How Amphetamine Addiction Works

Are Amphetamines Physically Addictive?

Amphetamines are a class of extremely addictive drugs, and occasional use can result in long-term physical addiction. Users rapidly develop tolerance, physical and psychological dependence to amphetamines.

What Causes Amphetamine Addiction?

Amphetamines create a sense of euphoria by affecting the levels of dopamine in the brain. Upon use, amphetamines bind with the dopamine-transporting chemicals in the brain, resulting in an increase of dopamine in the synaptic cleft. Over time, the brain responds to increased dopamine levels by lowering its natural dopamine production. Tolerance occurs, making it necessary for the amphetamines user to take greater and more frequent doses to achieve dopamine balance over time. Withdrawal sets in when amphetamine use ends. When this happens, the brain does not return to its previous dopamine production levels for some time, triggering depression and anxiety, among other symptoms. In the throes of withdrawal, amphetamine dependent individuals re-dose to reduce withdrawal symptoms. Physical addiction rapidly develops into an endless cycle when amphetamine use prolongs.

What Are the Signs of Amphetamine Addiction?

There are three sets of symptoms that indicate amphetamine addiction: Mood, Behavior, and Physical symptoms. While the presence of these signs is not necessarily definitive for a diagnosis of amphetamines addiction, they can be strong indicators of addiction.

  • Amphetamine Addiction and Mood
    People dependent on amphetamines have rapid shifts in their mood. When first ingested, amphetamines produce a euphoric state. The longer the high lasts—especially if it continues for several days—amphetamine dependent individuals become irritable and increasingly paranoid. After they come down from the amphetamine high, users may still be irritable, but will also become deeply depressed as amphetamines leave the system.
  • Amphetamine Addiction and Behavior
    There is a reason that one of the street names for amphetamines is “speed”—people using amphetamines often appear to be constantly moving. With recreational use, amphetamine dependent individuals experience extreme restlessness and even rapid tics and speech. Additionally, amphetamine dependent individuals commonly exhibit insomnia, staying awake for days at a time.
  • Physical Signs of Amphetamine Addiction
    Those who snort amphetamines often have runny or bloody noses frequently. Lack of appetite, sleeplessness and rapid weight loss also indicate amphetamine addiction. Teeth grinding, nervous tics, and restlessness also are symptoms of amphetamine addiction. Overproductivity and obsessive-compulsive behaviors such as cleaning binges can also be indicators of amphetamine abuse. Dilated pupils, tachycardia (rapid heartbeat) and arrhythmia (abnormal heartbeat) can also indicate dependency on amphetamines.
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