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This is a class of stimulant drugs that increase one's energy, concentration, mental alertness, drive and initiative, confidence, sexual interest, and produce elevated or euphoric moods. The major ones currently produced industrially are Dextroamphetamine, Methamphetamine, Methylphenidate, Adderall, Ephedrine and Pseudoephedrine. Amphetamines are also produced and used illicitly, and common street names include "Speed," "Ice," and "Crystal Meth."

How Amphetamines Work

Amphetamines are most often taken orally, though they can also be injected or inhaled (snorted). When taken orally, they start to have an effect within 30 minutes to an hour, and when injected or inhaled their effect is immediate. Amphetamines can be detected in urine up to 5 days after use.

Amphetamines work by increasing the release of dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin in the brain.

Regular Amphetamine Use

Amphetamines are commonly used to treat ADHD and Narcolepsy, and are also useful for Depression. In some countries they are used as appetite-suppressants for weight loss.

Although not considered as an appropriate use, amphetamines are also used as perfomance-enhacing drugs by athletes, soldiers, long-haul truck drivers, students in competitive academic programs, etc., because they increase mental alertness, drive, and one's feeling of having energy.

Amphetamine Intoxication

In addition to the effects listed above, amphetamines can also cause unpleasant changes in one's mood and behavior, even at doses that are not very high. These include feelings of fear, panic, anxiety, irritability, anger and agitation, as well as delusions and hallucinations.

From a medical point of view, amphetamines can cause increased heart rate and blood pressure, rapid breathing, fever, and can also lead to abnormal heart rhythms, mental confusion and seizures. Overdoses can lead to coma or heart attacks and can be life-threatening.

Excessive amphetamine use can trigger Manic or Mixed Episodes, Anxiety Disorders or Psychotic Disorders.

Amphetamine Withdrawal

Withdrawal symptoms from amphetamines can be experienced even after a single, average-sized dose, but will tend to be more severe in cases of heavy or prolonged use. They include fatigue, lethargy, mental slowness, difficulty concentrating, loss of interest and motivation, depressed moods (including suicidal thoughts), irritability, nightmares, headaches, muscle and stomach cramps, and increased appetite.

These symptoms can last for up to a week, but amphetamine withdrawal can also trigger a Major Depression or an Anxiety Disorder.

The symptoms of amphetamine withdrawal are not life-threatening and medical monitoring is not required.

Effects of Long-Term Amphetamine Use

Long-term Amphetamine use can lead to Substance Abuse and Dependence.

Studies have also shown an increased risk of developing Parkison's Disease in people who use Amphetamines [ref].

Treating Amphetamine Abuse and Dependence

Treating amphetamine use disorders follows the general treatment principles as outlined here. There are no medications that have been shown to be effective for this purpose.


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