Amphetamine addiction

Did you know that the same drugs that were given to Second World War soldiers to enable them to fight for days without sleep are still some of the most used drugs today? From students to professional athletes, people take amphetamines for psychological conditions, as performance enhancers and as recreational drugs. However, while amphetamines can provide genuine benefits, they can also cause serious negative consequences including amphetamine addiction. If you or someone you know is caught in the grip of amphetamine addiction, Banbury Lodge can help you break free and make positive changes in your life.

Amphetamine addiction - tablets

What are amphetamines?

Amphetamines are stimulant drugs that are used to increase alertness, focus and energy. They are commonly prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy but are also used illicitly as recreational drugs due to their euphoric effects. Common street names for amphetamines include speed, uppers, phets and bennies.

When you take amphetamines, they increase the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is responsible for feelings of pleasure and reward. This results in an intense rush of euphoria, energy and confidence which make amphetamines popular party drugs. However, amphetamine abuse also increases heart rate, blood pressure and breathing, all of which can lead to dangerous health consequences.

Some common amphetamines which can and do commonly lead to addiction include:

  • Adderall – A prescription medication, is a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, used to treat narcolepsy and ADHD.
  • Dexedrine – Another prescription medication that comprises dextroamphetamine and is also used to treat people with ADHD and narcolepsy.
  • Ritalin – Used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy, contains methylphenidate, a CNS stimulant that is similar to amphetamines.
  • Vyvanse – A prescription medication used to treat binge eating disorder and ADHD which contains lisdexamfetamine, a prodrug that is metabolised into dextroamphetamine in the body.

How does amphetamine addiction develop?

Amphetamine addiction can develop in two ways – through prescription drug use or recreational abuse. Prescription drug addiction occurs when someone takes drugs in a manner other than prescribed, such as taking higher doses or taking the drug more frequently. Recreational abuse occurs when someone takes amphetamines for non-medical purposes, such as to get high or to enhance performance.

Amphetamine tolerance…

Either way, if you use amphetamines excessively or for a long time (though some people can become addicted after only mild, short-term use) your brain will try to compensate for the changes by reducing the number of receptors for those neurotransmitters. This means you need more and more of the stimulant to get the same effects as before, a process known as tolerance.

Amphetamine dependence…

At the same time, your brain starts to adapt to having high levels of certain neurotransmitters by reducing its own production. This means that if you stop taking the stimulant suddenly, you can experience withdrawal symptoms because your brain is not used to functioning without it. This is physical dependence and once it has developed, amphetamine addiction is likely to follow.

Am I addicted to amphetamine?

If you are worried that you or a loved one has developed an addiction to amphetamine it is important to seek help as soon as possible. Recognising amphetamine addiction can be difficult because your condition will try to hide the reality from you so that it can maintain its hold over you.

Here are some questions to ask yourself which may indicate amphetamine addiction signs:

  • Am I unable to cut down or stop taking amphetamines?
  • Do I rely on amphetamines to get through my normal day?
  • Do I need to take more and more amphetamines just to get the same effects?
  • Have I started procuring amphetamines illegally?
  • Do I continue to take amphetamines even though it is causing problems in my life?
  • Have I lied about my use of amphetamines or hidden it from others?
  • Do I experience withdrawal symptoms when I try to stop taking amphetamines?

If you recognise these amphetamine addiction symptoms then you may need professional help. At Banbury Lodge, we can help you to overcome your stimulant addiction and get your life back on track.

Who is most at risk of amphetamine addiction?

Amphetamine addiction can be caused by a variety of factors, including a genetic predisposition, environmental factors, and social influences.

For example, people with mental health conditions such as ADHD and anxiety disorders are at increased risk of amphetamine addiction because they start out taking medication for their condition but as tolerance builds, they start to take more of the stimulant than recommended or prescribed.

People who have a family history of addiction are also more likely to develop an addiction to amphetamine themselves. This may be because there is a genetic predisposition towards addiction or because they have grown up in an environment where drug use is commonplace.

Others with underlying mental health conditions or trauma are also more likely to become addicted to amphetamine as they may use the drugs to self-medicate for their symptoms or unpleasant memories and emotions.

