Amphetamine Addiction – Finding the Right Treatment

In a general sense, amphetamine is a central nervous system stimulant that has a direct effect on brain chemicals to such a degree that it contributes to hyperactivity, high energy levels, and definitive emotional and psychological disturbances. There are several different kinds of amphetamines, some of which are used for legitimate medical purposes when treating narcolepsy and ADHD. Unfortunately, the line between amphetamine addiction and abuse is often sometimes difficult to delineate because of the psychological effects of this drug.

A person abusing amphetamine may be taking the drug because a doctor prescribed it. Taking higher doses than recommended, or more frequently than the prescription calls for, would definitely be considered abuse. Another means of abuse is combining prescription amphetamines with other amphetamines procured illegally.

The most important thing amphetamine users need to know is that the drug has a very high potential for psychological dependence. Physical dependence is also a very strong possibility in some people. The onset of dependence indicates that an amphetamine user has surpassed abuse and entered the world of addiction.

Mechanism of Amphetamine Addiction

The mechanism that leads from amphetamine abuse to addiction is directly related to how the drug affects chemicals in the brain. As a central nervous system stimulant, amphetamine almost instantly creates higher energy levels while at the same time producing feelings of euphoria and invincibility. The amphetamine abuser can quickly reach a point where he or she craves those feelings. Such cravings lead the user to take the drug again, then again, and so on.

Psychological cravings for amphetamine can be stronger than the physical cravings. Nonetheless, taking amphetamine long enough can create physical dependence in which the body simply cannot function normally without at least some of the drug in the system. Physical dependence is the direct result of the body having to adjust to increased energy levels while under the influence of amphetamine.

How does a person know if he or she is psychologically or physically dependent? By learning to recognise tolerance. In any abuse situation, tolerance is a condition in which the body gets used to having a certain amount of the drug in circulation. At that point, the drug user must increase the frequency and/or dosage in order to derive the same amount of pleasure. This is tolerance. When tolerance is left untreated, it almost always leads to dependence within a very short time frame. If you or someone you love has developed dependence on amphetamine, addiction is likely present as well.

Consequences of Amphetamine Abuse

Along with the very real possibility of developing an addiction, long-term amphetamine abuse has measurable physical, psychological and social effects. They should not be taken lightly by any amphetamine user. In the short term, amphetamine use causes the following side effects:

  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature
  • Increased levels of energy and alertness
  • Decreased appetite
  • Dilated pupils
  • Dry mouth
  • Euphoric feelings

These short-term effects of amphetamine have made the drug popular among university students who take it to increase their study time without having to worry about sleeping and eating. But using the drug as a study aid can be a dangerous thing. Students can get so used to amphetamine that they also start using it as a leisure drug for partying. This quickly opens the door to abuse and addiction.

Long-term amphetamine use can lead to more substantial harm. Some of the long-term side effects of amphetamines include:

  • dangerous malnutrition
  • loss of social inhibition
  • altered sexual behaviour
  • increasing hostility, aggressiveness, and paranoia
  • unrealistic perceptions of personal ability
  • regular hallucinations and convulsions
  • irregular heartbeat
  • regular headaches, nausea, and chest pain
  • skin disorders
  • amphetamine-induced psychosis

The long-term effects of amphetamine use are what make the drug so dangerous. Some of the harm caused by amphetamines can be permanent if the abuser waits too long to be treated. But perhaps worst of all is the tendency amphetamine abusers have toward irrational behaviour. Thousands of abusers are injured every year as a result of doing things they would not have done had they not been under the influence.

Amphetamine Abuse and the Family

Any addictive or mind-altering drug can have devastating effects on the family members of abusers. Amphetamines are especially troubling in this regard because of their ability to induce psychosis and aggressive or violent behaviour. Quite frankly, being around a family member using amphetamines can be terrifying.

The effect of sustained amphetamine abuse on families is quite profound. Children and spouses can become fearful of the amphetamine user to the point of generally being scared for their lives. Parents can find themselves at their wits end with an amphetamine-using teenager who threatens to harm them whenever he/she is on the drug.

All of this adds up to broken families more often than not. Concerned family members generally want to help users overcome amphetamines, but many simply don’t know how. And in the end, many families simply break up because they know of no other alternative.

Amphetamine Abuse and Communities

Communities with a high incidence of amphetamine abuse and addiction tend to exhibit certain social characteristics that are readily identifiable. For example, amphetamine use commonly leads to erratic behaviour that can manifest itself in things like drug driving, hard partying, and group gatherings that quickly get out of control. Fights are fairly common in larger gatherings where amphetamine use is uninhibited.

Crime is also a serious problem linked to amphetamine addiction. Because any kind of addiction requires money to fuel it, amphetamine addicts have to pay for their drugs just like anyone else. The increased feelings of invulnerability amphetamines create makes users more likely to commit crimes in order to pay for their drugs.

Recovering from Amphetamine Addiction

Some drugs are easy to recover from while others are not so easy. Amphetamine is a drug in the latter category. However, any amphetamine addict willing to commit him or herself to recovery can get victory over this destructive chemical. The process begins with a withdrawal period that can last between five and ten days.

Detox and withdrawal for amphetamine is slightly different than it is for other drugs. It includes treating the patient with large doses of vitamins and minerals to make up for the severe malnutrition the average addict is suffering from by the time he/she enters detox. Those vitamins and minerals, combined with mild medications, help to lessen the severity of withdrawal symptoms.

While in withdrawal, an amphetamine addict is likely to experience severe cravings that can persist for days. Other withdrawal symptoms include hallucinations, delusions, aggressive tendencies, and a host of physical symptoms that range from headaches to nausea.

The withdrawal symptoms are serious enough that amphetamine addicts should not try to stop using on their own. This is one drug in which medical supervision is absolutely necessary for safe and effective withdrawal. Following withdrawal, recovering addicts enter a psychotherapeutic treatment programme that usually takes up to 12 weeks to complete.

We recommend withdrawal and psychotherapy take place at a private clinic specialising in drug and alcohol treatment. A private clinic offers residential treatment that separates recovering addicts from their daily routines, thereby helping them concentrate on recovery in a safe and supportive environment.

What Happens after Recovery

The average amphetamine addict can complete formal treatment and recovery in about 12 weeks. But what happens then? Most private clinics follow up with aftercare that can last anywhere between one and 12 months. Aftercare includes ongoing counselling, support group participation, and other therapies as designated by the professionals who designed the formal treatment programme.

Numerous support groups around the UK provide ongoing support for former amphetamine addicts who have completed formal treatment. In addition, private counsellors offer family counselling services to help recovering addicts and their families establish productive and meaningful relationships. And even after a prescribed aftercare programme has reached its conclusion, former addicts can continue availing themselves of similar services.

Finding the Right Treatment

Treating drug addiction today is a lot different than it used to be. Treatment providers now understand that no single treatment model works for every patient and every drug. Therefore, a modern treatment is more likely to be based on a bespoke treatment plan developed by experienced doctors and therapists. That is what we offer.

As a referral service, we can help you locate and access the kind of treatment programme that meets your unique needs and circumstances. We work with private clinics, counsellors, and other treatment providers throughout the UK. Just one call to our 24-hour helpline is all that is necessary to get your treatment under way.

When you call, one of our counsellors will provide you with a comprehensive, step-by-step assessment of your problem. Based on that assessment, you will then be offered a list of treatment options. You will have every opportunity to decide how, when, and where you will receive treatment for amphetamine addiction. If you are ready to get started, we are ready to help you find and access help. All of our services are completely free.