Amphetamine Addiction

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Amphetamines are stimulant drugs that cause the user to feel awake, alert and euphoric. They are sometimes prescribed to people who have one or more brain disorders such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. But just as with many other drugs, they can be abused, leading to amphetamine addiction. The good news there are a number of treatment options available to anyone struggling with amphetamine addiction. If you're the loved one of someone battling amphetamine addiction, knowing the signs to look for is one of the best ways you can help them break free and get the help they need.

Amphetamines usually come as small, dark or light blue pills or tablets. Some may cut these in half or quarters. They are always debossed with text for identification. For example, 5 mg Adderall tablets — which are light blue — say “M A5” to denote the formulation. In a medical setting, amphetamines are used to treat several problems with cognitive function. Primarily, doctors give these drugs to patients who have ADHD, because amphetamines stimulate brain activity that is related to the ability to focus and pay attention. Doctors also prescribe amphetamines to people with the sleep disorder narcolepsy. (This disorder causes sufferers to fall asleep at seemingly random times, such as midway through a conversation with someone.) Since amphetamines serve to “wake up” the brain, they can sometimes help narcoleptics.

You may have heard the term “amphetamine salts” and wondered if that differs from regular amphetamine drugs found on the street. The former refers to the amphetamine mixture that makes up generic Adderall. This is because the combination of substances used to create medical-grade Adderall is chemically considered to be a salt.

Another factor to consider when answering the “What are amphetamines?” question is the history of the drug. Due to amphetamines’ ability to boost levels of certain “feel good” chemicals in the brain, they can be abused. Thus, amphetamines are found on the street and in pharmacies alike. Although college students may be the most widely recognized population of amphetamine abusers, they are far from the only people who practice amphetamine abuse. People of all ages can abuse and even fall victim to amphetamine addiction.
Amphetamine Addicition and ADHD
There are several different formulations of amphetamines, each of which contains either the chemical dextroamphetamine, levoamphetamine or both. Regardless of formulation, all prescription amphetamines currently on the U.S. market are oral medications.

Most amphetamine drugs have been around long enough that they have generic equivalents. However, some newer drugs, such as the time-released Vyvanse, are still only available under their brand-name formulations. Only about 6 percent of amphetamine users with a prescription use the brand-name medications, which means the remaining 94 percent opt for generic versions of these drugs. Here are the most popular amphetamine brand-names and their delivery methods:

Adderall – Available as an oral tablet
Adderall XR – Available as an extended release oral capsule
Desoxyn – Available as an oral tablet
Dexedrine – Available as an oral tablet
Dexedrine Spansule – Available as an extended release oral capsule
DextroStat – Available as an oral tablet
Ritalin – Available as an oral capsule and chewable tablet
ProCentra – Available as an oral solution
Vyvanse – Available as an oral capsule
Zenzedi – Available as an oral tablet
When considering the “What are amphetamines?” question, you may know these drugs by another name. Like other drugs of abuse, amphetamines have garnered multiple street names. People who sell or abuse amphetamines most frequently use these nicknames. If you hear someone use street names, that may be an indication they are not using amphetamines medically. If this is the case, you should look further into the matter, because amphetamine addiction can result. Some of the most common street names associated with amphetamine drugs are:
Up or Uppers
Black beauties
Wake ups
Cross tops
Eye openers
Meth or crystal meth
Cris or Christy
Ice or hot ice
Glass or L.A. glass
Pep pills
The short answer is “yes.” Amphetamine addiction is certainly possible. Amphetamines are among the most addictive drugs in the world. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration classifies amphetamines as Schedule II drugs, which means they have limited medical use and a high potential for dependency and addiction. Due to the potential for amphetamine addiction, the DEA mandates that these drugs’ prescriptions cannot be refilled. Rather, you need a new prescription every time you want to fill a bottle of amphetamines. The prescription must be a hard copy, printed on specially watermarked paper with a doctor’s signature. Additionally, your doctor must call your pharmacy and confirm the validity of your prescription.

