Cornerstone of Southern California Drug and Alcohol Rehab
Signs and Symptoms of Amphetamine Use and Addiction
Author: Cornerstone of Southern California
Published: February 9, 2023
Signs and Symptoms of Amphetamine Use and Addiction

Amphetamine is a powerful central nervous system stimulant drug. This means it stimulates certain parts of the brain and nervous system, causing increased activity, resulting in greater alertness, awakeness, and energy levels in the user. These positive effects can be beneficial in treating certain health conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy (excessive drowsiness).

Amphetamine is a psychoactive drug, meaning it affects the user's mood, giving them a 'buzz' or 'high'. All amphetamines are classed DEA Schedule II under the Controlled Substances Act because of their high potential for misuse.

Amphetamines are also commonly taken for recreational purposes, but this is highly risky and can easily lead to amphetamine addiction. Similarly, taking amphetamines as self-medication to counteract unpleasant feelings such as anxiety, low self-confidence, or doubt, for example, can rapidly degenerate into amphetamine abuse.

Effects of Amphetamine Use

When taken as a powder and snorted, the effects of the drug are felt within a few minutes. When ingested orally, amphetamine takes 20 minutes or more to act fully, but in both cases, it creates a buzz that can last from four to six hours.

Because taking amphetamines stimulates the user's central nervous system, it can give a person feelings of:

  • exhilaration and excitement
  • confidence and increased energy
  • needing less food or sleep
  • loss of social inhibitions, including around sexual behavior

Other common signs a person has used amphetamine include:

  • dilated pupils, paleness
  • increased body temperature
  • quicker breathing, higher blood pressure
  • sweating, headaches, dry mouth, diarrhea

A person may also appear unusually talkative or uncharacteristically aggressive. As with other addictive substances, when the effect of taking amphetamines wears off, the user may feel sad, tired, and depleted.

What Is Amphetamine Addiction?

What Is Amphetamine Addiction?

In very general terms, substance addiction is defined as the compulsive and continued use of a substance despite negative consequences. Amphetamine is highly addictive, and amphetamine addiction is one of many substance abuse disorders that can escalate very quickly. A single high can be enough for sensitive subjects to become hooked.

Regular amphetamine abuse leads to amphetamine tolerance, which means that the user will have to take increasingly higher doses in order to achieve the feeling they desire. When a person's substance abuse reaches the point where they lose control over how much and how often they use, they have most likely developed amphetamine addiction.

Risk factors in becoming addicted to amphetamine include the following.

  • A history of abuse of other drugs
  • Pre-existing mental illness, such as co-occurring disorders. National Institute on Drug Abuse statistics reveal that 7.7 million American adults have co-occurring mental and substance use disorders.
  • Environmental influences, such as substance abuse inside the household by family members or a family history of substance use.

Some form of addiction treatment is generally the only way a person can recover from amphetamine abuse once they are in the grip of active amphetamine addiction. Since it is always better to treat addiction in its early stages, in cases of doubt, it is advisable to consult a medical professional and find out about treatment options.

Signs and Symptoms of Amphetamine Abuse and Amphetamine Addiction

Non-medical use of amphetamine places great strain on the user's central nervous system and internal organs, not to mention their mental balance and emotions. Drug abuse affects a person's mind, body, and feelings. Abusing amphetamines considerably disrupts a person's life.

Since amphetamine abuse rapidly affects a person's physical health, amphetamine addiction signs are easily noticeable by those able to recognize them.

Physical Symptoms

  • Not eating or sleeping for prolonged periods
  • A general increase in libido
  • Noticeable weight loss
  • Itchiness, skin sores
  • Dental hygiene problems
  • Craving drugs
  • Possible changes in brain structure

Psychological Symptoms

  • Mood swings
  • Changes in brain activity
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion, memory loss
  • Violent behavior
  • Sleeping problems
  • Paranoia − unwarranted and extreme distrust of other people
  • Hallucinations

Behavioral Symptoms

Behavioral symptoms describe the behaviors and habits a person adopts around getting and using amphetamine. This includes the attitudes and behaviors a person displays as a consequence of their amphetamine addiction.

  • Frequent use of amphetamine − spending more and more time using the drug, or recovering from the consequences of using it.
  • Continued use despite negative effects.
  • Hiding or carrying around drug paraphernalia.
  • Doctor shopping − visiting several doctors in order to obtain multiple prescriptions.
  • Being secretive about drug use. Being defensive or trying to dismiss the amphetamine abuse as trivial.
  • Obsessing about how to get more of the drug.
  • Neglecting family or work responsibilities.
  • Relationship problems
  • Avoiding friends and family members, social isolation.
  • Socializing with other drug users.
  • Losing interest in activities that used to be pleasurable.

Other symptoms of amphetamine addiction include diminished cognitive function, causing problems with understanding and learning, thinking, and retaining information.

The longer a person continues to abuse amphetamines, the more their willpower wanes, and the more entrenched they become in the cycle of substance abuse.

Risks of Amphetamine Abuse

Risks of Amphetamine Abuse

One of the effects of amphetamine addiction is taking unconsidered risks. Abusing amphetamines comes with a number of other dangers. These include the following.

  • Risk of contracting an infectious disease such as HIV, or Hepatitis B and C, either through intravenous injection of the substance or unprotected sex. The World Health Organization estimates that "worldwide there are almost 11 million people who inject drugs, of whom 1.4 million live with HIV and 5.6 million − with hepatitis C".
  • Risk of aggravating mental illness.
  • Risk of overdose

Amphetamine Overdose and Withdrawal

An overdose occurs when a bigger dose of a substance is taken than the body's ability to process it. Overdose can result in serious symptoms, permanent damage to health, and even death. An amphetamine overdose requires immediate medical attention. The biggest risks stemming from overdose are stroke, heart attack, or organ failure. A person's risk of overdose depends on their degree of tolerance and the quantity of amphetamine they are accustomed to taking. But even a first-time user can risk an overdose, as each person's body reacts differently.

Stopping amphetamine use abruptly, or suddenly taking less of it, will lead to experiencing amphetamine withdrawal symptoms.

As the effects of the stimulant wear off, a person will experience a 'crash'. They may sleep for prolonged periods, be ravenously hungry, and will most likely feel emotionally low. Cravings are usually mild at this stage. As the days pass, they may experience more intense cravings, as well as disturbed sleep, changeable moods, and even depression. There is currently no medication for amphetamine withdrawal itself, but medical treatment can be given to help alleviate some of its symptoms.

All types of amphetamines are highly addictive and potentially dangerous to health. Any recreational drug use risks turning into abuse and can change into full-blown addiction in the blink of an eye.

Cornerstone Addiction Treatment Center

Cornerstone Addiction Treatment Center

Cornerstone is an addiction treatment center in Southern California. Our mission is to help anyone in the grip of addiction to free themselves from drugs.

We run detox programs to help our clients to remove addictive substances from their bodies. We also provide therapy to give people the tools they need to understand and overcome their addictions.

Therapies and treatments on offer here include the following.

  • One-to-one therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Couples and families therapy
  • Relapse prevention therapy
  • Medication-assisted treatment
  • Inpatient and outpatient treatment

Recovery is a challenging journey, but it is achievable with the right support. If you are worried about your own use of amphetamines or have a loved one displaying symptoms, signs, and behaviors of amphetamine abuse, please reach out to us without delay.

Our experienced team is dedicated to helping you on the path to wellness and a life free from drugs.