Many people use amphetamines to stay alert.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 48.5 million people in the United States, or 18 percent of people aged 12 years and older reported use of illicit drugs or misuse of prescription drugs in 2016.
This begs the question: How many people in the U.S. use amphetamines? Which ones are most commonly used? While amphetamines might not be in the headlines as often as opioids, they nonetheless present a serious problem when it comes to substance use disorders in the United States.
What Do the Statistics Say About Amphetamines?
How big a problem is amphetamine misuse in the United States? The number of non-medical users of amphetamines is growing. According to the DAWN report, between 2005 and 2010, emergency room visits concerning ADHD stimulant medications rose from 13,379 to 31,244.
The Most Common Amphetamines
There are many different prescription amphetamines available. Some of the most commonly prescribed amphetamines include:
Since amphetamines are so commonly prescribed, they are relatively easy for people to access. Those who are struggling with a substance use disorder might get additional prescriptions or take pills from people who have them as prescribed medication. These drugs are also colloquially called Speed, Uppers, Dexies, Pep Pills and many other names.
Symptoms of Amphetamine Use and Overdose
Amphetamines have many short- and long-term effects. These include:
- Increased alertness and energy
- Increased in blood sugar
- Increased body temperature
- Increased blood pressure and heart rate
- Irregular heartbeat at higher doses
In the long term, amphetamine use can lead to heart disease, psychosis, anger and paranoia. For those who ingest amphetamines through injection, there are also risks of bloodborne diseases, such as HIV and hepatic.
When people overdose on these stimulants, they usually experience restlessness, tremors, rapid breathing, confusion, panic, hallucinations, pain, weakness and fever. Overdoses can lead to heart attacks, seizures and poisoning.
Amphetamines are often combined with other drugs. This can be doubly dangerous, as it combines the risks of one drug with the risks of the other.
Children and adults who use amphetamines for medical reasons can reduce their chance of addiction if they follow instructions for use.
Which Amphetamines Are Most Addictive?
Amphetamines can be quite addictive. This is because they increase activity in both the body and the brain, leading to physical and psychological addiction. These drugs influence levels of norepinephrine and dopamine, two neurotransmitters connected to reward, attention and motivation.
If you have ADHD and use amphetamines as prescribed, they should not be addictive. Instead, they will have a calming effect. Using amphetamines off-label is when you begin to enter the realm of potential addiction. Overall, most amphetamines can be addictive when taken in larger doses or when they are not taken as prescribed. Methylphenidate is less likely to cause addiction than other amphetamines.
Recovering From Amphetamine Misuse
Where can you go when you are trying to stop using amphetamines? Amphetamine misuse is treatable at most addiction recovery centers. Professional care is important for long-term sobriety, especially during the initial stages of recovery.
Symptoms of withdrawal can begin any time from hours or days after discontinuing the use of amphetamines. When you are withdrawing from amphetamines, you will likely experience symptoms such as:
- Extreme fatigue, insomnia, vivid dreams and other sleep disturbances
- Anxiety, disinterest in activities and depression
- Hunger and drug cravings
It is helpful to have medical assistance in managing these symptoms so that you are able to move past the initial stage of withdrawal. This assistance can help you physically, but it can also help you psychologically.
After you have completed the initial stage of withdrawal, you will have the opportunity for intensive inpatient or outpatient treatment. This treatment often involves counseling, group therapy, and other therapies such as art or recreation therapy. These treatments will help give you the psychological tools needed to manage drug cravings, connect you to a supportive community and make it easier to direct your energy toward positive activities.
At The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake, our goal is to help you lead a life that is free of substance misuse. Talk with us about the possibilities ahead — contact The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake today.