Concentrating on tasks, staying awake and alert, and an overall lack of energy can leave people struggling, feeling hopeless, or feeling lost. Because of these feelings, many people turn to amphetamines or, in more extreme cases, methamphetamine (meth) to feel some sort of normalcy restored to their lives.
However, resorting to either of these options without the recommendation and supervision of your doctor can be extremely dangerous. Understanding the basics of amphetamines, along with the risks, allow you to make an informed choice about your treatment options.
What Are Amphetamines?
Amphetamines are a legal stimulant in the United States and are often prescribed by doctors to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), narcolepsy, and, in extremely rare cases, obesity.
The most common amphetamines prescribed by doctors to treat these conditions are Adderall, Dexedrine, and Vyvanse. These medications target the central nervous system, increasing synaptic norepinephrine and dopamine, which leads to higher confidence, more energy, and improved concentration. When prescribed and taken per a doctor’s instructions, stimulants are generally regarded as safe medications.
While amphetamines can be effective if taken as instructed by your doctor, the dopamine rush that can come from amphetamines can lead to addiction. This can cause individuals to consume the substances outside their doctor’s instructions.
One of the most common demographics to abuse amphetamines is students. Students often use the substance as a study aid, believing that the increased energy and concentration brought about by amphetamines will help them. However, even such casual abuse of amphetamines can lead to more serious addiction.
Symptoms and risks of amphetamine abuse can include:
- Depressed mood
- Increased anxiety
- Mood swings
- Difficulty concentrating or sitting still
What Is Methamphetamine?
Meth is a stimulant that has a shared chemical structure with amphetamines, resulting in a similar but much more potent high. In extremely rare cases, doctors may use prescription methamphetamine – namely the drug Desoxyn – to treat ADHD or obesity. Because amphetamines are often safer for most individuals, doctors will likely prescribe them over Desoxyn.
But unfortunately, meth is also produced, acquired, and used illegally. Similar to amphetamines, meth floods the brain with dopamine, creating a sense of euphoria that’s typically short-lived but highly addictive. Meth often appears as a white powder or pill. However, it can also be crystallized.
Because meth creates a more euphoric and instant high than amphetamines, it is more addictive and damaging to the brain. While high, users may experience similar effects to those of amphetamines, including increased energy and wakefulness.
Meth typically creates short-lived highs, resulting in the individual having to “binge” on the drug to maintain their euphoria. This bingeing can result in the individual losing sleep, not eating, or missing out on other essential activities that are important for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Meth can be ingested, smoked, snorted, or, most dangerously, injected. The method of injection is typically the preferred route of administration for people to get high from meth, as the drug goes directly into the bloodstream, creating an instant high. However, injection leads to even more significant risks, including an increased risk of Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and HIV.
Other symptoms and risks of meth abuse include:
- Issues falling or staying asleep
- Confusion and anxiety
- Violent tendencies
- Severe weight loss
- Sores from repeated itching
- Major dental problems
- Increased risk of Parkinson’s disease (long-term)
If you or someone you know is struggling with amphetamine or meth addiction, you’re not alone. There are a variety of treatment options available to you at West Coast Recovery Centers. Typically, professionals recommend cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) to treat amphetamine and methamphetamine addiction. Professionals at West Coast Recovery Centers will explore these options with you in order to determine the best course of treatment.
CBT targets the client’s thinking patterns that compel them to continue to abuse substances such as amphetamines and meth. CBT strives to give clients an understanding of their behavior while simultaneously cultivating a mindset that will release them from their reliance on unhealthy coping mechanisms such as substance abuse.
In addition to helping clients understand their behaviors, another key target of CBT is to explore alternatives to substance abuse that will allow the client to deal with cravings in a healthy way that’s beneficial rather than destructive to their lifestyle to prevent relapse.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy
DBT is a more recent approach to behavioral therapy than CBT. However, research has proven it to be effective in treating various disorders, including substance abuse. DBT offers a more holistic approach to treatment, encompassing group therapy, individual therapy, and a therapist consultation team. Using these different settings, DBT strives for the same overall goal as CBT of forming thinking that more closely aligns with the client’s goals for a healthy lifestyle.
Amphetamine and methamphetamine (meth) abuse can quickly become a pervasive and destructive force in your life, affecting your relationships with yourself and others. Often, dealing with something that feels so much bigger than ourselves can feel like an uphill battle with no victory in sight. The reality is that the path to sobriety is never easy, but the good news is that you’ll never have to do it alone. At West Coast Recovery Centers, we will help you along your journey every step of the way. Our professionals understand that no two paths to sobriety are the same, and we are willing to work with you on your personal path. We offer a variety of options for recovery, including CBT and DBT. If you’re ready to begin your recovery journey or would like to learn more about our services, call (760) 492-6509.