Amphetamines are central nervous system stimulants capable of elevating the mood. Amphetamines used for medical purposes include; • D-amphetamine/ Dexedrine - a more potent form of amphetamine. Dexedrine is used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy. It is sold illegally under the names dexies, uppers, and kiddie-speed.
• L-amphetamine - has more effects on the body than the central nervous system. L-amphetamines are often combined with D-amphetamine when used.
• Mixed amphetamine salts - Adderall is the generic name of the 3 to 1 combination of D- and L- amphetamine. Adderal is used to treat ADHD. Adderall is known as beans, bennies, and pep pills in the street.
• Methamphetamine - is used medically to treat ADHD but is highly regulated due to its addictive potential. Street names methamphetamines go by are Meth, crystal, glass, chalk, and ice.
• • Other stimulants, often abused for their effects include 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MMDA/ ecstasy), pseudoephedrine (a nasal decongestant, and low potent stimulant), methylphenidate (Ritalin - low potency), and cocaine .
How Amphetamines Work
Amphetamines are dopamine and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors. They increase the amount of dopamine and norepinephrine in the nerve terminal leading to its stimulant effects. Amphetamines are used medically to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), narcolepsy, and even obesity. Adderall misuse is also observed in students and highly stressed professionals who seek extra focus, alertness, increased energy, and concentration to make their lives easier.
Amphetamine Use Short term side effects
• Lower doses of side effects can cause increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, increased body temperature, insomnia, nervousness, excessive talkativeness, dry mouth, and loss of appetite.
• Higher doses can lead to overdosing which can be fatal. Tremors, seizures, headache, restlessness, vomiting, diarrhea, hallucinations, paranoia, even cardiovascular events such as a stroke or a heart attack can occur in high doses.
Long term use
• Development of addictionwhich can lead to devastating effects on relationships, work-life, and family.
• Psychological problems such as depression, anxiety, suicidal tendencies, paranoia, and aggressive behavior.
• Amphetamine induced psychosis
• Impaired cognitive function, memory loss, and learning difficulties. • Paranoid psychosis including persecutory delusions, auditory and visual hallucinations, hostility, and aggressive behavior is also observed.
Developing an addiction is the result of several factors including;
• Unfavorable family environment • Drug use in the family
• A withdrawal effect consisting of low mood and decreased energy is observed upon cessation of the drug. Depression can be severe in some heavy users, accompanied by tremors, anxiety, fatigue, nightmares, increased craving, and suicidal tendencies.
• Dependence on amphetamines can develop quickly, it is observed by alternating high and low moods.
• Neglecting personal hygiene.
• Tooth decay, skin sores • Having financial difficulties due to drug-related expenses and reflecting social, recreational, and work-related activities.
Prevention and Treatment of Amphetamine Abuse
It is important to seek medical help before things go out of hand. Medical professionals are trained to manage the symptoms associated with overdoses and withdrawal symptoms.
• Restriction of drug use in schools and family environments.
• Careful prescription of drugs by medical professionals.
• Support and care by family members.
• Managing withdrawal symptoms with benzodiazepines.
• Anti-depressives to manage depressive withdrawal symptoms.
1. Harrison, P. Shorter Oxford textbook of psychiatry (6th ed., pp. 477-479).
3. American Addiction Centers. 2020. What's An Amphetamine? Addiction: Signs, Symptoms, And Treatment. [online] Available at: <https://americanaddictioncenters.org/amphetamine> [Accessed 29 September 2020].
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