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Amphetamine Addiction Signs, Symptoms, & Treatment

What Are Amphetamines? Types of Amphetamines. Are Amphetamines Addictive? Amphetamine Addiction Symptoms. Amphetamine Addiction Treatment.

What Are Amphetamines? 

Amphetamines, otherwise known as ‘speed’ on the streets, are psychoactive drugs that speed up the central nervous system (CNS). Its use increases certain types of brain activity, resulting in a feeling of higher energy, focus, and confidence [1]. The drugs are sold under street names or drug slang names such as Bennies, Black Beauties, Crank, Ice, Speed, and Uppers. Amphetamine’s effect is similar to cocaine, but a slower onset and longer duration. It was also used to treat two mental health conditions, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy, a condition in which people fall asleep suddenly. Occasionally, it is used in depression treatment. As time went by, amphetamine began to treat various conditions, from alcohol headaches and hangovers to weight loss.

Many amphetamines are Schedule II controlled substances, which means they have a high potential for abuse and a currently accepted medical use (in FDA-approved products). Pharmaceutical products are available only through a prescription that cannot be refilled. Amphetamines, including amphetamine salts, are in a class of psychostimulant drugs known as phenethylamines, which have the primary side effects of psychological and physiological stimulation. Side effects of this drug include increased body temperature, blood pressure, pulse rates, insomnia, loss of appetite, and physical exhaustion. Amphetamine addiction produces a substance-induced psychosis that resembles schizophrenia: paranoia, hallucinations, violent and erratic behavior. 

Amphetamine Addiction
As stimulant drug, amphetamine makes the messages from your brain to your body move faster.

An amphetamine overdose can be fatal. There is widespread use among younger generations who believe that these drugs are accessible and ‘safe’ compared to more potent drugs such as heroin. Despite this perceived positive image, the effects of an amphetamine addiction on your health and other aspects of your life can be equally as devastating. Much like the abuse of other illegal stimulant drugs such as MDMA (ecstasy), which is a derivative of amphetamines, people who take amphetamines intending to suppress appetite or feel less tired can become trapped in a cycle of repeated use that can lead to dependence and, ultimately, amphetamine addiction.

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Types of Amphetamines

There are quite a few different types of amphetamines. Most are closely monitored prescription drugs, but some are illicit and have no medical use. 

Prescription Amphetamines

Prescription amphetamines are often used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or narcolepsy (sudden sleep attacks or difficulty staying awake) [2]. They include:

Amphetamine/dextroamphetamine (Adderall)

Adderall is an addictive prescription stimulant with effects similar to meth. Although not everyone who uses Adderall will develop an addiction, people regularly taking Adderall at higher than prescribed doses are at an increased risk of becoming addicted. This is because Adderall works by increasing dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the central nervous system. In addition, taking psychoactive drugs like Adderall and mixing them with alcohol poses a great risk. Not only is mixing Adderall and alcohol bad, but it’s also deadly. Whether an Adderall and alcohol overdose happens accidentally or on purpose, it can lead to death.

Methylphenidate (Concerta, Ritalin, Quillivant)

Ritalin. or Methylphenidate hydrochloride—the generic for Ritalin, is a stimulant prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) treatment and to manage symptoms of narcolepsy (sleep disorder), but this prescription drug is also prone to abuse — begging the question, “can you inject Ritalin?” and “can you snort Ritalin?” It is also often abused as a party drug just like Adderall and considered a rave energy pill because it increases users’ focus and energy, producing bursts of activity and talkativeness — begging the questions, “can you mix Ritalin and alcohol?” and “how long does for Ritalin to leave your system?” 

Lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse)

Vyvanse is a prescription drug, primarily used to treat symptoms of ADHD. The generic name of Vyvanse is lisdexamfetamine. It is a central nervous system stimulant. Is Vyvanse Addictive? There are certain outward signs of Vyvanse addiction that people may notice in their loved ones. People often use other drugs with stimulants to enhance their high such as mixing Vyvanse and Molly, and any polysubstance abuse increases the risk of experiencing adverse side effects., while others are related to behavior and lifestyle. 

Though these are prescriptions, you can buy them on the street, too. Some people fake ADHD to get a prescription or visit multiple doctors to obtain extra pills to sell.

Illicit Amphetamines

Though methamphetamine (meth) is sometimes prescribed, it’s also an illicit amphetamine. It’s sold on the street as a crystalline substance (crystal meth), powder, or liquid.  Crystal meth addiction has devastating effects. It can cause lung disorders, kidney damage, hyperthermia, psychosis, stroke, and cardiac arrest. 


