Amphetamine Addiction: An Overview
Amphetamine addiction and abuse are equal opportunity conditions, and when they strike your family it’s devastating. The emotional roller coaster involved in addiction leads to sadness, anger, denial, and guilt as you wonder if there’s anything that could have been done to prevent it. Once you or a loved one become engrossed in substance abuse and addiction, it slowly takes control over your entire mind, body, and life. Family members, friends, and co-workers are not exempt from the ravages of this disease either, as it affects everyone connected to the addict.
Although addiction was once considered to be a sign of weakness, doctors and medical researchers have known for several decades that it’s actually a chronic disease. Similar to other chronic illnesses, such as arthritis or diabetes, addiction cannot simply go away by itself. It is an illness of the brain which also affects your loved one’s mind and body by altering the function of the brain’s pleasure center, or hypothalamus.
Continued abuse of drugs or alcohol cause the pleasure center to associate good feelings and a feeling of normalcy with use of the drug. Over time, you and your loved one’s minds and bodies also come to associate normal function with drug use. This leads to addiction because it’s no longer possible to feel or function normally without the presence of drugs or alcohol at this stage.
The potential for you or your loved one to recover from addiction exists, but typically requires addiction treatment. The type, length, and intensity of treatment varies according to the specifications of the substance abused and you or your loved one’s personal needs. If you or a family member are addicted to amphetamines, professional treatment can help you regain the hope you feel has been lost for health, happiness, and a promising future.
Learn More About Addiction to Amphetamines
Amphetamine addiction is on the rise. While the drug effectively helps prescription users, such as those with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), when used inappropriately it increases energy. Also known as “uppers,” amphetamines affect the body’s central nervous system, providing you or your loved one with a feeling of well-being and the ability to remain awake for extended periods of time without proper rest. Similar to other stimulants, such as cocaine, nicotine, and alcohol, amphetamines are highly addictive and short-term casual use can quickly develop into a full-blown addiction.
Most people don’t expect to ever confront addiction in their lives, and a lack of knowledge can make doing so feel very scary. If you feel alone and hopeless in facing your addiction or the addiction of a family member, know that you’re not alone. Recovery takes time, treatment, and persistence, but it also provides hope for you to break free from amphetamine addiction. By learning more about addiction to this powerful stimulant, you put yourself in a better position to consider treatment and the steps needed to obtain help for yourself or a loved one.
What are Amphetamines?
Amphetamines are a type of psychostimulant drug that stimulates the body’s central nervous system. They are frequently prescribed by doctors for people diagnosed with ADHD, narcolepsy, or extreme obesity. Under the close supervision of a doctor, different types of amphetamines such as Adderall, Benzedrine, and Desoxyn are safe for users. But when the drugs are used and abused illegally, they produce effects similar to those experienced by people who abuse cocaine. When taken under doctor’s supervision, dosage and frequency of use are monitored to avoid addiction. But a person who’s taking amphetamines illegally will consistently increase the amount they take, as well as the frequency in order to sustain the feelings derived by it.
Origin of Amphetamines
Although amphetamines were first synthesized in 1887, their use wasn’t really explored in a pharmacological setting until the late 1920s and early 1930s. The drug was released with an inhaler under the name Benzedrine and was prescribed as a decongestant with the potential for other uses. One of the first studies conducted on amphetamines was in 1935 when a Los Angeles doctor tested 55 hospital workers who took 20 mg of the substance daily. The most common reports from the workers were feelings of exhilaration and an increased sense of well-being. During World War II, amphetamines were used with great frequency to help soldiers remain alert and fight fatigue on the battlefield. It wasn’t until the mid-1960s that amphetamines were relegated to prescription use only.
The Laws on Amphetamines
After several decades of reports concluding that amphetamines were being abused and were addictive, the United States Federal Drug Administration finally placed a ban on Benzedrine inhalers in 1965. Shortly after, in 1971, amphetamines were classified as a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substances Act. Schedule II drugs are those that place the user at high risk for addiction and though they can be used medically, this must occur with the implementation of severe usage restrictions. Other countries around the world, such as Canada, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands, place amphetamines within the first or second drug classification and those who abuse it illegally face fines and imprisonment.
Symptoms, Signs, and Consequences of Amphetamine Addiction
A loved one who is addicted to amphetamines has likely become very adept at hiding his or her addiction. As your suspicions grow, you may even confront him or her about the situation and receive a response of denial. The cycle of feeling suspicious and worried, confronting your loved one, having him or her deny it, and then hoping everything will be alright is a common one for addicts and their families. Unfortunately, things will continue to get worse if the signs and symptoms are ignored.
Eventually, you or your loved one will have a harder time hiding the addiction because the need for the drug will supersede everything else. Even though the effects of continued drug use are becoming more severe, you or your loved one will be unable to stop. At this point, trying to reason with a loved one to stop using drugs will be ineffective. The knowledge you gain and share about amphetamine addiction can help plant seeds of thought but, ultimately, treatment is important to overcome amphetamine addiction.
