Amphetamine Abuse and Addiction Treatment Options
Amphetamines are stimulants used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. These medications are prescribed under brand names like Ritalin, Adderall, Methylin, Focalin, and others. Once taken, these drugs affect the body similarly to cocaine. However, the onset is slower and lasts longer. Methamphetamine is another powerful drug in this family of drugs and is most often used illegally.
Amphetamine abuse is widespread, increasing the risk of toxicity and overdose. Amphetamine addiction is common because of the intense high this drug class creates among users who abuse it and the accessibility of legal and illegal amphetamines.
Although withdrawal symptoms are not typically dangerous, they are uncomfortable, and complications can arise when there’s a severe underlying mental health condition. Relapse and continued use also increase your risk of serious health consequences or a potential overdose. For this reason, you or your loved one must receive professional, structured support.
Taking the first step can be overwhelming, but you don’t need to do it alone. When you seek assistance from a Zinnia Healing treatment center, you’ll receive support from leaders in health and healing, and that can make all the difference on your road to recovery. Dive deeper into the substance abuse treatment plans at Zinnia Healing facilities nationwide.
What Are Amphetamines?
Amphetamines are a group of highly addictive drugs that come in crystal, liquid, pill, powder, and paste forms. These drugs also come in legal and illegal forms — both of which are abused. However, the latter is causing many public health issues, as this category of amphetamines includes meth.
Methamphetamine misuse is increasing in the United States. Between 1992 and 2002, hospital admissions increased by more than 500%. By 2018, an estimated 1.6 million adults in the U.S. aged 18 years or older had reported meth use in the past year. Across the globe, this figure is around 34 million; of those users, approximately 5 million depend on amphetamines.
Research shows that the recreational use of amphetamines has reached epidemic proportions in Australia, Asia, and the United States. The bulk of illegal amphetamines in North America is produced in labs in rural areas of Mexico and the United States. These drugs are manufactured using a wide spectrum of toxic ingredients, including ammonia and sulfuric acid.
Long-term misuse of these drugs can damage the brain and heart, resulting in malnutrition, psychosis, and heart damage. The risk of such complications increases when users mix amphetamines with other drugs, especially other psychostimulant drugs. The best way to prevent potentially fatal incidents is to take a proactive approach. Seeking help for amphetamine abuse is a life-changing journey that ensures a healthier, more fulfilling life free from the chains of addiction.
Learn more about the most common barriers to seeking treatment for substance use disorder so that you know you’re not alone. You have options to build the future you desire.
Are Amphetamines Addictive?
Yes, amphetamines are highly addictive — their use is now a global public health concern. Across the globe, around 34 million people use amphetamines; of those users, approximately 5 million depend on these drugs. Once this dependence develops and withdrawal symptoms become part of the pattern of trying to quit, achieving sobriety on your own becomes much harder — and sometimes more dangerous.
In the United States, stimulant abuse is high. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found that in 2020, among people aged 12 or older, 3.3 million people misused prescription stimulants only, and around 1.5 million people misused only methamphetamine. Users who take amphetamines to get high often binge, causing tolerance to develop. The user then needs to take higher and higher doses to achieve the same effect. This pattern of abuse leads to dependence, which causes withdrawal syndrome when the users try to stop taking their drug of choice.
Since amphetamines are prescribed to millions in the United States each year, unintentional addiction can develop over time. For example, since users often take amphetamines daily, physical and psychological changes occur. The body and mind adapt to having the drug regularly, which forms the basis of tolerance. Once tolerance develops, users need more of the drug to achieve the same effects.
Since a user can be dependent without being addicted, one of the main criteria is loss of control over the use of amphetamines. This loss of control includes behaviors that come along with that shift. If you are constantly thinking about your next dose, obtaining the drug illegally, or doctor shopping, these are causes for concern.
That said, the majority of amphetamine users who develop addiction are those that use drugs recreationally. Data shows that these users often administer stimulants at doses much higher than what’s intended for therapeutic use. To deliver a quantity of drug to the central nervous system in the shortest time, this is when users begin to experiment with dangerous routes of administration, such as smoking crystal meth or injecting it.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Amphetamine Addiction?
Addiction impacts people of all ages and from all backgrounds. There is no one “type” of person who abuses amphetamines. For loved ones, it’s crucial to be aware of the potential warning signs, especially when someone is acting out of character.
One of the most crucial warning signs is when a user continues taking amphetamines even though their drug use harms their life. For example, it’s causing poor physical and mental health outcomes, a lack of performance at work or school, or it’s ruining relationships. Even when severe consequences arise, they can’t stop using.
Here are some of the most common warnings signs:
- Missing classes or work
- Not caring about their appearance
- Hanging out with different people than usual
- Losing interest in favorite activities
- Getting in trouble with the law
- Having problems with friends and family members
- Showcasing different sleeping and eating habits
The route of administration also matters, particularly among those abusing prescription amphetamines. For example, if a user has begun to use amphetamines intravenously, there is an issue. The user is likely taking doses outside of what’s recommended, opting for an administration method based on getting high.
