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Amphetamine Addiction

Amphetamine Addiction

Alternate Names

  • methamphetamine addiction


Amphetamines are powerful stimulants that are highly addictive. Habitual, repeated use of amphetamines results in amphetamine addiction.

What is going on in the body?

Amphetamines excite the central nervous system. They cause an overall sense of well-being for a varying length of time depending on the type of amphetamine used and the method of ingestion (smoking, snorting, injecting). This period is followed by agitation that can cause violent behavior.
Repeated use increases an individual's tolerance to the drug. As tolerance builds, more of the drug is needed to achieve a desired effect by the user. Classic signs of addiction are present with amphetamine use. When the drug is stopped, withdrawal symptoms appear.


What are the causes and risks of the condition?

Risk factors for amphetamine addiction include the following:
  • being 12 to 25 years of age
  • frequent exposure to situations that encourage drug abuse
  • parental dependence on a mood-altering substance
  • peer pressure


What can be done to prevent the condition?

Education for those at risk is critical and needs to start during childhood. This way, healthy attitudes and knowledge of the risks can be learned at an early age. Parents who do not tolerate drug use can be a deterrent.


How is the condition diagnosed?

Diagnosis of amphetamine addiction begins with a medical history and physical exam. A urinalysis or blood tests will show if a person has used the drugs recently.

Long Term Effects

What are the long-term effects of the condition?

Amphetamine abuse causes long-term changes in the brain that interfere with memory and coordination. People who abuse amphetamines increase their risk of stroke. Other long-term effects of amphetamine abuse include:
  • being out of touch with reality
  • depression, leading to a high risk for suicide
  • exposure to HIV, the virus that causes AIDS
  • heart problems
  • hepatitis B and C from contaminated equipment
  • lead poisoning, from contaminants in the drug
  • malnutrition as a result of low food intake
  • paranoia
  • psychotic disorders
  • violent behavior

Other Risks

What are the risks to others?

Amphetamine use reduces judgment and impulse control. An abuser puts others at risk for physical and emotional injuries, both intentional and unintentional. Amphetamine use during pregnancy can cause complications before, during, and after delivery. A child born to a woman who is abusing amphetamines can have developmental problems.


What are the treatments for the condition?

Treatment begins by helping the person admit there is a problem. Overcoming an individual's denial of his or her amphetamine addiction is the first step. Treatment options include:
  • cognitive behavioral therapy to help the individual change his or her attitudes and behaviors regarding drug abuse
  • recovery programs to teach coping skills and life-management strategies
  • 12-step self-help groups, such as Narcotics Anonymous
There is no medication to treat amphetamine addiction. Abstinence from amphetamines is the key to a cure.

Side Effects

What are the side effects of the treatments?

There are few side effects to the treatment.

After Treatment

What happens after treatment for the condition?

Those who complete treatment often continue with counseling or self-help groups.


How is the condition monitored?

The condition is monitored by the addicted person, significant others, and healthcare professionals. Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcare professional.

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