What is Amphetamine?

Amphetamines are a group of synthetic psychoactive drugs called central nervous system stimulants. The collective unit of amphetamines includes amphetamine, dextroamphetamine, and methamphetamine. Medications containing amphetamines are prescribed for narcolepsy, Parkinson’s disease, obesity, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Prescription names for these drugs include Adderall®, Dexedrine©, DextroStat® and Desoxyn®.  Amphetamines are powerful psycho-motor stimulants, like cocaine. All psychomotor stimulants produce wakefulness, increased activity, and decreased appetite. They also enhance the operation of the autonomic nervous system, which controls the iris of the eye and the smooth-muscle actions in the body that are outside of a person’s voluntary control, such as heart rate. In humans, these drugs also produce feelings of euphoria, well-being, and self-confidence. The medications in the group of amphetamines go by many slang names. Common street names for amphetamine include bennies, black beauties, copilots, eye-openers, lid poppers, pep pills, speed, uppers, wake-ups and white crosses. Street dextroamphetamine is called dexies while methamphetamine is known as chalk, Chris, crank, Cristy, crystal, crystal meth, go, go-fast, meth, speed, and zip. The combination of amphetamines and barbiturates is called goofballs, and a mix of methamphetamine and heroin is known as speedballs. Amphetamines are nicknamed speed or uppers because of the burst of energy they provide. Abusers do not feel the need to sleep or eat when they are using. Users are usually talkative and may be aggressive and paranoid, even at an early stage of use.

How Does Amphetamine Work?

In medical use, there is controversy about whether the benefits of amphetamines prescribed for ADHD and weight loss outweigh the drug's harmful side effects. There is agreement. However, that prescription amphetamines are successful in treating narcolepsy. Look-alike drugs, which imitate the effects of amphetamines and contain substances legally available over-the-counter include caffeine, ephedrine, and phenylpropanolamine. Amphetamine and methamphetamine pills can be ingested orally, crushed and snorted, dissolved in water and injected or smoked. "Glass" and "ice" (pure methamphetamine, which looks like clear crystalline rock) are most often inhaled in a glass pipe, allowing for quick absorption into the bloodstream without the risks of injecting the drug. Crystal, the powder form of methamphetamines, is consumed orally, injected or inhaled. When amphetamine activates nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, the mental focus, the ability to stay awake and the ability to concentrate is improved, which is helpful for those with hyperactivity disorders or narcolepsy. Although the physiological experience of using amphetamines and cocaine is almost identical, the effects of amphetamines can last several hours whereas the effects of cocaine last less than one hour. When mixed with alcohol or other drugs, the results of prescription amphetamines are enhanced. The onset of the impact from injecting methamphetamines occurs immediately. When this drug is snorted, effects occur within 3 to 5 minutes; when ingested orally, effects occur within 15 to 20 minutes.

How Addictive is Amphetamine?

Between two and four million children have been diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and as a result been legally prescribed amphetamine, which can improve symptoms when appropriately used. When prescription amphetamines are taken orally, and in low doses, drug abuse and addiction are not a severe risk. However, drug addiction becomes a risk when prescription amphetamines are consumed at doses higher than those prescribed for medical treatment. All forms of methamphetamine are highly addictive and toxic. Abuse of amphetamines, which can lead to tolerance and physical and psychological dependence, is characterized by consuming increasingly higher dosages and by the "binge and crash" cycle when users attempt to maintain their high by overindulging in these drugs. When binge episodes end, the abuser "crashes" and are left with severe depression, anxiety, extreme fatigue and a craving for more drugs. Soon they need amphetamines just to get through an ordinary day. In the meantime, the drugs do severe psychological and physical damage. The chronic abuse of amphetamine and methamphetamine is characterized by violent and erratic behavior, as well as a psychosis similar to schizophrenia, which can involve paranoia, picking at the skin and auditory/visual hallucinations. Amphetamine overdose is relatively common and often fatal, which is probably due to abusers’ ever-increasing need for more and more of the drug (tolerance.) When abusers try to overcome their tolerance by escalating their use, they overdose. Amphetamines can cause fatal damage to users’ mental and physical health. One of the most troubling effects of amphetamine abuse is the addiction itself, which can be life-altering.