Ask Yourself These Questions
If you’re unsure whether your amphetamine use has become a problem, ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you using medication in a non-prescribed way? This red flag may include taking larger than prescribed doses or taking medications in inadvisable methods, such as crushing and snorting pills.
- Are you experiencing a suppressed appetite because of your drug use? Have you lost weight and are no longer consuming a healthy, balanced diet? Perhaps you barely eat anything at all?
- Have you become jittery from a lack of sleep or increased anxiety — both of which are a byproduct of ongoing drug use?
- Have your relationships begun to suffer? Are you skipping important family events? Are you no longer seeing friends that disapprove of your drug use?
- Do you continue to use amphetamines despite the negative consequences discussed above? Due to drug use, you might also experience issues in your professional life, financial hardship, etc.
- Are you experiencing intense cravings when you don’t use amphetamines? Do thoughts of your next dose consume you?
If your life now revolves around using amphetamines and you are physically and psychologically dependent, it’s time to seek support. Learn more about the common types of care at drug treatment facilities across the United States.
Withdrawal Symptoms That Develop From Amphetamine Abuse
Withdrawal syndrome is common among those who misuse and abuse amphetamines. Symptoms surface when someone dependent stops using or they try to cut down and include the following:
- Increased but poor-quality sleep
- Altered mood, particularly depression
- Changes in appetite
- Anxiety, irritability, and paranoia
- Intense cravings
These symptoms are often intense for the first ten days and gradually reduce in severity over the following weeks. However, some report that cravings and mood issues linger. It is these symptoms that increase one’s risk of relapse. In most cases, the withdrawal symptoms are not life-threatening, but recovery is often slow. Those experiencing severe cases of depression can develop complications because of instances of self-harm. For this reason, it’s particularly critical that individuals with co-occurring disorders seek the professional help they need during this period.
The Link Between Amphetamine Misuse and Mental Health
The connection between amphetamine abuse and mental health is complex. In many cases, diminishing mental health is a consequence of amphetamine use. This drug has also been shown to exacerbate psychosis in people with schizophrenia. However, substance use disorder and mental illness often go hand-in-hand. Self-medicating is a common approach among those struggling with mental health disorder symptoms.
The NIH reported that around half of those who experience a mental illness during their lives would also experience a substance use disorder and vice versa. High rates of comorbid use are associated with anxiety disorders and trauma, depression and bipolar, ADHD, and personality disorders. The overlap between drug abuse and mental health is particularly pronounced among those with serious mental illness that causes severe functional impairment.
In most cases, substance use and conditions like depression are bidirectional. Substance abuse, including amphetamine addiction, causes mood changes, and substance use is a behavior to help alleviate depression. Meth is a unique example, as chronic use has been shown to reduce serotonin and dopamine brain concentrations, making depression worse. One study found that meth users had a 62% rate of depression before meth use, but depression rates increased by nearly 20% when individuals began using meth.
Withdrawing from amphetamines can also cause a depressive-like state. This side effect can last for weeks following discontinued use. So, for some, amphetamine abuse and the resulting withdrawal period exacerbate a preexisting mental health condition.
How Is Amphetamine Addiction Treated?
Addiction treatment for amphetamine abuse is a complex and highly individualized process. Treatment options will also vary depending on where you seek treatment.
You’ll gain access to the most effective treatment options when you go to a professional inpatient or intensive outpatient treatment center that focuses on an evidence-based, holistic approach. If the treatment center doesn’t offer detox services, they will direct you to a safe, structured environment to complete this initial process. When withdrawing from amphetamines, professionals will work with you to ensure you’re safe and comfortable.
Following this step, you can then focus on your individualized treatment plan. For example, cognitive-behavioral therapy is highly effective in treating many mental health and substance use disorders, including methamphetamine addiction. Research shows a combination of behavioral therapies, individual counseling, family therapy, encouragement for non-drug-related activities, etc., is most effective.
Regardless of your history and current level of drug use, you are a unique individual. You must seek a treatment program that values this approach. No two individuals are the same, and neither is their road to recovery. It is this approach that allows for the highest chance of long-term success. For example, in addition to your core therapy sessions, you may find that meditation is what provides you with a newfound purpose. Treatment plans that adapt to the changing needs of the individual help recovering addicts achieve the best possible outcomes.
Zinnia Healing Can Help
As we say at Zinnia Healing, “Health and healing for everyone, everywhere.”
Our facilities across the U.S. provide comprehensive treatment programs that focus on each individual. Within our substance abuse treatment plans, mental wellness plays an integral role. We understand that a healthy mind and lifestyle contribute to lifelong recovery.
Many options are offered, including inpatient treatment, detoxification programs, intensive outpatient treatment, recovery residences, and more. Each option focuses on evidence-based treatment methods and therapies, creating an environment that encourages healing and ongoing success.
Ready to take the next step to address your amphetamine addiction, mental health, or both? Zinnia Healing can help. Contact us at (855) 430-9439 to learn more. Help is standing by 24/7.