Warning signs, Symptoms and Side Effects of Amphetamines Abuse

Warning signs, Symptoms and Side Effects of Amphetamines Abuse

The prolonged use of amphetamines alters the structure of the brain in such a way that it is no more able to function without the drug and the condition is termed as ‘addiction or dependence’. The use of amphetamines has also been associated with the production or aggravation of pre-existing mental disorders such as depression and anxiety. The drug is abused by the people who take it for recreational purposes as well as those who take it for therapeutic purposes. Even therapeutic use of amphetamine has been known to develop dependence. Looking for signs and symptoms of amphetamine abuse and addiction can be helpful to figure out when its use has become a problem.

Signs of amphetamine abuse:

Amphetamines are classified as schedule II substance by DEA which means they have legitimate medical uses but there is a high potential of developing addiction to them. Even people who take amphetamines for therapeutic purposes often end up becoming addicted to them.

As the addiction develops, certain signs and symptoms can be observed in a loved one such as loss of appetite and insomnia.

When used for medical purposes, the drug is always orally ingested. However, the addicts can use a number of other methods as well such as snorting to produce the immediate effects. All types of methods leave their mark.

  • Snorting the drug– In this case, the user crushes the pills and snorts them. Certain tools such as rolled paper or dollar bills can be found that are used by the addict. The remains of crushed drug can also be found which can be white or blue colored depending upon the composition of the drug.
  • Injecting the drug– The users often crush the drug and dilute it with water to directly inject it into the veins. It produces a quick and strong high. Used syringes and crushed tablets can be found in the room or car of the addict. Scars on the IV sites of the addict can also be noticed.
  • Smoking the drug– Glass pipes or metal objects are used by the addicts to melt the drug and inhale its smoke. Unusual smell of amphetamines burning or dark burn marks on objects can be helpful to pinpoint amphetamine abuse by a loved one.

Behavioral and physical symptoms of amphetamine abuse:

With the prolonged abuse of amphetamines, certain behavioral signs and symptoms can be observed in the addict such as:

  • Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed
  • Antisocial behavior or a change in company
  • Carelessness towards hygiene
  • Poor performance at school or office
  • Stealing money or other objects
  • Suspicious behavior
  • Lying when questioned about their behavior
  • Frequent fights with their significant other

Amphetamine abuse takes its toll on the physical health of the addict as well. Some of the problems experienced by the addicts include:

  • Energy changes– The users experience bursts of increased energy followed by periods of crash as the effect of the drug fades away. The high energy phase may last up to 4 hours depending upon the amount of drug taken.
  • Increased heart rate and respiratory rate– Since amphetamines stimulate brain activities and as a result bodily functions, the addict experiences increased heart and respiratory rate.
  • Restlessness– The user experiences restlessness, body shaking and even involuntary tremors.
  • Weight loss– Since the drug suppresses hunger, the user often end up losing so much weight.
  • Insomnia– amphetamines activate the brain and as a result, the user fails to fall asleep.
  • Changes in sex drive– Under the influence of the drug, the users experience increased sex drive due to release of high amounts of dopamine.

Long term health effects of amphetamine abuse:

Long term abuse of amphetamines can be seriously damaging for the health. The dependence on the drug is developed fairly quickly so its use should be strictly checked. Some of the long term effects produced by the drug on the body include:

  • Chronic insomnia
  • Tooth decay
  • Extreme weight loss
  • Lung problems
  • Frequent nose bleeds due to snorting the drug
  • Kidney problems
  • Issues with immunity
  • Malnutrition due to loss of hunger
  • Development of cardiovascular problems such as heart attack
  • Vertigo
  • Repetitive motor activity
  • Increased risk of blood-borne diseases due to sharing a needle while injecting the drug
  • Ulcers
  • Skin problems such as acne and scars
  • Dehydration
  • Electrolyte imbalance

A number of mental health issues are also experienced by the long term users such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Psychosis
  • Paranoia
  • Behavioral disorders
  • Declined cognitive abilities
  • Inability to concentrate

Amphetamine overdose:

When taken in high amounts, overdosing on amphetamines is possible. The overdose of amphetamines can be:

  • Accidental
  • Intentional

Accidental overdose is resulted when the user takes high amounts of the drug without being aware of its harmful effects. It can particularly happen with long term users since they can take increased amounts of the drug in an attempt to cope with tolerance. Intentional overdose can be carried out in an attempt to commit suicide.

The risk of overdosing is significantly increased when amphetamines are combined with other drugs such as cocaine, alcohol or even prescription drugs. Some of the common signs and symptoms associated with amphetamine overdose include:

  • Unusually high body temperature
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Aggression
  • Extreme anxiety
  • Slurred speech
  • Paranoia
  • Chest pain
  • Stomachache
  • Convulsions
  • Involuntary tremors
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Coma

If a person is spotted with these symptoms, immediate medical care should be provided to avoid any further complications.

Planning an intervention for amphetamine problem:

If a loved one is abusing amphetamines, it is important to confront them and address the problem. However, extreme care should be taken in the process since the reaction of the addict can be dangerous. Professional interventionists can be helpful in this regard. They are aware of the lies the addict is going to come up with so they help to prepare accordingly. They can make the process of communication between the addict and his family easier.