Amphetamine pills like Adderall, Ritalin, or Vyvanse are usually prescribed for ADHD, narcolepsy, or obesity. When used as prescribed, they are taken in pill form. On the street, these drugs can be swallowed, dabbed on the gums, inhaled, injected, or smoked. Because these pills are so readily available, they are easy to obtain and even easier to abuse.
A study done in 2018 found that there are around 16 million Americans each year using prescription stimulants. Of those who had a prescription:
- 5 million abused those medications for cognitive enhancement.
- 0.4 million developed an amphetamine use disorder.
There are around 2.5 million Americans between the ages of 18 and 25 that regularly take prescription stimulants such as Adderall. Almost 60% of those who misuse amphetamine pills report getting them from a friend or family member for free, and around 20% said they stole or bought them.
Symptoms of Use
When used as they are intended, amphetamines can help individuals struggling with ADHD. They can minimize hyperactivity, difficulties with attention, irritability, and impulsive behaviors while also increasing the number of nerve connections within the brain and helping promote brain development in children.
When abuse, amphetamines can cause a variety of adverse effects, such as:
- Reduced blood flow to extremities
- Loss of appetite that leads to malnutrition and weight loss
- Acne, rash or hives
- Dry mouth and teeth grinding
- Increased anxiety, irritability, and restlessness
- Mood swings
- Exaggerated sense of one’s own ability or importance
- Obsessive behaviors
- Psychosis and delusions
- Cardiovascular complications
Recovery is Possible
Amphetamine pills are another drug that many don’t realize they’re addicted to until it’s too late, particularly because people don’t believe they can be addicted to something they’ve been prescribed. These very real stories by real people show that amphetamine addiction can ruin lives, but through treatment and sobriety, you can get your life back.
Amphetamines stimulate an increase in the production of dopamine within the brain. When they are suddenly stopped, there is a sharp decrease in that dopamine. Most people who stop using amphetamines will experience withdrawal symptoms. They can be quite severe, especially for individuals who abused these medications for an extended period of time and can lead to a relapse or overdose.
In general, acute amphetamine withdrawal may last for up to two weeks depending on how long those drugs were used and how much. Unfortunately, people may experience post-acute symptoms for up to a year following abstinence.
The most common amphetamine withdrawal symptoms are:
- Increased depression or anxiety
- Problems with sleeping, such as insomnia
- Nausea or vomiting
- Severe fatigue
- Twitching or shaking
- Muscle aches and pains
- Appetite changes
- Suicidal ideation
- Emotional outburst or irritability
Treatment for Heroin Abuse
Most people who abuse prescription amphetamines do so because of some underlying condition or cause. Whether that be undiagnosed ADHD, body image issues, or intense work/educational demands, there is typically some cause of this behavior. Because of that, treatment is typically aimed at treating those co-occurring complications alongside amphetamine abuse.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT): CBT addresses underlying thoughts that lead to negative behaviors and actions. Clients will work with their therapist to use more positive coping skills to deal with those negative emotions. This can help them stay away from amphetamines, especially if they are not prescribed.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): There is some evidence that EMDR can help improve symptoms of ADHD. This therapy may be worked into a treatment plan.
Yoga or Meditation: Both of these holistic methods can reduce stress, anxiety, and hyperactivity. They ground clients in the present moment and can be used long-term as positive ways of coping with whatever may be causing a person to abuse amphetamines.
Exercise: Any type of fitness or physical activity is naturally going to stimulate receptors in the brain that amphetamines bind to. This can help reduce cravings and make the withdrawal process much easier.