Amphetamines are stimulant medications that are commonly used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and sometimes to treat narcolepsy or obesity. You’ve likely come into contact with them before – if names like Adderall, Ritalin, Concerta or Dexedrine ring a bell, it’s because their use is so widespread. But unfortunately, so is prescription amphetamine addiction.
How ADHD Medications are Abused
Whether by misusing a legally obtained prescription or taking someone else’s prescription, recreational use of amphetamines has become more accessible than ever. While ADHD medications can be addictive even when taken as directed, that addiction risk significantly increases when the substance is used for its narcotic effects. Many people initially get their amphetamines from a friend’s unused prescription, and eventually graduate to buying it off the street as they build a tolerance and dependency that requires more regular use in larger amounts. People can abuse amphetamines, which come in pill form, by swallowing them, crushing tablets into a powder or opening capsules and snorting them, or dissolving them in water and injecting them.
These substances are especially popular among high school and college students and athletes looking to increase their productivity or sharpen their competitive edge. According to a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, “misuse of stimulants by ADHD and nonaffected individuals has dramatically increased over recent years based on students’ misconceptions or simple lack of knowledge of associated risks.” Let’s take a look at what those risks are.
Effects and Risks of Amphetamine Use
Amphetamines work by raising your brain’s dopamine and norenephrine levels, which speeds up your heart rate and gives you a noticeable boost of energy. While this helps people focus temporarily (which is why it’s prescribed to ADHD sufferers), at also has adverse effects, even in the short term. The risks of short- and long-term effects of ADHD medication use include:
Abnormal blood pressure
Amphetamine overdose is characterized by symptoms like muscle pain, weakness, fever, panic, tremors and confusion, and can lead to coma or even death by toxicity. Amphetamine use has also been linked to structural abnormalities in the brain. Prescription stimulants are habit-forming, and withdrawing from them can result in symptoms like insomnia, depression and fatigue.
Holistic Treatment for Prescription Drug Addiction
Prescription drugs have a safe image, but they often have their hooks in you much deeper than you realize when you first become aware that they’re a problem. That’s why it’s important to receive professional, holistic treatment that addresses all aspects of your addiction with a variety of targeted therapies.
At The Sanctuary at Sedona, we understand how hard it can be to try again and again to overcome your prescription drug addiction. We’ve designed a program that follows a structured and tailored treatment plan, which is adjusted on a daily basis to meet your ever-changing needs as you progress in your recovery. We’ll help you uncover and work through the underlying issues that drive your addiction, and we believe that once these are healed, you can experience what it’s like to be truly addiction-free.
How do you know when your medication has become a problem? Read our article, 8 Signs of Prescription Drug Addiction.