Ever since amphetamine was discovered in the early 1900s, its use has been marked by a duality in nature. On one hand, it has been used successfully in the treatment and management of certain medical disorders. On the other, it has been used recreationally for purposes other than intended, and its pharmacological effects have been known to lead to abuse and even amphetamine addiction.
Amphetamine Side Effects
Amphetamine is a powerful drug with potent effects, which often has people wondering how long do amphetamines stay in your system. As you’ll see, amphetamine can stay in the body for longer than you may think, and pose the potential for real harm if not taken properly.
Amphetamine, or racemic α-methylphenethylamine, was discovered in 1910 and synthesized in 1927 originally as a substitute for ephedrine. In the 1930s, it was released under the brand names Benzedrine® and Dexedrine®, mainly to relieve nasal congestion, and at that time anyone could purchase it without a doctor’s prescription. That changed in 1939, but by the following decade people were already using the drug for off-label purposes to boost mental performance and stamina. Even Allied troops used the drugs for energy on the battlefields of World War II, with an estimated 150 million tablets given to British and American soldiers. Meanwhile, doctors and scientists were discovering the medical benefits of amphetamines in treating conditions such as narcolepsy, depression, obesity, and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Amphetamine is a stimulant drug that in effect speeds up the brain and its responses so you move and think faster; users often say they are hyper alert, with a keen sense of focus and concentration . It also triggers a rush of dopamine in the brain, which makes you feel elated and confident. Energy is in abundance, and you may feel the urge to socialize and be with other people while on amphetamine.
While these traits can help people when taken for specific medical issues at the proper dosage levels, they can also have a negative effect if abused. Much like people did back in the 1940s, people today can be in danger of amphetamine drug abuse if they use it without a prescription in order to keep up with the physical and psychological rigors of school or work. People also can abuse the illegal, street versions of amphetamine in pursuit of getting high. Because of this, it’s classified as a Schedule II drug, which means it can be prescribed for medical use but also poses the risk of abuse or addiction.
A list of amphetamines that are commonly used is helpful in understanding the difference between the prescription and illegal forms of the drug:
Some of the most common prescription amphetamines:
- Methylphenidate (Ritalin® or Ritalin® SR)
- Amphetamine and dextroamphetamine (Adderall®, Adderall® XR, Mydayis®)
- Dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine®)
- Amphetamine systemic (Adzenys® XR-ODT, Dyanavel® XR, Evekeo®, Adzenys® ER)
- Lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse®)
- Levoamphetamine (Cydril®)
- Phentermine (Adipex-P®, Lomaira®, Suprenza®)
Some of the generic versions of the prescription medications have illegal variations, too. They can be pills, powder, crystal, or liquid. Depending on the form of the drug, it can be snorted, smoked, injected, swallowed, or rubbed into the gums. Here is a list of amphetamines that are considered illegal:
- Methamphetamine (street names crystal, d-meth, glass, ice, meth, speed, or base for solid form, or liquid red, red speed, or leopard’s blood for the liquid form)
- Amphetamine (speed, uppers)
- Dextroamphetamine (dexies, uppers, kiddie-speed)
Prescription amphetamines usually take effect fairly quickly, within about an hour after taking the medication. Taking the drug illegally can result in a rapid high: The onset of the rush is immediate when smoked or injected, within five minutes when snorted, or within 15 to 20 minutes when taken orally. However, the high usually doesn’t last long, which means there is a risk of overdose if too much amphetamine is taken at once.
Side Effects and Amphetamine Withdrawal
Whether taken legally or illegally, amphetamine side effects are possible. There are several potential symptoms that may be experienced after taking the drug:
- Dry mouth
- Insomnia or other sleep problems
- Aggression, violence, or risky behaviors
- ow appetite and weight loss
- Rapid or irregular heart beat, increased risk of high blood pressure or heart attack
- Tooth decay (also known as “meth mouth”)
- Delusions or hallucinations
- Elevated body temperature
- Confusion or memory loss
- Sores or infections on the skin
- Increased stroke risk
- Risk of contracting infections such as hepatitis C or HIV (if using shared needles)
- Birth defects if taken during pregnancy
- Psychosis if amphetamines are abused over a prolonged period of time
Amphetamine overdose is also a real risk when the drug is taken recreationally. Those symptoms are rapid heart beat. Aggression or agitation, a spike in blood pressure, extreme energy levels with the inability to sit still, dilated pupils, fever, violence, and psychosis. Without medical attention, an overdose may be fatal.
How Long Do Amphetamines Stay in Your System?
When taken illegally, there is an increased risk of side effects and overdose because the drug stays in the system longer than other types of stimulants. The length of time before metabolization depends on individual factors such as genetics, age, body type, liver and kidney function, and dosage level. Generally, amphetamine tests can detect the presence of the drug for up to 48 hours in the blood, up to 5 days in saliva or urine, or up to three months in strands of hair.
Amphetamine Addiction and Treatment
As its Schedule II classification indicates, amphetamine can be addictive, especially when taken without a prescription. You can easily become tolerant of and dependent on the drug for getting through the day, and you begin to crave it and need to consume more and more of it to get high. If left unchecked, this can lead to amphetamine addiction.
This is not a drug you can quit cold turkey on your own, however. There are significant amphetamine withdrawal symptoms, such as:
- Drug cravings
- Muscle pain or aches
- Heightened appetite
- Lack of focus or mental clarity
- Mood shifts, such as depression, anxiety, and agitation
If you are struggling with amphetamine addiction, seek help with an experienced recovery program. Our ibogaine treatment center uses ibogaine to assist clients in safely and effectively detoxing from amphetamines so they can push the restart button on life. All of our clients receive individualized treatment plans overseen by our team of medical professionals in a comfortable and secure setting. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.
Dr. Sola is one of the world’s leading experts in medically-based ibogaine treatment; he has more clinical experience with safe and effective ibogaine administration than any other M.D. in the world today.