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Amphetamine Addiction


Roughly 1.6 million or 0.6 percent of the US population have confessed to using amphetamines in 2016, according to a 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). Other alarming facts from the same report pointed out that in 2016, the average age of new users of methamphetamine was 23.3 years.​​​

In just one month, 774,000 people, or 0.3 percent of the population, reported methamphetamine use in 2016. Elsewhere, the “Monitoring the Future“ survey for 2018 reports that about 964,000 people of age 12 years and above had reported methamphetamine use-induced health disorders in 2017. This is approximately 30 percent more than the figures reported for 2016.

30% More People that Reported Methamphetamine Use-Induced Health Disorders in 2016

Even more troubling, the survey adds that nearly 0.5 percent of adolescents in 8th, 10th and 12th grades had tried out methamphetamine in 2017. This is in stark contrast to the decline in adolescent users of methamphetamine after 1999, when the drug was first put on the survey.​​​


Amphetamines are synthetic psychostimulants or compounds that accelerate the brain’s functional processes. On the positive side, amphetamines can treat certain medical conditions. Conversely, due to their mood-enhancing abilities, amphetamines are also likely to be used for recreational purposes and possible substance abuse. Few people know Amphetamines and Methamphetamine are both stimulant drugs.

There was a time, not in the too distant past, when Americans could freely purchase amphetamines of their choice. However, rampant use of amphetamines for recreational purposes exposed a substantial proportion of the American population are at risk of dependence or addiction. This is when the US government put the brakes on the easy availability of amphetamines.

A Brief History of Amphetamines

Amphetamines are wonder drugs that don’t cure anything but are prized for their ability to send you on a ‘feel good’ trip. Discovered as early as 1887 by a Romanian chemist, the drug languished in obscurity because nobody knew what medical conditions it could treat or cure.

Early Patent

However, things have not been the same since 1932, when American chemist Gordon Alles patented the compound. Initially, Alles experimented with a combination that he dubbed as the beta-phenyl-isopropyl amine in his quest for an asthma cure. But even as he failed to create an asthma treatment, Alles made some startling discoveries while experimenting with the drug on himself: the compound worked as a mood-enhancer. Losing no time, he immediately patented his discovery and entered into a business pact with pharmaceutical major Smith, Kline, and French. From there on began the wild journey of amphetamines as we know them today.

Demand Grows

Together, Alles and SKF positioned the amphetamine as a “wonder drug” that increases productivity, keeps sleep and hunger at bay, and raises spirits to new highs. Within no time, amphetamines were the toast of the town, with a broad cross-section of society hailing their mood-altering effects.

College students and truck drivers to salespersons and homemakers; were all rooting for the pep pills. With the advent of World War II, amphetamines made their way to American soldiers’ standard survival kits. Later, it went on to become the favorite of the infamous “Flower Children” generation. But soon, sad stories began to trickle in, and the world sat up to note with alarm the negative aspects of amphetamines on a person’s mental health: dependence, addiction, and finally death in unhappy circumstances.


Depending upon the applications, those who use amphetamines have legal and illegal applications.

Prescription Amphetamines

Legally, the medical community prescribes amphetamines for treating medical conditions such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), narcolepsy, and clinical depression. The class of amphetamines used for such legitimate purposes is available from chemists on a doctor’s prescription. These drugs are produced in laboratories and production facilities of legitimate pharmaceutical manufacturers.

Common amphetamine products prescribed for treating ADD, ADHD, and narcolepsy include:

  • Ritalin
  • Desoxyn
  • DextroStat
  • Dexedrine
  • Adderall (amphetamine salts)

Amphetamines are also available as over-the-counter drugs, generally used to treat nasal congestion (decongestants), energy boosters, or appetite suppressants, such as:

  • Caffeine
  • Phenylpropanolamine
  • Ephedrine
College Communities in Preventing Substance Abuse

Rising Costs of Prescription Stimulants

Another twist in the tale of prescription stimulants is the findings of a study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry. Conducted on data compiled from the 2015 and 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the research done by researchers of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) points out that of the 6.6% of American adults using prescription stimulants, nearly 0.2% reported health disorders.​​​

Between 2008 and 2015, the number of amphetamine-related hospitalizations tripled in the United States.​​​ Annual hospital costs incurred on treating rising rates of amphetamine use were $2.17 billion in 2015.

Illegal Amphetamines

When amphetamines are consumed for recreational purposes or are misused, it is classified as illegal. In such cases, users procure the drugs illegally from shady chemists or drug dealers. Such illegal amphetamines are usually produced in unauthorized laboratories and illegal manufacturing units. Since they are smuggled in or manufactured illicitly, contraband and illicit amphetamines are generally a combination of many things genuine and counterfeit, such as drugs, binding agents, sugar, and caffeine.

