Amphetamine Abuse & Addiction

What are Amphetamines?

People often wonder what are amphetamines, what are their effects and can you become addicted to them? Amphetamines are central nervous system (CNS) stimulators that vary in legality. For example, some amphetamines are used as medical treatments while others are illegal. Regardless of their classification, these substances can be addictive when used medically or recreationally.

What Do Amphetamines Do?

Amphetamines are central nervous system stimulants that speed up functions controlled by the CNS. When someone uses amphetamines, the substance increases neurotransmitter activity. In particular, amphetamines can impact dopamine and norepinephrine, the “feel-good” neurotransmitters.

Prescription amphetamines treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as well as narcolepsy. Rarely, prescription amphetamines might be used for the treatment of depression. Since amphetamines are stimulants, they lead to increased alertness, energy and physical activity.

When someone uses amphetamines, particularly recreationally, they may feel a false sense of confidence or well-being. Someone misusing amphetamines might feel like they’re smarter or more powerful than they are, and these feelings occur along with a sense of euphoria.

Types of Amphetamines

There are two primary types of amphetamines: legal and illegal. Illegal amphetamines include:

  • Amphetamine (known as speed)
  • Crystal methamphetamine
  • Liquid methamphetamine

Illegal amphetamines can be inhaled, smoked, injected or taken orally.

Legal, prescription amphetamines include brand-name drugs like Adderall, Vyvanse, Dexedrine and generic ADHD medications. These medications are commonly prescribed to treat conditions like attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, narcolepsy and binge-eating.

Signs of Amphetamine Abuse

Amphetamine abuse occurs with the illegal use of the drug, or misuse of prescribed medications. For example, some people will misuse Adderall as a performance enhancer at school or work. These drugs can increase focus and concentration, allow people to stay awake for long periods and can have other effects someone might find desirable, such as weight loss. Signs of amphetamine abuse include:

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Decreased appetite and weight loss
  • Insomnia and sleep disturbances
  • Digestive problems
  • Mood swings
  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety
  • Aggression
  • Hallucinations
  • Doctor shopping for amphetamine prescriptions
  • Loss of interest in activities someone was previously interested in
  • Maintaining a stash of amphetamines
  • Trying to hide amphetamine use

Amphetamine Side Effects

Both prescription and illicit versions of amphetamines can have side effects, and sometimes these can be severe. The more someone misuses amphetamines or the higher the dose is, the more likely severe side effects occur. Short-term amphetamine side effects include:

  • Raised body temperature
  • Cardiovascular symptoms
  • Paranoia
  • Changes in heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Dry mouth
  • Dilated pupils
  • Increased breathing
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Heart palpitations
  • Tremors or twitching

Possible long-term amphetamine side effects include:

  • Psychosis
  • Behavioral and psychological disorders
  • Heart arrhythmias
  • Convulsions
  • Ulcers
  • Malnutrition
  • Mental illness
  • Vitamin deficiency
  • Coma
  • Death

Amphetamine Addiction Treatment

Amphetamine addiction can develop with the misuse of the substance. With some forms of amphetamines like methamphetamine, addiction can develop quickly. When someone has an amphetamine addiction, they can have a hard time eliminating drug use from their life. When someone struggles with amphetamine addiction, they often require a professional treatment program to successfully detox and address their substance use disorder.

To learn more about amphetamine addiction along with the treatment process and programs available, contact The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake. Call to speak to a representative who can inform you of which programs may work best for you. Begin your healthier future today.

Newman, Tim. “Uses and Risks of Amphetamine.” Medical News Today, December 22, 2017. Accessed April 12, 2019.

Medline Plus. “Substance Use-Amphetamines.” Accessed April 12, 2019.

Center for Substance Abuse Research. “Amphetamines.” October 29, 2013. Accessed April 12, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.