Amphetamines dependence is caused by an addiction to substances that create an effect which is described as highly pleasurable. These drugs are very addictive and the most commonly known amphetamine is referred to as 'ecstasy'. These drugs increase blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen consumption. Unlike some drugs, many ingredients in amphetamines are not quickly processed by the body, leading to longer effects from the drug, and significantly increased chance of harmful reactions, such as overdose, dehydration, hyperthermia and seizures. Amphetamines dependence creates a compulsive need to seek out and use this type of drug, due to physiological and functional changes caused by its use and molecular changes that may have taken place in the brain.
Symptoms of Amphetamines Dependence
Amphetamines dependence can quickly lead to some potentially severe symptoms. Simple abuse is milder than dependence, but can cause some of the same symptoms, including aggressive behavior or problems with family and work, social interruptions or legal issues. Continued use of the drug and/or overdose may cause severe anxiety, paranoia, hallucinations, delusional thoughts, confusion and hyperactivity. Intoxication begins with feelings of euphoria or a 'high' and may lead to problems with blood pressure, chills, nausea, muscle weakness, chest pains and memory loss. Once the effects of the drug begin to wear off, frequently referred to as the 'crash', mood changes occur, as well as fatigue, nightmares, headaches, cramps, shakiness and an increase in appetite. Both acute and chronic use of these types of drugs can lead to irreversible brain damage.
Causes for Amphetamines Dependence
The leading cause of amphetamines dependence is the tolerance level that is built up quickly when using the drug. This tolerance leads to the need to ingest, inject, smoke or snort more and more of the substance to achieve the desired effects. Withdrawal symptoms may also lead a person to take more of the drug to avoid the negative feelings and side effects caused by the 'crash'. Molecular, chemical and physical changes that take place within the body encourage its continued use, potentially leading to dependence.
Diagnosis of Amphetamines Dependence
There are several diagnoses related to the use of amphetamines. Criteria which qualifies for amphetamines dependence include those both symptoms of tolerance and withdrawal. Users may not be willing to seek help voluntarily or may experience denial as to the cause of their symptoms. Blood tests or urinalysis may be issued by a physician to help determine level of amphetamine or other substance use. A psychiatrist or psychologist may engage the patient or the patient's friends and family in an interview regarding behavior. Results of testing and evaluations can help to reveal an exact diagnosis.
Treatment for Amphetamines Dependence
Successful treatment options for amphetamines dependence will vary based on the individual and his or her circumstances. Severe cases of acute intoxication which lead to convulsions or hyperthermia may require a visit to the emergency room. Inpatient care may be required if a patient is experiencing severe hallucinations or psychosis. Medications are not recommended specifically for treatment of amphetamines addiction, however they may be prescribed for side effects such as anxiety or depression. Behavioral therapy or self-help groups like Narcotics Anonymous have been said to be the most successful options for a majority of users. Support groups and forums can offer mutually supportive advice and ideas for recovery, while behavioral therapy can teach a patient to become aware of problem behaviors or social situations which lead to urges toward use of the drug. The patient can then seek advice and experiment with exercises designed to bring attention away from using the drug and toward more productive and healthier behaviors.