Diagnostic Criteria for Amphetamine (or Related Substance) Intoxication

In previous articles, we discussed the origins, medicinal use and side effects of the amphetamine family of drugs.

The criteria for amphetamine (including speed, ecstasy, methamphetamine, ice) intoxication as outlined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR) are as follows:

1. Clinically significant maladaptive behavior or psychological changes ( e.g euphoria or emotional blunting i.e. unempathic behavior, changes in sociability, hypervigilance (nervousness, tenseness), impaired judgment or impaired social or occupational functioning, interpersonal sensitivity, anxiety, or anger that develops during or shortly after use of an amphetamine-type substance.

2. The presence of two (or more) of the following, which develop during or shortly after ingestion of the drug:

i) tachycardia or brachycardia (unusually rapid or slow heart rate)
ii) dilation of pupils
iii) elevated or lowered blood pressure (dosage dependent)
iv) perspiration or chills
v) nausea or vomiting
vi) weight loss with continued use
vii) agitation
viii) cardiac arrhythmias, chest pain, muscle weakness, respiratory depression
ix) confusion, seizures, coma

3. The symptoms are not due to a general medical condition or other medication or mental disorder.

Street names for amphetamine-type drugs include speed, up, e, louee, goey, whiz, uppers, crystal meth. They are commonly swallowed, injected, snorted or sniffed. They can be in the form of powder, tablets, capsules, crystals or red liquid, which is sold in capsule form. They can come as a white or brown powder, sometime orange or purple. They gave a strong smell and a bitter taste. Smokable methamphetamine is known as ice or shabu.

Dependence on amphetamines can be physical or psychological or both. People who are psychologically dependent find that using them becomes the prime goal in their life. Physical dependence develops when the body adapts to the current level of amphetamine use and more is require to obtain the same effect.

If a dependent person suddenly stops taking the drug, withdrawal symptoms will result. Treatment options include individual and group counseling, medication and supervised or home withdrawal.


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