Illicit methamphetamine is highly addictive. Many dealers or manufacturers cut it with other substances to stretch the supply. Cutting agents lower the quality of the drug and make it even more dangerous since you don’t know what’s in it. Common meth slang names include Speed, Ice, Crank, Cristina, Trash, and Chalk, to name a few. Methamphetamine can kill you. High doses can cause the body to overheat to dangerous levels.

Methamphetamine overdose nearly tripled from 2015 to 2019 among people ages 18-64 in the United States. What does meth feel like? Meth gives the user a rush of energy and intense feelings of pleasure. Meth releases a surge of chemicals known as serotonin and dopamine into the body. This is why most people who are “high” can’t sleep after meth use.


Ecstasy (3,4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or MDMA) is an amphetamine that has no medical use. It alters your sensory perception, which means it may make you see colors differently or hear distorted sounds. It also gives you energy so you can stay up all night. MDMA (or “molly”—its powdered form) is commonly abused at raves and music festivals.

Amphetamine Diet Pills

Amphetamine diet pills are a supplement that is commonly used to help lose weight by reducing the levels of hunger throughout the day. These pills also give the user high amounts of energy, which also aids in the weight loss process because of the increase in activity levels. 

Amphetamine Addiction
Addiction occurs when you use amphetamines and lose control of use

Unlike some pills available on the market throughout the world, amphetamines do not work directly on the fat within the body. Rather, they work with the brain’s specific parts that control the natural hunger response. These chemicals in the brain are eliminated by the amphetamine diet pills, making it possible to go an entire day, or even several days, without feeling any hunger pains.

These pills have been banned in many areas because many people abuse these products due to the side effects. However, on many street corners, these pills are bought and sold under the street name speed because they drastically increase the energy levels. In the 1990s, millions of Americans have prescribed the weight loss therapy popularly known as Fen-phen. Fen-phen was a combination of the two (2) diet drugs, fenfluramine, and phentermine. Phentermine is related chemically to amphetamine. Both phentermine and amphetamine stimulate the central nervous system and induce the same adrenergic receptors in the brain. The Fen-Phen diet pill was pulled off the market in 1997 after being linked to heart valve problems.

Amphetamine diet pills can be extremely dangerous to the user because of various different medical conditions that can result from taking them. People with high blood pressure and heart problems need to avoid them because they will cause serious complications. It can also cause various levels of insomnia, confusion, and sickness when coming down from them, and they can cause heart palpitations.

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How Are Amphetamines Abused?

Whatever form they take, amphetamines are stimulant drugs. They work to speed up the messages between your brain and your body to make you feel more alert and energetic. People use them to stay awake, increase focus, or improve physical performance.

Abuse of amphetamines can be dangerous in a variety of ways. In addition to the symptoms above, people who use these drugs also have an increased risk of getting HIV and hepatitis B and C, either through sharing used needles with someone who has an infection or because drug use can lead to unsafe behaviors such as having unprotected sex.

A person of any age, gender, financial status, or ethnicity can become addicted to amphetamines. Some people take it to try and accomplish more tasks in less time, or on less sleep. Some people take it to try and lose weight or achieve fitness goals. Some take it as a way to self-medicate their depression.

In all of these cases, the benefits are short-lived, and the amphetamine usage inevitably backfires, resulting in effects that are opposite to those which are desired. For example, while amphetamines will make depressed people feel better initially, their low mood will become worse and worse each time the drug wears off, frequently leading to severe depression and suicidal thoughts.

Amphetamine Side Effects

Amphetamine may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:

  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Unpleasant taste
  • Stomach cramps
  • Weight loss
  • Nose bleeding
  • Headache
  • Grinding or clenching teeth during sleep
  • Nervousness
  • Changes in sex drive or ability
  • Painful menstruation
  • Pain or burning when urinating

Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of these symptoms or those listed in the IMPORTANT WARNING section, stop taking amphetamine and call your doctor immediately:

  • Dizziness
  • Weakness or numbness of an arm or leg
  • Motor or verbal tics
  • Believing things that are not true
  • Feeling unusually suspicious of others
  • Hallucinating (seeing things or hearing voices that do not exist)
  • Mania (frenzied or abnormally excited mood)
  • Agitation, hallucinations (seeing things or hearing voices that do not exist), fever, sweating, confusion, fast heartbeat, shivering, severe muscle stiffness or twitching, loss of coordination, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Seizures
  • Changes in vision or blurred vision
  • Blistering or peeling skin
  • Rash
  • Hives
  • Itching
  • Swelling of the face, throat, tongue, lips, or eyes
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Numbness, pain, or sensitivity to temperature in the fingers or toes
  • Skin color change from pale to blue to red in the fingers or toes
  • Unexplained wounds appear on fingers or toes.

