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Amphetamines and Addiction Treatment

amphetamine

Amphetamines and Addiction Treatment

Treatment at Laguna Shores Recovery

At Laguna Shores Recovery we offer treatment for amphetamine abuse. Our facility in Mission Viejo offers individualized treatment plans for each patient based on their needs. Our highly trained medical professionals will work with our patients to help them detox from the dangerous chemicals in their system. Afterwards, our therapists will teach them healthy coping skills that they can utilize instead of a stimulant. By doing this, our patients will be able to live the rest of their lives addiction free. 

What is an Amphetamine?

Amphetamines are medications and street drugs that speed up the central nervous system. Manufacturers make these stimulants legally in the United States to treat medical conditions such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.1 People can also use it illegally, either by themselves or by mixing it with other drugs such as cocaine.

These stimulants have been in the United States since the 1930s. Doctors first marketed the amphetamine Benzedrine as a medicine to relieve nasal congestion. Later versions of the drug included pills that people took to try to beat narcolepsy, a sleep disorder.

This isn’t the same thing as methamphetamines or meth, although they can have some similar effects. Unfortunately, it is possible to develop an addiction that will require rehab treatment at a recovery facility.  

What Substances are Considered Amphetamines?

Examples of prescription amphetamines include:

Dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine)

Methylphenidate (Ritalin, Ritalin SR)

Amphetamine and Dextroamphetamine (Adderall)

Illegal laboratories also make these stimulants for sale on the street. Street names include:

Bennies

Crank

Speed

Black beauties

Ice

Uppers

Sometimes, illegal laboratories will combine amphetamines with other medications or drugs to try to make them more powerful.

How is it Used and Abused?

People may use stimulants by taking them in pill form or injecting them. Some people may also smoke them.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA):

%

An estimated 6.6 percent of adults in the United States reported using prescription stimulants in the past year.2 This is about 16 million people.

%

Of these individuals, an estimated 4.5 percent used them with a prescription, while 2.1 percent used them without a prescription.

%

Of the adults who used these stimulants illegally, an estimated 56.3 percent reported using them for “cognitive enhancement.”

When a person takes a stimulant, they experience effects that can include an increased sense of confidence and energy.3 They may also enhance their concentration, alertness, and visual and self-awareness. A person may also lose their appetite or lose interest in sleep. Eventually, they may crash because they haven’t slept for some time.

Some side effects include higher heart rates, problems sleeping, and appetite loss. They can also feel overwhelmingly tired.

Misconceptions

A common misconception about this drug is that because many are available by prescription, they aren’t harmful or addictive. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) classifies them as a Schedule II drug, which means they are addictive and have significant potential for abuse. This is the same drug class as painkillers.

Another misconception is that a person can purchase a pill of this particular stimulant on the street. Illegal labs produce them and they may be mixed with other substances to try to make the pills or powders look more real. Examples include caffeine, sugar, other drugs, or even binding agents like baking powder. It’s really hard to know what a pill contains just by looking at it, and its side effect could be extremely dangerous, especially if it contains other chemicals or drugs.

Health Risks

If a person takes excessive amounts of amphetamines, they may be at risk for overdose. In rare but possible instances, overdose can lead to death. Examples of overdose symptoms include:

Agitation

Dangerously high body temperatures

Hallucinations

Insomnia

Rapid heart rate

Shaking

In addition to overdose risks, a person could have health complications if they have heart problems. Very fast heart rates could lead to potentially deadly heart rhythms. In addition, if a person uses an injection they place themselves at greater risks for injection-related illnesses. These include Hepatitis C and HIV, as well as endocarditis.

People who have taken stimulants for a long time are at an increased risk for developing a medical condition that is similar to schizophrenia. Doctors call this “amphetamine psychosis.”4 It causes a person to experience a sensation of paranoia as well as visual and auditory hallucinations. People may start to engage in skin picking and exhibit violent, bizarre, and erratic behavior.

In addition to health risks, a person can experience the side effects of addiction. These include financial, legal, and social problems.

Withdrawal

A person can experience withdrawal if they abuse amphetamines in higher amounts or have taken it regularly for some time. Examples of withdrawal symptoms a person can experience include:

Anxiety

Increased appetite

Problems

Problems sleeping well

Vivid and unpleasant dreams

Feelings of hopelessness and depression

Paranoia

Problems concentrating

Strong cravings for the drug

Because this type of stimulant is longer lasting in the body than cocaine, a person may experience slightly longer withdrawal symptoms that may last up to 10 days. While the most severe symptoms go away after this time, a person may still experience changes in their mood and strong cravings for weeks, months, or years after quitting. This is why it is important a person seeks continued professional help for substance use disorders.

Treatment

Treatments are usually supportive and often include talk therapy. The FDA hasn’t approved medications to help with amphetamine withdrawals specifically. However, a person can still experience benefits from professional medical addiction treatment to cope with withdrawals and cravings as they get sober. Also, many people who abuse this drug may use other medications to try and counter-balance some of its effects. Examples include sleeping pills, alcohol, or painkillers to help a person sleep.

Other treatments include psychotherapy or talk therapy. According to NIDA, the most commonly used behavioral therapies are cognitive-behavioral therapy and contingency management.5 These are helpful in treating people with an addiction to prescription stimulants by helping a person learn how to respond to stress and anxiety in more positive ways than using stimulants.

Contingency management specifically provides vouchers and other rewards for positive and drug-free behaviors. Examples include getting a restaurant gift card for a negative drug test or tickets to a movie theater for participation in group therapy. Researchers have found these approaches are very effective in motivating a person addicted to amphetamines to stay drug-free.