Amphetamines are prescription drugs that stimulate the central nervous system and increase the brain’s level of dopamine, a neurotransmitter involved in pleasure, movement and focus. Ritalin, Adderall and Concerta are widely used brands of amphetamines; they treat issues like attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy, and people abuse them to lose weight, get high and to increase athletic or academic performance. Due largely to the drugs’ potential for abuse, the Drug Enforcement Administration classifies amphetamines as Schedule II controlled substances, the most restricted class for prescription drugs. Amphetamine abuse can damage parts of the brain, and, if someone with a brain injury takes these drugs, then she increases her risk of health consequences.
Amphetamine Abuse with Brain Injuries
Brain injuries typically stem from physical trauma to the head, and the Mayo Clinic website describes symptoms of brain injury as fatigue, drowsiness, dizziness, headache, sensory problems, mood changes and memory or concentration problems. People with such symptoms may try to self-medicate their problems with amphetamines, but this act presents the following risks:
- Difficulty evaluating the extent of the brain injuries
- Masked symptoms that demand medical attention
- Dangerous interactions with certain drugs taken for injury
- Energizes users at a time when they may need to rest
- Compounds damage to key systems in the brain
- Increases the risk of sustaining another injury
While discussing treatments, the Mayo Clinic says physical and cognitive activities should be minimized until the symptoms subside, while more serious brain injuries may require treatment to stabilize blood pressure, reduce inflammation and to address seizures. The effects of amphetamine abuse are often antitheses to these treatments.
How Amphetamine Abuse Hurts the Brain
Amphetamines are designed to improve cognitive function, but abusing them can destroy the brain. The Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences in 2008 and the Current Drug Abuse Reviews in 2010 are two of many clinical journals that address the following damage from amphetamine abuse:
- Brain structural abnormalities, such as lower cortical gray matter volume
- Reductions in serotonin, vesicular monoamines and dopamine receptors
- An inflammatory process that produces swelling in the brain
- Possible dysfunction in the blood-brain barrier
- Effects that compromise the brain’s ability to generate new neurons
In 2000, BBC News added that amphetamine abusers might experience brain chemical changes comparable to people who experienced Alzheimer’s, stroke and brain tumors.
Amphetamine Abuse Treatment
Some of the damage of amphetamine abuse may be permanent, but a significant amount of biochemical damage can be reversed with long-term abstinence. Professional rehab offers the most promising recovery outcomes with the following treatment methods:
- Medically supervised detox that minimizes withdrawal symptoms
- Integrated therapies to address co-occurring mental health and personality disorders
- Behavioral and motivational therapies that improve thought patterns and decision making
- Relapse-prevention tools to identify and cope with amphetamine abuse triggers
- Concurrent medical treatment for physical health issues, like a brain injury
Many rehab centers offer holistic therapies that promote physical and mental healing at the same time. Aftercare strategies may also be designed to improve brain function.
Free Addiction Help
If you have questions or need more information, then call our toll-free helpline now to speak with one of our admissions coordinators. Our staff are available 24 hours a day to discuss amphetamine abuse, rehab facilities and treatment options, and they can even check health insurance policies for benefits. Take the first step toward recovery by calling now.