a positive sensation.

How Are Amphetamines Ingested or Used?

Amphetamine and methamphetamine pills can be taken as pills, crushed and snorted, or dissolved in water and injected. Some users will smoke and inhale the vaporized drug. “Crystal” is the powder form of methamphetamines (created illegally in home based or temporary labs). It is consumed orally, injected, or inhaled.1

Signs and Symptoms of Amphetamine Addiction

Many of the symptoms of amphetamine use are similar to other stimulants such as cocaine.2 The drug causes increased body temperature, increased blood pressure, sweating and euphoria.

Users under the influence will often be “chatty” and overly talkative. Some users who have taken the drug for a prolonged period can become paranoid and hallucinate when they are on a binge. Users who binge on amphetamines may lose weight rapidly or become faint when not eating. Some amphetamine users develop bruxism, involuntarily grinding their teeth while they’re on the drug.

Along with tolerance comes psychological and physical dependence on the stimulants.  Amphetamine addiction is common in the United States. Users will develop a tolerance to the drug, go on binges that cause them to stay up for days, and then crash into exhaustion only to pick up and try it again soon thereafter. The pleasure centers of the brain will begin to crave amphetamine if it is not regularly supplied. The effects of amphetamine take a toll on the cardiovascular system, the nervous system and even the brain.

Amphetamine users may become increasingly hostile and paranoid around friends and family members. They may have intense mood swings or psychotic episodes. They may seem anxious and jittery, or despondent and depressed. Pill users may steal or forge prescriptions to get more of the drug. They may doctor-shop in order to get as many prescriptions as possible, and ration pills by slicing them in half when they’re about to run out of them. Users who inject or snort the drug may start to steal or commit crimes to support their habit. A methamphetamine user may lose jobs, relationships, or assets as they lose control of their addiction. Many users suffer from serious financial or legal consequences as they try to keep up with their desire to get high.

Some illegal methamphetamine users have started out with a legitimate prescription for the drug, and turn to street versions once the prescription drugs are no longer available.

For users who are physically addicted, methamphetamine carries dangerous withdrawal symptoms that should be medically supervised to minimize the dangers as well as the physical discomfort.

What Are the Long-Term Effects and Dangers of Amphetamine Use?

Users are at risk for a variety of ailments, including death from heart attack or overdose.

Users may exhibit mood swings, depression and panic attacks. Users may also become dependent on other drugs, such as sleeping pills, in order to balance the affect of the stimulants they’re using.

Using amphetamines on a long-term basis can lead to serious health problems, including damage to brain cells and malnutrition. Many long-term users experience mental health crises such as amphetamine psychosis. The user may experience hallucinations, paranoia and other symptoms similar to schizophrenia. When a person experiences a psychotic episode, they may become a danger to themselves or others.

Medical intervention is often necessary to detox the methamphetamine abusing individual.

The long term effects of amphetamine abuse can be shocking. Teeth can fall out and someones looks and behavior can detiorate rapidly. There is a well known website in the treatment industry called “faces of meth” (warning: disturbing images) which is an educational portal that shows the “before and after”  of meth abuse.

Getting Help for a Methamphetamine Problem

Methamphetamine addiction can be a scary spiral of unrewarding highs and new lows for the user. Because of its devastating withdrawal effects, it’s ideal to seek help detoxing in a safe, supervised environment. There are many treatment options available to help you start your path to recovery. You deserve to reclaim your life from this addiction, and we want to help you get started. Give us a call – call the phone number above (it’s 100% confidential).

1.Amphetamine Toxicity – StatPearls, available here.
2.Amphetamines, available here.