Signs & Symptoms to Watch For
If you or a loved one are addicted to amphetamines, certain signs and symptoms will manifest with continued use. A sudden change in sleeping and eating habits may be one of the first signs noticed, as amphetamines decrease appetite and reduce the need for sleep. The user may also exhibit feelings of euphoria, restlessness, and anxiety. Those who are typically shy or introverted might suddenly seem very outgoing or social. The behavioral changes caused by amphetamine addiction are often what lead a loved one to become suspicious about drug use.
Physical Health Effects of Amphetamine Addiction
A spike in blood pressure and heart rate puts you or your loved one at risk of a heart attack or stroke if amphetamine addiction continues. This happens because continued use causes the capillary blood vessels to become severely constricted, resulting in damage to the brain or heart. As the addiction progresses, you or your loved one can become malnourished due to loss of appetite, and develop diseases caused by nourishment deficiencies.. If the drug is used intravenously, this can lead to the development of contagious diseases, kidney damage, and heart or lung disease.
Emotional Health Effects of Amphetamine Addiction
As amphetamine addiction progresses, it has the power to completely change the way a person behaves and thinks. You might notice increased talkativeness as your loved one experiences a false sense of power and self-confidence. These feelings can quickly change to confusion and disorientation as drug-induced hallucinations occur. It’s common for someone addicted to amphetamines to go through mood swings and feel restless or anxious. The crazy-making behavior of a loved one on amphetamines can lead to stress and depression in other family members as well. Eventually, long-term amphetamine addiction can lead to what’s known as” amphetamine psychosis”, where your loved one begins to exhibit symptoms similar to those of schizophrenia.
Impact of Amphetamine Addiction on Relationships
Any type of drug abuse and addiction can take its toll on relationships and family members and amphetamine addiction is no exception. The vast changes in your loved one’s moods may occasionally cause you to develop a false hope that everything is okay. But just as you begin to assure yourself that a drug addiction isn’t present, the pendulum will swing the other way as your family member begins to behave strangely again. Attempting to keep up with these changes and maintain some semblance of normalcy for other family members, especially children, is exhausting. As time goes on, it’s common for loved ones of the addict to feel increasingly depressed, angry, and scared.
Socio-Economic Impact of Addiction to Amphetamines
Those who continue to abuse amphetamines will have a difficult time remaining in the workforce. If the person in your family who is abusing amphetamines is also the breadwinner, it can lead to financial stress in the home. Even though use of the drug increases alertness and allows the user to work longer, it’s likely your loved one’s performance will decrease as confusion, anxiety, and hallucinations increase. Many families where addiction is present become torn apart and divorce are common. Money spent on obtaining drugs and the risk of incarceration due to drug possession can also cause greater financial strain as your loved one focuses solely on the next fix, no matter what the consequences.
Dangers of Continued Abuse Without Treatment
Continued abuse of amphetamines leads to increased risk of harm for you or your loved one. The false sense of confidence brought on by amphetamine abuse can lead you or your loved one to engage in risky behavior, while the growing impact the addiction has on your brain and emotional state can lead to suicidal thoughts. As the addiction continues, you or your loved one will become tolerant to the drug and your mind and body will demand more, which can easily lead to overdose. The risk of death is ever-present among long-term amphetamine abusers because of the possibility of stroke or heart attack. Treatment is vital to preserving your life or the life of a loved one.
The Importance of Treatment and Rehabilitation to Recovery from Amphetamine Addiction
Recovering from amphetamine addiction is possible, but it takes time and the careful, calculated process of a thorough treatment program. Addiction can become a life threatening illness and obtaining help for yourself or your loved one through treatment is the most effective way to safeguard health. Treatment and rehabilitation for amphetamine addiction is provided in a way that caters to the specific needs of the drug, as well as the health needs of the user.
Learning more about amphetamine addiction treatment and its importance can help you put aside any fears you might have with seeking treatment. In a professional treatment program, there’s no need to be concerned or fearful for the safety and well-being of yourself or your loved one. These are both closely monitored by healthcare professionals throughout the process of detoxification, withdrawals, and other phases of treatment. The psychological impact of attempting to withdraw from amphetamines alone can pose health risks to you or your loved one. To avoid these, it’s better to seek professional treatment for yourself or a loved one to ensure that your best interests, health, and safety are being safeguarded and monitored throughout the recovery process.
Withdrawing from Amphetamines
It takes time to withdraw from amphetamines. One of the most pronounced symptoms of withdrawal is the change from extended hours of being awake to prolonged periods of sleep. You or your loved one might also feel disoriented, depressed, and irritable. It’s important to be in a safe, comfortable setting during withdrawal from amphetamines to ensure your safety and health. Under the compassionate care of a professional treatment team, you or your loved one will be able to work through withdrawals more comfortably. Being able to get through this critical period is an important part of overall recovery. Aside from being dangerous, those who attempt to withdraw alone will experience difficulty in overcoming cravings.
