Amphetamines - Drug Addiction

Amphetamines are a popular drug of choice for people who are looking to stay awake and alert for a long period of time. They are a form of stimulant which give an instant ‘high’  and the effects of these drugs, especially if injected, can remain in the body for many hours.

If smoked or injected then the effects are instantaneous but with other forms, the effects can last longer.

Often used by clubbers, lorry drivers, athletes and students.

What are amphetamines? 

Amphetamines are synthetic drugs which act as a stimulant on the human body. In other words they act in a very similar way to adrenaline a naturally occurring hormone in the body. Examples of these include amphetamine sulphate and dexamphetamine.

Another type of amphetamine is called methamphetamine which is discussed further on in this section.

They were originally designed to treat obesity, depression and nasal congestion but their medical value has almost disappeared. However there are two forms of amphetamines which are still in use today and these include:

  • Dexedrine: used to treat narcolepsy (sleep disorder)
  • Ritalin: used to treat attention deficit disorder in children (ADHD)

These are produced for legitimate reasons but others are made in illegal laboratories for street/recreational use.

Amphetamines are a Class B drug.

What do amphetamines look like?

Pure amphetamines come as a white, crystalline powder whereas those which have been mixed or ‘cut’  with another substance will be off-white or greyish in colour.

The powder form is usually available in ‘wraps’.  

Other forms include crystals and small tablets.

How are they used?

Amphetamines are usually dabbed in the mouth (gums) or snorted as a ‘line’ using a folded banknote. The type of amphetamine used to treat ADHD is taken orally (small white pills). It can also be injected or added to drinks.

Another option is that of rolling the powder up in cigarette paper before swallowing it. This is called a ‘speedbomb’. 

What is its street name?

There are many slang terms for amphetamines which include:

  • Ice
  • Snow
  • Speed
  • Whizz/Billy Whizz
  • Dexies
  • Uppers
  • Base
  • Bennies
  • Crank

Who uses amphetamines?

Amphetamines are popular with young people especially clubbers and partygoers. Other people include those trying to lose weight, students trying to revise before exams and lorry drivers or people who drive long distances for a living.

How much do they cost?

On the average, a ‘wrap’ of speed can cost 8 to 12.

The effects of amphetamines

They act in a similar way to other forms of stimulants such as cocaine, ecstasy or caffeine in that they give an energy boost, increase alertness and a feeling of euphoria.

The physical effects of amphetamines include:

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Dilated pupils
  • Increased breathing
  • Reduced appetite

Very large doses can result in tremors, irregular heartbeat, sweating, fever, blurred vision, nausea and a lack of co-ordination.

Your reaction to amphetamines will depend upon age, other substances, any current medical conditions, your present mood, how long you have been taking them, how often and in what form (injected, smoked etc).

The psychological affects of amphetamines include:

  • Confidence
  • Alertness
  • Euphoria
  • Excited
  • Talkative
  • Restless
  • Feeling as if you are ‘on top of the world’
  • Tenseness
  • Aggressiveness
  • Insomnia

The addictive part of this is when people resort to ever increasing doses in order to maintain this high. The ‘come down’ can be unpleasant with people developing paranoia, restlessness, anxiety plus a lowered resistance to disease and illness.

Is it easy to become addicted to amphetamines?

The answer to that is ‘yes’. Using these on a regular basis will quickly lead to physical and mental dependence which will result in an addiction. If someone stops taking amphetamines then they will experience a reaction called ‘a crash’ in which their body craves this drug.

These withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Intense hunger
  • Tiredness
  • Inability to sleep or restless sleep
  • Mood swings
  • Depression

What are the risks of amphetamines?

The risks of using these include:

  • Psychological disorders such as anxiety, depression, psychosis and paranoia.
  • Risk of hepatitis, HIV or AIDS from shared needles or injecting this substance.
  • Reduced immunity to colds, flu and other similar illnesses.
  • Risk of sexually transmitted disease or injury from engaging in unpredictable behaviour.
  • Overdose
  • Heart failure or a burst blood vessel in the brain which can lead to coma and death.
  • May be fatal if combined with prescription drugs such as anti-depressants or alcohol.
  • Repeated injections can lead to ulcers, damaged veins and gangrene.
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