Amphetamine Addiction and Recovery

What is Amphetamine?

Amphetamine is a potent central nervous system stimulant and is commonly prescribed in the treatment of attention deficit disorders (ADD and ADHD), narcolepsy and obesity. Generally this substance keeps people awake, energised and alert. However, for those with ADD and ADHD the drug has a calming effect which allows the person suffering to focus and alleviates their symptoms.

Amphetamine comes in a variety of different forms including powder, liquid, paste, crystals and tablets. The tablets can come in various colours and can either be taken orally or crushed and snorted. Amphetamines can also be injected and smoked depending on their form. This substance is far cheaper than cocaine and the effects last for far longer which make it especially attractive.

Using amphetamine causes a sharp increase in the manufacture of the naturally occurring hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine in the brain, followed by an equally sharp decrease after use stops.  This causes a prolonged and uncomfortable ‘come down’ and may result in a physical dependence as the body begins to rely on the drug to cause this feeling of pleasure.

Street Names Amphetamine

Amphetamine sulphate is commonly known on the street as Speed. It can also get really confusing because in America and some areas of Australia users refer to methamphetamine as Speed whether as in the UK and Europe Speed means amphetamine. The two can be easily confused because in fact methamphetamine is a more potent derivative of amphetamine.

Other nicknames for amphetamine include:

  • Billy Whizz or Whizz
  • Pink Champagne
  • Dixies
  • Uppers
  • Base
  • Fet

There are also a number of prescription drugs that include amphetamine in their makeup including but not limited to:

  • Adderall
  • Ritalin
  • Concerta

What are the Effects of Amphetamine Addiction?

Amphetamine is a highly addictive substance which can have serious side effects. This powerful drug speeds up the heart rate and increases the blood pressure. The intense high experienced by the user means that they do not want the feeling to end.

An amphetamine ‘come down’ is particularly unpleasant and the user can feel depressed, anxious and lethargic. This often means that users have prolonged periods of binging where they do not eat, sleep or look after themselves properly.

Every addict’s path into addiction varies. This is a complex disease with many underlying layers which coupled together with trauma, abuse, depression and anxiety make it difficult to diagnose and treat without effective residential addiction treatment.

Physical

  • Heart problems
  • Damage to the nose if snorted
  • Damage to the stomach if swallowed
  • Damage to the venous system if injected
  • Potential blood borne diseases if injected
  • Weight loss
  • Changes in the brain chemistry – short term
  • Changes in the structure and function of the brain – long term
  • Neglecting personal hygiene
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Unhealthy eating habits/malnutrition
  • Cravings
  • Tolerance

Psychological

  • Psychosis
  • Triggers
  • Compulsion
  • Obsession
  • Lying to yourself/denial

Emotional

  • Apathy /Exhaustion
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Aggression
  • Memory loss
  • Mood Swings
  • Paranoia
  • Fear
  • Psychosis
  • Loneliness

Social

  • Potential increase in risky behaviour
  • Financial problems
  • Sexual problems
  • Lack of interest in activities once enjoyed
  • Lack of interest in work/school
  • Lack of interest and ability in maintain relationships/friendships
  • Damaged relationships with family members
  • Isolation
  • Lying to others

Spiritual

  • Damaged self-esteem and self-worth
  • Damaged relationship with self
  • Lack of interest in life
  • Inability to function without the drug
  • Continued use despite negative consequences

The signs and symptoms of amphetamine addiction get progressively worse over time and there will be no resolution until effective addiction treatment and aftercare are sought.

Amphetamine Withdrawal

Using amphetamines can lead to physical and psychological dependency. This means a variety of withdrawal symptoms can be experienced when the user stops taking the drug. These can be different for each person and depends on many different factors such as how long the person has been using and their general physical and mental health.

Removing the drug ultimately means the brain is being deprived of the chemicals that it has begun to rely on. It takes some time before the body’s system starts working properly and producing these chemicals in normal amounts again.

Amphetamine withdrawal symptoms include:

Psychological/Emotional

  • Depression
  • Anxiety/Panic Attacks
  • Fatigue/Exhaustion
  • Mood Swings
  • Paranoia
  • Cravings
  • Disinterest in life

Physical

  • Oversleeping
  • Excessive hunger
  • Dehydration
  • Tachycardia or Arrhythmia

The Two Stages of Withdrawal – Acute and Post-Acute

There are two stages of withdrawal from amphetamine addiction. The first stage has immediate acute symptoms and these are usually both physical and physiological. During stage two, former users experience post-acute withdrawal symptoms or PAWS.

These refer to a number of psychological symptoms which can last for weeks or months after the user has stopped taking the drug. This is one of many reasons why residential treatment is the most effective way to treat amphetamine addiction.

Post-acute withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Cravings
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Lack of motivation
  • Inability to feel pleasure
  • Anger or emotional outbursts

Amphetamine Withdrawal at Hader Clinic

Amphetamine withdrawal is very specific and symptoms may vary in severity and duration depending on the client. Usually these are both psychologically uncomfortable and potentially life threatening.

Accurate assessment by our capable medical team determines if our clients require a medicated period of detoxification.  This will depend on the individual’s circumstances and symptoms are always closely monitored by our skilled clinical and medical staff and treated accordingly.

Our team are highly experienced in providing safe and effective amphetamine detox programs. They aim to keep clients as comfortable and supported as possible so they can participate in the program.

Evidence Based Amphetamine Addiction Treatment at Hader Clinic

The Hader Clinic program is internationally acclaimed and our staff are experienced in treating people addicted to amphetamine. We recommend that clients, especially those with a long withdrawal period stay in residential treatment for the full 90 days. However, we also run the program for 28 days and 60 days.

At every stage of the process, clients are monitored, evaluated and their successes acknowledged. This really helps our staff to respond to what is going on for the clients and helps to instil an ever growing sense of self-esteem and a new found confidence.

The Primary Program is fully supervised 24 hours a day by a team of professional staff who want nothing more than to assist clients in their treatment goals. All of our case managers are in recovery creating a nurturing environment where real transformation is not only possible but tangible. They are great examples to clients entering our program who have given up hope that things can ever change.