Amphetamine drugs appear in many different forms. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, in 2005, as many as half a million people reported abusing amphetamine drugs within the past 30 days. Be it weight loss products, prescription medications or street “speed,” all forms have one thing in common: they’re all central nervous system stimulants. Beside the illegal varieties, amphetamines can be of help in treating certain conditions. Once a person starts using amphetamines for recreational purposes, the risk of dependency and addiction looms closer and closer.
An amphetamine addiction diagnosis looks at various aspects of a person’s drug use. The inevitable effects of ongoing use bring about certain life conditions that meet and match the criteria for an amphetamine addiction diagnosis.
Feeling good and feeling productive are qualities most people strive to emulate. As with most things in life, there’s a good way and a bad way to go about it. Amphetamine drugs create feelings of well being and productivity for a short while and then wear-off. Taking more drugs can restore these feelings, but in actuality the user enters a downward spiral to addiction.
Among the various types of amphetamines, some of the more commonly used drugs include:
While each of these drugs may vary in dosages and strengths, any one of them can lead to an amphetamine addiction. Continuing to use amphetamines in spite of the effects the drugs have on a person’s life is a key component for an amphetamine addiction diagnosis.
Part of making an amphetamine addiction diagnosis entails looking for physical signs of abuse that meet certain criteria. This normally requires a physical exam to see whether particular body processes have been affected or damaged in any way. Some of the physical signs doctors look for include:
- Elevated heart rate
- Dilated pupils
- Muscular weakness
- Chest pains
- Respiratory problems
Doctors may also administer tests to gauge the level of amphetamine drugs still in a person’s system. Since the body metabolizes amphetamines fairly quickly, urine tests are only useful within one to three days of a person’s last drug use. In cases where the last drug use exceeds three days, doctors can use a hair sample test instead.
Criteria for Diagnosis
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition (DSM-IV) lists clear and specific criteria for making an amphetamine addiction (or abuse) diagnosis. Persons who use amphetamines in a “maladaptive way” must display a minimum of three of the following criteria for an amphetamine addiction diagnosis to apply:
- Using larger amounts of the drug to reach the desired “high” effect
- Continued drug use in the face of financial, physical, emotional, legal, relationship and/or occupational difficulties
- Withdrawal episodes that bring about feelings of fatigue, insomnia, depression and/or agitation
- Replacing important activities with drug use
- Using drugs for longer periods of time in larger amounts
- Devoting more and more time to drug-seeking and drug-using behaviors
- Failed attempts to stop using