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Amphetamines

What is it?

Several similar drugs are included in this prescription stimulant drug category. Referred to as psychostimulants, they stimulate the central nervous system. Brands such as Benzedrine, Dexedrine, Adderall, and Provigil are used to treat conditions like extreme obesity and narcolepsy (excessive daytime sleepiness). When these drugs are abused, they are often stolen, traded or sold by young people or doctorshopped by adults. The drugs can be come addictive. They are taken to increase energy, alertness, and stamina, and in higher doses, to induce euphoria.

Slang Terms:

Speed, gaggler, pid poppers, Bennies, brown and clears, beans, uppers, pep pills, dexes, black beauties, Louee and “hyper pills.”

How is it used?

Amphetamines are taken in pill form and can be crushed and snorted intranasally or smoked. Provigil (methylphenidate) is mixed with water and injected. The drugs can also be inserted anally or “shafted.”

Signs of usage:

In moderate doses, speech may be rapid and pupils may be dilated. While energetic, the user may become very restless, and there may be signs of irritability, aggressiveness, and loss of appetite. The person may have a panic attack.

Effects of usage:

In low to moderate doses, users experience lots of energy and alertness, sociability, and loss of appetite. The ability to concentrate is enhanced, so students may take “uppers” to cram for a test. At higher doses, users may experience an intense sense of happiness and power. Users build up tolerance to abusive drug use over time, so these highs become harder to achieve at the same dose. Higher doses also elevate blood pressure and heart rate.

How long do the effects last?

Effects of use last 2 to 4 hours, but the half-life (time taken to lose half of the amount of the drug from the system through natural biological activity) of these drugs can last 24 hours.

Effects of withdrawal:

When the amphetamine abuser starts to “come down,” the symptoms range widely but may include radical mood swings, hunger, anxiety, depression, and total exhaustion. Sleep may be interrupted by nightmares. To avoid withdrawal, some users re-dose for a several-day high, or take sedatives and other drugs.

Adverse reactions:

After the initial energetic high, users may feel irritable and extremely restless or anxious, hostile, violent, or aggressive. The long half-life of the drug makes it difficult to sleep even the night after using. High doses may result in headaches, stomach cramping, loss of coordination, and trouble breathing. Injecting the drug is dangerous because it travels quickly to the brain, and other materials may be present in the drug. Overdosing may result in stroke, seizures, high body temperatures, and heart failure.

Effects of prolonged usage:

Abuse over time can result in psychotic tendencies with paranoia or hallucinations, aggressive and violent behavior, insomnia, restlessness, tremors, and weight loss. Serious physical risks of long-term abuse include lung, liver, kidney and heart damage, erectile dysfunction, and an impaired immune system. There is also some evidence of memory loss and impaired thinking.

Usage by youth:

Young people who abuse amphetamines often get them from students who have been prescribed the drugs for ADHD. In 1999, more than half of emergency room admissions for abuse of methylphenidate (including Ritalin) were youths aged ten through 17. The Monitoring the Future Study in 1999 reported 3 percent of high school seniors had used this drug for non-medical reasons in the past year.

Recent Developments:

Use of amphetamines by students and professional athletes still occurs. It was only in 2006 that Major League Baseball banned the substance, but consequences are less severe than using steroids.

Information provided by Dr. Barbara A. Krantz, Chief Medical Officer at the Hanley Center

First Check Diagnostics, LLC is offering these resources for informational purposes only, and the Hanley Center is no way affiliated with any of the entities that provide the resources.