If you’re asking yourself questions like “How can I tell if someone is on amphetamines?” or “What are the signs of abuse?” you probably already have a suspicion that your loved one is using drugs and, in particular, abusing amphetamines. Unfortunately, broaching this subject can be incredibly difficult, and the person is likely to respond with defensiveness. That’s why it’s important to understand the signs and symptoms of using amphetamines entirely so that you can decide on the best next step.
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Signs of Amphetamine Abuse & Symptoms
Some drugs may make it easier to hide their use. Amphetamine isn’t one of them. The signs of amphetamine addiction are often relatively visible to outsiders, and the effects of these drugs tend to last for a long time.
One of the most common signs someone is on amphetamines and possibly abusing them is talkativeness. When someone uses these drugs, their brain is stimulated, which can lead them to talk a lot, and quickly. In most cases, if someone is on amphetamines, it becomes clear when you interact with them.
The individual may stay up for a day or more because the drug keeps them awake. Since these drugs are stimulants, they may appear very fidgety. They may have trouble staying still.
They will also tend to lose their appetite. If you notice someone once had a normal appetite and suddenly seems uninterested in food, particularly on a prolonged basis, it can indicate drug abuse.
Other signs of amphetamine use can include a fast heart rate, increased body temperature, and a sense of euphoria. Blood pressure can quickly rise, breathing can speed up and pupils will often become dilated.
While these are the most common signs to look for, some adverse effects may occur as well, including digestive problems, hallucinations, or aggressive, paranoid, or anxious behavior.
When the euphoric effects of amphetamines begin to wane, the user may start to seem fatigued, depressed, or generally disinterested in things. This is referred to as the “amphetamine come-down,” and withdrawal symptoms may include headaches, irritability, blurry vision, confusion, dizziness, periods of anxiety and cravings for more drugs.
Signs of Amphetamine Tolerance
The brain quickly develops a tolerance to the amphetamine class of drugs. This means that people who begin using them will quickly need to start taking higher doses to get the same effect. This can lead to something that’s called binging, where people take large doses of amphetamines over a brief period.
Signs someone has been binging on amphetamines can include extreme depression or anxiety, panic attacks, hallucinations, extreme tiredness, psychotic episodes and sleeping for extended periods (anywhere from 24 to 48 hours).
Behavioral Signs of Someone Who Is On Amphetamines
Some behavioral signs of amphetamine use are nearly instantaneous after a dose, such as talkativeness. Others may start to occur over time with more prolonged abuse.
At first, someone who is taking amphetamines may seem incredibly motivated when it comes to school or work. If they’re continuously abusing the drug, they may start to struggle to keep up with responsibilities.
Eventually, they may shift their focus from their previous priorities to focus on obtaining and using the drug. The individual may start doing anything they can to get more drugs, including stealing from other people or trying to visit different doctors to obtain a prescription.
When people are on amphetamines, they can appear to have an inflated sense of self or overestimate their abilities.
Over time they may become malnourished if they’re abusing amphetamines. They may also start having trouble with their existing relationships and lose interest in activities.
Being on amphetamines can be incredibly dangerous. When they’re used over prolonged periods, it can increase the likelihood of the person developing psychological and health problems. Amphetamines can permanently deteriorate brain function, so if you suspect someone you love is displaying the signs and symptoms of amphetamine abuse, it’s important to seek professional medical or addiction help.
What Are Amphetamines?
To understand the warning signs of being on amphetamines, you must first understand what this class of drugs is, and how it works. Amphetamines are stimulants, and they impact the user’s central nervous system. They can be prescribed as a medical treatment for issues such as hyperactivity disorders like ADHD, narcolepsy, and asthma. In rare cases, it can be prescribed to treat depression.
When amphetamines are taken, they stimulate brain activity and activate the central nervous system. This can lead to improved cognitive function and help the user feel more alert and awake. Amphetamines can also make people generally feel more motivated and euphoric.
How Are Amphetamines Abused?
You may suspect someone is on amphetamines or abusing them in a few specific instances. The first would be if the person has a prescription for amphetamines, but is taking higher doses or taking doses more often than is prescribed. Some individuals who are prescribed these drugs may crush them and then snort them for a faster, more powerful high. They may also be abused by people who don’t have a prescription and purchase them illegally.
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, roughly 4.8 million people in the United States abused amphetamines in 2015, which amounts to 1.8% of the country’s population aged 12 and older. These levels remained consistent through 2018.
Hughes, Arthur, et al. “Prescription Drug Use and Misuse in the United States: Results from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.” Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, September 2016. Accessed June 16, 2020.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. “Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.” August 2019. Accessed June 16, 2020.
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