Amphetamines form a large group of synthetic stimulants. Drugs commonly available in this group are Dexedrine, Methedrine, and Benzedrine. Amphetamines were once widely prescribed to aid weight loss or to combat mild depression. Both practices are now frowned on because patients often become dependent on their legal amphetamines. The only fully legitimate medical uses of amphetamines are to treat narcolepsy, childhood hyperactivity, and overdoses of depressant drugs. Illicit use of amphetamines is widespread among individuals seeking an easy way to stay awake and by those who think drugs can improve mental or physical performance.
Amphetamines come in many shapes and forms and are taken in many ways. They can be in the form of powder, tablets, capsules, crystals or liquid. Eventually, some users switch to injecting Methedrine directly into the bloodstream. High doses of amphetamines can lead to aggression, intense anxiety, paranoia, and psychotic symptoms.
Amphetamine use poses many dangers to the users. To stay high, the abuser must take more and more of the drug as the body's tolerance grows. Higher doses can cause:
▪ High blood pressure
▪ Fatal heart arrhythmias
▪ Crippling strokes
Also, it is important to realize that amphetamines speed the use of bodily resources; they do not magically supply energy. Hence, the after effects of an amphetamine binge can be dangerous and uncomfortable. Possible effects include:
▪ Extreme fatigue
▪ terrifying nightmares
▪ uncontrolled irritability
Repeatedly overextending one's body with stimulants may lead to severe weight loss, sores and non-healing ulcers, tooth griding, chronic chest infections, liver disease, high blood pressure, and in some cases, brain hemorrhage.
Amphetamines can also cause a loss of contact with reality known as "amphetamine psychosis". Affected users feel threatened and suffer from paranoid delusion, the speak freak may become violent. Amphetamine psychosis is probably caused by damage to a brain structure called habenula.
Some types of amphetamines have legitimate medical uses. They are used under prescription to treat attention-deficit disorders and some other medical conditions. Care should be taken to minimise the chances of these medications sold or passed on to peers for non medical use.
According to National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), the most effective treatments for amphetamines addiction are cognitive behavioural intervention. This intervention teaches the person how to cope with craving and how to recognize and cope with situations that might trigger relapse.
McArdle P. Use and misuse of drugs in adolescence. British Medical Journal 2008.