Despite these barriers to obtaining illicit amphetamines, people still manage to acquire the drugs. However, it is very easy to become dependent and develop an amphetamine addiction — even if you are using it under your doctor’s supervision. In fact, studies have found that people with ADHD are just as likely or less likely than those without the condition of developing amphetamine addiction. Whether you are taking amphetamines medically or illicitly, regular use puts you at a greater risk for physical and psychological amphetamine addiction. This is because amphetamine addiction is a brain disease, and these drugs can actually change the brain’s structure. Over time, those changes in the brain’s chemical makeup can cause lasting amphetamine addiction.

Among the first signs of amphetamine addiction is tolerance. This means that you require increasing amounts of the drug to obtain the same effect you once got.

Common Signs of Amphetamine Addiction

There are a number of behavioral and physical signs associated with amphetamine addiction, including:

  • Personality changes
  • Decreased appetite and/or weight loss
  • Bouts of unexplained euphoria followed by a “crash” in energy
  • Frequent discussion of amphetamines
  • Prematurely aged appearance
  • Insomnia

These drugs should be used with caution — if at all. Only a medical doctor can decide whether the potential benefits of taking an amphetamine outweighs the risks of the drug. And if you or someone you know is struggling with amphetamine addiction, The Recovery Village can help.

Even if you are using amphetamines with a legitimate prescription, there are potentially fatal consequences to mixing your amphetamines with other drugs. This is especially true if you’re currently struggling with amphetamine addiction. For example, some antidepressants (such as MAOI inhibitors) react poorly with amphetamines and produce a toxic effect on the nerves. Mixing amphetamines with other substances is never a good idea unless you have spoken with your doctor and they have given their approval. Amphetamines and alcohol are not a healthy combination; mixing Xanax and Adderall is an equally bad idea. Both alcohol and Xanax are depressants, which means that they slow down the central nervous system.

Amphetamines, on the other hand, are made to speed up the central nervous system. Combining these disparate substances can result in dangerous consequences such as extremely high blood pressure and body temperature. Among the most distressing and problematic results of “upper and downer” drug mixing is overdose. This occurs because the amphetamine or “upper” camouflages the fact that a person has taken too much of the “downer” drug, which may be alcohol or heroin. By the time a user recognizes that they have taken too much of the downer and are in trouble, it may be too late to get help. In too many tragic cases, the user dies before they even recognize that they were in grave danger.

Amphetamine Addicition
Statisticians and data scientists have been studying amphetamine abuse trends for years. Some of their findings include:

  • Amphetamines are the second most commonly used drugs in the world, after cannabis.
  • About 13 million Americans have abused amphetamines.
  • People who abuse Adderall are more likely to abuse other drugs as well.
  • One study found that almost 90 percent of college students who abuse Adderall also practice regular binge drinking.
  • Among high schoolers in grades 10 – 12, approximately 15 percent have abused an amphetamine drug at least once.
  • Adderall and other Amphetamines can stay in your system for between 1-3 days after last use.

Adderall addiction can wreak havoc on the person using the drug as well as their family. The Recovery Village’s various rehab facilities throughout the country offers personalized programs to treat Adderall addiction, among other addictions.


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“Amphetamine.” DrugScience, Accessed 27 Feb. 2017.
“Amphetamines.” CESAR (Center for Substance Abuse Research), Accessed 27 Feb. 2017.
Gillman, Ken. “MAOIs & CNS Stimulants.” Psychotropical, Psychotropical Research, 9 Aug. 2016, Accessed 27 Feb. 2017.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Stimulant ADHD Medications: Methylphenidate and Amphetamines.” NIDA, National Institutes of Health, Jan. 2014, Accessed 27 Feb. 2017.
“Statistics.” In The Know Zone, Education Specialty Publishing, LLC, Accessed 27 Feb. 2017.
The Recovery Village. “Teen Study Drug Abuse: A Parent’s Guide to This Rising Epidemic.” The Recovery Village, Advanced Recovery Systems, 14 Oct. 2016, Accessed 27 Feb. 2017.
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World Health Organization. “Other Psychoactive Substances.” WHO, Accessed 27 Feb. 2017.
Amphetamine Addiction
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Amphetamine Addiction was last modified: February 2nd, 2018 by The Recovery Village