Any substance or drug that is consumed, ingested, absorbed through the skin or inhaled through the nose can be damaging to the body. Amphetamines, barbiturates, opiates and narcotics are all substances that can be both harmful and addicting. Amphetamine abuse is one of the most common forms of drug addiction. Individuals use amphetamines to keep their energy levels high and maintain an adrenaline rush.
What Are Amphetamines
Amphetamines are stimulants that affect the central nervous system. Stimulants speed up the transmission of messages along neural pathways and cause a person to feel as if they are experiencing a rush of adrenaline. As medications, they have several uses and when taken according to a doctor’s orders, can be quite beneficial.
Amphetamines can be used as an appetite stimulant, an aid for learning disabilities and to boost both blood pressure and heart rate. When taken in the right dosage, amphetamines can help individuals focus and pay more attention to what is going on around them.
Types of Amphetamines
There are several types of amphetamines. Capsules, tablets, crystals and powder are common forms of the drug. Crystal methamphetamine is highly addictive and is one of the most popular forms of amphetamines sold on the street. This is partly due to the ease in which it is made. Amphetamine salts is another way amphetamines can be abused. In the past, they were found in many retail stores and were abused much like other street versions of meth. The sales of these bath salts and similar stimulants is now prohibited and it can be much more difficult to attain.
Symptoms of Amphetamine Addiction
Symptoms of amphetamine addiction range from mild to severe depending on the type and amount used. Individuals who use this type of drug on a regular basis can build up a tolerance, reducing its overall effect. As more and more of the drug is needed to produce the same feelings of euphoria, symptoms can become more apparent:
- rapid heart rate
- reduced appetite
- excessive sweating
- dilated pupils
- dry mouth
- increased self confidence
- excessive amounts of energy
Individuals who are more susceptible to the drugs’ effects can suffer from withdrawal symptoms if the person stops using them abruptly. Symptoms of amphetamine withdrawal can include headaches, chills, fatigue and agitation.
What Effects Do Amphetamines Have On the Body?
Amphetamines have several physical effects on the body. They have a direct effect on speed in which signals are sent to and from the brain to the body and vice versa. Amphetamines speed up a person’s heart rate and hasten the speed with which the blood flows throughout the body. This type of drug also increases the amount of certain types of hormones, such as adrenaline.
Amphetamines can elevate mood and enhance feelings of self confidence and power. Because they speed up many of the processes within the body, they can cause a person to sweat uncontrollably. Over stimulation of many of nervous system can cause a person to have chills, tremors or uncontrollable shaking.
For individuals who suffer from low blood pressure, AD/HD and chronic fatigue symptoms, low dose amphetamine based medications can stimulate their body into behaving more within normal range. For children and adults who have trouble concentrating or staying focused on simple tasks, these medications act on the brain in such a way that they are better able to concentrate.
While amphetamines do provide benefits when used in the proper dosage, misuse of them can result in damage to the heart, adrenal glands and long lasting damage to other important systems within the body. Once the body becomes dependent on these types of substances, it can become extremely difficult to stop taking them. Severe headaches, rapid breathing and difficulty sleeping are possible when the drug’s effects begin wear off.
What Is Amphetamine Psychosis?
Amphetamine psychosis is most common in individuals who misuse or abuse stimulants. While most of the reports of psychosis are associated with illegal drug use, it can also occur in individuals who use stimulants while under the supervision of a physician. The more often stimulants are used, the higher the risk of experiencing amphetamine psychosis.
Aggressions, delusions, nausea, sleeplessness, vomiting, tremors, hypertension and hallucinations are all possible when a person has been diagnosed with amphetamine psychosis. The more severe the degree of psychosis, the more pronounced the symptoms become. Individuals who experience this type of psychosis need to seek medical treatment when the symptoms become apparent.
Addiction to amphetamines is common in people who take them on a regular basis and can also be directly related to the onset of various mental disorders, including amphetamine psychosis. The misuse or abuse of any substance can lead to addiction. The risk of psychosis increases exponentially among individuals who continue to increase their amphetamine use.
Side Effects of Amphetamine Addiction
Because amphetamines are stimulants, they increase several functions within the body. When a person uses amphetamines, they often do so for the increase in energy they feel. Every drug poses some risk to the person who uses it. Even when amphetamines are used correctly and under the supervision of a medical professional, they can still cause a person to experience side effects.
Side effects of amphetamine abuse and misuse include:
- profuse sweating
- Inability to concentrate
- uncontrollable tremors/shaking
- inability to sleep or calm their thoughts
- nausea and vomiting
- feelings of light-headedness
If a person has been prescribed an amphetamine for medical reasons, they should report any side effects they experience to the doctor who prescribed the medication. The doctor may choose to try another approach or they may attempt to reduce the dose of the drug to see if the side effects diminish. If a person experiences any type of side effects, the person’s physician may want to closely monitor them. Depending on what disorder or condition is being treated, the doctor may decide to admit the person to the hospital for constant supervision.
If the side effects are related to amphetamine abuse and addiction, the doctor may suggest a variety of treatment options to help the person stop using amphetamines altogether. Addictions must be carefully treated so the person does not suffer any adverse reactions or relapse back into drug use. Controlling the side effects and symptoms are only part of the solution. The person’s mental and emotional state must also be taken into consideration.
Treatment Options for Amphetamine Addiction
There are several treatment options for individuals who find themselves addicted to amphetamines. For cases of addiction where amphetamine use is minimal or has not been going on for very long, outpatient treatment and counseling may be an option. Counselors who make themselves available to their patients who are suffering from most types of addiction have a much higher success rate than many others.
For individuals who have been using amphetamines for a long period of time or have a severe addiction, inpatient treatment may be the only option that truly works. Inpatient programs can last from one to six months depending on the severity of the addiction and how well the person responds to treatment.
Elements that are included in most inpatient treatment programs include:
- Intensive counseling
- Improved diet and nutritional counseling
- Lifestyle changes
- Modifications to existing prescriptions that may adversely have an impact on a person’s addictive tendencies
- Recreational therapy
The first step in any treatment program is the person admitting they have a problem and taking the necessary steps to receive treatment. If treatment is forced upon them, they are not ready to put the necessary effort into their treatment for it to be truly successful. They must want the treatment and be willing to do what is necessary to complete the program successfully.
Amphetamines do have a purpose when used under the supervision of a physician. When they are misused or abused, individuals can experience severe side effects, possible addiction, seizures, and worst case scenario, coma and death.