Important Facts About Amphetamine Addiction and Abuse
Most people may know about common drugs like Adderall and Concerta, but may not know all of the important facts about amphetamine addiction and abuse. These amphetamine drugs are prescribed for treating several mental disorders. But if they are abused, amphetamines can lead to devastating side effects - including addiction and physical dependence.
ADHD diagnoses are increasing around the United States. As a result, prescriptions for amphetamine medications have also risen. As the drug becomes more available, prescription amphetamine addiction and abuse become more likely.Get Help Today
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What is Amphetamine?
As a chemical, amphetamine has been around for nearly two hundred years. However, it was not until less than a hundred years ago that amphetamines began being used as pharmaceuticals. At that point the drug was prescribed for everything from asthma to treating opioid addiction. Not long afterward, clinical trials began seeing the negative effects of amphetamines.
Today, the use of amphetamines for medical purposes is very limited. In fact, amphetamine drugs are usually only used for three purposes: treating attention-deficit disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and narcolepsy.
The Different Forms of Amphetamines
Despite its limited use in the medical field, amphetamine is still in circulation and therefore prone to abuse. As a prescription stimulant, amphetamine drugs (like Adderall) are meant to be used to calm patients with ADHD and ADD, improving both their self-esteem and their ability to think clearly. It is also used to help keep patients with narcolepsy awake.
Prescription amphetamine drugs accomplish their goal by increasing the dopamine levels in the brain. For patients with ADHD and ADD, this is thought to improve their motivation for learning and for focusing. For patients with narcolepsy, this jump in dopamine causes them to stay away for longer.
The most common prescription amphetamine medications include:
- Adderall XR
- Amphetamine Salts
All of these drugs are used to treat the disorders mentioned above. However, because amphetamines raise the dopamine levels in the brain, they can also lead to a "high" - a rush of euphoria and a general feeling of well being. It is this rush that often leads to amphetamine abuse.
In addition to the risk of amphetamine abuse and amphetamine addiction, the use of some of these drugs is associated with serious side effects.
For instance, amphetamine salts is the generic counterpart to Adderall. According to multiple reports, the generic drug is associated with more side effects and less of a positive effect in treating ADD and ADHD. In other words: use amphetamine salts with caution.
The Danger of Abusing Amphetamines
Before jumping into the details, it is important to know two things:
1) Amphetamine addiction and drug abuse is entirely possible, and not uncommon. Prescription amphetamine should be approached with caution, and only used as prescribed.
2) If addiction or abuse is already present, professional addiction treatment is available. Treatment programs and rehab can help those struggling with amphetamine dependence overcome the negative effects of the drug.
To learn more about how amphetamine can be habit-forming and what abuse of the drug looks like, read on.
Knowing What Amphetamine Abuse Looks Like
Amphetamine abuse is not uncommon. Some people take it trying to get high, while others take it as a weight loss measure. Amphetamine is a prescription stimulant. This means that taking it in any other way that outlined in the prescription can be considered an abuse of the drug. The only acceptable use for amphetamines is in treating ADD, ADHD or narcolepsy.
Amphetamine abuse includes any of the following situations:
- Taking more of the prescription drug than has been prescribed.
- Taking amphetamine more often than has been prescribed.
- Crushing or chewing amphetamine pills in an attempt to get the drug to the brain faster.
- Taking the drug to get high.
- Taking amphetamine without a prescription or with an expired prescription.
- Taking the stimulant as a means of self-medication, for whatever reason.
In other words, the only safe way to use amphetamine is with a prescription from your doctor. Even then, you should let your doctor know if you have a history of substance abuse, as amphetamine can be addictive when abused.
The Most Common Amphetamine Side Effects to Look For
In addition to the behavioral signs listed above, using amphetamine (and especially abusing the drug) can lead to physical symptoms of abuse. These amphetamine side effects can prove detrimental to physical health over the long-term, especially if an overdose occurs.
Physical signs of amphetamine abuse include:
- A high body temperature
- High blood pressure
- Euphoria or extreme excitement
- Faster breathing or breathing problems
- A marked increase in energy
- Dry mouth
- Dilated pupils
- Decreased appetite
Some of the side effects of prescription amphetamine are part of taking the drug even as it is prescribed. However, these symptoms only increase and become more intense when amphetamine is abused.
The side effects of amphetamine also include psychological and behavioral symptoms, particularly when the drug is abused. These specific side effects include:
- Unexplained hostility or aggressiveness
- Reduced inhibitions in a social setting
- A changed sex drive
Finally, there are many long-term effects of using amphetamines over a long period of time. These are more pronounced when someone becomes addicted to amphetamines (like Adderall) and continually abuses them over the course of months and years.
The long-term effects of amphetamines include some of the effects already outlined, to a greater degree:
- Violent behavior
- Intense cravings for the drug
- Problems breathing
- A loss of coordination
- Obsessive behavior, even when it is not reflective of personality
- A marked change in physical appearance and behavior
- Increased hallucinations
- Continual paranoia
These are the short-term and the long-term effects of amphetamine abuse, as well as the signs of abuse to look for both in yourself and those around you. This is an important first step to understand, since abuse can often turn to addiction to amphetamines.
Understanding Addiction to Amphetamines
If you have seen crystal meth mouth pictures, you know already know what at least one of the long term side effects of crystal meth abuse can look like. But it does not stop there.
Addiction is a step beyond the abuse of amphetamine medications. This is when the use of the drug has translated into a physical dependence on its effects.
While many of the side effects of amphetamine abuse outlined above can also be signs of addiction, the list is not complete.
As a mental disorder, addiction completely changes the makeup of the brain. Amphetamine addiction results in several other behavioral symptoms that are important to look for. These include:
- Buying amphetamines from an illegal source to take for any purpose.
- Going to multiple doctors and pharmacies in an attempt to get more of the drug.
- Withdrawing from social situations and friendships as a result of drug use.
- Stealing money from friends, family and even strangers in order to buy amphetamine medication.
- Seeing the amphetamine side effects discussed above in an extreme form.
- Overdosing on the prescription drug.
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms as a result of drug dependence.
This last symptom of addiction is perhaps the most important to be on the look out for. If someone is abusing amphetamine medication, they will most likely become dependent on its effects over time. This means that they cannot go very long - maybe 12 to 24 hours - without taking the drug.
If they do, they will experience amphetamine withdrawal symptoms. This is their body telling them that they need the drug, even though they do not. It is also when medical detox is recommended.
There are many different symptoms during amphetamine withdrawal, including:
- Anxiety or major depression
- Panic attacks and nightmares
- Intense cravings for amphetamines or other stimulants
- Confused thinking
- Suicidal thoughts
If you see these amphetamine withdrawal signs in yourself, it is most likely because you are addicted to the drug. Thankfully, there are addiction treatment options for individuals dependent on the effects of amphetamine.
What You Need to Know About Amphetamine Treatment
If you are addicted to prescription amphetamines, you should seek out professional help for the drug abuse. This will set you up for success as you make the choice to recover from the addiction. With this professional help, treatment for amphetamine addiction and abuse is entirely possible.
There are several different options available for amphetamine addiction treatment. One of the most common options for treatment is an intensive outpatient program. In these programs, patients engage in both individual therapy sessions and group support meetings as they begin the road to recovery.
These sessions help those struggling with dependence identify the detrimental effect that addiction has had on their life, as well as develop strategies for how to stay away from drugs like amphetamine in the future. Addiction treatment programs are designed to help individuals create a healthier and happier life for themselves.