Identifying Illegal Amphetamines

Illicit amphetamines are generally available in crystal form or as fine or coarse powder. It is also possible that bootleg amphetamines are available in yellow or slightly off-white chunks; packaged in aluminum foil or plastic, illegally produced amphetamines are also sold in capsule and pill forms. There is no assurance of the quality or purity of such amphetamines.

Are Amphetamines Addictive?

Amphetamines are available in different forms and are administered in different ways depending upon the application (medical or recreational). Each form presents the potential for amphetamine addiction. Amphetamines are among the most addictive drugs in the world.

Prescription Pills

When used for legally approved purposes like medical treatment, amphetamines produced in pharmaceutical production units are available in the form of oral pills. These pills are used to treat medical conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy. When ingested in pill form, amphetamines take between 15 and 20 minutes to register their effect on the user, who begins to feel the effect.

Prescription Amphetamines

Powder and Liquid

However, for substance abuse purposes of recreational nature, amphetamines are available in powder or liquid form. Here, amphetamines are usually ingested either by snorting in powder form, inhaling by smoking with tobacco, or through injection by syringe.

Amphetamines can give users a high within three to five minutes of snorting them. The effects remain for around 25 minutes. When smoked/inhaled or injected into the body, amphetamines can immediately impact the senses. However, the effects also disappear equally fast.

Amphetamines used for medical purposes consist of two compounds: dextroamphetamine and levoamphetamine. Of these two compounds, dextroamphetamine is the stronger one. Pharmaceutical companies combine the two compounds in varying proportions to derive various formulations with specific applications in medicine.


Amphetamines for mood enhancement and recreational purposes are particularly popular among younger people, usually college students and young professionals. Considering that amphetamines are prescription drugs, this group prefers to obtain their supplies from illegal sources.

On the streets, amphetamines are known by different names. From ‘eye-openers’ and ‘speed’ to ‘hearts’ and ‘uppers,’ there’s a veritable dictionary of alternate terminology for amphetamines. Especially for parents of teenagers and college students, knowing the lingo is a crucial step towards prevention.

Here is a list of the most common amphetamines as known in illegal circles:

  • Cartwheels
  • Super Jellies or Jelly Beans
  • Benz or Benzies
  • Bennie or Bennies
  • Boot Ups
  • Wake Ups
  • Sparkles
  • Oranges
  • Lightning or Fast Lightning
  • Footballs

Common Misconceptions About Amphetamines

Myth #1: The human body processes amphetamines and cocaine similarly

People mistakenly believe that amphetamines and cocaine have the same effect on the human body. The human body processes the two drug classes very differently. Cocaine, which is a stimulant, is quickly metabolized in the body. On the other hand, amphetamines linger in the body’s central nervous system for a relatively longer duration.

Myth #2: Amphetamines are legal because they are safe

Another popular misconception is that since amphetamines are available as prescription drugs, they must be safe and non-habit forming. But in combination with other drugs, often to induce a more significant high, amphetamine usage can sometimes result in an overdose, leading to severe complications. Similarly, the US Drug Enforcement Agency has put amphetamines on the list of Schedule II drugs that are classified as capable of causing dependence and harmful side effects when misused or abused.

Myth #3: All amphetamines are manufactured in pharmaceutical facilities

Another false notion is that since amphetamines are sold by prescription, they must be manufactured in genuine and legally established pharmaceutical production units. The fact is that illegal laboratories are producing amphetamines that are far different in composition from the drug’s original chemical composition. Ingredients like sugar, caffeine, binding agents, and in many cases, illegal drugs and psychoactive substances can significantly increase the danger quotient when such formulations are consumed. Purchasing amphetamines from street peddlers can prove to be a serious risk to health and life as well.


Amphetamines trigger the brain’s ‘fight or flight’ mechanism, replicating the processes which are usually activated when most people confront a dangerous or stressful situation. Following the release of adrenalin and several other stress hormones into the bloodstream, the heart rate quickens, and blood pressure levels begin to rise. Blood flow increases to the muscles in the arms and legs, increasing body temperature and could damage blood vessels. The overall effect is a feeling of being empowered by a sudden energy boost. The user immediately displays unusual talkativeness, restlessness, and excitement. The mouth begins to dry up, and the pupils dilate.

Long-term effects

Long-term usage of amphetamines ushers in many health problems, ranging from addiction, erectile dysfunction, cardiac issues, neurological and physiological issues. Ironically, while amphetamine usage increases sexual desires, it also inhibits sexual functions in the long run. Short-term effects include malnutrition and weight loss.

Heart Disease

The use of certain amphetamine drugs has been known to induce valvular heart disease. Amphetamines substantially increase the chances of heart disease and malfunction, such as abnormal heart rhythm, high blood pressure, and atherosclerosis. Heart attacks and cardiac arrests are quite common in amphetamine users.