Negative health symptoms of amphetamine addiction

Amphetamine abuse and addiction can cause a number of serious health effects including:

  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Aggression
  • Irritability
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • High blood pressure and heart rate
  • Poor decision making
  • Impaired cognitive ability
  • Hyperthermia
  • Appetite suppression
  • Physical tremors
  • Heart and kidney damage
  • Seizure
  • Coma
  • Death

Overdose is also a real danger with amphetamine abuse and addiction, particularly if you mix drugs, with 107 amphetamine-related deaths in England and Wales in 2021 alone.

Amphetamine addiction - man suffering from headache

Amphetamine related disorders

Amphetamine-related disorders are a range of conditions that are caused by abuse or addiction to amphetamines. These disorders include amphetamine use disorder, which is the diagnostic term for addiction, as well as other mental health conditions such as anxiety disorders, mood disorders, and Stimulant-Induced Psychosis. This is a severe mental health condition that can include symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions and paranoia. The onset of SIP can occur during intoxication or withdrawal and may be more likely in individuals who have an underlying psychiatric condition or a family history of mental illness.

Other effects of amphetamine addiction

In addition to the physical and mental health symptoms of stimulant addiction, there are also a number of non-health-related effects which can cause problems in all areas of your life.

Your stimulant addiction will likely lead to financial difficulties as you spend more and more money on your drug habit. You may even find yourself stealing or selling possessions to get money for drugs.

Your employment and education can also suffer as a result of your stimulant addiction. You may find it difficult to concentrate at work or school, leading to absences or poor performance. In extreme cases, you may even lose your job or be expelled from your educational institution.

Your relationships can also be hugely affected by stimulant addiction. As your addiction takes hold you may become more withdrawn, dishonest, irritable and aggressive. This can lead to arguments and conflict with those closest to you as well as social isolation from friends and family.

Lies amphetamine addiction will tell you

Amphetamine addiction is able to maintain its grip over you if it can convince you that you do not have a problem or that the concerns of loved ones are misguided. Here are some of the lies it will try to tell you to keep you using amphetamines:

“You need amphetamines for housework, studying or completing other tasks”

One of the most common myths about amphetamines is that they can help increase productivity and focus, making them useful tools for accomplishing difficult or time-consuming tasks. While it is true that amphetamines can provide a short-term burst of energy and motivation, they are not a safe or effective solution for improving productivity. In fact, amphetamines can have the opposite effect and actually impair cognitive function, memory, and decision-making abilities over time.

“Amphetamines can help you lose weight”

While amphetamines can cause a temporary loss of appetite, they are not a safe or effective long-term weight loss solution. Amphetamines can cause a range of negative health consequences and their use for weight loss is not approved by any medical or scientific organisation.

“Amphetamines are safe because they are prescribed by doctors”

While amphetamines are commonly prescribed by doctors to treat certain conditions, they can be incredibly dangerous and addictive when misused. That is why you should only ever take prescription amphetamines as instructed by your doctor or medical provider.

It is important to educate yourself on the realities of amphetamine addiction and seek professional advice to see through these lies and make the necessary changes in your life.

How is amphetamine addiction treated?

Amphetamine addiction can be overcome with a comprehensive treatment programme incorporating detox and rehab.

During amphetamine detox, you will be slowly weaned off the drugs as your body adjusts to functioning without them so you can break the physical dependence. At the same time, amphetamine rehab will help you to understand the root causes of your addiction and how to deal with triggers and cravings in the future.

Amphetamine addiction - therapy session

Get help for amphetamine addiction today

If you or someone you know is struggling with amphetamine addiction, it’s important to seek help as soon as possible. Contact Banbury Lodge today for expert treatment and advice. We can help you overcome your addiction to amphetamine and start a brand new life in recovery.

Frequently asked questions

Is amphetamine different to methamphetamine?
Amphetamine and methamphetamine are similar in their chemical structure and effects on the brain. The primary difference between them is that methamphetamine is a more potent and longer-lasting version of amphetamine so the risk of developing a methamphetamine addiction is higher. Despite the differences, both substances carry significant risks, and anyone struggling with addiction to either substance should seek professional help.
How can amphetamine abuse and addiction be fatal?
Amphetamines can cause a range of physical and mental health problems that can lead to death if left untreated. Chronic amphetamine abuse can cause heart problems, high blood pressure, stroke, and seizures, all of which can be life-threatening. Additionally, amphetamine addiction can lead to risky behaviours such as driving under the influence, which can result in fatal accidents.
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