Amphetamines are synthetic stimulant drugs that increase alertness, energy and attention, and suppress the appetite. Amphetamines are prescribed to treat medical conditions such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), narcolepsy and obesity. They are also taken for recreational and non-medical purposes.
When you take amphetamines to treat a health condition, you are unlikely to get addicted. If you take more of the amphetamine than prescribed and use it to improve mood or performance, it can be highly addictive. The body can build up a tolerance to amphetamines very quickly, which means you need more of the drug to achieve the same high effect.
When you take amphetamines to treat a health condition, you are unlikely to get addicted. However, if a person takes more of the amphetamine than prescribed and is using it to improve mood or performance, it can lead to addiction. The body can build up a tolerance to amphetamines very quickly, which means it needs more of the drugs to achieve the same high feeling.
If the user tries to stop taking the amphetamine, their body and mind may react with withdrawal symptoms. These may include a strong craving for the drug as well as mood swings, anxiety, aggression, hallucinations, fatigue and insomnia; physical side-effects may include headaches, aches and pains.
The number of people dying from amphetamine addiction increased by 30 percent between the years 2016 and 2017.
The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse also notes that 1 in 9 people between the ages of 12 and 25 used prescription amphetamines for nonmedical reasons or misused them without a prescription at all.
Using amphetamines frequently and over an extended period can very quickly lead to dependence. Some people are prone to become addicted faster than others. however. A history of substance abuse, or a mental illness, are more likely to lead someone to become addicted, for example.
An individual who has easy access to amphetamines may be more at risk, as well as those who have a stressful lifestyle and think amphetamines can help alleviate the pressures of everyday life.
Those prescribed amphetamines to increase alertness, attention and energy may soon feel that they cannot feel ‘normal’ without them, so they take it in higher doses as their tolerance builds.
A family history of drug abuse and/or addiction, as well as mental health disorders, increases the chances of someone developing an amphetamine addiction.
Changes in Brain Chemistry
Amphetamines affect the chemical balance and neurotransmitters in the brain, which means users need amphetamines to feel well and can suffer withdrawal symptoms unless use is tapered off slowly.
As amphetamines are a prescription drug, many people underestimate their strength and addictive qualities. Powerful stimulants, they cause the heart to speed up. This can raise blood pressure and breathing can be rapid. Because it produces a strong high, users often want to take more of the drug to prolong the effects.
The below physical and behavioural signs suggest an amphetamine addiction.
- Dry mouth and dental problems
- Increased body temperature
- Increased blood pressure
- Abdominal pain
- Blurred vision
- Faster breathing
- Dilated pupils
- Mood swings
- Loss of appetite
Amphetamine abuse – and indeed drug abuse of any kind – is different to amphetamine addiction. Addiction means the user has a strong urge to take amphetamines, regardless of the consequences. However, drug abuse is often the first step on the road to addiction.
Many people abuse amphetamines without realising it. Even though they are prescribed by a doctor, taking a larger dose of a prescription medication than is advised is abuse. Individuals may do this automatically if they notice they are not getting the same benefits from the amphetamine that they did at first. Increasing your dose of amphetamine can lead to tolerance and dependence, and amphetamine abuse can lead to addiction.