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Amphetamines: What Do They Do?
By: Beth McHugh 2007
Originally used as a treatment for asthma and as a nasal decongestant, amphetamines were first manufactured as early as 1887. Because they suppress the appetite, amphetamines were often used to assist in weight loss. Amphetamines are still prescribes for certain forms of narcolepsy (a sleeping disorder where the person falls asleep unexpectedly) and for ADHD, Ritalin being one of the more famous amphetamines used for medical purposes today.
Street amphetamines, by contrast, are made in homemade labs and hence are not manufactured under the strict guidelines of pharmaceutical-grade drugs. Hence the raw ingredient, often sources from drugstores as nasal decongestants is often “cut” with other substances in order to make the active ingredient go further. These fillers cause problem side effects of their own.
The effects of speed and other amphetamines depends on a number of factors including the quantity taken and its degree of purity, the height and weight of the consumer, the general health of the consumer, mood prior to ingestion, past experiences with speed and other amphetamines, and whether the speed is taken alone or with other drugs, such as alcohol.
Immediate effects include feeling confident and “alive,” alert and energetic, overexcited or agitated, excessive talking, rapid speech, a propensity to take risks, impaired judgment, anxiety, panic, and anger.
Heart rate increases, as does breathing rate, the blood pressure rises, pupils dilate, hunger abates, and sleeping is difficult. Perspiration rate increases, there may be vomiting, muscle weakness, chills, chest pain, seizures and coma. Severe overdose can precipitate panic, hallucinations, extreme agitation and paranoid delusions.
Amphetamine tolerance builds quickly, meaning that more of the substance
is required to obtain the desired effects and thus overdose is more
likely. Ecstasy is one popular form of amphetamine and promotes similar
feelings plus a sense of closeness and affection for others. Negative
effects along with heart rate, respiration and blood pressure increases
include excessive sweating, raising of body temperature, nausea, teeth
grinding, hallucinations, and fitting. It is important to drink a lot
of water as most deaths from this drug come as a result of severe dehydration
which the consumer is unaware of.
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