The Nature of Amphetamine Addiction
Amphetamines – not to be confused with methamphetamines, which have a similar chemical composition – are a central nervous system stimulant. When someone takes an amphetamine, they experience increased wakefulness, a burst of energy, increased self-confidence, and an improved mood. Typically, amphetamines are prescribed for children and adults suffering from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). When used by those with ADHD, they provide a calming effect. They have also been used to treat narcolepsy and depression, though they are used less frequently for the latter.
However, like many other drugs, when overused, it can lead to amphetamine addiction. This effect is particularly pronounced on the psychological side of the scale. As amphetamines are frequently used to increase focus, individuals with ADHD might feel they need the drug in order to be productive. They might also fall into the trap of thinking using more of the drug will lead to increased focus. According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, it’s estimated that 4.8 million people in the United States abused prescription amphetamines annually, with that number increasing.
Amphetamines are a stimulant. This means that when used, they make a person feel more alert and sometimes powerful. Fatigue and hunger fade into the background, which is why users frequently don’t need any rest or food to keep going. The drug will increase the user’s heart rate and blood pressure and may cause their eyes to dilate and their mouth to go dry.
Amphetamines are addictive because those who use them will want the alertness and the feeling of power that comes with use to continue. They may also abuse them so that they don’t experience hunger or fatigue – which is why they’re frequently abused by people attempting to lose weight or deal with extremely stressful situations. Students may use them to power through a weekend of studying before a major exam, and workers may abuse them in order to focus and finish a high profile project that requires lots of overtime.
How Addiction Starts
Amphetamine addiction is traced back to a few different causes: genetic, brain chemistry, social, and employment.
If a user has a parent who abused amphetamine, they’re more likely to abuse the drug themselves and could inherit a susceptibility to develop the same disorder. Likewise, some genetic temperaments can make a person predisposed to abusing the drug.
When an amphetamine is taken, it causes the release of dopamine – the brain’s pleasure drug. Some users become addicted to this feeling and will take more amphetamines to experience the high that comes with using the drug.
Users may also take the drug due to social pressures exerting on their life. Women in particular turn to amphetamines as an appetite suppressant, which has the added benefit of providing a burst of energy to help them focus and exercise.
Lastly, those in stressful situations where they feel they must be productive, whether in school or at work, will turn to amphetamines for the increased alertness and ability to power through without feeling fatigue. It may start as a one-time use, but the next time the individual is feeling pressure to perform, they’re more likely to use amphetamines again.
Signs of Amphetamine Addiction
Amphetamine addiction can be difficult to spot. The most obvious sign of a long-term abuser is a strung out, unhealthy look. As amphetamines act as an appetite suppressant, the user may lose weight. Due to their increased energy, they may seem more out-going and confident than normal. Abusers will also develop strong cravings for the drug, and their relationships may deteriorate.
Going Through Withdrawal
When someone withdraws from amphetamines, the symptoms hit hard. As users can go a long time without eating or resting, when the drug wears off, their body will crash. They will feel the full effects of their nutritional depletion and their lack of rest. This feeling will cause them to crave more amphetamines to make the symptoms go away. They may become depressed, disinterested, and experience anxiety.
Amphetamine and Methamphetamine
Amphetamines are usually given as prescriptions. Medications include Adderall, Vyvanse, Dexedrine, and generic ADHD variants. Methamphetamine (meth) has a similar chemical structure but is both illegal and far more potent. However, in some cases, amphetamine use has acted as a gateway into methamphetamine.
Long-Term Effects of Amphetamine Addiction
While amphetamine addiction may not get as much media attention as heroin, fentanyl, or alcohol abuse, the long-term effects on the user’s body can be some of the most serious, particularly when the user binges on amphetamine to get through a stressful time. Mental effects include increased aggression, paranoia, and hostility. Abusers could experience hallucinations, which may promote them into taking violent actions. Lastly, amphetamine addiction can cause chest pain, convulsions, and heart failure leading to death.
Those addicted to amphetamines need to seek help. At Lumiere Healing Centers, our team will provide aid in a supportive, judgment-free environment. Not only will our medical staff oversee the patient’s physical withdrawal from the drug, but our counselors will provide positive life strategies that the patient can use in the future to ensure they don’t relapse.
Contact Lumiere Healing Centers today for questions regarding our rehabs in Ohio, call 513-909-2225.