Amphetamine Dependence: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Amphetamine Dependence

Amphetamine dependence is a type of substance use disorder that one can develop after the constant use of amphetamine for a long time. At this stage, withdrawal symptoms are experienced when one tries to quit amphetamine use.

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Amphetamines are stimulants used in the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and a sleep disorder called narcolepsy. Sometimes, they are used in the medical field for the treatment of other ailments.

They are two types of amphetamine, and they are; Dextroamphetamine and methamphetamine. According to the drug law governing a state, they either or both may be sold legally or illegally.

But whether prescribed or bought illegally, this substance may be misused, and the misuse can lead to a use disorder.

Causes amphetamine dependence?

Frequent use of amphetamines for a long time can lead to dependence. Although some individuals get dependent on amphetamine much faster than others.

The use of amphetamine without a prescription can cause you to be dependent. Amphetamine dependence can also be as a result of taking more than prescribed.

There is a possibility that you can develop a disorder when you take this medication according to the doctor’s prescription.

Risk of amphetamine dependence

You may be at a higher risk of developing amphetamine use disorder if you:

  1. Easy access to amphetamine: When you have easy access to amphetamines, you are most likely to try it out and have a taste, this can actively lead to amphetamine addiction and dependence.
  2. Mental disorders: Having depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, or schizophrenia can lead one to take amphetamine in order to escape their mental disorders. This can actively lead to amphetamine addiction and dependence.
  3. Stressful lifestyle: This can actively lead one into taking amphetamine, which in turn causes addiction and dependence. A person with a stressful lifestyle wants to take amphetamine in order to stimulate you to do more and better.

Symptoms

The symptoms of amphetamine dependence include:

  1. Absenteeism: An amphetamine dependent people would start to miss work and/or school.
  2. Truancy: The person develops the habit of not performing nor completing a particular task as before the amphetamine dependence
  3. Lack of appetite: This substance triggers the person to lose his/her appetite and prefer not eating. This can result in a considerable weight shed.
  4. Severe dental problems: This substance affects the teeth severely, thereby causing severe dental problems.
  5. Addiction: The user will find it challenging to quit the use of amphetamines, and whenever he/she abruptly stops the use, withdrawal symptoms kick in.
  6. Withdrawal syndrome: Due to the fact that the body has been put to be dependent on the substance, the body reacts when it does not sense amphetamine in the system. These reactions are quite unpleasant, and they are called. Withdrawal symptoms.
  7. Violence: One tends to lose one’s judgment due to the effects of the substance on the person’s mind.
  8. Mood disturbances: The substance alters the mood of the user.
  9. Anxiety: Anxiety, insomnia, paranoia, and feeling of confusion are all examples of how this substance affects the mind of the user.
  10. Hallucinations: Visual or auditory hallucinations when one starts seeing things that are not there, sometimes absurd.
  11. Delusion: A person with amphetamine dependence may become deluded, and the feeling of the something is crawling under your skin.

Diagnosis of amphetamine dependence

Amphetamine dependence may be diagnosed by the following procedures:

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  1. Interrogation: In order to be diagnosed with amphetamine dependence, the first question asked will be how much and how long one has been on amphetamines
  2. Blood tests: Samples of blood can be collected to confirm the presence of amphetamines in the bloodstream.
  3. Physical examination: The individual is examined d physically, other observations and other medical tests are taken to detect health conditions that could possibly be caused by amphetamine use.

One may be diagnosed with amphetamine use disorder if one shows three or more of the symptoms mentioned above within the same one year period:

Buildup of tolerance

If one needs more significant doses of amphetamines in order to get the same effect that small doses used to give before, then tolerance is said to have built up.

Effects of amphetamine dependence

Amphetamine dependence and addiction can affect the user badly; the following are the effects of amphetamine dependence:

1. Amphetamine affects user’s mental health

Gravely, someone’s mental health can be affected as a result of amphetamine dependence and addiction.

