prescription amphetamine pills spill out of a prescription pill bottle
Discover Recovery's Blog

Discover Recovery's Blog


This article is part of our series on the dangers of all drugs – not just opioids.

Sometimes Legal, Sometimes Not

In the US, people use amphetamines both illegally on the streets and legally as prescription medications. The prescriptions forms are usually used to treat Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) in its various forms. Another less common use of amphetamines are to assist in weight loss. Doctors prescribe them for this because they’re stimulants.

One of the most infamous amphetamines is methamphetamine. It’s also called “meth” or “crystal meth” depending on how it was made and how pure it is. Meth comes illegally on the street and legally from pharmaceutical companies. Most other popular amphetamines are lab made medicines. While they don’t have the same reputation as methamphetamine, they’re still dangerous substances to abuse. Companies sell these pills under names such as “Adderall,” “Vyvanse,” and “Ritalin.”

Strong Stimulant Effects

As a stimulant, amphetamines have drastic effects on our central nervous system.  Like many other substances, they cause drastic increases in the neurotransmitter dopamine. Among many other things, dopamine is responsible for our “pleasure reward” system which tells us when something feels good. It’s usually set off by things like eating, flirting, procreating, and bonding with our children. So these dopamine spikes also signal to us that an activity will aid our survival.  This is the reason for our brain’s irresistible compulsion to continuously use drugs that increase our dopamine.

There are many short-term effects from ingesting both pharmaceutical and “street” amphetamines. Some of these include decreased fatigue, increased activity, wakefulness, strong euphoria or rush, increased respiration, rapid heart beat, elevated blood pressure, mania, and hyperthermia. People who are high on amphetamines often need little to no sleep or food. In fact, some addicts can go for days without sleeping when they’re abusing amphetamines.

Damage to the Mind and Body

In the long-term, amphetamines do incredible damage to the human body and brain.  People that misuse and become addicted to substances such as methamphetamine often develop anxiety, paranoia, hallucinations, and psychosis. It’s common to experience these side effects while using amphetamines even from the first time someone uses. But over time, some people begin to experience these problems even when they’re sober.

Amphetamine users also experience changes in the brain’s structure and chemistry which causes problems in thinking and motor skills. They begin to experience memory loss and often lose the ability to concentrate. A few of the most obvious physical consequences of meth use are dental problems, weight loss, and violent behavior. 

Amphetamines Can Be Deadly

Studies done on the demographics and characteristics of deceased methamphetamine addicts have shown some strong trends. White males who suffer from depression and anxiety in combination with alcohol use have the highest rate of mortality while using amphetamines. We also learn from this study that mortality rates in general, while not quite as high as opioid use, are still incredibly high.

Amphetamine addicts come from all races and genders. In certain areas of the country, it may seem like only one “type” of person uses amphetamines. But taken as a whole, amphetamine addiction ruins lives across socio-economic lines. Anyone who abuses amphetamines is at risk of dependence, negative side effects, and death.

Help for Amphetamine Addiction

If you or someone you love is struggling with amphetamine abuse, including prescription pills OR methamphetamine, you can call us today! We offer a residential treatment program on the coast of the Pacific Northwest. Our holistic treatment model works to help people addicted to any substance heal and build a new life. Discover Recovery is ready to help people overcome their addictions and develop the tools and skills to succeed without amphetamines.

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Have Questions?

Fill out this form to contact us, and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Kaye is a guest writer for Discover Recovery. She's lives in the Chicago, IL area where she's been in recovery since 2016.

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