Amphetamine is a psychostimulant drug of the phenethylamine class that causes increased wakefulness and focus in association with decreased fatigue and appetite.
Brand names of drugs that contain, or metabolize into, amphetamine include Adderall, Dexedrine, Dextrostat, Desoxyn, Didrex, ProCentra, and Vyvanse, as well as Benzedrine or Psychedrine in the past.
The drug is used as a performance enhancer and is also used recreationally. The street names for amphetamine among recreational users includes , “speed,” “crank” “meth,” and “go fast.”
The use of an amphetamine is known to increase blood pressure, the heart rate, body temperature, dilates the pupils and increasing the breathing rate. Other side effects include tremors, insomnia, temporary hyperactivity and anorexia. When high doses have been measured, studies find an increase in irritability, confusion, anxiety, paranoia, nervousness and aggressiveness. There have also been reports of irreversible damage to the brain and blood vessels that produce strokes. Overdoses causing death can results from convulsions, hyperthermia and cardiovascular collapse.
Violence and erratic behavior as well as hallucinations and psychosis similar to schizophrenia are common to chronic, high-dose abusers of amphetamines. Even after the user has stopped, psychotic episodes may occur for months or even years. Severe damage to brain cells that contain dopamine is known as the neurotoxic effect of amphetamines. Symptoms similar to those of Parkinson’s disease can develop over time due to the reduced levels of dopamine.
In addition, memory loss, weight loss, severe dental problems and malnutrition, are all side effects associated with the abuse of speed.
Severe depression, craving more drugs, anxiety and fatigue are all common symptoms of withdrawal. Reports show that at least some of the health hazards from chronic amphetamine use are reversible. After roughly 2 years, recovery of dopamine transporter activity has been shown on brain neuroimaging studies. Recovery of motor skills and memory have also been reported, but not all abuse damage has been shown to be reversible.
The number of new users of amphetamines among persons aged 12 or older was 105,000 in 2010, similar to the numbers in 2009, but lower than the 2002 and 2007 estimates, according to the National Household Survey of Drug Abuse.