Amphetamine Addiction and Abuse

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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 brain disorders such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Just as with many other drugs, amphetamines can be misused and addictions can form. The good news is that there are a number of treatment options available to anyone struggling with amphetamine addiction.
Amphetamines usually come as small, dark or light-blue tablets. Some individuals may cut these tablets in half or in quarters. They are almost always debossed with text for identification. For example, 5 mg Adderall tablets — which are light blue — say “M A5” to denote the formulation. Amphetamines are used to manage the symptoms of ADHD because the drug stimulates the ability to focus and pay attention. Doctors also prescribe amphetamines to people with narcolepsy. Since amphetamines “wake up” the brain, they can sometimes help narcoleptics counter the symptoms of their disorder

You may have heard the term “amphetamine salts” and wondered if that differs from regular amphetamine drugs. 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 salt.

Due to amphetamines’ ability to boost levels of certain “feel-good” chemicals in the brain, they are frequently misused. Although college students are known to misuse Adderall, an amphetamine, to increase their ability to focus, they are far from the only demographic that misuses the drug. People of all ages can misuse amphetamine and develop an amphetamine addiction.

Like many other drugs, amphetamines have multiple nicknames. People who sell or misuse amphetamines frequently use these nicknames to avoid bringing attention to themselves. If you hear someone use a drug’s nickname, it may be an indication that they are misusing amphetamines. Some of the most common nicknames associated with amphetamine drugs are:

  • Speed
  • Bennies
  • Uppers
  • Wake Ups
  • Dexies
  • Pep pills
  • Chalk
  • Zip
  • Crank
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 in the United States market are oral medications. Most amphetamines have been around long enough that they have generic equivalents. However, some newer drugs such as Vyvanse, are still only available under their brand-name formulas. Only about six 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. These are the most popular amphetamine brand-names and their delivery methods:

  • Adderall – Available as an oral tablet
  • Adderall XR – Available as an oral extended-release capsule
  • Desoxyn – Available as an oral tablet
  • Dexedrine – Available as an oral tablet
  • Dexedrine Spansule – Available as an oral extended-release capsule
  • DextroStat – Available as an oral tablet
  • Ritalin – Available as an oral capsule and a chewable tablet
  • ProCentra – Available as an oral solution
  • Vyvanse – Available as an oral capsule
  • Zenzedi – Available as an oral tablet
Amphetamine Addicition and ADHD
Amphetamine addiction is always possible. Amphetamines are among the most addictive drugs in the world. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies amphetamines as Schedule II drugs, which means that they have limited medical use and a high potential for generating dependency and addiction. Due to the potential for amphetamine addiction, the DEA mandates that these prescriptions cannot be refilled. Rather, a new prescription is needed 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. It is very easy to become dependent and develop an amphetamine addiction — even if they are used under a doctor’s supervision. Studies have found that people with ADHD are just as likely than those without the condition to develop an amphetamine addiction. Whether amphetamines are taken medically or illicitly, regular use puts an individual at a greater risk for developing an amphetamine addiction. This increased likelihood is because amphetamine addiction is a brain disease, and these drugs can change the brain’s structure. Over time, the changes in the brain’s chemical makeup can cause lasting effects.

Even if a person uses amphetamines with a legitimate prescription, there can be fatal consequences with mixing amphetamines with other drugs. This is especially true if the person struggles with amphetamine addiction. For example, some antidepressants, such as monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI), react poorly with amphetamines and produce a toxic effect on the nerves. Mixing amphetamines with other substances is never a good idea unless a person has spoken with their doctor and they have given their approval. Mixing amphetamines and alcohol are not a healthy combination, along with mixing Xanax and Adderall. Both alcohol and Xanax are depressants, which means that they slow down the central nervous system and mixing them together for recreational purposes increases the likelihood of an addiction forming

Amphetamines 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 results of drug mixing is the risk of 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 Xanax. 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.

