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Amphetamine addiction signs, symptoms, and treatments

Reading time: 7 mins

Amphetamine addiction is the continuous use of amphetamines despite adverse effects on a person’s health and well-being. Otherwise known as stimulant use disorder, there are several ways of identifying the addiction.

The symptoms of amphetamine addiction include the use of amphetamines in larger doses or for longer periods, metabolic changes, insomnia, mood swings, and negative consequences on personal relationships. 

A complex interplay of different factors affects the development of the disorder. The causes of amphetamine addiction include genetics, co-occurring mental health disorders, and the use of amphetamines with or without prescription. 

The consequences of long-term amphetamine use may manifest in physical and psychological ways. The effects of amphetamine addiction include malnutrition, rapid heart rate, brain damage, increased levels of aggression, and amphetamine-induced psychosis.

What is Amphetamine addiction?

Amphetamine addiction refers to the development of physical and psychological dependence on any drug that belongs to the amphetamine class, such as dextroamphetamine, methamphetamine, and amphetamine. 

Someone addicted to amphetamines may experience a brief euphoria with the use of the substances followed by a noticeable crash in which the high wears off, leaving a person feeling unhappy, irritable, and agitated. 

This fear of crashing and unpleasant after-effects make an addict keep coming back for more despite obvious negative consequences.

What are the causes of Amphetamine addiction?

Several factors play a role in the development of the disorder. The causes of amphetamine addiction are listed below. 

  • Biological factors: Addiction tends to run in families. Individuals with a genetic vulnerability to drug abuse are more likely to develop amphetamine addiction. Someone who has a blood relative with addiction is also at an increased risk of developing the disorder. Brain chemistry is another biological reason behind amphetamine addiction, as the condition may result from structural and functional brain abnormalities.
  • Psychological factors: Having difficulties in managing negative emotions is associated with substance abuse. One may abuse amphetamines in an attempt to deal with mental health conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.
  • Social factors: Coming from a broken or unstable home increases the likelihood of having an addiction later in life. Additionally, growing up with a family member who abuses amphetamines can cause an individual to turn to substances as well, creating another pattern of addiction in the family.

What are the effects of Amphetamine addiction?

There are dangers associated with long-term amphetamine use. The effects of amphetamine addiction are listed below. 

  • Physical effects: Amphetamine dependence has a wide array of effects on the body. The physical effects of amphetamine addiction include extreme weight loss, chest pain, skin problems, headache, nausea, tooth decay, tremors, and extreme exhaustion. These effects have a slower onset and longer duration.
  • Psychological effects: Stimulant use disorder inflicts terrible damage on mental health. The psychological effects of amphetamine addiction include hallucinations, depression, feelings of paranoia, mood swings, panic attacks, as well as problems with concentration and memory.
  • Short-term effects: Amphetamines can have immediate effects, including bursts of extreme energy, accelerated heart rate, increased talkativeness, jaw clenching, dry mouth, and elevated blood pressure.
  • Long-term effects: Over time, abuse of amphetamines can cause a plethora of health risks such as malnutrition, increased levels of aggression, amphetamine-induced psychosis, increased risk of stroke, seizures, loss of motor coordination, and heart problems. 

What are the signs and symptoms of Amphetamine addiction?

There are several indications to look for if a loved one is suspected to be struggling with amphetamine abuse. The most common signs and symptoms of amphetamine addiction are listed below. 

  • Use of amphetamines in larger doses or for longer periods: Also called tolerance, chronic amphetamine use can make a person need more or larger doses of the substance to achieve the same pleasurable effect.
  • Metabolic changes: Amphetamines can suppress one’s appetite and burn calories faster than usual. As a result, abuse of substances may result in weight loss.
  • Insomnia: Amphetamines tend to increase certain types of brain chemical activity. This results in bursts of energy which make it difficult for the body and mind to remain quiet, causing disruptions in sleep patterns.
  • Mood swings: The main reason for an addict’s continued use of amphetamines is the temporarily elevated mood they experience immediately after taking the substance. The problem with this brief, heightened mood, however, is when the feelings of euphoria wear off and the user is left feeling worse.
  • A significant amount of time is spent on using the drug: As amphetamine use becomes a priority of the addicted person, a huge amount of their time will be allotted for seeking, using, and recovering from the aftereffects of the substance.
  • Multiple failed attempts to cut down on amphetamine use: An amphetamine addict may need multiple serious recovery attempts before resolving the disorder. The number of attempts mainly depends on the severity of the person’s circumstances.
  • Negative consequences on personal relationships: Amphetamine addiction can have serious negative effects on relationships with family and friends. Suffering from a substance abuse problem may mean skipping important family celebrations or social gatherings, resulting in strained relationships. 

Other possible amphetamine addiction symptoms include:

  1. Failing to fulfill primary role obligations at work or school
  2. Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when substance use is stopped or reduced
  3. Using amphetamines in risky situations such as when driving a car or operating heavy machinery

How to overcome Amphetamine addiction

Amphetamine addiction can be overcome by acknowledging that the problem exists and seeking professional help afterward for proper guidance on how best to treat the disorder. Admitting to oneself that a problem with amphetamine use exists may be challenging, but it is often the first step to getting better. 

