Amphetamine is a psychostimulant that acts as a replacement for adrenaline. Amphetamines have the following effects:
- Increased wakefulness
- Increased focus
- Decreased fatigue
- Decreased appetite
Amphetamines are considered Schedule II controlled substances, meaning they carry a high addiction potential, and amphetamine prescriptions require close medical supervision. Despite the risks associated with amphetamine use, these drugs do have practical uses as treatment for the following:
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
- Symptoms of traumatic brain injury
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
Amphetamine Treatment Research
Amphetamine addiction research has identified three general steps in amphetamine addiction recovery. These three steps are as follow.
Step One: The Addict Must Come to Terms with the Severity of Addiction
Individuals with an amphetamine addiction often do not believe they are addicted or are unaware of how intense their addiction has become. They do not think treatment is necessary because they believe they can quit whenever they choose. The first step to recovery is admitting there is a problem that needs fixing. Research has found little, if any, long-term recovery success among those pressured or forced into rehab. 12-step programs and group counseling have had success helping addicts acknowledge their problem and develop a desire to change.
Step Two: The Addict Must Overcome Physical Withdrawal Symptoms
Amphetamine withdrawal symptoms include the following:
- Excessive sleeping
- Physical craving
- Increased appetite
- Suicidal thoughts
Many detox facilities recommend drug replacement therapy, which involves replacing amphetamine use with less addictive substances such as Clonidine or other benzodiazepines. These drugs slow the heart rate and counter the effects of amphetamines. This technique allows patients to get through the withdrawal stage feeling only insomnia, anxiety and depression – a sharp contrast to the full list of symptoms. While research on drugs for addiction treatment is ongoing, current medications are only effective for reducing withdrawal symptoms. However, drug substitution is proven to reduce relapse and allow for greater recovery success.
Step Three: An Addict Must Deal with Psychological Need and Relapse Prevention
Completing withdrawal and overcoming physical dependence on amphetamines may only be a matter of weeks. Defeating psychological dependency can take several months, and the longer a patient is involved in treatment the lower their chance of relapse becomes. Stress is one of the key causes for amphetamine relapse, and addiction treatment should provide patients with tools and strategies for handling stressful situations. Other treatment for psychological addiction may include holistic treatment, which addresses the emotional and spiritual aspects of healing, or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which teaches individuals to change habits and to live a life free from amphetamine addiction.
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