Alternative Names speed, crank, uppers, meth, white cross
Definition Habitual, repeated use of amphetamines results in amphetamine addiction. Repeated use causes increased tolerance to the drug. As tolerance builds, more of the drug is needed to achieve a desired effect by the user.
What is going on in the body? Amphetamines excite the central nervous system and cause an increase in blood pressure and pulse rate. Amphetamines are somewhat less addictive than cocaine, but with use, tolerance grows. Classic signs of addiction are present with amphetamine use. When the drug is stopped, withdrawal symptoms appear.
What are the signs and symptoms of the condition? A dependent individual will show the signs and symptoms of amphetamine abuse. They may have any of the following long-term symptoms:
recurrent failure to meet responsibilities at work, school, or home
use of amphetamines when it is dangerous, such as while driving
disregard for consequences of negative behaviours
Short-term symptoms can include:
decreased appetite and weight loss or insatiable or ravenous hunger
What are the causes and risks of the condition? Amphetamine abuse may be caused by several factors. These are:
frequent exposure to situations that encourage drug abuse
age, 12 to 25-year-olds are the most frequent users of amphetamines
parental dependence on a mood-altering substance
What can be done to prevent the condition? Education for those at risk is key. This should 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? Most amphetamine abuse is not identified by doctors. Urine blood screen or blood tests will show if a person has used drugs.
What are the long-term effects of the condition? The long-term effects of amphetamine abuse include:
paranoia and being out of touch with reality
poor nutrition as a result of low food intake
depression, leading to a high risk for suicide
development of a psychotic disorder
What are the risks to others? Amphetamine abuse reduces impulse and motor control, and impairs judgment. Because of these , an abuser may put others at risk for accidents and emotional injury. Severe hypertensive crises have been reported with permanent risk to the brain as a direct result of amphetamine use.
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. Recovery programs are helpful and teach coping skills and life management strategies. Self-help groups such as Narcotics Anonymous are strongly encouraged, since these programs have helped thousands to remain drug free. Abstinence from the drug is key to a cure.
What are the side effects of the treatments? There are no side effects to the treatment.
What happens after treatment for the condition? Those who complete treatment often continue with counselling or self-help groups.
The regional website for Narcotics Anonymous is www.naoz.org.au
How is the condition monitored? The condition is monitored by the addicted person, family, counsellor and doctor.
Author: Ann Reyes, Ph.D. Reviewer: eknowhow Australia Medical Review Panel Editor: Dr John Hearne Last Updated: 12/09/2004 Contributors Potential conflict of interest information for reviewers available on request
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