Someone with a suspected addiction may start with assessing their amphetamine use, including how much of the substance is being taken and for how often. This can help a person determine when drug use is being out of control and may encourage them to work towards positive changes. 

Another helpful step is to evaluate the impact that excessive amphetamine use has had on someone’s life. Identifying the obvious negative consequences of substance abuse can aid in creating goals towards recovery.

What are the risk factors for Amphetamine addiction?

There are certain determinants associated with an increased risk of developing stimulant use disorder. The risk factors for amphetamine addiction are listed below. 

  • Easy access to amphetamines: The availability of amphetamines at home is a critical factor in developing an addiction. Easier access can come in the form of prescriptions. As one gets hooked to amphetamines, they may start taking the medication in a way that has not been recommended by their medical provider. A person can also misuse the substance without a prescription or through off-label use.
  • Underlying psychiatric issues: People who suffer from mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder are at a higher risk of developing amphetamine addiction. Combining these psychiatric issues with a condition where one needs to take amphetamines can cause people to use the substances as a way of coping with negative feelings.
  • Chronic stress: Stress can enhance a person’s susceptibility to amphetamine addiction. Stress can trigger brain changes similar to those produced by addictive drugs, suggesting that people under high levels of stress may be more prone to drug abuse.

How do you treat Amphetamine addiction?

Amphetamine addiction can be treated by entering a treatment program that can involve different treatment modalities available for those struggling with amphetamine abuse, including detox, individual counseling, behavioral therapy, and peer support. 

Medically supervised detox is often the first step at treatment. Detox programs for amphetamine withdrawal may use medical treatment to help reduce the intensity and duration of withdrawal symptoms in the safest way possible. 

Individual counseling is another helpful approach to treating amphetamine addiction. Individual counseling involves one-on-one sessions between a patient and a mental health professional where more private matters may be addressed, like issues that the addicted person may not be comfortable sharing with a group.

Different types of behavioral therapy such as contingency management and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) are also used in the treatment of the disorder. Contingency management involves rewarding an individual for every positive behavioral change related to treatment. For instance, a perfect attendance in therapy sessions may be rewarded with retail goods. 

On the other hand, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps an amphetamine addict identify and change unhelpful thought patterns or behaviors that may have contributed to the addiction.

Peer support or 12-step program participation is another treatment option where an addicted person gets support from others who have been in the same situation and struggled with the challenges of substance use disorder as well.

Why is using Amphetamines addictive?


Using amphetamines is addictive because they are stimulant drugs that can cause brain structural abnormalities, ultimately affecting a person’s ability to stop amphetamine use. Amphetamines are a group of synthetic drugs that affect the central nervous system (CNS). 

They are mainly used to treat conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. Occasionally, it can be used to treat depression and may also aid in weight loss. When legitimately used, amphetamines may provide some benefits. The advantages of amphetamines include the reduction of ADHD symptoms and improvement of brain development in children with the condition. 

For its less common medical uses, however, doctors do not consider amphetamines as the first line of treatment anymore due to concerns over their side effects. When used for recreational purposes, amphetamines have several unwanted effects. The disadvantages of excessive amphetamine use may manifest in physical and psychological ways, including malnutrition, heart problems, seizures, mood swings, increased aggression, and psychosis. 

Another reason behind amphetamines being addictive is because they disrupt the brain’s pleasure circuit, making it harder for a person to feel pleasure from anything other than the drug. As a result, people who abuse amphetamines often feel that they cannot go on a day without using amphetamines. These strong cravings make it more challenging for a person to reduce or stop amphetamine use.

When is Amphetamine addiction counseling necessary?

Amphetamine addiction counseling is necessary when identifying negative emotions associated with amphetamine abuse and developing more functional ways of looking at one’s situation.

As the effects of stimulant use disorder ripple beyond the addict alone, counseling can also be done with family members. In which case, therapy can help educate families about addiction and how it affects their loved ones. Family therapy can also help repair relationships that may have suffered terribly because of the addiction.

What are the symptoms of Amphetamine addiction withdrawal?

The symptoms of amphetamine addiction withdrawal include depression, anxiety, crankiness, confusion, severe fatigue, nightmares, an inability to feel pleasure, and intense cravings for amphetamines. 

Withdrawal symptoms are experienced as an addicted person’s mind and body adjust without the substance.  Symptoms of amphetamine withdrawal may begin within 24 hours after last drug use and may require medications to alleviate unpleasant effects.

What is the difference between Amphetamine and Methamphetamine addiction?

The difference between amphetamine and methamphetamine addiction is that meth addiction has far more harmful and longer-lasting consequences than amphetamine abuse. Although methamphetamine is technically a type of amphetamine due to their similar chemical make-ups, meth is much more potent than amphetamines. 

For this reason, methamphetamine is more likely to be illegally consumed, has more dangerous side effects, and increases dopamine levels in the brain at a drastically greater rate compared to other stimulant drugs.