Physical Effects of Amphetamines: Short and Long-term

Amphetamines are used for their stimulant effects, as cognitive or performance enhancers, and recreationally, for the effects of euphoria or aphrodisiac. Prescription amphetamines are legally prescribed to treat narcolepsy and attention deficit disorders and some amphetamines are illegally produced in domestic or foreign laboratories. When prescription amphetamines are used as prescribed for therapeutic purposes they are considered to be safe. However when used in higher doses, more frequently, or by others for which they were not intended, the person risks physical and psychological health problems which can be serious or fatal.

Amphetamine Abuse

Rises in amphetamine abuse have come from increased diversions of prescriptions amphetamines such as Adderall and Ritalin and clandestine productions have increased the availability and variety of amphetamines sold on the street. In a 2011 report from the Program, “In 2006, an estimated 4.7 million respondents reported nonmedical use of Adderall, whereas 8.2 million respondents reported such use in 2011.” Amphetamines can be taken orally, crushed and snorted, smoke, or injected and depending on these methods, their effects can be intensified and this increases their potential for harm.

Physical Effects of Amphetamines: Short Term

amphetamine abuse issues

Amphetamines can cause cardiovascular problems on the long term.

Therapeutic use of amphetamines is beneficial for those suffering from attention deficit disorder or narcolepsy. These individuals have less activity in the neurotransmitters, dopamine and norepinephrine and amphetamines increase the activity of these neurotransmitters enough to allow them to focus their energy and concentrate the way others do, naturally. In normal individuals, the effects of amphetamines stimulate the brain and central nervous system to speed up other systems of the body. Short term physical effects of amphetamines are:

  • Increased respiration
  • Increased cardiovascular side effects including irregular heartbeat, increased heart rate, hypertension, or hypotension
  • Increased body temperature
  • Dry mouth
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Wakefulness
  • Alertness
  • Enhanced cognitive abilities
  • Enhanced performance abilities
  • Energy
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Profuse sweating
  • Erectile dysfunction, prolonged erections, or
  • Overdose

Physical Effects of Amphetamines: Long Term

Repeated abuse of amphetamines is dangerous and the risks are multiplied when these drugs are used frequently, in high amounts, used in combination with other drugs or alcohol, or used through alternative methods of abuse such as snorting or injecting. Long term physical effects of amphetamines are:

  •  Tolerance
  • Physical or psychological dependency
  • Addiction
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Respiratory problems
  • Immune system problems
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Kidney failure
  • Overdose