Paranoid Psychosis

Prolonged usage of amphetamines is also responsible for developing paranoid psychosis, which includes unfounded fears, persecution complexes, and even a sense of omnipotence. In some cases, long-term users even attempt suicide after prolonged bouts of depression.

Brain Changes

Amphetamines can easily lead to abuse and dependence because the human body has a relatively high tolerance capacity for such substances. As prolonged use of amphetamines affect the brain’s ability to produce dopamine independently, users are forced to ingest themselves with larger and larger dosages to feel normal.

Low Hygiene

Severe tooth decay, decreased salivation, and poor oral hygiene are some of the other fallouts of long-term amphetamine usage.

Detox from Amphetamines

Amphetamine withdrawal is a relatively safe procedure and does not have life-threatening implications. Still, it can nevertheless be a highly uncomfortable experience, and there is an ever-present danger of a relapse. Therefore, doctors strongly advise withdrawal under medical supervision.

Withdrawal duration and intensity of symptoms depend upon several factors such as gender, age, physical and genetic makeup, how long a person has been on amphetamines, last dosage and frequency, and simultaneous or concurrent use of other drugs or substances.

Amphetamine Withdrawal Symptoms

The symptoms of amphetamine withdrawal are mostly related to moods and feelings such as depression, irritability, anxiety, lack of concentration, and an increase in appetite. Withdrawal broadly comprises of two stages: initial and long-term. During the initial stage (which lasts around two days after withdrawal), the person goes through a ‘crash’ phase when the symptoms are pronounced. Later on, the symptoms’ intensity reduces, and thereon, withdrawal becomes more gradual in nature.

Signs of symptoms associated with amphetamine withdrawal include:

  • Fatigue
  • Twitches and uncontrolled body movements
  • Body aches and pains
  • Irritability
  • Heightened need for sleep
  • Delayed responses and movements
  • Depression
  • Vivid/unpleasant dreams
amphetamine addiction treatment

Amphetamine Addiction Withdrawal Timeline

The withdrawal timeline for amphetamine addiction starts from day one and continues up to a year after the person’s last dose. Symptoms usually manifest in the following patterns:

Days 1 and 2

The symptoms evolve in the first 36 hours after amphetamines were last consumed. This phase is characterized by symptoms like an increased desire for sleep, increased appetite, cravings, and depression.

Days 5 to 4 Weeks

The withdrawal symptoms in this phase include irritability, mood fluctuations, body aches and pains, depression, sleeplessness, fatigue, and cravings.

Days 15 to 1 Year

Depending upon the duration and dosages of amphetamines used by the person, withdrawal symptoms can last up to a year.


Not every amphetamine addiction treatment works for every person. A multiple treatment approach works best for most people struggling with a substance use disorder. Attacking the problem on many different fronts can help an individual lead a sober and successful life.

Polysubstance Abuse

Achieving sobriety can be a challenge when the person is battling amphetamine addiction caused by abusing a combination of amphetamines and other substances. As per studies conducted by the Alcohol and Drug Foundation, the majority of people with amphetamine addiction issues are usually struggling with dependence on other substances such as alcohol, cannabis, or other drugs. In such cases, the person has to undergo withdrawal processes associated with the remaining polysubstance along with amphetamine withdrawal.

Lingering Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal is a long-drawn process that can last months and sometimes for years. While going through amphetamine withdrawal, it’s common to experience sudden onsets of anxiety, depression, irritability, insomnia, and lingering cravings. Such low feelings make it difficult for the person to retain their sobriety. Specialized help and professional support are crucial to tackling lingering withdrawal symptoms.

Amphetamine Addiction Treatment

There are many options available for people wanting to escape the clutches of amphetamine addiction. For people using amphetamines under medical supervision, the first thing to do would be to consult the prescribing physician. A medical consultation would help the physician diagnose the severity of the addiction so that the appropriate course of action can be planned. The physician will either treat or guide the person to the appropriate facility amphetamine addiction treatment.

Also available are 24-hour helplines of various national and non-government organizations. These helplines are manned by professionals who guide callers on the way forward to escaping amphetamine addiction. Sometimes, family and friends can also be a great source of help and information for people struggling with amphetamine addiction problems.

Today, almost every community has some resources to help those suffering from problems like substance abuse, alcoholism, and addiction. Support groups are sprouting all over the country to help people suffering from amphetamine abuse. A quick search on the internet can help bring such people together so that they can help each other.

Take the Next Step

The path to recovery is only one step away. Begin your treatment at CNV Detox in Los Angeles, California as soon as the same day. For your convenience, we work 24/7. Our team is ready to help as soon as you reach out.