Unfortunately, many individuals who begin to take amphetamines (either as prescribed by a doctor or recreationally) do not realize the danger and possibility of amphetamine dependence. In many cases, those who become dependent on amphetamines that were prescribed to them can be easily weaned off the drug with the help of their doctor, but those who abuse them will often have a harder time and open themselves up to many more possible issues. But how can you know if you truly have an amphetamine dependence?
Amphetamine Dependence Symptoms
It is important to ask yourself the questions below if you are concerned that you may be becoming dependent on amphetamines. When someone becomes dependent on a drug, it means that they won’t feel normal unless they are on it. This can open the individual up to many other issues as well. Ask yourself the questions below and answer honestly.
- Have you been taking amphetamines (by prescription or recreationally) for more than a few months?
- Do you take amphetamines every day?
- Do you not feel normal unless you are on amphetamines?
- Have you ever taken a different type of amphetamine drug than the one you usually take just to get your fix?
- Do you feel that you need amphetamines to be happy, have fun, or for some other reason?
- Do you feel that you need amphetamines to wake up in the morning?
- Do you feel that you need amphetamines to pass a test or lose weight (IE to do something other than what they were prescribed for)?
- Do you feel anxious or upset if you are unable to take amphetamines when you need to?
- Have you ever considered doing (or have you ever done) something illegal in order to get more amphetamines including
- Doctor shopping?
- Buying amphetamines?
- Faking prescriptions?
- Stealing prescriptions?
- Do you take amphetamines even when you are alone?
- Do other aspects of your life seem less important than your amphetamine use?
- Are you apathetic toward the other aspects of your life, even those which once were very important to you?
- Do you ever experience an inability to feel pleasure (whether or not you were on amphetamines)?
If you answered yes to many of the questions above, you are likely already dependent on amphetamines. You cannot feel normal without these drugs in your system, and you are starting to rely on them to help you with many aspects of your life. If amphetamines have become increasingly more important to you, to the point where other things seem to matter less, you are definitely dependent on them.
Amphetamine Withdrawal Symptoms
According to the NIDA Teen, “When a person who regularly abuses stimulants stops taking them, they may experience withdrawal symptoms.” As stimulants, amphetamines can produce these intense withdrawal symptoms in those who abuse them and those who do not. As long as someone who has been taking amphetamines regularly for a long time (over a few months) suddenly stops taking them, they can experience withdrawal. As stated by the NLM, you should not stop taking these drugs suddenly, “especially if you have overused the medication.”
Amphetamine withdrawal symptoms, though not physically intense like those caused by opioid or alcohol withdrawal, can be extremely dangerous and uncomfortable nonetheless. When amphetamines have been abused, their withdrawal syndrome is very similar to that of cocaine withdrawal which can cause a person months of problems, usually psychological.
The CHCE describes the stages of amphetamine withdrawal:
- Stage One- The crash period
- Intense drug craving
- Especially if amphetamines were abused by the individual, psychosis can sometimes occur as well.
- Stage Two- The depressive stage
- Loss of physical and mental energy
- Decreased interest in the surrounding environment
- Increase in appetite
- Stage Three- The late stage
- During stage three, “individuals may experience brief periods of intense drug craving such that objects and people in the addicted person’s life can become a conditioned trigger for craving and relapse.”
If you begin to experience any of the symptoms listed above after ceasing a long-time regimen or abuse of amphetamines, you are dependent and going through withdrawal. In the case of someone who is only taking amphetamines as a treatment and not addicted but still dependent, you will not experience the cravings described. However, you should still discuss your dependence on amphetamines with your doctor and make sure that you are treated, which usually has patients being tapered off the drug slowly and given therapy if necessary (as severe depression can still be caused).
If you are abusing amphetamines and begin to experience these issues, you are likely also addicted to the drug as well. You should attend rehab which will make you much more likely to be able to fight your addiction to amphetamines and experience a better recovery.
Do I Have an Amphetamine Dependence?
If you feel that you are not yourself without amphetamines, then yes, you are dependent on them. You may feel that you need them to help you with something, to get through a bad day, or to be more comfortable around others. These types of feelings are dangerous indicators of amphetamine dependence, and whether you are taking these drugs licitly or illicitly, you should not attempt to quit taking them on your own and should attend some type of treatment.
Some individuals go to a detox center to help them get over their dependence on amphetamines. Other medications are used, like antidepressants and neuroleptics (if the patient is displaying signs of severe stimulant-induced psychosis), and therapy is often involved as well. But detox treatment will only help a patient through withdrawal, and it will not treat addiction.
Consider how intense your dependence on amphetamines may actually be. Are you a patient who is starting to become concerned about your possibility for withdrawal symptoms occurring if you stop taking prescription stimulants? Or have you been abusing these drugs for a long time and continue to only to protect yourself from withdrawal? Either way, you are dependent on amphetamines and should not try to fight the issue alone. After looking for the symptoms of amphetamine dependence, if you are concerned, ask your doctor for help or attend treatment at a detox facility.