What is Amphetamine Addiction
Amphetamines are abused by taking them in very high doses, which involves either taking more than recommended or defeating the pills’ time-release mechanism. Methamphetamine and some hallucinogenic amphetamines are often smoked or injected for an intense, dramatic rush of euphoria and stimulation.
When amphetamines are abused, the brain slowly changes. Receptors in its pleasure and reward centers are desensitized, and they eventually die. This means that only amphetamines can make an individual happy. As addiction progresses, the addict needs amphetamines just to feel normal.
Amphetamine abuse is like a roller coaster of ups and downs. When individuals are under the influence of the drug, they may feel:
- Extreme energy
When the drug wears off, the addict feels:
The endless cycle of ups and downs can cause psychological problems, but amphetamine abuse is also known to cause a host of physical ailments. Infections from needles and lung damage from acrid smoke, heart problems, and respiratory infections are common among long-time addicts.
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Amphetamine Addiction: Signs + Symptoms
Addicted individuals are often able to hide their problem from family and friends. But as the addiction progresses and the situation becomes more desperate, symptoms of the disease become more noticeable.
Symptoms of amphetamine addiction include:
- Mood swings
- Unusual behavior
- Brushes with the law
- Disturbed sleep patterns
- Weight loss
Mood swings spring from the constant cycle of getting high and “crashing,” or coming down off the drug. The addict’s mood may rapidly swing from intense euphoria to severe depression several times per day.
High doses of amphetamines can cause paranoia and delusions. This can result in bizarre behavior. While high, an addict may hide in a bedroom for hours. Tics, like eye-rolling, neck twitches, and repetitive movements, are quite common during amphetamine intoxication. Schizophrenic behavior almost always becomes apparent during the course of addiction. This may manifest as auditory and visual hallucinations, delusions and paranoia.
The stimulant action of amphetamines causes insomnia. An amphetamine addict on a binge may go days without sleep. When the drug supply runs out, the addict may sleep for over 24 hours.
Amphetamines are well-known to cause a loss of appetite. When abused, the food drive may disappear completely. Rapid weight loss can cause a sunken face, loose skin, an ashen complexion, and ill-fitting clothing.
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Amphetamine Withdrawal: Signs + Symptoms
When chronic amphetamine use is suddenly stopped, withdrawal symptoms usually become apparent within hours of the last dose. Acute withdrawal, which is sometimes referred to as “coming down,” often drives addicts to commit crimes in order to gain money to buy more amphetamines.
Symptoms of acute amphetamine withdrawal include:
- Profound depression
- Physical and mental exhaustion
- Intense amphetamine cravings
- Blurry vision
- Muscle pain, weakness, and tension
These symptoms of acute withdrawal can be easily and quickly dissolved by a dose of amphetamines. This explains why addicts sometimes wait so long to seek treatment. The above symptoms peak in intensity in one to three days, and they begin to ease off over an additional period of three days to one week.
As the acute withdrawal symptoms lessen in intensity, the recovering individual begins to experience chronic withdrawal symptoms. The main symptoms of chronic withdrawal include insomnia and irritability. The symptoms of acute withdrawal, including cravings, continue to decline over the next few weeks.
Post-acute Withdrawal Symptoms may last for months after the main symptoms of acute and chronic withdrawal subside. PAWS may include difficulty in concentrating, insomnia, nightmares, and sudden urges to return to drug use.
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Treatment begins with detox, which typically takes up to one week. Detox is simply the beginning of the healing process, and it’s the stage when the body detoxifies itself of all traces of amphetamines.
Acute withdrawal symptoms are usually eased with medications like antidepressants and benzodiazepines. While no medication can eliminate the symptoms of withdrawal, they can be managed to make them more bearable. The recovering person will be closely monitored for signs of medical complications. The goal is to keep the patient as comfortable and as safe as possible.
Some residential treatment centers use additional less traditional means to ease withdrawal symptoms and comfort the patient. Some of these treatments include acupuncture, massage, and yoga.
According to the plan that the patient has decided on, the next step in the recovery process is either residential or outpatient treatment. This part of recovery lasts for between 30 and 90 days. During this time, the patient must focus on treatment. For this reason, residential treatment is most often recommended. Patients usually have nutrient deficiencies that are addressed at this point.
Some find that they may not quite be free of their addiction even after successfully completing intensive rehabilitation. Support from friends and family, a church, or a support group is highly recommended as a way to prevent relapse. Some need time in a halfway house or sober living center for extra help while transitioning back to a clean and sober life.
If you have a problem with amphetamine abuse, call us today to find out what treatment plan will work best for you. If you know someone who needs help, encourage them to take that critical first step.