Amphetamines belong to a group of drugs called ‘psychostimulants' that stimulate the central nervous system and speed up the messages being sent from the brain to the body. Most amphetamines are produced in backyard laboratories and sold illegally.
What do they look like?
Amphetamines are a whole family of related drugs, each with its own recipe and are used in different ways. They can be in the form of powder, tablets, capsules, crystals or liquids. Amphetamines can vary as a white, yellow or brown powder. They may have a strong smell and bitter taste. Capsules vary considerably in colour and can be made up of a cocktail of different drugs, binding agents, caffeine and sugar.
Why are amphetamines used?
People use amphetamines for different reasons. Some use the drugs to get "high" and dance all night. Others use the drugs to help stay awake for long periods of time, improve performance in sport or at work, or boost self-confidence. Amphetamines can reduce tiredness and increase endurance, making them attractive to people who require a boost in energy levels.
How are they taken?
Amphetamines are most commonly swallowed, injected or smoked. They are also "snorted", or sniffed, through the nose. Some people insert them anally, which is known as"shafting".
The onset of the effects of the drug is dependant on the route of administration. If amphetamines are injected, the effects will be rapid, however if the drug is smoked or inhaled (snorted) the effects will take longer to occur. The following effects may be experienced:
- increased blood pressure
- dry mouth
- increased sweating
- Enlargement of pupils
- rapid heart rate
- rapid breathing
- speeding up of bodily functions
- reduced appetite
Long term effects
Regular use of amphetamines may result in chronic sleeping problems, anxiety and tension, high blood pressure, malnutrition, fatigue, psychosis and rapid and irregular heartbeat.
There are a number of drug treatment options available in Australia. While abstinence may be a suitable treatment aim for some people, many programs recognise that for others this may not be possible or realistic. Most programs adopt strategies that have an overall aim of reducing the harms and risks related to the person's drug use.
Some treatment options include counselling, group therapy, withdrawal (detoxification) and medication (pharmacotherapy). Residential and "out-patient" programs are available.
Treatment is more effective if tailored to suit a person's circumstances, and usually involves a combination of rehab, treatment and self-help options.
Source of information: DrugInfo Clearinghouse - Australian Drug Foundation
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