Amphetamines span a wide range of products and drugs, both legal and illegal. In spite of their high potential for abuse and addiction, the legal use of amphetamines in prescription drugs and over-the-counter remedies continues.
Nonetheless, amphetamines do carry certain medicinal properties that can be of benefit up to a point. For people struggling with ADHD, narcolepsy and obesity, the use of amphetamines may be of some benefit, though long-term use of these drugs tends to cause more harm than good.
Amphetamines affect the brain in key areas in targeted ways. These effects can be of good in cases where a pre-existing chemical imbalance exists. For people with no pre-existing imbalance, the potential for abuse and addiction runs that much higher.
Certain dosage precautions must be taken when taking amphetamines because of their potential for abuse. The legal use of amphetamines, while beneficial for some, poses definite risks for the population as a whole.
As a group in general, amphetamine drugs stimulate the body’s central nervous system. Most amphetamines are synthetically made, so different formulations can produce varied effects and treat different types of conditions.
Examples of legal amphetamine drugs include:
- Phenylpropanolamine, also known as “uppers”
According to the University of Maryland, amphetamines belong to the Schedule II class of controlled substances due to their potential for abuse and addiction. Schedule II class drugs carry the highest potential for abuse as far as legal drug substances go. This classification limits the use of amphetamines for medical purposes.
Likewise, a number of over-the-counter drugs imitate the effects of amphetamines without actually having amphetamine-based ingredients. Examples of over-the-counter imitations include:
- Appetite stimulants
- Herbal stimulants
Even without the actual amphetamine ingredients, over-the-counter imitations still carry a risk for abuse and addiction.
According to the U. S. National Library of Medicine, amphetamines in general consist of two primary ingredients: dextroamphetamine and levoamphetamine. As dextroamphetamine is the stronger of the two, adjusting dosage levels for either ingredient allows for varied medicinal effects.
Amphetamines stimulate the production of serotonin and norepinephrine, two primary brain neurotransmitter chemicals. These chemicals help regulate cognitive processes, emotions and certain key vital functions.
As brain chemical imbalances are believed to account for symptoms associated with ADHD and narcolepsy, the use of amphetamines works to restore a normal chemical balance in the brain. On the other hand, the use of amphetamines as a treatment for obesity relies on the drug’s ability to increase energy levels and metabolism processes in general.
Dosage Considerations & Drug Effects
The strict government regulation of controlled substances dictates dosage amounts for the use of amphetamines regardless of the type of condition involved. The use of amphetamines as prescribed can bring on the following short-term effects:
- Elevated heart rate
- Increased energy levels
- Elevated body temperature
- Enhanced focus and concentration
- Improved sense of well-being
Exceeding recommended dosage amounts opens users up to the adverse effects of the drug, some of which include:
- Increasing tolerance levels
- Withdrawal effects
Overall, the risks involved with taking these types of drugs continue to spark controversy regarding the use of amphetamine for medical purposes in general.