Learn About Prescription Stimulant Addiction and Withdrawal

Amphetamine abuse is a growing problem in the United States, rising in prevalence alongside the increase in prescription drug abuse overall. Amphetamines are powerful psychostimulant drugs that give users a feeling of euphoria. Prescription stimulants are a popular way to consume amphetamines, which carry a high risk for misuse due to their psychologically addictive properties.

Amphetamines and the Brain

Amphetamines, such as prescription stimulants, ecstasy, speed, methamphetamine, and crystal, create an intense euphoric feeling by affecting key neurotransmitters. Users can take amphetamines by mouth in pill form, or snort, inject, or smoke the substance. Amphetamine affects the brain’s dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin receptors, creating an intense feeling of happiness and pleasure. Amphetamines activate nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, increasing mental focus and decreasing the need to eat and sleep. When taken in high dosages, stimulants can create feelings of euphoria, power, competence, and cleverness.

Prescription Stimulants Are Psychologically Addictive

Prescription stimulants generate a fast and powerful high, making them psychologically addictive. They also have a low tolerance, meaning users have to take more and more of the drug to achieve the same effects. This combination puts users at high risk of addiction, despite the fact that amphetamines aren’t physically addictive. High school and college students tend to become addicted to prescription stimulants while in school. They take them to stay up all night studying or partying and for boosts of energy during sports activities. Many young people don’t understand the risk of addiction to common prescription stimulants, and recreational use quickly becomes compulsive.

Most Common Prescription Stimulants

Statistics of Stimulant abuseWhen used as prescribed by a doctor, amphetamines can be beneficial. Patients often use prescription stimulants to combat the symptoms of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obesity, narcolepsy, and other conditions. When misused or abused, however, they can be harmful. Here are the most common prescription stimulant brand names that run the risk of abuse:

  • Adderall/Adderall XR
  • Concerta
  • Desoxyn
  • Dexedrine/Dexedrine Spansule
  • Dextrostat
  • Focalin
  • ProCentra
  • Ritalin/Ritalin-SR
  • Strattera
  • Vyvanse
  • Zenzedi

The generic names for these drugs include amphetamines, dextroamphetamines, levoamphetamines, and barbiturates. Methamphetamine (meth) is an illegal amphetamine produced in illicit labs for recreational use. Desoxyn is a Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved methamphetamine hydrochloride. Due to its dangerous health risks, doctors rarely prescribe Desoxyn.

Side Effects of Using Stimulants

Prescription stimulants have a wide range of potential side effects on the mind, brain, and body. When misused or abused, these drugs can lead to the following symptoms:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Paranoia
  • Confusion
  • Amnesia
  • Psychosis
  • Hallucinations
  • Euphoria
  • Hyperactivity
  • Mood swings
  • Aggressive/violent behavior
  • Obsessive/repetitive behaviors
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Dilated pupils
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Restlessness
  • Nausea
  • Weight loss
  • Stunted growth

When a person abuses prescription stimulants, this can lead to rapid heartbeat, respiratory failure, hyperthermia, overdose, and death. The low tolerance of prescription stimulants poses a high risk for overdose, causing heart attack or stroke. Prescription stimulants can increase blood pressure, leading to the risk of blood vessels bursting in the brain. The social consequences of a prescription stimulant addiction include loss of relationships, financial instability, low self-esteem, and career struggles.

Amphetamine Use in the United States

Statistics of Stimulant AbuseAccording to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an estimated 1.6 million people 12 years old and older were using stimulants non-medically in 2014. About 169,000 users in 2014 were between the ages of 12 and 17, 406,000 users were 18 to 25, and 1 million users were 26 or older.

Statistically Speaking

Here are other surprising statistics on prescription stimulant use in the United States:

  • Treatment center admissions. The Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) for 2004-2014 shows 9,163 people (8,395 for amphetamines other than meth and 768 for other stimulants) entering substance abuse treatment services in 2014.
  • Hospital visits. The Drug Abuse Warning Network reported 40,648 emergency department (ED) visits involving central nervous system stimulants in 2011, and 17,272 involving amphetamine-dextroamphetamine. There were 17,118 ED visits involving stimulants and alcohol combined.

If you or someone you know is struggling with a prescription stimulant addiction, reach out to a treatment center before it’s too late.

Prescription Stimulant Withdrawal and Treatment Information

It is very difficult to quit an amphetamine addiction. Due to the powerful effects of these drugs and the high risk of co-occurrence with mental disorders such as depression, mood disorders, and eating disorders, addicts need professional help to stop abusing prescription stimulants.

Withdrawal from amphetamines can result in fatigue, uncontrollable movements, slowed movement/thoughts, excessive sleep, irritability, suicidal thoughts, and the inability to feel pleasure.

It is important to undergo professionally supervised detoxification from prescription stimulant addiction – to mitigate withdrawal symptoms and wean the brain off of the medications safely. Seek out a treatment center that offers specific help for prescription stimulant addition.

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