Amphetamines are drugs that stimulate the central nervous system (CNS), increasing the levels of dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine in the brain. This causes the body to initiate its “fight or flight” response to stressful situations, even though a stressor does not exist. As a result, the body releases adrenalin and other stress hormones, causing a heightened sense of wakefulness, alertness, and focus. Used legally, amphetamines can be used to treat conditions like attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), narcolepsy, and sometimes depression and obesity.
However, when amphetamines are misused or used recreationally, the CNS in the brain begins to rely on amphetamine for continued stimulation. The brain and the body adjust to the presence of amphetamines (and the neurotransmitters the brain releases under its influence), and over time, higher doses of amphetamines are needed to create the same affect. If this pattern continues, the brain and body will be unable to function normally without the amphetamines, and severe withdrawal symptoms will result without the ongoing usage of the drug. The body and the brain become chemically dependent on amphetamines.
Amphetamine Addiction as a Disease
Addiction is a disease just like any other chronic physical ailment (like heart disease or diabetes) because of its effects on the brain and the body. Addiction is progressive and ongoing (doesn’t go away), just like any other chronic illness, but it is also just as treatable. By understanding addiction as a disease with symptoms, treatment options, and the possibility of relapse, individuals can avoid the stigma associated with addiction and can get the help they need to deal with their addiction.
The Brain and Body under Detox and Sobriety
During detox from amphetamines, an addict takes lower and lower doses of the drug, allowing the brain to adjust to the absence of the drug. Over time, the physical craving for amphetamines subsides and eventually fades away. This detox can take any length of time, from a few weeks to a month or more, depending on the length and depth of the brain’s dependency on the drug. The long-term effects of amphetamines on the brain vary from person to person, but for most people, the brain can heal over time, just like any other physical trauma.
After detox, a person needs to complete a treatment program that will help him deal with his emotional dependency on amphetamines. This treatment involves evaluating how the addiction developed and discovering and using tools to deal with potential triggers that could cause a person to relapse. Long-term sobriety is possible for most people who are willing to go through the process of detox and treatment.
Getting Help for Your Amphetamine Addiction
If you or a loved one is addicted to amphetamines, we can help. You can call our toll-free number any time, 24 hours a day. You can talk to an addiction recovery specialist who can discuss the best treatment options based on your unique situation. Don’t let amphetamines destroy your brain’s natural functioning. Take the courageous step and call us now.