Amphetamines or ‘speed’ are stimulants that alter a person’s central nervous system and induce a greater sense of concentration or energy. These feelings of hyperfocus or increased energy come at the expense of serious health problems and addiction.
Amphetamines can be referred to as ‘smart’ or ‘club drugs’ because they are popular with younger people who are under the impression these drugs are less harmful than other drugs that are considered to be “stronger” such as heroin. However, chronic use of amphetamines, like crystal meth, carries the same level of significant damage to physical and psychological health, as well as damaging general quality of life as other debilitating hard drug addictions.
The perceived positive effects of amphetamine use, such as higher energy or extreme focus and a feeling of elation, make them attractive to people as they see them as a “solution” to low energy or dour moods. Amphetamines are also sometimes used alongside crash dieting and weight loss due to their ability to suppress hunger and increase metabolism. While the effects of speed and related drugs can seem to be a solution to a person’s problems, they actually create new and much worse problems, such as addiction and the physical and mental consequences thereof.
People who take amphetamines to fulfill a particular purpose, such as concentration, weight loss, or just to “party”, run the risk of becoming dependent on the drug to achieve their desired effect; becoming entangled in the cycle of misuse that can develop into a brutal addiction. On top of the possible catastrophic effects on one’s personal and interpersonal life, amphetamine abuse has serious legal consequences. Just one example is that in our home state of California it’s a felony to sell or transport methamphetamine for the purpose of selling it under the Health & Safety Code 11379.
Treatment for Amphetamine Addiction And Recovery
Cornerstone works with soon-to-be recovering addicts by developing a treatment plan that fits their unique needs. Part of working with patients and building a plan together is choosing the type of treatment that’s practical for them. We offer a few different ways patients can seek treatment:
- Inpatient residential – This program takes place at our residential treatment center where patients stay for about 28 days. We say “about” because it can vary and is ultimately determined by the patient.
- Partial hospitalization program (PHP) – Sometimes referred to as “day treatment” or “day care,” PHP is somewhat of a mid-point between our in-patient and out-patient programs. This program starts at 8:30 AM every morning and gives patients a full day of treatment with the option to then go to one of our licensed recovery homes (recommended) or their homes (can be a challenge early on in recovery).
- Intensive outpatient (IOP) – For patients who are unable to attend or don’t require in-patient and partial hospitalizations. Recovery and support are provided as a person continues their daily commitments of employment or day-to-day life.
Cornerstone’s amphetamine addiction treatment program typically consists of an intensive 28 day program which takes place at our treatment center where you will stay, following assessments from both our drug addiction specialists, and psychiatrist. However, we do not set rigid time limits, the duration of your stay will depend entirely on the severity and nature of your addiction, and on what commitments and responsibilities you may have.
Regardless of the best treatment model is best for recovery addicts, all of our programs use the 12-step program, based on the proven success of Alcoholics Anonymous and our decades of experience in Orange County. We help recovering amphetamine addicts embrace the philosophy behind this program. This means using a guiding set of personal values to challenge the habitual and destructive behavior of amphetamine abuse. A lack of focused motivation can fuel addiction, teaching humility and self-worth underpinned by the spiritual influences of the patient through the 12-step program is transformative.
Broadly, addiction treatment follows the pattern of assessment, withdrawal and/or detox, treatment, and extended recovery. Each of these elements take on a unique meaning and manifest in the manner that is most helpful for each person we work with.
Amphetamine and Crystal Meth Addiction Free Assessment
The impact of amphetamine abuse on a person’s life varies greatly on the individual and the specific or a mix of drugs being abused. As with many addictions, there is a higher level of comorbidity between a drug problem and other mental and medical issues a person is dealing with. For example, alcoholism, depression, and anxiety disorders can all affect how a person is dealing with amphetamine abuse. Because of this and our commitment to serving the Southern California community, we offer free amphetamine addiction assessment.
Our assessments are designed to give a person a fuller understanding of what their addiction means for them and to show a glimmer of the bright future that can be waiting for them. All of our assessments are completely confidential, non-judgemental, and conducted by one of our highly experienced, qualified practitioners. We believe addiction treatment is an active dialogue between the patient and practitioners and the free assessment is the start of that conversation and the first step in amphetamine recovery.
Medically Assisted Detox from Amphetamines
If a person is not able to abstain from taking amphetamines, it is necessary before engaging with a customized treatment program, to complete a medically assisted detoxification program. Support from therapists, psychologists, and medical professionals is available around the clock.
It is vital that detoxification is carried out with care; as sudden withdrawal from amphetamines can cause severe complications and, in some circumstances, can be fatal. The length of detox is varied but can last 7 – 10 days. It’s vital that this physical dependency is severed so that the focus can turn to the challenging the mental behaviours that exacerbate amphetamine addiction. As the physical danger of stopping amphetamine abuse subsides with a successful detox, Cornerstone begins a tailored treatment program.
Drug Counseling And Treatment For Amphetamine Addiction
Cornerstone provides counseling for amphetamine addiction to help support people to abstain from amphetamines in several different settings and modalities with the notion that some settings are more conducive to different types of breakthroughs along the road of recovery. These types of settings include:
- One-to-One Therapy
- Group Therapy
- Family & Couples Therapy
- LGBTQIA2+ Community Support Therapy
- Relapse Prevention Therapy
- Inpatient Residential Treatment
- Day Treatment / PHP
- Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)
- Extended Care Program (ECP)
- Sober Living Homes
- Alumni Program
Regardless of the setting, we provide a safe, confidential, and positive space to explore the underlying causes of addiction, like understanding the coping mechanisms that were formed while using drugs heavily.