If one is dependent on amphetamine, and the person decides to quit amphetamine use, he/she is likely to experience these withdrawal signs, which are a result of amphetamine effects on one’s mental health.

The withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Paranoia
  • Intense cravings
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Aggression
  • Anxiety

The person may need to use a drug similar to amphetamine in order to relieve or prevent amphetamine withdrawal syndrome.

2. Addiction

Wanting to stop the use of amphetamine is not the same as trying it out. One may have the desire to quit amphetamine use and be clean, but trying to quit amphetamine may be frequent unsuccessful events of trying to cut down or leaving amphetamine use.

This is due to the continuous cravings for the substance despite the knowledge and experience of the psychological and physical effects of amphetamine.

3. Negative lifestyle changes

When you have an amphetamine use disorder, it changes your lifestyle as a whole. You will love amphetamine more than you love your life. Your social, recreational, and work lifestyle will be replaced with amphetamine and your love for amphetamine

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Treatment of amphetamine dependence

Amphetamine dependence is like a disease that needs to be treated as soon as possible. The treatments may include the following:

Hospitalization

It is much easier to handle the withdrawal symptoms of amphetamine in a hospital setting.

Hospitalization maybe of better help if you have mood changes that are not possible at all, suicidal tendency and aggressive behavior when compared with handling amphetamine withdrawal syndrome by yourself or without professional help.

Therapy

Group therapy, one-on-one counseling, and family therapy can help you with the following:

  • Point out the feelings accompanying amphetamine use.
  • Makeup relationships with family and friends.
  • Replace amphetamine use with positive activities you find enjoyable.
  • Makeup and adopts methods to prevent the use of amphetamine.
  • Develop and adopt coping strategies to help with the withdrawal syndrome.
  • Obtain support from others with the same problems as you are because they are the ones that truly understand how you feel and what you are going through. Some of them in the group have been through all that, and they are just there to share their stories and help others pull through while others are they to be encouraged.

This is usually in a 12-step treatment program.

Medication

Your doctor may prescribe medication to ease severe symptoms of withdrawal. Some doctors may prescribe naltrexone to help with your cravings.

Your doctor may also prescribe other medicines to help relieve symptoms of anxiety, depression, and aggression. In general, it helps you get your life back together again.

Complications associated with amphetamine dependence

Without proper intervention to control amphetamine dependence, the following complications may arise:

  1. Overdose: Built up a tolerance may push one to take more than he/she used to take before and continuously increase the amount of drug taken into the body system which will surely push him/her to take more than his/her system could take, thus resulting to overdose which can cause death.
  2. Brain damage: brain damage characterized by memory problems seizures and other which my resemble epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, or stroke.
  3. Death: Without proper intervention may follow after an overdose.

Prevention of amphetamine dependence

Education has always been a way of improving people’s lives in general. Drug education programs will enlighten the people on the dangers of amphetamine dependence and how to prevent it.

This reduces the rate of people who get dependent on amphetamine and the relapse record.

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Considering the fact that teenagers are most likely to abuse amphetamine, most times, due to peer pressure, the right education will enlighten them on the dangers accompanying amphetamine use disorder, and this will give them the power to say “No” to amphetamine and drugs in general.

This will make the state to record fewer cases of amphetamine use disorder. Family support and counseling can go along way to save a person from amphetamine disorders.

Since a person suffering from emotional and mental disorders is most likely to abuse amphetamine, then helping the person out with his/her emotional problems can prove to the person that drugs are not really an answer or the escape he/she needed.

However, there is no proof to show that any of these prevent amphetamine use and use disorders in everyone.

The long-term outlook of amphetamine dependence

Amphetamine dependence and addiction can be quite challenging to control. Relapse after treatment is very common. But active participation in treatment programs while getting one-on-one counseling may reduce the risks of relapsing and ensure the improvement of recovery.

Emmanuella Ekokotu
Ekokotu Emmanuella is a sociologist and Anthropologist, writer, and fashion model who lives in Benin city, Edo state,Nigeria.