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What Are Amphetamines?

Amphetamines are synthetic (man made) drugs that are classified as stimulants. Specifically, amphetamines work by stimulating one’s central nervous system. Examples of amphetamines include:

Why Are Amphetamines Prescribed?



Amphetamines are most prevalently prescribed to treat ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder). Certainly, amphetamines give the user an enhanced state of alertness, allowing for better concentration and focus. Furthermore, Adderall is the most well-known drug prescribed to ADHD patients. In rare cases, Adderall is also used to treat depression and obesity. Adderall increases feelings of well-being for many users, as well as suppresses one’s appetite leading to weight loss. The drug is thought to increase the concentration levels of the patient with the ADHD condition. Other amphetamines are often prescribed to treat narcolepsy, in addition to ADHD and obesity.

How Do Amphetamines Affect the Body?

Studies have shown that amphetamines enhance the body’s response to the pleasure producing neurotransmitters known as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. These neurotransmitters activate the reward centers of the brain. For example, when one is eating or engaging in sexual activity, these neurotransmitters are most active. Since cocaine uses these same neurotransmitters that give the user the reward “high” feeling, the effects of cocaine are similar to that of amphetamines.

Short-term effects of amphetamines include:
  • Racing heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Appetite suppressant
  • Feelings of well-being
  • Increased alertness and concentration
  • Reduced tiredness
  • May increase confidence/self-esteem
  • Lowers inhibitions causing patient to become more social with others

How Do Amphetamines Affect the Body When Abused?

When abused over a long period, amphetamines can cause many undesirable or uncontrollable side effects including:

  • Increased anxiety
  • Insomnia or sleep disturbances
  • Restlessness
  • Paranoid feelings
  • Increased accuracy of hallucinations
  • Tremors
  • Unnecessary weight loss
  • Increase of anger or violent behavior

Taking amphetamines can negatively affect the body after just one use. Since the person is a “newbie” to the drug, he or she has not built a tolerance whatsoever to it. Because of this, he or she may experience extreme nervousness or paranoia upon the first administration of the drug. The user’s circulatory system is also often strained due to the increase in blood pressure caused by the drug. As with any upper, when an amphetamine user comes down from the drug, he or she may become lethargic or depressed.

Many abusers of amphetamines begin taking the drug to be able to focus, lose weight, or experience euphoric feelings, but often end up addicted to the drug and no longer have control over their actions. Adderall is extremely easy to access and buy illegally on the streets due to the prevalent rate at which the drug is prescribed. Many people, who are prescribed Adderall or other amphetamine drugs, are able to function without the drug, and therefore, choose to make money off of selling the drug on the street illegally. Surely, college students frequently pop adderalls when they are studying for a long period of time or pulling an “all-nighter”.

When withdrawing from amphetamines, one can expect to feel mentally tired, experience feelings of depression, and become ravenously hungry. Also, individuals may become irritable, nervous, sleep a lot, or have an odd dream that is remembered upon awakening. According to how long the user took the drug will determine how long the symptoms last and how extreme the symptoms are.

A person may find that when he or she ceases from taking amphetamines, he or she no longer has adequate amounts of energy. This effect upon ceasing to take the drug typically goes away with time. Because a person believes he or she can not afford to go without this needed energy-boost, quitting the drug is extremely difficult.

How Are Amphetamines Dangerous?

Amphetamines can pose danger to one when they are abused or taken above the recommended dose. Also, amphetamines should never be consumed by people with high blood pressure or heart disease. Furthermore, one should never combine antidepressant use with amphetamines as serious life-threatening effects could occur. People with glaucoma should steer clear of the drug, as well as nursing mothers, as the drug could be passed to the baby through breast milk. Additionally, mixing amphetamines with alcohol is not wise as people who combine these two substances have a tendency to act out in aggressiveness or violence.

Since 1979, there have only been about eighty reported accidental amphetamine overdoses that resulted in death, and among these were those who injected the drug directly into the blood stream. Despite that there have been instances of amphetamine overdoes, many people are still inevitably drawn to the drug in hopes of feeling psychologically better or to get an adrenaline rush. Of course, people who inject amphetamines with needles are always at a high risk of contracting the HIV virus, which is passed from person to person through the sharing of needles. People who use the amphetamine drug, Speed, often inject the drug. People who inject speed are also risking their health by not knowing if the product contains a foreign substance that was used to cut it. These unknown foreign substances could possibly block the blood pathways in the veins and result in damaged organs.

Moreover, a person who abuses amphetamines may lack vital nutrients, since the drug may drastically suppress his or her appetite. Since the user often becomes malnourished and is not getting an adequate amount of sleep each night, he or she may suffer from various mental or physical ailments. These conditions accumulate and often wear down the body in the long term.

Also, when a regular amphetamine user builds a tolerance for the drug, he or she often ups the dose amount in order to achieve the same, desired results. Drugs are generally dangerous because tolerance always occurs, therefore encouraging the user to take a higher and higher dose. Eventually, this higher dose being administered regularly can become lethal.

A consistent use of speed, or even one dose of speed in a large quantity, can produce “Amphetamine Psychosis,” which provokes the same behavior and symptoms as those with Schizophrenia. Like Schizophrenia, Amphetamine Psychosis is brought on by an over-production of dopamine. In adequate amounts, dopamine produces “reward” feelings or feelings of well-being, but when an over production occurs, dopamine can cause one to freak out or become extremely anxious.

Surely, people who enter this state experience auditory hallucinations, extreme fear, panic attacks, nightmares, insomnia, and become delusional. At first, the person may just feel slightly paranoid, but over time this can result in full-blown paranoia or psychosis. Often, this mental state brought on by amphetamines is never reversed. One should use extreme caution when engaging in amphetamine use for recreational purposes, such as the use of speed. The results of the drug use could become detrimental to one’s health.

How Does One Go About Quitting Amphetamines?

The best way to quit using amphetamines, especially more potent drug forms such as meth, is to detox in the comfort and safety of an inpatient treatment center. Amphetamines do not cause physical addiction, but the psychological addiction can be immense. Oftentimes, people are unable to feel pleasure after long-term use. This is due to the overuse and exhaustion of the dopamine receptors in the brain. Because of this, a person who is recovering from amphetamine addiction should be watched carefully to make sure he or she is not a threat to his or herself.

In addition, since the withdrawal symptoms are primarily psychological, a person in an inpatient detox facility could benefit from the social support it provides. Meth users will need to be encouraged periodically, since the brain chemistry will take some time to function at optimal levels again. Former Meth addicts may also need special care of his or her dental or skin problems that have resulted from the extensive amphetamine use. When a Meth or other amphetamine user strongly desires to recover, and takes the right measures to see recovery occur, he or she is able to achieve full recovery. Very rarely does a person succeed in striving to quit amphetamine use on his or her own. An inpatient treatment center is highly suggested for those seeking full recovery!

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