Find out how amphetamine addiction treatment differs from that of other drugs, and what amphetamine withdrawal and detox are like.
What are Amphetamines?
Amphetamines are a class of drugs that are considered central nervous system stimulants, and are included in the group of drugs often called “uppers”. The primary effects of amphetamines include increased feelings of wakefulness and energy, but can also include improved concentration & cognition, increased self-confidence, improved mood, decreased appetite, and sociability.
Amphetamines are prescribed to treat a number of common conditions.The most common use for prescription amphetamines is in treating ADHD, in both children and adults. These medications, such as Adderall, are very effective in aiding concentration, memory, and cognition. Amphetamines are also prescribed to treat other conditions such as asthma and treatment resistant depression.
The most commonly prescribed amphetamines are Adderall, Dexedrine, ProCentra, and Vyvanse. Because of their energizing effects, amphetamines are also commonly used to treat disorders such as narcolepsy and obesity. Increasing wakefulness in narcoleptic clients can offer some relief from their symptoms. Similarly, the appetite reducing effects of amphetamines makes them usable for treating obese clients as part of weight-loss treatment.
Signs of Abuse/Addiction
Substance abuse does not always stem from recreational drug abuse. It is possible for someone that has been prescribed amphetamines to develop an addiction. Amphetamine addiction treatment centers encounter people every day who began with a legitimate prescription, but their prolonged use eventually lead to an addiction.
One of the ways in which amphetamines are abused is by taking them in ways not intended for medical use. For example, snorting, smoking, or injecting the drug, rather than taking oral capsules, results in a much more intense high.
It can be difficult to recognize when someone is abusing amphetamines, but there are usually some subtle symptoms. Be aware of any sudden changes in lifestyle habits or personality. The most common physical signs of someone abusing amphetamines are:
- Dilated pupils
- Rapid, near indecipherable rate of speech
- Heavy, rapid breathing
- Increase in body temperature and blood pressure
Signs of addiction to amphetamines are typically noticeable after someone has gone through a long period of abuse, and has developed a physical dependency. These signs include a person experiencing the following:
- Unable to get the same “high” from the original, prescribed dose
- Feelings of withdrawal during periods of interrupted use
- Avoiding family or social situations when high
- Trying to set limits, or cutting back and failing
- Feeling like usage is out of control
- Sacrificing relationships
- Spending irresponsible amounts of money
- Aggressive behavior
Effects of Amphetamine Abuse
Amphetamines affect the brain by increasing the levels of certain neurotransmitters such as dopamine. Over time, the body and brain change their normal function around the presence of experiencing the chemical effects of amphetamines every day. Because of this, severe symptoms can occur when the brain is denied amphetamines after being accustomed to their stimulating effects.
Because of the cognitive impairment that can accompany long-term amphetamine abuse, memory retention can be compromised. Chronic amphetamine addiction abuse can also lead to mental illness symptoms such as depression, psychosis, mood disorders and other emotional disturbances. Psychological effects such as antisocial behavior are also present.
Physical health issues can also arise from an amphetamine use disorder. The most common of these include malnourishment from the decreased appetite and a range of potential heart problems.
Amphetamine Abuse & Co-Occurring Disorders
Unfortunately, drug abuse can seem to temporarily relieve some of the symptoms of a mental illness, leading to the two often existing simultaneously. For example, according to the Veterans Affairs Department, one third of military veterans seeking treatment for addiction also suffered from PTSD.
Because amphetamines can help to increase sociability and mood, it is common for those with anxiety or Antisocial Personality Disorder to attempt to self-medicate with illegal drugs. Mental illness and drug abuse feed into one another in a way that exacerbates both, leaving the user in need of treatment that can address both disorders at the same time.
Most often, when an amphetamine abuser has a dual diagnosis of addiction and a mental health disorder, there are other substances being abused at the same time. Amphetamine addicts particularly tend to use depressants along with adderall to counteract the effects felt when the stimulant wears off.
Amphetamines can be used and metabolized rapidly by the body, meaning those withdrawal symptoms set in relatively quickly when a long-term abuser stops abruptly. As the body’s systems try to adjust after being accustomed to amphetamine’s effects, a whole host of physical and psychological side effects can occur.
- Extreme fatigue
- Long periods of sleep
- Increased appetite
- Nausea/digestive issues from overeating
- Cardiac Arrest
- Irritability and short temper
- Hypersensitivity to light and sound
- Intense cravings
- Suicidal ideation
Treatments and Therapies
Detoxification is the first step of any drug addiction treatment process. In order for recovery to begin, the body must go through the process of ridding the substance. For the substance abuser, this can result in miserable withdrawal symptoms, but some of these can be alleviated with proper medical care and supervision.
Because of possible health complications, it is not advisable for a chronic substance abuser to attempt to detox on their own. Detox treatment focuses on managing withdrawal symptoms, as well as helping to mitigate the drug cravings experienced during this period. There are approved medications to deal with the pain and discomfort of detoxing, and with a trained, professional medical team to maintain ongoing medical monitoring, an addiction treatment center is the safest place to undergo the detox process.
After detox, the next step in recovery is a residential inpatient treatment program. These 24-hour care programs offer a wide variety of therapies to address the individual needs of each client. This is not the same as hospitalization for acute addiction treatment. Residential care takes place at specialized inpatient treatment centers with clinicians experienced in the complications that can arise with addiction care.
Some of the more common therapies offered include:
- Individual and group therapy sessions
- Medication Management
- Nutritional and fitness therapy
- Support groups
- Life skills classes
- Treatment for mental illness (co-occurring disorders)
After inpatient treatment has concluded, recovery continues with a variety of ongoing treatment options. As every person has different needs and varying levels of support, there are varying levels of amphetamine addiction treatment available, including:
- Partial hospitalization programs, where a client does not reside in the treatment location, but reports daily for therapy and returns home every night.
- Outpatient care, which can include any number of frequency structures, including group or individual therapy. These programs are meant to fit into the normal lives of those working through addiction recovery, and their intensity is customized to the unique needs of each individual.
- Support groups are another great option for long-term aftercare. These meetings help keep a person actively working on maintaining their recovery, sometimes with a sense of accountability to the rest of the group.
- Aftercare is an essential part of every recovery plan. The truth is that recovery never ends, and the risk of a relapse means each person should be prepared with a cohesive support system. The primary goal of aftercare is to reduce the risk of relapse, as well as be prepared for how to deal with the situation if it occurs.
- Sober housing refers to homes that provide a structured environment to support a group of people working to reestablish a stable life after proceeding through addiction treatment. These homes typically provide a safe, supportive environment, as well as assistance in finding employment and maintaining sobriety throughout.
The best foundation for recovery is truly comprehensive care. Having available a number of treatment options allows each person to discover what is most effective for them, and use that to progress through recovery as efficiently as possible.
If you are in need of help for substance abuse, call us today to learn more about the treatment and recovery experience. Taking the first step may seem daunting, but there is help available right now to make the treatment process as smooth and effective as possible.