Substance Disorders Amphetamine Disorders

Substance disorders are defined in two categories: abuse and dependency. Substance is defined as “…that which produces a high, alters senses or otherwise affects functioning” 1  Common substances are alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, marijuana, heroin, inhalants, Special-K (a veterinary drug called Ketamine)and Crack Cocaine.

For a diagnosis of substance abuse disorder, the amphetamine use has to have caused enough impairment to cause job loss or inability to fulfill other major obligations, such as parenting. There are also legal problems, such as violence, possession and sales arrests, and other major failures in interpersonal or societal areas. The significant impairment in function must have occurred within a 12 month period for a diagnosis to generally be made.

The abuse disorder is indicated by recurring failures to stop the use despite major disruptions and serious consequences in life.

The dependency disorder includes abuse, recurring use despite the consequences, increased tolerance require more of the drug to get the perceived satisfaction, and symptoms of withdrawal when the drug is not available.

“Substances” are in three classes: drugs of abuse, medications, and toxins. When the term “Polysubstance” is used, there are more than one substance being abused, but generally there is a preference for one substance. Some prescription medications cause substance related disorders, too.

Amphetamines and amphetamine like substances cause a person to need less sleep or food, as they are stimulants. The high is similar to the feelings that are induced by cocaine, and the amphetamines have both short term and long term negative effects.

Amphetamines include methamphetamine, dextroamphetamine, and levoamphetamine. These drugs increase the levels of the neurotransmitters, dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine in the brain, which is the basis of euphoria. Other neurotransmitters, such as glutamate have been found to be affected by amphetamines.

Often referred to as “Speed” or “Crank”, amphetamines are often used to enhance performance.

The major alarming impacts of amphetamine is in the elevated blood pressure and heart rate, the lack of appetite and the lessened need for sleep . In the short term, low dose amphetamine abuse incurs dry mouth, fever, sweating, headache, digestive upsets and vision blurring or dizziness. High dosages can cause physical collapse and heart difficulties. Injection can result in heart failure.

In the long term, brain damage, nutritional deficiencies, depression, hallucinations, and violent behavior can result. There is also death from high fever, stroke and heart failure. Most profound is the disturbed speech and thought processes.

Amphetamine substance abuse disorder can originate in genetic factors or as a way to disguise or to self medicate for other problems, such as stress, psychosis, or personal issues, such as a drive to excel in school or to otherwise perform at extradaordinary levels, such as in combat. When this is the case, the amphetamine abuse is often seen as a symptom rather than a stand alone disorder.

Treatment is regarded as very difficult, with abstinence and 12 step programs as the more successful options.

 Note 1: AllPsych, “Substance Related Disorders”

AllPsych, “Amphetamines”

Wikipedia, “Amphetamine”