Cornerstone combines these settings with different treatment modalities such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), to provide patients with a diverse set of experiences and tools they can use to stop using amphetamines. This builds confidence in recovery and empowers people to feel able to abstain from drugs and move beyond addiction with a healthy outlook on life.
Treatment is delivered by compassionate, highly trained, and experienced drug addiction practitioners, some who have experienced addiction first hand. They provide exceptional support to assist you in your journey through recovery to a future without amphetamines.
What is an Amphetamine Addiction?
Amphetamines are illegal stimulant drugs that alter the central nervous system and prompt increased energy, focus and elation. While forms of amphetamines have a place in treating medical conditions like sleep or behavioral disorders like narcolepsy and ADHD respectively. Used properly and under intense medical supervision, amphetamines can be an effective medication
However, there are types of amphetamines (such as crystal meth and non-medical uses (such as weight loss, increased concentration, or “partying”) can develop a dependence and tolerance of the drug. When a person becomes dependent on the drug for their mental well-being and continues use despite suffering negative consequences (mental, physical, interpersonal, or otherwise), they’re considered to be addicted to amphetamines.
Younger people often call amphetamines ‘study drugs’ or ‘smart drugs’ for their ability to amplify focus and concentration. But research has found that those who use drugs such as Adderall or Ritalin don’t outperform those that don’t. Additionally, amphetamines are a popular night-life drug, enabling users to stay awake and become more energetic for longer by accelerating brain functioning. Despite the perceived benefits of amphetamines, the long-term damage they do vastly outweighs the positives.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Amphetamine Addiction?
Amphetamines are very addictive and dangerous drugs; therefore the process of dependence leading to addiction can be rapid. The significant impact to cognitive functioning which affects a person’s physical appearance and behavior means there are many ways of identifying someone who has taken the drug, such as:
- A noticeable change in personality
- Rapid mood swings
- Suppressed appetite and weight loss
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Inability to focus on academic and professional work
- Difficulty to complete everyday tasks and responsibilities
- Heightened heart rate and blood pressure
- Paranoia and anxiety
Chronic amphetamine use over a long period of time can exacerbate both physical and behavioral issues as stated above, such as behavioral issues such as delusions and lack of concentration resulting in social isolation and loss of employment or dropping out of school. Physical symptoms such as heightened heart rate and blood pressure can increase the risk of heart conditions, such as heart failure.
Social Signs and Symptoms of Amphetamine Addiction
- Ongoing amphetamine use despite being aware of the harmful outcomes from using the drug
- Emerging strains and tensions between the user and their family, friends, and partners
- The necessity for long amounts of time to recuperate from amphetamine use
- Acquiring amphetamines from drug dealers rather than through medical professionals
- Neglecting interests that used to be important in favor of amphetamine use
- Stealing or borrowing money for amphetamines, or prioritizing spending on amphetamines over other financial responsibilities
Changes to Brain Structure
Amphetamine addiction has the potential to alter brain structure, lasting much longer than the initial arousal of excitement, energy, and euphoria, and as such, it makes amphetamines extremely addictive.
Research has found that if a person’s brain is not able to produce enough natural endorphins that usually occur naturally when we exercise, eat the food we like, or spend time with loved ones. If it is not possible to feel these naturally, a person is more likely to find another source of these “feel good” chemicals. Additionally, long-term amphetamine use is understood to damage parts of the brain that control the release of dopamine and other pleasure chemicals, resulting in the brain not responding appropriately to situations or things that had used to make us happy, like spending time with friends or family. This exacerbates the cycle of addiction, as it leaves the person feeling that they need to use amphetamines to feel happy or avoid feelings of anxiety or depression when they do not have amphetamines in their system.
What causes amphetamine addiction?
It is generally understood there is no determined cause for amphetamine addiction. However, much research has focused on what could make a person more susceptible to amphetamine addiction than others. Research studies have found that the most likely causes are based in genetic and environmental factors; sometimes known as “nature and nurture”.
If a member of the immediate family has as a history of addiction or is in active addiction, research has shown that this increases the risk of their children, or close family members developing a drug addiction due to hereditary factors that are aligned with addiction, as opposed to people with no history of addiction in their family. Furthermore, early exposure to addiction can go some way to normalizing addiction, or chronic drug use in response to stressors.
A person might be attracted to taking amphetamines to lose weight or focus on extensive amounts of work, either academically or professionally. This might especially affect younger people, as a way of adhering to unrealistic body types or as a way of managing to fit in a hectic social schedule, as well as managing to keep up with professional or academic commitments.
Taking amphetamines in the short-term can help a person who feels anxious or uncomfortable in social situations to relax and appear more confident. However, this does not offset the high risks for the potential long-term physical and psychological damage that amphetamines can cause.
Long-term amphetamine use is understood to damage parts of the brain that control the release of dopamine and other pleasure chemicals, resulting in the brain not responding appropriately to situations or things that had used to make us happy, like spending time with friends or family. This exacerbates the cycle of addiction, as it leaves the person feeling that they need to use amphetamines to feel happy or avoid feelings of anxiety or depression when they do not have amphetamines in their system.
This is a strong indicator that a person has developed or is at high risk of developing a tolerance to amphetamines, which can easily become a dependency or an addiction. Without amphetamines, chronic users are at risk of feeling depressed or suicidal; at this stage, it is absolutely vital that you engage with professional drug treatment, if not considerably earlier.