Though its usage has continued to cripple communities, states, and the nation, amphetamines are still one of the most sought after drugs. Amphetamine addiction can be swift and all-consuming. The growing rates of amphetamine addiction hint at the power of its appeal and the dangers of its subsequent side effects. These powerful addictive stimulants are not just found in the rural areas of the United States. In fact, in the modern drug trade, the demand rivals the rage of cocaine in the 1970s and 1980s.
Today, many people are familiar with prescription medications such as Adderall and Benzedrex, often referred to as the colloquial term “study drugs.” Ritalin and Concerta, too, are grouped with a specific class of drugs known to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a mental health disorder that can cause above normal levels of hyperactivity and impulsive behaviors. By improving overall cognitive function, increasing concentration, improving memory, and stimulating motivation or energy, these drugs are often in heavy demand by the working force as well as younger generations for school. However, due to the nature of the chemicals of this synthetic drug and amphetamines’ impact on the central nervous system, these drugs can be physiologically and psychologically addictive. Still, there are many questions surrounding the nature of amphetamine addiction and the difference between prescription strains and illegal drugs, such as meth. We’re exploring amphetamine addiction, signs of abuse, and side effects that often cause a wicked withdrawal symptoms for users.
AspenRidge is a dual diagnosis treatment center offering specialized support for methamphetamine and amphetamine addiction in Colorado. We address addiction in combination with mental health disorders that may contribute or result from ongoing struggles with substance abuse. Contact us directly at 855-281-5588 to speak with a supportive staff member 24/7.
What are Amphetamines Exactly?
While this specific drug has run rampant nationwide, there are often questions surrounding this synthetic substance. Many include things such as:
- What does amphetamine treat and are they effective?
- What are common side effects and/or dangers for using prescription amphetamines?
- What’s the difference between prescription amphetamine addiction and meth addiction?
- What are the long term side effects of speed?
- What are the risks of using or overusing Adderall, Ritalin, and other forms of prescription amphetamines?
Amphetamines are central nervous system (CNS) stimulants often prescribed for the treatment of:
- Hyperactivity, e.g. ADHA
ADHD & Prescription Amphetamines
While its core function is often applied through a medical standpoint, its easy accessibility and allure mean this synthetic medication is frequently abused. It can aid in a number of mental health disorders and is often thought of as the first line of defense for those suffering from ADHD. ADHD is one of the most commonly diagnosed neurobehavioral disorders of childhood with an estimated prevalence of 6.7% to 12% in the United States. Among all children of ages 2-17 that suffer from ADHD, 62% are taking ADHD medication. The most common prescription stimulants to treat ADHD include:
- Dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine®)
- Dextroamphetamine/amphetamine combination product (Adderall®)
- Methylphenidate (Ritalin®, Concerta®)
These prescription medications and their elicit counterparty, meth, can be referred to as speed or uppers. Most prescription stimulants come in tablet, capsule, or liquid form. One of the major signs of amphetamine addiction is its frequent misuse, such as:
- Taking medicine in a way or dose other than prescribed
- Taking some else’s medicine
- Taking medicine only for the effect it causes—to get high
Short Term Effects of Amphetamine Use
Amphetamines produce a very distinct sensation for users. Since it acts as a stimulant, many describe a feeling of a “rush” or sense of euphoria along with increased blood pressure and heart rate, increased breathing, decreased blood flow, increased blood sugar, etc. According to DrugAbuse.gov, at high doses, prescription stimulants can lead to dangerously high body temperatures, an irregular heartbeat, heart failure, and seizures.
Long Term Effects of Speed
According to CESAR, when taken as prescribed, amphetamines are not necessarily harmful, although as most medications, they come with side effects. When taken in heavy doses or not as prescribed, amphetamines can result in significant health issues and ultimately lead to abuse and ongoing amphetamine addiction. There are significant long term of effects of speed. Some of the short-term side effects of amphetamine use can contribute to moderate to severe long-term health impacts, such as:
- Breathing troubles
- Cardiac arrhythmias
- Collapsing physically
- Extreme and atypical fatigue
- Loss of coordination
- Mood changes
- Changes in mentality, which can contribute to mental disorders
- Physiological and behavioral disorders
- Skin disorders
Many of these long-term health impacts may also be greatly influenced by the type of amphetamine addiction. Since synthetic stimulants come in many forms, different variants can have a greater or lesser impact and more quickly. Let’s take a look at some of the different varieties of amphetamine addictions.
White Collar Amphetamine Addiction
Most of the time when you hear about amphetamines, people think about meth, Sudafed® purchasing restrictions, and the hit show Breaking Bad. It’s true that crystal methamphetamine abuse is one of the most destructive habits in the world. It’s also true stimulants like diet pills are one of the most over-prescribed drugs too. Amphetamines have the stigma of being a drug consumed by poor people in rural areas. This is a myth at best. Yes, the majority of methamphetamines are created in these rural areas. There are a variety of reasons for this including many of the chemical components needed to make meth come from agriculture. Additionally, meth tends to be significantly cheaper than prescribed medications, making it more accessible to people living in rural environments.
However, white collar amphetamine addiction is also found among the Hollywood crowd, sports figures, and the business world. Since some users believe amphetamines help improve work performance, many white-collared workers make it their go-to drug for focus and energy. Adderall, Benzedrine, and Methedrine contribute to white collar amphetamine addiction.
