Signs and Symptoms of Amphetamine Abuse
Amphetamine is a strong stimulant that has been used medically for situations when a person needs to be more alert, as in narcolepsy, a health problem that causes a person to fall asleep at any time. It has also been given to pilots and soldiers to keep them awake and alert for long hours. It does its job in these situations, but the side effects of this drug can be dangerous and damaging.
Amphetamine can be given orally, can be snorted or injected intravenously. Symptoms of use will show up immediately if it is injected, within 3-5 minutes if it is snorted and within 15-20 minutes if it is ingested.
There is a long list of the signs that show up when this drug is used medically or when it is abused. Many of them are typical of any stimulant use.
Signs and Symptoms of Amphetamine Abuse include:
- Increased body temperature
- Increased blood pressure
- Dry mouth
- Faster breathing
- Dilated pupils
- Increased energy and alertness
- Decreased fatigue
- Decreased appetite
Before amphetamine’s addictive problems were known about, this drug was used for weight control, depression, nasal congestion, even hangovers. It appeared to be an inexpensive, long-lasting solution to a number of problems. It has been sold as Desoxyn, Benzedrine, Adderall, DextroStat and Dexedrine.
After World War II, civilian use of amphetamines increased, and another form of the drug, methamphetamine— easily produced in small domestic labs—also hit the market. As more people used these two forms of the drugs, its addictiveness and other problems began to be obvious.
In addition to the symptoms of use listed above, less desirable symptoms of amphetamines became noticeable, including:
- Cardiovascular system failure
- Irregular heart beat
- Reduction of social inhibitions
- Altered sexual behaviour
- Blurred vision
- Chest pain
- Unrealistic ideas of personal ability and power
- Skin disorders
- Amphetamine-caused psychosis
Some people who abused this drug would wear themselves out with amphetamine binges, taking the drug continuously and, not sleeping or eating for as long as a week. Then they would collapse. By repeating this pattern, amphetamine abusers— sometimes called “speed freaks”—would suffer severe damage to their health.
Getting Through a Withdrawal from Amphetamine
Long-term amphetamine abusers are likely to be severely malnourished and suffering serious mental effects from the drug use. When they stop using amphetamine, they experience the symptoms of the damage that was created. While they continued to abuse the drug, those symptoms were suppressed, but will show up strongly as soon as the stimulant is gone. Thus withdrawal can include depression, anxiety and extreme fatigue.
It is very likely that the recovering addict will suffer sharp, intense cravings for more of the drug. For this reason, it is a very good idea for a person to have professional support when coming off amphetamine.
Another reason for professional support is that the mental aspects of withdrawal can be serious and dangerous. A person may suffer hallucinations, delusions and aggressive or violent behaviours as they come off the drug.
When a person chooses a Narconon drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre for recovery from amphetamine addiction, the withdrawal process is eased by the programme’s unique and innovative techniques. First, each person is supported with generous nutritional supplementation. Those abusing any drug, but amphetamine or methamphetamine in particular, are likely to be severely deficient in usual nutrients. Nutritional supplements given around the clock help the body suffer fewer effects of withdrawal. Each person is given gentle “assists” that help relax the mind and body and ease the person through withdrawal.
Building a New Sober Life
The person who wishes to have a new sober life can achieve that goal at any one of some 45 Narconon centres around the world. After withdrawal, the Narconon programme guides each person through an intensive detoxification phase called New Life Detoxification. Through running to get the blood circulating, followed by time in a dry-heat sauna to sweat out the drugs, and good nutrition and adequate sleep, the body is cleansed from many of the impacts of past drug or alcohol abuse. As traces of drug use are eliminated, participants often report that they experience return of alertness and reduction or elimination of cravings for drugs.
As the cravings depart, a person begins to think more clearly. This means that they can begin to address the damage they have done to themselves with their drug abuse. One loses personal integrity and feels guilt over the harm done to loved ones. The ability to say no to drugs is often gone and there are troublesome people in one’s past who could make more trouble in the future. To stay sober, it is necessary to recover one’s self-respect and learn the skills needed to make the correct decision in each situation one encounters.
The later phases of the Narconon programme address these necessary skills and recoveries. The Narconon programme has no set time limit, but usually takes 8-10 weeks. Each person progresses at their own rate. The programme takes as long as necessary for the individual to become free of drugs, discover for themselves why they turned to drugs in the first place, and to learn life skills that empower them to live drug-free. The goal of the programme is an individual free of drugs and the desire to take them and living a productive and happy life as a contributing member of society.