Addiction to amphetamines is on the rise, partly due to an increased awareness of attention deficit difficulties in children. The kinds of medications prescribed to help hyperactive children calm down and focus produce a buzz or a rush in people who don't have these kinds of health issues. With regular use, a person taking one of these "uppers" can become addicted.
Speed affects the body's nervous system. Taking it creates a feeling of well-being for the user. This class of drugs makes the person using them feel energized and able to take on anything. Using uppers allows the user to stay awake for long periods of time without having to rest. He or she may not feel much like eating, which can lead to weight loss if the person continues to use the drug.
The body quickly builds tolerance to amphetamines with regular use, though this fades quickly with breaks. Users have to rapidly increase doses to maintain effects. In narcoleptics and hyperactive children, however, there is no tolerance, since they are taking the drug to treat the symptoms of their respective disorders.
Amphetamines, which are classified as stimulants, are highly addictive, working like alcohol, nicotine, and cocaine on the dopamine "reward" pathways of the brain. Short term recreational use can slip unnoticed into long term systematic abuse. Some speed addicts have had habits lasting over twenty years.
Signs of an Addiction to "Uppers"
There are some specific signs that a person has moved from the "I just use recreationally and I can stop anytime I want" phase into an addiction to amphetamines. When the use of the drug changes from something the person wants to do to a compulsive activity that they have to do, then they have crossed over to the dark side of addiction.
A person who is using beans to get high is likely to develop a psychological dependency on the drug. They may start feeling as if they need to be high to deal with the demands of everyday life. The problem with this logic is that a person who is using uppers regularly is probably not going to be able to perform well at work or at school.
Using speed also affects the user's personal relationships. The drug can cause irritability and mood swings. These are not conducive to positive personal relationships at all. Over time, the addict's friends and family members may start to withdraw. Using bennies can make a person feel isolated, and the lack of support from those around him or her can make using a substance that can create a good feeling more attractive.
Along with the psychological aspects of the addiction comes a physical dependence on the drug. Since speed stimulates the pleasure centers of the brain, the person will experience cravings for more of it if they don't keep their brain supplied with the drug regularly. The addict also goes into withdrawal if the drug supply is cut off.
Withdrawal and Getting Off Amphetamines
Depending on the amount the individual has been taking and the amount of time he or she has been using speed, the withdrawal symptoms can start within hours of the last dose or take up to a day to start. Cravings for the drug are very common, since the addict's brain will not immediately be able to adjust to being without the drug.
If you are addicted, withdrawal will give exactly the reverse effects of the drug. Instead of the drug's euphoria and curbing the need to eat and sleep, withdrawal causes excessive hunger and fatigue -- different from heroin withdrawal, but equally distressing. The addict may feel anxious or depressed. In some cases, the depression can manifest as mood swings. This is why it is necessary for an addict to undergo detox, as it helps get the drug out of an addict’s system in a more scientific and systematic way.