Amphetamine and methamphetamine are two drugs that, based on their names and chemical base, you may assume are similar in every way. It’s true that amphetamine and methamphetamine can produce many of the same mood-boosting effects in users, but there are some essential differences between the two drugs, including how they are obtained and their potential for abuse and addiction. If you are facing addiction to amphetamines or methamphetamine, asking for help may be the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do. Call Best Drug Rehab today for more information about how amphetamines work and to learn about our treatment referral services.
What is an Amphetamine?
Both amphetamine and methamphetamine, more commonly known as meth, are central nervous system stimulants that increase the release of the pleasure chemicals dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine in the brain, which stimulates the brain’s reward center and, with continued use, causes the user to crave ever-increasing amounts of the drug. Amphetamines are considered “uppers,” which means they produce psychostimulant effects in users, resulting in pleasurable feelings, like euphoria, increased energy and alertness, improved mood and ability to concentrate, and higher self-esteem. Methamphetamine, a derivative of amphetamine, also produces a euphoric effect in users that elevates mood and increases energy. However, there are several ways in which amphetamine and methamphetamine differ, including the following:
- Chemically speaking, amphetamine is phenylethylamine, while methamphetamine is referred to as N-methylamphetamine.
- Methamphetamine is significantly faster-acting and more potent, and is, therefore, more addictive than amphetamine.
- Amphetamine is prescribed for medical use, while meth is considered an illicit recreational drug.
- Amphetamine and methamphetamine have their groups of addicts. Someone can be addicted to amphetamine but not meth, and vice versa.
- Methamphetamine is more useful as a central nervous system stimulant, with less cardiovascular and peripheral nervous system stimulation.
How Amphetamines Work and Why They’re Prescribed
Because of their ability to increase metabolism or improve focus and mental clarity, amphetamines are often used in prescription weight loss drugs and medications designed to treat attention deficit disorder (ADD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Some widely-used drugs with amphetamines include Adderall, Ritalin, Concerta, and Dexedrine. When taken exactly as prescribed, under the careful supervision of a healthcare professional, amphetamine can have some medical benefits and may be reasonably safe to use. Methamphetamine, on the other hand, is a drug with no medical purpose and one that is more commonly associated with illicit, recreational use. Both drugs pose a risk of overdose, and abuse of either amphetamine or methamphetamine can cause the following adverse side effects:
- Blurred vision
- Dilated pupils
- High blood pressure
- Severe mood swings
- Aggression and violent impulses
- Increased irritability
- Rapid heart rate
- Diarrhea or constipation
Chronic use or high doses of amphetamine can have devastating physical or psychological consequences, including psychosis, behavioral changes, heart attack, stroke, seizures, coma or even death.
Amphetamine and Methamphetamine Help
Many amphetamine users underestimate the risks of taking the stimulant drug, believing that it’s safe to take just because it was prescribed by a doctor. However, people may crush amphetamine pills and snort the powder to intensify the drug’s effects, combine it with water into a solution and inject it, or smoke it by inhaling its vapors, and even people who take amphetamine as prescribed by a doctor can become addicted to the stimulant. In fact, while amphetamine and methamphetamine have different chemical makeups and their effects on the body can vary significantly, both drugs carry a high potential for abuse and addiction. If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction to amphetamine or methamphetamine, call Best Drug Rehab today to speak with an experienced substance abuse counselor about your treatment options.