The Effects of Amphetamines on the Mind and Body

in Detox
Olivia Pennelle
Published Nov 10, 2020
Effects of Amphetamines on Mind and Body

Amphetamines are potent, highly addictive stimulants. They are recreational drugs either legally produced, including prescriptions, or illegally produced which is typically in the form of methamphetamine. They can affect the chemicals in the brain, which can lead to a substance use disorder. Amphetamines also have detrimental short-term and long-term effects on the body and can even lead to death.

What Are Prescription Amphetamines?

Prescription amphetamines are legally prescribed by doctors to treat conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. Common prescription amphetamines include Dexedrine, Adderall, Ritalin, and Concerta. Despite being legal, these medications can still be highly addictive. Misuse of prescription amphetamines may consist of taking the medication in a manner or dosage not prescribed, taking someone else’s medication, or taking medicine only for the effect it causes.

What Is Methamphetamine?

Methamphetamine, also known as speed, is an illegal substance. It was developed in the early 20th century from amphetamines and was initially used in nasal decongestants and bronchial inhalers. Methamphetamine differs from prescribed amphetamines because more significant amounts enter the brain, making it a more potent stimulant. The effects of methamphetamine are also longer-lasting and are more harmful to the central nervous system.

The Effects of Amphetamines on the Brain

Amphetamines are stimulants, meaning they make the messages between your brain and body move faster. As a result, amphetamine use causes someone to be more alert and physically active. Amphetamines also cause the brain to release dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical that affects mood, thinking, and movement. The dopamine released due to amphetamine use can lead to:

  • Feelings of euphoria
  • Feeling as if your thinking is extremely clear
  • Feeling more in control or self-confident
  • Wanting to be with and talk to people
  • Increased energy

Extended use of amphetamines causes changes in the brain’s dopamine system and the brain’s areas involved with emotion and memory. Some of these brain changes may reverse after a long time of stopping amphetamine use, but other changes may not recover even after a long period of time. Those who use amphetamines are also at an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, a disorder of the nerves that affect movement.

Short-Term Effects of Amphetamine Use

Taking even small amounts of amphetamines can result in negative health effects, including:

  • Increased wakefulness and physical activity
  • Decreased appetite
  • Faster breathing
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Increased blood pressure and body temperature
Long-Term Effects of Amphetamine Use

Those who inject amphetamines are at increased risk of developing HIV, AIDS, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C. These diseases are transmitted through contact with blood or other bodily fluids. Amphetamine use may worsen the progression of HIV and AIDS. HIV causes more injury to nerve cells and cognitive problems in people who use amphetamines than it does in people who have HIV and do not use the drug. Injecting amphetamines may also result in tetanus, infection, or vein damage.

Other long-term effects of amphetamine use include:

  • Extreme weight loss
  • Severe dental problems
  • Intense itching, leading to skin sores
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Memory loss
  • Sleeping problems
  • Violent behavior
  • Extreme paranoia
  • Hallucinations
Amphetamine Psychosis

High doses and frequent use of amphetamines can lead to amphetamine psychosis. Psychosis is characterized by paranoid delusions, hallucinations, and out-of-character aggressive or violent behavior. The symptoms of amphetamine psychosis can mimic those of psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia. After stopping the use of amphetamines, symptoms may subside shortly after. However, it is not uncommon for psychosis to persist for a few days in those who have used amphetamines for an extended amount of time. Extended amphetamine psychosis typically lasts ten days, but some may require 30-60 days for dopamine levels in the brain to recover.

How to Know if You’re Addicted or Dependent

Addiction and dependency are two different concerns. Characterization of physical dependence includes the body needing a specific dose of a drug to prevent withdrawal symptoms. Addiction, or substance use disorder, is a disease. It incorporates diagnostic materials, including large amounts of a substance being used, an inability to quit using, a strong desire to use, and chronic seeking of substances with a lack of impulse control. Both dependency and addiction to amphetamines cause withdrawal symptoms, including:

  • Cravings for amphetamines
  • Increased appetite
  • Confusion and irritability
  • Aches and pains
  • Exhaustion
  • Restless sleep and nightmares
  • Anxiety
  • Severe depression
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Excessive sweating
  • Loss of motivation
  • Nausea
  • Suicidal thoughts
Amphetamine Overdoses

Taking a large number of amphetamines may lead to overdose. An amphetamine overdose may consist of a racing heartbeat, difficulty breathing or passing out, and chills or fever. Overdose can also lead to a stroke, heart attack, or organ problems. If someone is suffering from an amphetamine overdose, call first responders immediately.

Amphetamines are potent, highly addictive stimulants that can be used in the form of prescriptions or methamphetamine. They cause an increase in alertness and physical activity. Extended amphetamine use may cause long-term effects in the brain that can last for more than a year and increase Parkinson’s disease risk. Amphetamine use has hazardous effects on both short-term and long-term health. The long-term effect of amphetamine psychosis may last up to 60 days after use has ceased.  Knowing the withdrawal symptoms of amphetamines may help you to see if you are addicted or dependent. If you or a loved one struggles with the use of amphetamines, Gallus Medical Detox Centers can help. Withdrawal symptoms may be uncomfortable and frightening. We use proprietary, evidence-based medical protocols that prioritize our patients’ comfort and safety to guide them through the detox process. Our personalized treatment is delivered in a safe and peaceful environment. For more information on how to quit using amphetamines, call Gallus Medical Detox Centers at (866) 296-5242.