In 2013, Bruce Ervin, the Defensive End for Seattle Seahawks, was suspended for testing positive for it. He believed it helped him focus during high-pressure situations he faced every week on the field. I can attest to enhanced focus from Adderall specifically being an amazing aid for studying for exams and creating large presentations for work. The amphetamine high, if taken in large doses, produces a euphoria that is tough to match.
Adderall contains both dextroamphetamine and amphetamines. Stimulant abusers consistently confuse these drugs and use them to stay up late, lose weight, or become euphoric. A habitual user will notice a difference between the two drugs. It’s a slight difference, but enough to differentiate. This could cause the user to prefer one to the other, or cause a dual dependency. Considering the similarities of the drugs, they will cause the same amphetamine side effects to the user like headaches, dry mouth, weight loss, and restlessness. The added ingredient in Adderall creates more possibilities for side effects. The NLM says, Adderall will also cause vomiting, nervousness, stomach pain, difficulty breathing and motor tics. If any of these symptoms become obvious, consult your doctor immediately.
Amphetamine for Weight Loss
Some amphetamines’ side effects are reduced hunger, a higher heart rate, and an increased amount of energy for workouts to promote weight loss. This isn’t as common anymore, but during the 1980s and 1990s taking stimulants to lose weight was a commonly prescribed practice. All you had to do was go to a clinic and say you wanted to lose weight and your doctor would give you the dosages you needed to lose a few pounds every week.
The amphetamines speed up your heart rate and increase your energy to work out. They also decrease your appetite to promote calorie deficiency and help you lose weight. The problems arise after you hit your target goal and get off the stimulants. The hunger comes surging back and so does the weight. Another amphetamine side effect is twitching or shaking of the hands and legs when off the drug. When on the drug, everything is seemingly normal. However, when the addict begins to wean off of the stimulant they become irritable, aggressive, and may start to tremble uncontrollably. Many patients decide to continue with their amphetamine addiction to maintain their weight. This will inevitably cause severe damage to the digestive organs and the brain. The withdrawal symptoms from “diet pills” are very aggressive for long-time users. Following a tapering schedule and seeking professional help is a must for habitual abusers.
Amphetamine Addiction Touches All Walks Of Life
In 1962, the FDA estimated that more than “200 million amphetamine pills were in circulation in the United States alone.” There was a staggering increase in the last decade. After rethinking the treatment and over-prescribing these drugs to millions. Many doctors are looking for alternatives to treat ADD & ADHD.
Dexedrine Abuse in Major League Baseball
Soldiers during World War II used amphetamines to stay awake, be more alert, and be less anxious under fire. The army gave the soldiers many stimulants for the war effort, but when the men returned they brought their addictions back with them. Many of the soldiers were Major League Baseball players. When they put their cleats back on, many of the ballplayers continued their amphetamine addiction. Dexedrine and Benzedrine were the most popular forms of stimulants back then, but today uppers seem to be making an appearance back in the limelight for some on the field. Back in 2016, Kameron Loe and Stephen Dezzi both tested positive for two forms of amphetamines abuse and the league considers these drugs as performance enhancers. They claimed the drugs improved their focus and reduced anxiety in big games. Considering their line of work, handling their nerves is essential to their success. Both athletes checked into amphetamine rehab to overcome their addiction.
Deadly Crystal Methamphetamine Side Effects
One of the most dangerous and popularly known forms of abused amphetamines is crystal meth. It’s commonly made in meth labs all across the nation using items you can easily find at your local hardware or drug store. The cheap chemicals methamphetamines are made from make the drug highly addictive for any user. The labs themselves are known to be dangerous because of the toxic fumes and the highly explosive possibility. They make the news quite a bit, and the penalty for operating one or owning the property is very steep. Meth is one of the most destructive drugs a person can take. Amphetamine side effects include aggressive changes in the abuser’s physical appearance within a matter of months if seriously abused. Many users lose their teeth, drop significant amounts of weight, and are simply unrecognizable after 6 months of abuse. The addiction to methamphetamine is so strong the occurrence of overdose is almost imminent.
Amphetamine Addiction Summed Up
Amphetamine abuse will cause a variety of issues for a habitual user. They are almost everywhere you can think. One you might not remember is Benzedrex inhalers. They provide temporary relief for nasal congestion by constricting the blood vessels in the nose. The ease of acquiring the nasal spray and the quick high contributed to the widespread abuse. Additionally, there are long term effects of speed and those facing the difficulty of addictions should consider speaking with treatment facilities that specialize in amphetamine prescription substances.
The false sense of power is a part of a severe addiction to these deadly substances. All amphetamine addiction is a way to cope with something we are not dealing with appropriately. Many people have social anxiety and rely on these kinds of drugs to “take the edge off” before a big meeting or sometimes to have a good time at a party. When faced with the burden of depression or anxiety, turning to drugs like amphetamines for treatment may seem like a logical and sometimes doctor prescribed choice. Many people are doing it and it will appear that it is the right thing to do, but it’s not. The best thing you can do is face your fears without the help of a narcotic. The worst thing you can do is think you cannot get help for amphetamine addiction.
It took me a long time to recognize the lies I was telling myself about the reasons why I needed to take Adderall. You don’t have to make the same mistakes I made. Get help and learn as much as you can about addiction.
For more information on stimulant addiction, check out AspenRidge Recovery meth and amphetamine addiction program. Contact AspenRidge in Colorado for direct assistance for helping yourself or someone you love. 855-281-5588