The Importance of Detoxification
The detoxification phase of a professional treatment program allows you or your family member to safely and thoroughly withdraw from amphetamines and eventually become completely drug-free. The detox phase must be completed for the remainder of the treatment program to be effective. A thorough detox allows you or a family member to be able to fully participate in other program components as you work toward recovery. Additionally, detoxing with the care and treatment provided at a rehab facility provides you, your partner, parent, or child with a greater chance of remaining sober than if self-detoxification were to take place at home.
Amphetamine Addiction Treatment Program Components
Once the detoxification and withdrawal phase is complete, you or your family member who is addicted to amphetamines will begin to fully participate in other program components that are a vital part of the recovery process. These components include therapy sessions that involve meeting with your counselor one-on-one, participating in group counseling with other recovering addicts and, eventually, family counseling. As you learn to accept responsibility for addiction in therapy, life skills, and lifestyle changes will develop in groups and educational sessions. It takes time to learn the tools necessary to deal with life outside of rehab in a positive, healthy way. The time and effort invested in the recovery program help to lay a stronger foundation for a life of sobriety.
Aftercare for Continued Recovery
Similar to others suffering from a chronic illness, your loved one must maintain health and sobriety through a lifelong commitment to aftercare. The treatment center that facilitated the rehabilitation process may offer aftercare programs to help strengthen the skills gained during treatment and recovery. In addition to taking part in these groups, it’s important to continue involvement in a recovery group that helps you or your loved one remain accountable and committed to a life without amphetamines or other drugs and alcohol. If your relationship or family life has suffered as a result of drug addiction, continued family counseling can also play an instrumental role in remaining sober.
A life of sobriety requires many changes to avoid relapse. The person in recovery will have to end any relationships that encourage drug use. It’s also best to avoid hangouts or locations that are associated with buying or using amphetamines. In addition to making and maintaining these lifestyle changes, the support obtained from family members, healthy friendships, a recovery support group and a professional counselor will help you or your loved one remain sober and avoid the temptation to use again. There will never be a time when lifestyle changes or support will no longer be necessary; lifelong sobriety requires a commitment to fighting temptations to use again.
Misdiagnosis Leads to Amphetamine Addiction
Known as much for her drug and alcohol abuse and brushes with the law as she is for her acting, Lindsay Lohan was in the spotlight a few years ago when it was discovered her erratic behavior may be linked to a medical misdiagnosis. The actress, who seemed to become unhinged, was admitted to a UCLA rehabilitation facility and while there it was determined that she had been misdiagnosed as having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. As a result of her initial diagnosis, Lohan had been prescribed Adderall, which is a powerful stimulant used to help those with ADHD calm down and remain more focused.
Unfortunately, when taken by people who don’t have ADHD, Adderall can cause the opposite effects, just as it did with Lohan. The actress exhibited some of the same symptoms experienced by those who take methamphetamine or cocaine, such as driving around the entire night, staying awake for extended lengths of time without requiring any sleep and engaging in almost manic-like episodes of texting and Tweeting. Episodes of insomnia are common in those abusing amphetamines, according to doctors who treated Lohan, as is increased alcohol abuse which helps to counteract the stimulating effects of amphetamines.
Prior to entering UCLA’s Neuropsychiatric Hospital for drug rehabilitation, Lohan spent 13 days in jail for violating her 2007 parole. The judge ordered the actress to serve 90 days in jail and 90 days in rehab following her arrest, but Lohan was released from the treatment center after only 22 days of treatment. Reports from the UCLA facility and Lohan’s physicians said that uncovering the actress’s misdiagnosis allowed them to provide her with the best help and treatment possible and, upon her release, she was much healthier and doing well.
Eyebrows were raised when Lohan was recently rushed to the hospital when she was found unconscious in her hotel room in June 2012. When the producers of her current film “Liz & Dick” were unable to reach her in her hotel room, they called emergency services. Paramedics discovered her sleeping in her hotel and she was rushed to the hospital where it was determined she was suffering from dehydration and exhaustion. Despite the speculation of Hollywood gossipers, doctors found no trace of drugs or alcohol in the actress’s system and determined that overworking was the problem, not substance abuse.
Hope for the Future Lies in Recovery
The damage caused by amphetamine addiction doesn’t have to continue in the future. Recovery through professional rehabilitation and treatment can provide you and your loved ones with hope for health and happiness in the future. Take the first step toward a life of sobriety by reaching out to someone who can assist you in finding appropriate help for you or a family member. Although it’s not an easy step to make, it’s the best thing you can possibly do for someone suffering from amphetamine addiction. Don’t give up on a life of health and happiness in sobriety; it awaits you and your family member in the form of amphetamine addiction treatment.