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Signs, Symptoms and Side Effects of Amphetamine Addiction

Amphetamines are one of the most widely abused drugs in United States. Because of their use as prescription drugs, there is a common misconception prevalent among common people that their abuse is not associated with any significant side effects. This notion is absolutely not true. Amphetamines are among the most addictive substances on earth. Even their medical use is highly careful and supervised. The user becomes dependent on the drug even before he realizes it. Addiction is a disease that alters the structure of the brain in such a way that it is no more able to function normally without the drug. When the use of amphetamines is prolonged, a number of physical, mental and psychological symptoms are produced. Even though the addict tries to hide his addiction, signs make it evident.

Signs, Symptoms and Side Effects of Amphetamine Addiction

Table of Contents:

  • 1.Signs and Symptoms of Amphetamine Abuse
  • 2.Effects Produced by Amphetamine on Brain
  • 3.Physical Symptoms of Amphetamine Abuse
  • 4.Long Term Health Effects of Amphetamine
  • 5.Amphetamine Overdose

Signs and Symptoms of Amphetamine Abuse:

Amphetamine is a psychoactive drug that stimulates the brain to produce a neurotransmitter named dopamine. Dopamine works on the parts of brain associated with pleasure and happiness. So when this neurotransmitter is produced in high amounts, the user feels happy, alert and elated. When the use of drug is continued, brain becomes habitual of working in the presence of high surges of dopamine. If the use of drug is discontinued, brain fails to functions normally. Amphetamine is classified as Schedule II substance. Schedule II substances are dangerous compounds having a high risk of physical and psychological dependence. These substances also have a medical use that is made under strict supervision.

Amphetamine abuse produces clear and visible symptoms. Amphetamines are associated with increased alertness and energy combined with a lack of hunger and sleep. A loss of appetite, insomnia etc in a loved one can help you detect abuse. The drug can be consumed in a number of ways such as swallowing, snorting, smoking and injected. All these methods leave their signs such as:

  • Smoking amphetamines: Glass pipes are usually used to smoke amphetamine. Another method is melting the drug on a metal spoon and inhaling it. Look for burned glass pipes and spoons if you suspect a loved one of smoking meth. Also, if an unusual smell is frequently smelled in their room or car, it can be another sign.
  • Snorting amphetamines: Amphetamines are usually available in the form of pills that are crushed and converted into powdered form. This powder is then snorted by using pipes, rolling paper or dollar bills. If rolled paper and remains of crushed powder are spotted, it is a sign of Amphetamine abuse. Also the abuser gets a bloody nose frequently because of the damage caused to the nose by drug.
  • Injecting amphetamines: The powdered amphetamine is dissolved in water and then injected by a syringe. Addict may use a cup or glass to dissolve and inject the liquid. Look for these tools around the house.

Effects Produced by Amphetamine on Brain:

Being a CNS stimulant, it stimulates the production of amphetamine that is a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure, attention and movement. When the drug is used for therapeutic purposes, it is taken in controlled amounts so the production of dopamine is slow and steady, much similar to the way brain naturally produces it so there is not a risk of harmful effects or withdrawal symptoms on quitting.

In contrast, when amphetamine is abused for recreational purpose, large dose is taken at once. As a result there is an outburst of dopamine that produces feelings of extreme euphoria and increased energy. Gradually, the brain becomes used to working in the presence of such elevated levels of dopamine. When the drug use is quit, dopamine is not produced in high amount anymore as required by the brain. The brain does not handle this situation very well and goes into a state of shock.

Physical Symptoms of Amphetamine Abuse:

Amphetamine abuse and addiction takes its toll on every aspect of addict’s life. A number of physical changes are noticed by the addicts such as:

  • Energy changes
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Increased respiratory rate
  • Insomnia
  • Restlessness
  • Weight loss
  • Increased sex drive
  • Dehydration

Long Term Health Effects of Amphetamine:

Continued use of amphetamine produces serious physical, mental and psychological effects. The body and mind become dependent on the drug and the user fails to quit even after a number of serious side effects produced by the drug.

Physical effects:

  • Sudden weight changes
  • Insomnia
  • Kidney problems
  • Tooth decay
  • Frequent nose bleeds
  • Weakened immune system
  • Cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack
  • Liver problems
  • Lungs problems
  • Ulcers
  • Skin problems such as acne, pustules etc
  • Involuntary tremors
  • Increased risk of Parkinson’s disease
  • Weakness
  • Hyperthermia
  • Malnutrition
  • Inability to enjoy anything other than drug

Psychological effects:

Amphetamines seriously harm normal brain function. A number of psychological symptoms are experienced by users such as:

  • Declined cognitive abilities
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Paranoia
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Aggression
  • Mood swings
  • Behavioral changes
  • Psychosis

Amphetamine Overdose:

It is possible to overdose on amphetamines when significantly high amounts of drug are taken. The heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature of the user is raised to dangerous levels by the drug. The risk of overdose increases a great deal when it is combined with other stimulants and depressants such as alcohol etc. It is important to have a knowledge about overdose symptoms so immediate medical attention can be sought. These include:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Very high body temperature
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Extreme aggression
  • Extreme anxiety
  • Slurred speech
  • Paranoia
  • Chest pain
  • Stomachache
  • Convulsions
  • Involuntary tremors
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Coma

It is crucial to provide immediate medical care to avoid permanent damage to the health and even death. At times, it is possible to treat the condition at home by using calming method, regulating room temperature, drinking water etc but it is highly recommended to always seek professional help.

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