Amphetamine Abuse Causes, Statistics, Addiction Signs, Symptoms & Side Effects

What Are Amphetamines?

Amphetamines are a powerful and intense psychostimulant drug that affect several key neurotransmitters in the brain – including norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin – resulting in an intense euphoric feeling. Amphetamines are not considered to be physically addictive, but they are tremendously psychologically addictive.

It has a low tolerance (more of the drug has to be used to reach the same effect), and it provides a fast and intense “high”. There are numerous cases of people becoming addicted after their first use, especially if it is smoked or injected. It takes very little time to develop an amphetamine addiction.

Amphetamines currently are illegally used in high schools and colleges to help with staying up late studying or pulling all-nighters for tests. They are also being abused in athletics as an energy booster. The abuse of amphetamines also includes those trying to stay up all night partying and dancing.

Amphetamines are supposed to intensify concentration and enhance performance. However, this type of recreational abuse quickly leads to an amphetamine addiction. Amphetamines are normally taken by mouth in pill form but can be snorted, injected, or smoked.

Amphetamine addiction is exceptionally hard to quit. It is often abused with other drugs or alcohol, and the abuse frequently co-occurs with other mental disorders such as eating disorders, and mood disorders.

Due to the low tolerance and intense highs, addicts find it hard to stop the abuse. However, the abuse can be deadly. Heart attacks often occur as do strokes.

Strokes are a result of blood pressure becoming so high that the vessels in the brain begin to burst. Amphetamines as a group include drugs such as crystal, MDMA, Ecstasy, speed and Meth (methamphetamine).

Statistics on Amphetamine Use

A prior study of non-medical use of stimulants such as Adderall (a type of amphetamine) by college students reported considerably higher rates of frequent binge alcohol use, marijuana use, and cocaine use among students who used stimulants non-medically in the past year compared with their counterparts who had not.

Use of both cocaine and stimulants is problematic because each increases the risk for heart attack or stroke [1]. Other statistics that address amphetamines include:

  • In 2005, 169,500 emergency room admissions were for primary methamphetamine/amphetamine abuse, representing 9 percent of all drug related admissions [2].
  • Of amphetamine admissions into emergency rooms, nearly three quarters of primary methamphetamine/amphetamine admissions were White (71 percent) compared with 58 percent of other admissions (Figure 1). Hispanic admissions also accounted for a higher proportion of primary methamphetamine/amphetamine admissions than of other admissions (18 vs. 13 percent). In contrast, Black admissions accounted for a greater proportion of admissions for other primary substances than of primary methamphetamine/amphetamine admissions (24 vs. 3 percent) [2].
  • Primary methamphetamine/amphetamine admissions were more likely to be female than admissions for other primary substances (46 vs. 31 percent) [2].
  • DAWN estimates show increases in amphetamine/methamphetamine-related ED visits in several metropolitan areas in the Midwest, South, and Northeast between 1995 and 2002 [3].

Causes of Amphetamine Addiction

There any number of reasons as to why amphetamines are used and abused. Often it begins as someone trying to get an edge on school work or in athletics, but it quickly spirals out of control when they begin to use the drug to get an intense rush of euphoria or “high”.

An amphetamine addiction develops quickly as this powerful psychostimulant begins affecting the norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin receptors in the brain and providing an intense feeling of goodness.

This extreme rush is often used to self medicate against depression, low self worth, or numb pain due to a trauma. If an amphetamine addiction is developed, then help from an amphetamine treatment center is needed to end the abuse.

Signs of Amphetamine Use, Addiction and Dependence

Amphetamines are not considered to be physically addictive, but psychologically they are incredibly addictive.

When a person is “high” on amphetamines, they will display some unusual characteristics that are inherent of an amphetamine addiction. Help needs to be sought if these symptoms are noticed. A few of these signs include:

  • Blood shot eyes
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Stunted growth
  • Euphoria
  • Hyperactivity
  • Psychosis
  • Dramatic weight loss
  • Restlessness
  • Dilation of pupils
  • Disturbed sleep patterns
  • Nausea

Amphetamine Effects

Amphetamines are powerful psychostimulant drugs that are psychologically addicting.

A psychological amphetamine addiction is extremely difficult to overcome, but if these symptoms of abuse are recognized, it can help lead the addict to help.

The side effects that result from an amphetamine dependency touch the physical, psychological, and personal aspects of the addict’s life. Some of the psychological signs revealed are:

  • Euphoria
  • Psychosis
  • Hallucinations
  • Repetitive and obsessive behaviors
  • Depression
  • Confusion
  • Hyper excitability
  • Amnesia
  • Extreme mood changes
  • Anxiety

Some of the physical results are:

  • Dilation of pupils
  • Changes in brain structure
  • Seizures
  • Blood shot eyes
  • Memory loss
  • Hyperactivity
  • Respiratory failure
  • Nausea
  • Changes in brain function
  • Aggressive and violent behavior
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Hyperthermia
  • Dramatic weight loss
  • Restlessness
  • Disturbed sleep patterns

Negative social consequences:

  • Family and friends are lost
  • Career is lost
  • Home is lost
  • Become reclusive
  • Self esteem is lost
  • Financial stability is lost

Amphetamine Withdrawal

Even though amphetamines are not supposed to be physically addictive, there are still some physical reactions that occur. If amphetamines are abruptly discontinued, then some withdrawal symptoms begin.

Some of the more common effects are extreme fatigue, suicidal ideation, anxiety, disturbed sleep patterns, and depression.

These withdrawal symptoms can last for several days, but they can also last for several months. The severity and length of withdrawal is dependent on the quantity of amphetamines used and the length of time the amphetamines were abused.

Amphetamine Addiction Treatment

The process to treat an amphetamines addiction is tremendously hard to get through, but the first step is to admit there is an addiction. Even though the addiction is not physical, the psychological addiction is still quite complicated to overcome.

The road is long and tricky. The addiction does not want to let go, and this disease will fight recovery every step of the way. Currently, there are not any pharmacological aids to beat an amphetamine dependency, but there is help available.

An addict cannot get through it alone. Seek out loved ones, a licensed psychologist and the help of treatment plan at a specialized amphetamine addiction rehab center. Help is nearby. Ask for it because life is worth it.

Other Articles About Amphetamines

References

[1]: http://www.samhsa.gov/data/2k9/adderall/adderall.htm

[2]: http://www.samhsa.gov/data/2k8/methamphetamineTX/meth.htm

[3]: http://www.samhsa.gov/data/driverrprt/dawn2k2/2k4amphetamines.pdf