When someone becomes addicted to amphetamines, there can be noticeable changes in their behavior and attitude. For example, individuals can experience:

  • 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

Individuals misusing amphetamines may also experience more serious effects when the drug is used long term. Vertigo, ulcers, malnutrition, kidney complications, lung problems and an increased risk of cardiovascular symptoms are a few symptoms that can be experienced.

The best way to manage an amphetamine addiction is to seek help through a professional treatment facility. When working with a medical professional and clinical therapists, patients can have the opportunity to have a safer and more comfortable detox experience compared to how they would do it on their own. The Recovery Village offers various programs at different locations throughout the country to help each patient receive an individualized treatment plan.

Members of the treatment team can help patients determine the best way for them to detox from amphetamines and administer medication to help with the withdrawal symptoms. Doctors and therapists can also help the patient learn the skills needed to continue their lives following treatment. The Recovery Village offers different types of recovery programs that cater to the specific needs of patients. Some of these programs include:

  • Inpatient Treatment
  • Outpatient Treatment
  • Intensive Outpatient Treatment
  • Intensive Inpatient Treatment
  • Partial Hospitalization Treatment
  • Aftercare Programs
Amphetamine Addicition
Given how common the misuse of amphetamines is, it’s important to spread the word about the frequency of amphetamine misuse. Some statistics regarding amphetamine addiction 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 at least once.
  • Adderall and other Amphetamines can stay in your system for between 1-3 days after the last use.

The Recovery Village has treatment centers in Florida, Colorado, Ohio, Washington and Maryland to help individuals looking to confront their addictions and begin living a life without amphetamines. For information regarding our facilities and programs, call us. Each call is completely free and confidential. Start your journey to recovery today.

“Adderall and College Students | SAMHSA NEWS.” SAMHSA Archive – Home, SAMHSA, May 2009, www.archive.samhsa.gov/samhsaNewsletter/Volume_17_Number_3/Adderall.aspx. Accessed 28 Feb. 2017.
Alcohol & Drug Foundation. “Amphetamines.” ADF, adf.org.au/drug-facts/amphetamines/. Accessed 27 Feb. 2017.
“Amphetamine Salts: Oral Tablet.” CVS – Online Drugstore, Pharmacy, Prescriptions & Health Information, www.cvs.com/drug/amphetamine-salts/oral-tablet. Accessed 27 Feb. 2017.
“Amphetamine.” DrugScience, www.drugscience.org.uk/drugs/stimulants/amphetamine. Accessed 27 Feb. 2017.
“Amphetamines.” CESAR (Center for Substance Abuse Research), www.cesar.umd.edu/cesar/drugs/amphetamines.pdf. Accessed 27 Feb. 2017.
Gillman, Ken. “MAOIs & CNS Stimulants.” Psychotropical, Psychotropical Research, 9 Aug. 2016, www.psychotropical.com/maois-cns-stimulants. Accessed 27 Feb. 2017.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Stimulant ADHD Medications: Methylphenidate and Amphetamines.” NIDA, National Institutes of Health, Jan. 2014, www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/stimulant-adhd-medications-methylphenidate-amphetamines. Accessed 27 Feb. 2017.
“Statistics.” In The Know Zone, Education Specialty Publishing, LLC, www.intheknowzone.com/substance-abuse-topics/amphetamines/statistics.html. 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, www.TheRecoveryVillage.com/resources/study-drugs-epidemic/. Accessed 27 Feb. 2017.
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. “Drug Fact Sheet: Amphetamines.” DEA, www.dea.gov/druginfo/drug_data_sheets/Amphetamines.pdf. Accessed 27 Feb. 2017.
World Health Organization. “Other Psychoactive Substances.” WHO, www.who.int/substance_abuse/facts/psychoactives/en/. Accessed 27 Feb. 2017.
Amphetamine Addiction
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Amphetamine Addiction was last modified: April 18th, 2018 by The Recovery Village