Amphetamine is a stimulant drug used to increase a person’s alertness, concentration and energy. It can also decrease a person’s appetite and result in weight loss. Amphetamine is available in an array of pharmaceutical forms. Two of the more commonly known forms are the prescription drugs Adderall and Ritalin. There are many misconceptions about amphetamine addiction, what amphetamine actually is and proper uses for it. Some of these misunderstandings including the following:
- It is the same as methamphetamine. Amphetamine is commonly mistaken for methamphetamine (meth). They are related drugs that cause similar effects, but meth is illegal because it has more toxic and longer lasting effects and is considered too dangerous to be prescribed.
- It is the same as caffeine. Because amphetamines are used to increase alertness, many people believe that using them is no different than drinking coffee or other caffeinated substances. While caffeine and amphetamine are both stimulants, caffeine is a naturally occurring substance while amphetamine is an engineered synthetic drug. Amphetamine is only legal when prescribed to treat certain disorders. It has high addiction potential and can have serious side effects when severely abused including paranoia, hallucinations, heart attacks and death.
- I can use it if I have symptoms of ADHD. A common reason for the misuse of amphetamines such as Adderall or Ritalin is that they are prescribed for ADHD. Students will “self-diagnose” themselves with ADHD, because they have trouble focusing on school work. They will then use these drugs without a prescription to treat the symptoms. Without medical supervision and professional dosage recommendations, students will take higher doses as their tolerance for the drug builds. They become physically and mentally dependent or addicted.
- I can stop using any time. While the initial use of an amphetamine drug can be voluntary, addiction is more than a matter of self-control. Drug addiction can change areas of the brain that control judgment, decision making, behavior control, learning and memory. Addiction is a medical disease that requires professional treatment.
These common misconceptions about amphetamine use have contributed to its high abuse rate and percentage of addiction among users. People struggling with an amphetamine addiction should seek professional help immediately.
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