Amphetamine Addiction

Learn more about the dangers of amphetamine addiction and how to get the help you need to achieve sobriety.

Amphetamines: Overview

Amphetamines are stimulant drugs that can have medical and recreational uses. However, amphetamine addiction is a serious problem with long-term physical and mental health effects. It is important to seek treatment for amphetamine addiction before it’s too late.

In this article, we will explore amphetamines, their uses, risk factors for addiction, side effects, and treatment options for addiction.

What Are Amphetamines?

Amphetamines are psychoactive drugs that stimulate the central nervous system, increase alertness, and improve cognitive function.

How Do They Work?

Amphetamines work by increasing the levels of neurotransmitters such as dopamine in the brain. They are often prescribed for treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), narcolepsy, and obesity. They can also be obtained illegally and used recreationally.
Amphetamines used recreationally are commonly called ‘uppers’ or ‘speed’ because they increase alertness, energy, and mood. The misuse of amphetamines can lead to addiction. Addiction can have severe consequences for an individual’s health and well-being.1

Are Amphetamines Addictive?

When taken as prescribed, amphetamines are not addictive. But when you misuse the drug to self-treat or for recreational purposes, amphetamines are highly addictive.

Amphetamines are addictive because they activate the brain’s reward system. It causes a surge of dopamine that leads to pleasure and euphoria. Over time, the brain becomes accustomed to the high dopamine levels and relies on amphetamines to produce these feelings.

Types of Amphetamines

There are several types of amphetamines. These include dextroamphetamine, levoamphetamine, and methamphetamine. These drugs differ in chemical composition and potency, but they all have similar effects on the brain and body. 

Common prescription amphetamines include:2

  • Amphetamine and dextroamphetamine (Adderall®)
  • Dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine®)
  • Lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse™)
  • Methamphetamine (Desoxyn®)
Methamphetamine, also known as meth, is a particularly potent form of amphetamine often associated with addiction and other negative consequences.

Uses of Amphetamines

Amphetamines are intended for medical use. However, many people with an amphetamine addiction use them recreationally. 

The recreational use of amphetamines can be extremely dangerous. In some cases, amphetamine addiction is fatal.

Medical Uses of Amphetamines

Amphetamines are used medically to treat the following conditions:
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): Amphetamines increase attention span and reduce impulsiveness.
  • Narcolepsy: The drug is known for its ability to increase a person’s alertness. It helps people with narcolepsy stay awake.
  • Obesity: Amphetamines are also known to suppress diet. They are sometimes used as short-term weight-loss drugs.

Recreational Uses of Amphetamines

Recreational users misuse medication for a variety of reasons. Some of the reasons why people self-medicate include:
  • As a stimulant and euphoriant
  • To enhance performance and endurance, making them popular among athletes and students
  • To party and socialize, as they can increase energy levels and sociability

Risk Factors for Amphetamine Addiction

While anyone can develop an addiction to amphetamines, certain risk factors can increase a person’s likelihood of becoming addicted. These factors include:3
  • Biological risk factors: These include genetics, family history, and individual brain chemistry.
  • Environmental risk factors: These include stress, trauma, and exposure to drugs at an early age.
  • Social risk factors: These include peer pressure, social isolation, and lack of support.
  • Personal characteristics: Mental health conditions, personality traits, and age also increase the risk of developing an addiction.

Side Effects of Amphetamines

Amphetamine can be useful when taken as prescribed. Like any medicine, amphetamine also comes with side effects. There are some short-term and long-term side effects of the drug.4

Short-Term Side Effects

Some short-term side effects of amphetamines include:
  • Headache
  • Nervousness
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Decreased appetite
  • Mood swings
  • Itching
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Vomiting
  • Unpleasant taste
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Upset stomach
  • Weight loss
These side effects are often mild and disappear in a few days or weeks. However, if the symptoms persist, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Severe Side Effects

Call your doctor right away if you experience any of these serious side effects:
  • Heart problems that feel life-threatening 
  • Symptoms such as weakness on one side of the body, slurred speech, and pain in the chest, left arm, jaw, or between the shoulders.
  • Mental health issues such as new or worsened behavioral and thought problems, bipolar illness, and aggressive behavior or hostility.
  • Children and teenagers with psychiatric issues showing new psychotic symptoms such as hearing voices, seeing unreal things, believing in false things, being suspicious, and feeling overexcited.
  • Circulation problems with symptoms like numbness, pain, color changes in fingers or toes, and unexplained wounds in those areas.

Are Amphetamines Dangerous?

Amphetamines can be dangerous when misused or abused. They can cause short-term and long-term side effects that lead to negative consequences.

Symptoms of Withdrawal

People experience withdrawal symptoms when they suddenly stop taking the medication. The withdrawal symptoms affect the mind and body. It can be uncomfortable. Sometimes the withdrawal symptoms can also be fatal.
Some of the withdrawal symptoms of amphetamine are:
  • Drug cravings
  • Mood swings
  • Fatigue
  • Hallucinations
  • Headaches
  • Body aches
  • Increased appetite
  • Insomnia
Amphetamines can also interact with other medications. Make sure to talk to your doctor about any other medication you’re taking.

Treatment Options for Amphetamine Addiction

If you or a loved one is struggling with amphetamine addiction, seeking treatment as soon as possible is essential. There are several treatment options available. Some of these options are detailed below.


The first step in treating amphetamine addiction is to undergo detoxification. It involves stopping the use of the drug and allowing the body to eliminate it. Detoxification can be challenging, as withdrawal symptoms can be severe. However, it is a necessary step in recovery.

Behavioral Therapy

In behavioral therapy, individuals can learn coping skills and strategies to resist the urge to use amphetamines. In addiction treatment, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is commonly used.


Medications, such as antidepressants, can help manage withdrawal symptoms and prevent relapse.

Support Groups

Support groups provide individuals with social support. This helps to maintain their recovery and avoid relapse.

Personalized Treatment Opportunities

The treatment options listed above are effective. However, some people may need specific treatment depending on their circumstances.

Dual-Diagnosis Treatments

Individuals with a co-occurring mental health disorder, such as depression or anxiety, may benefit from a dual-diagnosis treatment program. The program addresses both addiction and mental health conditions.

Trauma-Focused Therapy

Individuals with a history of trauma may benefit from trauma-focused therapy. It can help them work through past traumas and develop coping skills to manage triggers.
Amphetamine Addiction

Amphetamine Addiction Treatment at Essence Healthcare

If you or someone you know is struggling with amphetamine addiction, there is help out there. Essence Healthcare is prepared to get you on the road to recovery.

What We Offer

At Essence Healthcare, we understand the challenges of amphetamine addiction. That’s why we offer a range of treatment options to help individuals overcome their addictions. 

Our addiction treatment program includes individual counseling, group therapy, and relapse prevention education.

We work closely with each patient to tailor their treatment plan to their needs and goals. We aim to help people live healthy, fulfilling lives. We will do whatever it takes to help you meet your recovery goals.

Contact Essence Healthcare Today

Amphetamine addiction is extremely dangerous. Getting the help you need is crucial. Reach out to Essence Healthcare today for more information about our available treatment options. 

We’ll be with you every step of the way.

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Questions About Treatment?

We are a patient-first substance abuse and mental health treatment facility located in Los Angeles, California. At Essence Healthcare, we provide different levels of care from detoxification to drug rehab aftercare. Our team is standing by to address your questions. Your call is confidential and no obligation is required.