This medication may also cause sudden death, heart attack, or stroke in adults, especially those with heart defects or serious heart problems. Call your doctor right away if you or your child has any signs of heart problems while taking this medication, including chest pain, shortness of breath, or fainting.

Are Amphetamines Addictive?

Are amphetamines addictive? Yes. Amphetamine addiction happens when you use these drugs to get high or improve performance. Amphetamine addiction means your body and mind are dependent on the drug. You are not able to control your use of it and you need it to get through daily life.

Amphetamine addiction can lead to tolerance. Tolerance means you need more and more of the drug to get the same high feeling. And if you try to stop using, your mind and body may have reactions. 

These are called withdrawal symptoms, and may include:

  • A strong craving for the drug
  • Having mood swings that range from feeling depressed to agitated to anxious
  • Feeling tired all-day
  • Not able to concentrate
  • Seeing or hearing things that are not there (hallucinations)
  • Physical reactions may include headaches, aches, and pains, increased appetite, not sleeping well

The destructive properties of these drugs make people who abuse them feel depressed and even suicidal when they are not using the drug. As a result, cravings to keep using the drug can be very strong, making it difficult to stop using.

amphetamine addiction
Amphetamine addiction is a medical condition. It can be treated!

An amphetamine is a central nervous system stimulant that increases certain types of brain activity. This results in a feeling of higher energy, focus, and confidence. While these types of medications are commonly available with a prescription, it’s important to note that they carry a risk for abuse. Here are five signs you may have an amphetamine addiction.

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Amphetamine Addiction Symptoms 

Using the medication in a non-prescribed manner

Using an amphetamine in a way that your prescribing medical provider did not intend may be a sign of addiction. Swallowing amphetamine pills can cause a mild high. Crushing the pills and snorting them can give you a stronger high more quickly. Misuse of amphetamines may also involve dissolving the powder in water and injecting it. This method gets the drug into your bloodstream and to your brain almost immediately, creating an intense high. This level of abuse can lead to more severe—and illegal—use of the drug to get high.

Memory Loss

Long-term amphetamine abuse can impair short- and long-term memory. 

Metabolic Changes

Drugs containing amphetamine, such as Adderall, can suppress your appetite and cause your body to burn up calories at a higher rate than normal. Therefore, abuse of these medications can lead to changes in weight as well. The person once ate normally, but now they don’t eat, or eat very little, and may experience weight loss.

Increased Anxiety and Insomnia

Anxiety sensitivity was more common in amphetamine users than in those who do not use amphetamines. This anxiety can lead to insomnia, which can affect your personal and professional life. The drug causes a jumpy, jittery appearance as it speeds you up, but when coming down off of it or between uses, [you] may appear the opposite because [you] are having drug withdrawal,

Changes in Close Relationships

Amphetamine addiction can have serious negative consequences on your relationships. If you have a substance abuse problem, you may skip important family or social events, which could hurt those who count on your support. You may also unintentionally cause those close to you to enable your unhealthy habit.

Amphetamine Addiction Long Term Effects

Amphetamines are stimulants. Like other stimulants, they increase the activity of certain neurotransmitter chemicals in the brain–namely, dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. These neurotransmitters play a role in regulating attention, movement, and feelings associated with pleasure and rewards.

The doses of amphetamines that clinicians typically prescribe cause a slow and gradual increase of dopamine that mimics the way this neurotransmitter is normally activated in the brain.

However, dopamine levels increase sharply when amphetamines are taken over prescribed doses or are snorted or injected. As a result, the abuser may experience a disruption of normal brain activity.

Long-term Effects of Amphetamine Addiction:

  • Appetite decrease and weight loss
  • Heart problems such as fast heart rate, irregular heartbeat, increased blood pressure, and heart attack
  • High body temperature and skin flushing
  • Memory loss problems thinking clearly, and stroke
  • Mood and emotional problems such as aggressive or violent behavior, depression, and suicide
  • Ongoing hallucinations and inability to tell what is real
  • Restlessness and tremors
  • Skin sores
  • Sleep problems
  • Tooth decay (meth mouth)
  • Death

How to Treat Amphetamine Addiction?

