Prescription amphetamine medications offer effective treatments for conditions involving narcolepsy, fatigue syndrome, depression and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. These same medications were also given to combat soldiers as means for reducing fear and eliciting murderous rage-based tendencies, according to the Center for Research on Globalization. This drastic contrast between medicinal purposes and combat purposes calls into question the potential dangers involved with using prescription amphetamines.
The prescription requirement attached to certain amphetamines no doubt points to their narcotic properties and potential to cause considerable damage to the body. The dangers surrounding prescription amphetamines exist for both short-term and long-term users. Ultimately, the inescapable potential for addiction trumps all.
Prescription Amphetamines: The Narcotic Component
Any drug classified as a narcotic falls under the controlled substances category. Controlled substances are well known for their powerful effects on brain and body functions as well as for their high potential for addiction. According to the University of Maryland, prescription amphetamines belong to the Schedule II class of narcotics while Schedule I class drugs, such as cocaine and heroin hold no medicinal purpose worthy of risking their potential for harm.
In effect, the only things that separate Schedule I and Schedule II class narcotics are the drug potencies and medicinal purposes of each class. This means, were it not for their somewhat weaker chemical properties and medicinal functions, prescription amphetamines would easily take on characteristics of a Schedule I narcotic substance.
Prescription Amphetamine Effects
From a physiological standpoint, the effects of prescription stimulants on brain function are almost identical to the effects of cocaine. As synthetically made drugs, prescription amphetamines contain varying amounts of two primary amphetamine agents known as levoamphetamine and dextroamphetamine. Amphetamine drugs, such as Ritalin and Adderall exist as different formulations of these two primary amphetamine agents.
For comparison purposes, the effects of cocaine on the brain last for up to one hour, while the effects of prescription amphetamines can last for several hours at a time. As both classes of drugs contain potent stimulant agents, the long-term effects of prescription amphetamines may actually cause more damage to brain and body functions than cocaine over time.
The Frontal Lobe Syndrome
Prescription amphetamines exert their greatest effects on the brain’s frontal lobe regions. The frontal lobes play a primary role in regulating decision-making, judgment and the capacity for feeling empathy for others. Like cocaine, long-term prescription amphetamines cause actual damage to these vital brain regions.
Over time, prescription amphetamine users start to develop serious medical and psychological conditions, some of which include:
- Violent behavior tendencies
- Psychological conditions, such as depression, psychosis and antisocial personality disorder
- Uncharacteristic risk-taking behaviors
- Heart disease
There’s no denying the treatment benefits available through prescription amphetamine medications. The number of children diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder alone warrants the need for effective treatment solutions.
Unfortunately, the dangers associated with long-term amphetamine use may well create even more serious problems than those that require amphetamine drug treatment. The potential for addiction and the brain damage that often accompanies prescription amphetamine use represent real-time dangers that grow worse with ongoing use.