What are Amphetamines?

Knowing what amphetamines are is the first step in recovering from a potentially deadly addiction

Amphetamine Addiction Explained

Illegal addictive drugs often gain the most media attention. Heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine are widely known to cause addiction and endanger health. However, abuse of legal substances is growing across the country and is poised to become a serious public health problem. Many of these legal substances are amphetamines. So what are amphetamines? Amphetamines are a class of legal drugs commonly prescribed to kids and young adults to treat attention problems.

Common prescription names of amphetamines include Adderall, Dexedrine, ProCentra, Dextrostat, and Didrex. Less pure street versions of amphetamines are also available and are commonly known as “speed” or “bennies.” The stimulant properties of amphetamine cause it to be used as a recreational drug. Amphetamine addiction can have serious consequences for physical and emotional health.

Are Amphetamine and Methamphetamine the Same?

It is important to note the difference between amphetamine and methamphetamine. Although both of these drugs are central nervous stimulants that cause similar effects, they are structurally different compounds. Methamphetamine actually breaks down to form amphetamine when it is metabolized by the body. However, its unique structure makes methamphetamine much more potent and addictive than amphetamine. Although amphetamine is not as addictive as meth, it is still a very dangerous drug.

How Do Amphetamines Work?

Amphetamines pass through the blood-brain barrier to exert their effects on the central nervous system. The substance modulates the activity of several key neurotransmitters, or brain chemicals that change brain signaling. The neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine are all affected by amphetamine.

Amphetamine significantly affects the brain’s reward circuitry. This causes an individual who uses amphetamine to become addicted because it produces positive emotions associated with rewards. Amphetamine users also quickly develop a tolerance to the drug, meaning that it takes more and more of the substance to achieve the same high.

What Are the Main Effects of Amphetamines?

Amphetamines are considered “uppers,” meaning that they have psychostimulant effects. People who abuse amphetamines do so because they cause the following pleasurable effects:

  • Feelings of euphoria
  • Improved mood
  • Increased alertness
  • Greater sexual desire
  • Self-confidence and higher self-esteem
  • Improved ability to concentrate
  • Boosted energy
  • Increased feelings of sociability

Despite the rush or high an amphetamine user can get from the drug, it causes significant physical side effects that range from mildly unpleasant to potentially life-threatening. These include:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Pupil dilation and bloodshot eyes
  • Flushed skin and feelings of warmth
  • Restlessness and inability to sit still
  • Dry mouth
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness and fainting
  • Blurred vision
  • High blood pressure
  • Diarrhea, constipation, and other gastrointestinal problems
  • Rapid heart rate or arrhythmias
  • Acne
  • Numbness
  • Insomnia
  • Fever
  • Muscle twitching

Amphetamines also affect a user’s mood and cognitive abilities. This class of drugs is prescribed to children and adults with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder because it has the ability to increase attention and decrease the chances of one becoming easily distracted. College students often take amphetamine before an upcoming test or major project to increase their focus and ability to stay awake. In fact, amphetamines were commonly used by soldiers in World War II for their ability to improve concentration, increase motivation, and decrease need for sleep. Despite these potentially attractive effects, the drug can have unwanted emotional or cognitive side effects, including the following:

  • Increased irritability
  • Feelings of aggression and violent impulses
  • Repetitive or obsessive behaviors
  • Grandiosity and delusions of importance
  • Physical agitation and fidgeting
  • Anxiety
  • Severe mood swings


Why Are Amphetamines So Dangerous?

Many amphetamine users underestimate the danger of taking the drug. They often rationalize their behavior by saying that amphetamine use is okay because it is prescribed by physicians. Although certain types of amphetamine may be appropriate for individuals with a particular medical condition, the drug can be dangerous for anyone taking it without a physician’s supervision.

Chronic use or high doses of amphetamine may cause seizures, stroke, heart attack, coma, or even death. The drug is especially dangerous for people with a history of heart disease or high blood pressure, those who use a particular class of antidepressants, people with glaucoma, and individuals with other chronic medical conditions.

Some amphetamine users become extremely paranoid and begin to experience hallucinations or delusions. Amphetamine-induced psychosis often fades as the drug leaves the user’s body, but in some cases it may cause permanent psychotic symptoms. In these cases, amphetamine causes permanent brain damage and cognitive impairment.

Inappropriate use of amphetamine among college students and professionals who want to benefit from its attention-improving effects represents a serious health problem in the United States. Because amphetamine is so addictive, recreational users soon develop a physiological dependence on the drug, requiring more and more to maintain everyday functioning. Amphetamine causes a host of negative side effects that can ultimately result in declining physical health and permanent brain damage.

Let Best Drug Rehab Help

Anyone who uses amphetamine without a doctor’s supervision is at risk. Even casual users of the drug may experience heart attack, stroke, or other fatal side effects. Treatment facilities such as Best Drug Rehabilitation can provide state-of-the-art care for individuals suffering from amphetamine abuse or addiction.

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