Amphetamine drugs offer effective treatments for conditions involving ADHD, narcolepsy and extreme cases of obesity. When abused or taken for recreational purposes, these drugs carry a high risk of abuse and addiction.
People who need help for amphetamine addiction exhibit a wide range of noticeable effects. As one of the most powerful drug types on the market, an addiction to amphetamines can quickly destroy a person’s life.
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Amphetamine drugs stimulate or speed up the chemical activities that regulate brain and central nervous system functions. In order to do this, amphetamines increase neurotransmitter chemical outputs in the brain. Neurotransmitters most affected include dopamine and norepinephrine.
With each dose of an amphetamine, brain cell sites secrete abnormally large amounts of neurotransmitter chemicals, according to Semel Institute. As dopamine, norepinephrine and other chemical levels rise, these effects speed up a number of major bodily processes, including:
The most appealing drug effects take the guise of increased confidence levels, enhanced mood state, alertness and improved focus and concentration. Over time, the effects of amphetamines take a toll as brain cells work considerably harder to produce these excess chemical amounts. Amphetamine addiction develops out of the changes these drugs have on the brain and body over time.
More than anything else, the psychological effects of amphetamines drive the addiction cycle. These effects stem from the excess levels of neurotransmitter chemicals flowing through the brain.
With continued amphetamine abuse, brain chemical imbalances start to take root. These imbalances inevitably start to alter the brain’s chemical pathways as well as the brain’s overall structure.
As chemical pathway changes take shape within the brain’s cognitive and emotion-based centers, users start to experience the psychological effects of the drug. These effects mark the beginnings of amphetamine addiction.
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Much like any other addictive drug, the brain quickly develops a tolerance to amphetamine effects. Consequently, this key factor becomes the driving force behind amphetamine addiction. Amphetamine’s effects overwork brain cell sites to the point where cell structures start to deteriorate from overuse.
As cells deteriorate, they become less responsive to the drug. This in turn weakens the drug’s effects since weakened cell structures can’t produce the usual chemical output. When this happens, someone using the drug for recreational purposes will increase the dosage amount in order to produce the desired drug effect.
Over time, users ingest larger and larger amounts of amphetamines to compensate for weakening brain cell functions. Under these conditions, amphetamine addiction develops fairly quickly.
After a certain point, a person may attempt to stop using amphetamines, or at the very least try to cut back on his or her intake. Amphetamines pack a powerful punch, so anyone who’s abused these drugs for a week or longer will likely have difficulty cutting back, let alone stopping drug use altogether. By this point, the roots of amphetamine addiction have taken hold.
In effect, stopping or cutting back leaves the brain in a severely compromised state as the chemical imbalances caused by amphetamines rely on the drug’s ongoing effects. In the absence of the drug, the brain has to relearn how to regulate bodily processes, which takes time. This inability to stop using on one’s one becomes a running theme as the amphetamine addiction cycle picks up momentum.
Compared to other forms of addiction, amphetamine addictions progress quickly due to the damaging effects of these drugs in the brain. Tolerance level increases move at a rapid rate, driving users to ingest increasingly larger amounts.
Over time, this behavior reaches a point where users ingest multiple doses of the drug in rapid succession. This practice is known as bingeing.
For someone who abuses amphetamines, this practice becomes necessary to experience the desired “high” effect. Someone who engages in bingeing behavior has either already developed an amphetamine addiction or will soon be addicted.
According to the U. S. National Library of Medicine, the brain chemical imbalances brought on by amphetamine addiction warp the frontal cortical areas of the brain, which regulate impulse control behaviors. In effect, damage done to cell structures strips away at a person’s normal inhibitions.
The brain chemical imbalances resulting from amphetamine addiction leave the brain unable to regulate bodily processes as normal, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Before long, bodily processes start to break down as a result. Withdrawal symptoms develop out of the brain’s weakened state.
Withdrawal effects play a pivotal role in perpetuating the abuse/addiction cycle as users attempt to gain relief by self-medicating with more of the drug.
People who can’t cope with daily life without amphetamine effects to carry them through have developed a full-blown amphetamine addiction. Addiction develops out of the damage done to one particular area of the brain known as the mesolimbic pathway.
This region, also known as the brain’s reward system, shapes a person’s overall outlook on life in terms of his or her belief systems, motivations and drive. Incidentally, this system relies on stable levels of dopamine to function normally.
Once amphetamine addiction takes shape, the brain’s reward system has become dependent on the effects of the drug to the point where getting the drug becomes the focus of a person’s thinking, emotions and behaviors. These changes account for how amphetamine addictions can up-end a person’s life, destroying his or her career, family and overall sense of self and purpose.
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