For years students thought that amphetamines improved concentration and the ability to work. Unfortunately, this is not true. This belief came from the fact that amphetamines are used to improve focus for individuals with certain disorders. More recently amphetamines have made their way back into both education and sports communities. The pervasive belief that they improve performance comes from misconceptions about what amphetamines actually do. In order to understand that they do not improve performance, you need to know what amphetamines are, what their side effects are, and how doctors use them.
What are amphetamines?
Amphetamines are stimulants. They act like cocaine but they last a lot longer. You can feel their effects for several hours after ingestion. They speed up the signals between the brain and the rest of the body. There are legal and illegal amphetamines. A doctor prescribes the legal ones, which are then sometimes sold on the black market. Criminals manufacture the illegal ones in clandestine labs all over the world. The street names for the illegal versions of amphetamines are speed, meth, crystal, and many others. These drugs are highly addictive and therefore dangerous when abused. Although people take them for their short term effects, they often do not think about the long term ones.
What are the short term effects?
The reason people take amphetamines is because many of the short term effects at low doses are beneficial and the ones that are not go away quickly. These short term effects in low doses according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse are:
- faster reaction times,
- improved concentration,
- increased activity,
- increased talkativeness,
- increased confidence,
- decreased appetite,
- feelings of increased competence or power,
- high blood pressure sometimes leading to stroke,
- irregular fast heart rate sometimes leading to heart failure,
- increased body temperature, and
These effects are felt in low levels around 30 or 40 milligrams. With higher doses these side effects change into something more severe.
- nausea and vomiting,
- inability to follow directions,
- increased reaction time and decreased concentration,
- poor balance,
- slower reflexes, and
These side effects become more and more dangerous depending on the level of addiction and the dosage. Most people feel these side effects at least once during use. In severe cases psychosis starts to appear in the short term.
What are the long term effects?
Amphetamines have some devastating long term effects. These effects range are:
- seizure or convulsions,
- difficulty breathing,
- behavior disorders and mental illness,
- psychological disorders such as toxic psychosis which is similar to schizophrenia,
- rotting teeth,
- skin ulcers,
- mental instability and
- mood swings.
Many of these long term effects are permanent. When a person starts to show these side effects, they generally stop working and are only seeking the drug. According to the Centers for Disease Control, most people who start using are doing so because of lack of energy, unfortunately the positive effects of amphetamines are fleeting and the long term consequences are devastating. It does serious harm to work performance when the person is constantly seeking the drug.
Who uses amphetamines?
Many different types of people use amphetamines. Athletes use them for improved performance. Students use them for improved concentration and to help with all night study sessions. Workers use them for added energy and ability to work. Truck drivers use them so they can stay awake on the road. Every one of these users risks addiction every time they use depending on the amount and actual drug that they take.
What are amphetamines used for?
Legally, doctors use amphetamines for treating different disorders. The most common disorders that amphetamine treats are:
- Narcolepsy – This sleeping disorder causes people to lose consciousness at unpredictable times. It disturbs nighttime sleep and the person suffers from extreme fatigue during the day. Amphetamines speed up the metabolism and other body systems to help combat the fatigue.
- ADHD – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is characterized by decreased focus and hyper almost manic behavior. Amphetamines increase focus for a short period allowing the sufferer to concentrate.
- Chronic fatigue syndrome – the sufferer is continuously tired. Even after sleeping an extended period of time, they still have no energy. Amphetamines improve their energy levels and might correct their sleep pattern.
These are just a few of the disorders that amphetamines successfully treat. For sufferers they are worth the drawbacks. People who use amphetamines illegally often use them for recreation, improved performance, and for energy. Athletes use them to improve performance and reduce fatique. Scholars use them to stay awake to study and improve focus.
Even though these drugs do temporarily increase energy, improve focus, and reduce fatigue, they only do so for a short time. Then more and more of the drug is needed. After a short while with constant use, you become tolerant to their effects. This is when the side effects start to show up. At higher doses amphetamines causes agitation and the inability to focus. You start to need the drug to function normally, without it you are more tired, less focused, and more fatigued than you where before you started taking it. In the short term amphetamines seem to improve work performance but ultimately they ruin a person’s employment and his or her life.