In most cases, we think that anyone with an amphetamine problem can benefit from professional help. Research indicates that it takes about three (3) months of treatment for serious users to significantly reduce or stop taking amphetamine, though best results occur after a longer period of time spent in treatment. In fact, the best outcomes in terms of long-term addiction recovery occur with longer durations of treatment. This, in part, is due to how long amphetamines stay in your system.

Still, any rehab program should be customized to fit your needs. In fact, a one-size-fits-all approach is not appropriate for any kind of drug addiction. Instead, combined methods of addiction treatment should be built into any treatment program. A good amphetamine addiction treatment attends to every single need of the individual, not only those involving acute amphetamine use. Emotional support, steps for social inclusion, and medical support (access to both over-the-counter and prescribed medications) are also included in amphetamine addiction treatment best practices.

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Amphetamine Addiction Treatment

First and foremost, if you think that a loved one is abusing amphetamine, you should first research amphetamine addiction and the risks associated with it, so that you can better understand what your loved one needs. Next, you must plan an intervention to provide your loved ones with options to battle their addiction in a safe and supportive environment. During this intervention, make sure that you offer compassion and support instead of judgment. 

Lastly, offer your support throughout the entire treatment process. In addition, prolonged meth use can have severe physical and psychological effects, so it is essential to seek treatment as soon as possible. Inpatient drug rehab offers intensive care that can help you get through the early stages of withdrawal promptly. We Level Up treatment rehab & detox center can provide you, or someone you love, the tools to recover from amphetamine addiction with professional and safe treatment. 

amphetamine addiction
Experts always recommended you ask for professional help when you deal with amphetamine addiction. 

Medically-Assisted Detox

Detox is often considered the first stage of treatment. It will help you navigate the complicated process of withdrawal, but it doesn’t address patterns of thought and behavior that contribute to drug use. Various treatment approaches and settings can help provide the ongoing support necessary to maintain long-term sobriety after you complete detox.

Cravings are very common during detox and can be challenging to overcome. This often leads to relapse. Constant medical care provided during inpatient treatment helps prevent relapse. Clinicians can provide necessary medication and medical expertise to lessen cravings and the effects of withdrawals.


Several different modalities of psychotherapy have been used in the treatment of mental health disorders along with addiction, including:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – is an effective treatment that involves making changes in both the patterns of negative thoughts and the behavioral routines which are affecting the daily life of the depressed person for various forms of depression.
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy – is a comprehensive mental health and substance abuse treatment program whose ultimate goal is to aid patients in their efforts to build a life worth living. The main goal of DBT is to help a person develop what is referred to as a “clear mind.” 
  • Person-Centered Therapy – is a strategy that allows and encourages clients to understand and resolve their concerns in a safe, supportive environment.
  • Solution Focused Therapy – is an approach interested in solutions that can be quickly implemented with a simple first step leading to further positive consequences.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Drug abuse and mental health disorders often co-occur. In many cases, traumatic experiences can result in a mental health disorder and substance abuse. Dual diagnosis rehabilitation treats both of these issues together. The best approach for the treatment of dual diagnosis is an integrated system. In this strategy, both the substance abuse problem and the mental disorder are treated simultaneously. Regardless of which diagnosis (mental health or substance abuse problem) came first, long-term recovery will depend largely on the treatment for both disorders done by the same team or provider.

Medication-Assisted Treatments

Medication-Assisted Treatments (MAT) for substance use disorders and mental health disorders are commonly used in conjunction with one another. This includes the use of medications and other medical procedures. During your rehab, the staff from your treatment facility will help you identify what caused your addiction and teach you skills that will help you change your behavior patterns and challenge the negative thoughts that led to your addiction. Sometimes, the pressures and problems in your life lead you to rely on substances to help you forget about them momentarily.

Please, do not try to detox on your own. The detox process can be painful and difficult without medical assistance. However, getting through the detox process is crucial for continued treatment. We Level Up provide proper care with round-the-clock medical staff to medically assist your recovery. So, reclaim your life, and call us to speak with one of our treatment specialists. Our counselors know what you are going through and will answer any of your questions.

amphetamine addiction
The main protocols during treatment use psychotherapy and have been proven to be successful in treating amphetamine addiction.

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[1] NIH –
[2] NIH –
[3] DEA –
[4] Amphetamine Addiction – We Level Up NJ