Amphetamines are a type of stimulant that can be used to treat conditions like ADHD and narcolepsy. However, they also have a high potential for abuse, and long-term use can lead to amphetamine addiction.
What are amphetamines?
Amphetamines are a group of synthetic drugs that act as central nervous system stimulants. By increasing the activity of certain neurotransmitters, they can produce a variety of effects, including increased alertness, energy and focus. Amphetamines are commonly used to treat conditions like ADHD and narcolepsy.
Despite their legitimate medical uses, amphetamines have become increasingly popular as a way to boost energy and productivity and are also sometimes used recreationally as “party drugs” due to their euphoric and energy-enhancing effects.
Prescription amphetamines are usually taken as pills but amphetamine abuse may involve crushing up the pills to snort or smoke or, on some occasions, dissolving the crushed pills in water to inject. Street names for amphetamines include speed, uppers, whizz and phets.
What is amphetamine addiction?
Amphetamine addiction is a compulsive need to keep taking amphetamines no matter the negative effects. Those who struggle with amphetamine addiction often feel as though they cannot function without the drug and may experience mental or physical discomfort if they try to stop.
Treatment for amphetamine addiction is essential for those who want to overcome this condition and live a healthy life as giving up on your own can be incredibly difficult due to cravings. With professional help, however, you can learn to manage your amphetamine addiction, understand its root causes and achieve long-term recovery.
What are the effects of amphetamine addiction?
Like many different types of drug addiction, amphetamine addiction can have a range of short and long-term health effects. In the short term, amphetamine abuse and addiction can cause:
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure
- Loss of appetite
Long-term effects include:
- Weight loss
- Skin problems
- Psychotic symptoms such as paranoia and hallucinations
- Serious damage to your heart
- Increased risk of stroke
Amphetamine overdose is also a serious risk and can be potentially fatal. Symptoms of an amphetamine overdose include extremely high blood pressure and/or rapid heart rate, profuse sweating, agitation and psychotic symptoms such as paranoia and hallucinations. It is important to note that mixing amphetamines with alcohol or other drugs can be very dangerous and increase the risk of overdose. If you think someone has overdosed on amphetamines, it is important to seek medical help immediately.
Amphetamine addiction can also have a seriously negative impact on the rest of your life. It can damage your relationships, hurt your finances and affect your work or studies. Many people are surprised at how quickly amphetamine addiction can take over their lives but once they are in the grip of addiction, it can be very difficult to break free.
Why are amphetamines addictive?
Amphetamines are addictive because they cause a temporary increase in dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is associated with pleasure and reward. When amphetamines are taken, they cause dopamine levels to rise which then leads to feelings of pleasure and euphoria.
However, this effect is only temporary and as tolerance develops, users need to take larger doses of amphetamines to get the same effect. This can quickly lead to physical dependence (needing to take amphetamines just to feel “normal”) and finally addiction.
Both prescription and illegal amphetamines can be addictive and Sanctuary Lodge has treated people addicted to both. If you are worried about your use of amphetamines, please contact us today so we can get you started on the road to recovery.
Routes to amphetamine addiction
There are two main routes to amphetamine addiction; prescription amphetamine use and recreational amphetamine abuse.
Prescription amphetamine use
Prescription amphetamines are only ever meant to be taken under close medical supervision and in very small doses. However, some people may start misusing them by taking larger doses than prescribed or more often than they should. This can quickly lead to physical dependence and amphetamine addiction.
Recreational amphetamine abuse
This is when people take amphetamines for the purpose of getting high. Recreational amphetamine abuse can involve taking amphetamines that have been prescribed for someone else, buying them illegally or making them at home. As with prescription amphetamines, recreational amphetamine abuse can quickly lead to amphetamine addiction as tolerance builds and larger doses are needed to get the same effect.
The most common amphetamines abused in the UK are illegal ones such as speed and base (a paste form of amphetamines). However, prescription amphetamines such as Adderall and Ritalin are frequently abused either to get high or to help with studying or long working hours.
Do I have an amphetamine addiction?
The fact that you are reading this page suggests that you are concerned about your use of amphetamines. This is a huge first step as acknowledging that there may be an issue is often half the battle in overcoming amphetamine addiction. Here are some questions to ask yourself which may point to signs of amphetamine addiction:
- Do I use amphetamines more often than I intended or in larger doses?
- Is a lot of my time spent thinking about using amphetamines or getting hold of them?
- Do I continue to use amphetamines even though it is causing problems in my life such as relationship difficulties or financial problems?
- Have I tried to stop using amphetamines or cut down but been unable to do so
- Do I experience depression, anxiety or intense cravings when I try to stop using amphetamines?
If you have answered yes to any of the above questions, you are likely struggling with amphetamine addiction. Get in touch with Sanctuary Lodge today and our team of experts will be able to assess your situation and provide the help you need.
Who is most at risk of amphetamine addiction?
While anybody who uses amphetamines can potentially develop an amphetamine addiction, there are certain groups of people who are more at risk:
- People with mental health problems: Amphetamines can worsen underlying mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. This can lead to increased use in an attempt to self-medicate which can quickly spiral into amphetamine addiction.
- Young people: Recreational amphetamine abuse is most common among young people. This is partly due to the fact that amphetamines are often seen as a ‘party drug’ and also because young people are more likely to take risks and experiment with drugs. Some young people also use amphetamines as a “study drug” to help them keep them awake and alert for school or university work.
- Those with a family history of addiction: Amphetamine addiction has a genetic element, so if you have close relatives who have struggled with addiction, you may be more at risk.
- People who have experienced trauma: Amphetamine abuse can be a way of numbing difficult emotions and memories for people who have experienced trauma. However, this can quickly lead to amphetamine addiction and make the underlying issues even worse.
Amphetamine abuse and addiction in the UK
- The use of amphetamines has generally decreased in the UK in the last two decades. Use among 16-59-year-olds between 1996 and 2018/19 was down from 3.3% to 0.6% while use among 16-24-year-olds went down from 11.7% to 1%.
- Despite this, there were 99 amphetamine-related deaths in England and Wales in 2019 alone and almost 500 over the previous five years.
- Amphetamine abuse and addiction affect everyone with 0.7% of men and 0.4% of women taking amphetamines in 2018/19.
How is amphetamine addiction treated?
Amphetamine addiction is a serious condition that requires professional help. At Sanctuary Lodge, our amphetamine recovery programme has three stages:
Amphetamine detox is the first stage and is vital in order to rid your body of the drug. This is best done under medical supervision as there are a number of potentially dangerous side effects which you may experience.
The second stage is amphetamine rehab which involves a combination of different therapies and approaches which will help you to understand your amphetamines addiction and give you the tools you need to overcome it.
The third stage is aftercare which involves ongoing group therapy to help prevent relapse after you leave Sanctuary Lodge.
To find out more about our amphetamine programmes, get in touch with Sanctuary Lodge today. We have helped hundreds of people overcome amphetamine addiction and start brand new lives.
Frequently asked questions
- secretive or suspicious behaviour
- amphetamine paraphernalia (prescription packets, rolled-up notes, drug bags etc)
- change in sleeping patterns
- loss of appetite/weight loss
- change in mood/personality
It is important to note that these can also be signs of another type of drug use or some other issue in their life so the best thing to do is to talk to your loved one about your concerns.