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Amphetamines

Amphetamines are a type of drug group that stimulates the central nervous system. These drugs are commonly used to treat those with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), ADHD and Narcolepsy. However, many use this substance recreationally and illegally. Despite the reasoning for use, amphetamines tend to be highly addictive substances that can be dangerous to the body.

In this article you will learn all about amphetamines, including common types, the effects, how it’s addictive, and much more. 

What are Amphetamines?

Amphetamines are a type of stimulant drug that come in many forms. These synthetic substances stimulate the central nervous system by speeding up the rate at which neurochemical messages are passed on between the body and the brain. Amphetamines can be prescription stimulants that are prescribed by a doctor and used legally. Today, amphetamines are generally prescribed to treat health conditions such as:

  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Narcolepsy or hypersomnia
  • Obesity and weight loss

However, these substances are oftentimes used illegally, causing addiction to amphetamine and health concerns. For reference, an estimated 0.4%, or 964,000 people in the US, aged 12 or older had a methamphetamine use disorder in 2017—that is, they reported clinically significant impairment, including health problems, disability, and failure to meet responsibilities at work, school, or home as a result of their drug use. This number is significantly higher than the 684,000 people who reported having methamphetamine use disorder in 2016. 

Various Types of Amphetamines

There are several types of legal and illicit amphetamines. In this section, we are focusing on the three main categories of amphetamines:

  • Amphetamine
  • Dextroamphetamine
  • Methamphetamine

Prescriptions that are amphetamine-based fall into either of the first two categories. This is because they are either amphetamine or dextroamphetamine in formula and type. The third category, methamphetamine, is commonly known to many as “meth.” This illicit substance is highly addictive and dangerous.

Commonly prescribed forms of amphetamines:

  • Adderall – Dextroamphetamine 
  • Vyvanse – Lisdexamfetamine 
  • Dexedrine – Dextroamphetamine

Using these substances without a prescription is illegal.

Frequent Forms of Amphetamine Use 

The most frequent type of amphetamine use is through a prescribed doctor for treating ADD and ADHD. Individuals who suffer from these types of mental disorders tend to rely heavily on these stimulant drugs. If taken as prescribed, these drugs can help those suffering from mental health disorders such as ADD, ADHD and so on. The prescribed medication for those individuals who take amphetamines come in a pill form. This form is the most common of amphetamine use.

However, amphetamines pills, like many other substances, can become highly addictive and damaging to your health if abused. In America today, millions of individuals use non-prescribed amphetamines, and the rate of abuse and addiction is only going up.

Other common forms of amphetamine use consist of crushing pills and snorting them, dissolving pills in water and either drinking or injecting, and can even be inhaled in a vapor-like form. Amphetamine in its purest form is clear and looks like crystalized rocks. This form of amphetamines is usually vaporized and smoked. This technique allows the substance to enter the bloodstream at the quickest rate through injection. However, this type of use is very dangerous.

Lastly, methamphetamine users generally consume the drug in powder form orally or by smoking it.

Identifying Amphetamines

Generally, amphetamines come in the form of a pill or capsule. There are a variety of different colors these pills or capsules come in, including blue, orange, and dusty yellow. If prescribed by a doctor, these pills will come in a medication bottle with the exact dosage imprinted on the label.

Differing from above, amphetamines that are bought and sold on the street typically resemble a white, pink, grey, or yellowish powder. They also can be found in the form of liquid, powder, crystal or paste.

Common street names for amphetamines:

  • Speed
  • Whiz
  • Uppers
  • Crank 
  • Dexies
  • Pep pills
  • Bennies
  • Ice

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Amphetamine Effects

Amphetamines have several key effects, some short-term and some long-term. However, these will differ depending on the dosage and strength of the substance used. The effects will also differ based on the individual variables such as the individuals weight and longevity of use.

Some short-term, immediate effects of amphetamine use can include:

  • Reduced appetite
  • Rise in blood pressure
  • Increased energy levels 
  • Sharp sense of alertness and focus
  • Dry mouth 
  • Sweating
  • Dilated pupils
  • Jaw clenching

When amphetamines are prescribed and used to medicate individuals with ADD, ADHD, obesity and other health issues, a therapeutic and positive effect can be accomplished. 

Long-term effects of illegal amphetamine use can include:

  • Memory Loss
  • Overdose
  • Blurred Vision 
  • Panic Attacks 
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • Stroke
  • Permanent brain damage
  • Cardiovascular shutdown

The History of Amphetamine Abuse 

Amphetamines, and stimulant drugs as a whole, are an extremely popular drug of choice in the United States. The years between 1929 and 1971 are commonly known to be the first amphetamine epidemic America experienced. Non-prescribed users of these drugs quickly experienced weight loss, heightened focus and increased energy levels. Wanting to continue and feel these effects, America is now experiencing a large increase in amphetamine users and overdoses. They are dangerous and can cause death.

Today, adderall has become one of the most popular and widely used amphetamine drugs in young adults and college students. Showing its stable popularity in America. However, many of these individuals are not prescribed this medication and get it from their peers. 

The Mix of Amphetamine and other Substances

When amphetamines are mixed with other drug-like substances, the likelihood of an overdose is heavily raised. Unfortunately, life-ending overdoses are pretty common when amphetamines are mixed with downers. For instance, many individuals tend to mix amphetamines with heroin (known as speedball), or alcohol. These highly dangerous mixtures have the potential to kill. 

In addition to the mixture of amphetamines with downers, these drugs are also very dangerous when mixed with more potent stimulants. For example, an individual who mixed amphetamines with more potent cocaine are now at a higher risk for seizures and other life threatening illnesses.

How are Amphetamines Addictive?

Amphetamines are one of the most addictive types of drugs on the planet.  It works by stimulating your central nervous system, and this effect is quickly sought after by even first time users. With meth, due to the clandestine nature of methamphetamine labs, it is readily available and easily made in most geographical locations.

Part of the reason methamphetamine and “Crystal Meth” are so addictive is it’s impact on the neurotransmitter dopamine.  When users smoke, snort, or inject methamphetamine, it increases the body’s natural dopamine levels to more than 10 times that of non-users.  The intense level of euphoria and elevated mood causes cravings for more of the drug, which is the hallmark of severe substance abuse disorders and addiction.