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What is an Amphetamine?

Sara Schmidt
By
Updated May 17, 2024
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When people are faced with a psychological disorder, a psychostimulant drug may be prescribed. Amphetamine, a prescription medication used to treat disorders such as Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, is a type of psychostimulant. Its intended use is to stimulate the central nervous system and help a patient stay alert and attentive.

Psychostimulants can be prescribed to treat adult disorders, but they are commonly used to treat children with attention problems. Amphetamines may also be used to treat narcolepsy and other disorders. Amphetamines work by increasing wakefulness and focus while simultaneously reducing fatigue and the appetite. One of the most common amphetamines prescribed to children is known as adderall.

Instructions for use of psychostimulants should be followed very closely. Patients should take amphetamine drugs specifically as directed by their physicians. These medications should not be chewed or crushed, but swallowed whole with a full glass of water. Amphetamines should not be taken during the evening, as they may cause insomnia.

These stimulants can also suppress the appetite. The drug can increase heart rate and blood pressure as well. Other side effects include blurred vision, restlessness, panic, nausea, irregular heartbeat, diarrhea, dry mouth, impotence, vomiting, seizures, hallucinations, tremors, insomnia, aggression, and dizziness. If any of these side effects are experienced, a doctor should be consulted.

The drug class is also habit forming, as patients may become both psychologically and physically dependent on the medicine. Sudden cessation of taking amphetamine can result in withdrawal. A doctor's help with gradual wean should be requested if the patient wishes to stop taking the medication. Methamphetamine, a potent drug that increases dopamine in the brain, is an example of a highly addictive amphetamine.

People taking amphetamines should avoid operating heavy machinery, driving, or performing potentially hazardous tasks. Patients taking this medication may not be aware of being overly tired. Patients with arteriosclerosis, heart disease, glaucoma, hyperthyroidism, high blood pressure, or a history of alcohol or drug abuse should refrain from taking amphetamines.

Many people with certain disorders may be able to still use amphetamines with a doctor's approval. People should tell their doctors if they have a history or current condition including anxiety disorders, motor or phonic tics, epilepsy or other seizure disorders, Tourette's syndrome, or diabetes. Some of these conditions may simply require special monitoring during treatment.

Effects of amphetamine during pregnancy and breast feeding remain unknown. The drug may cause harm to an unborn baby. Patients who are pregnant, who could become pregnant, or who are breast feeding during treatment should inform their doctors immediately.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Sara Schmidt
By Sara Schmidt
With a Master's Degree in English from Southeast Missouri State University, Sara Schmidt puts her expertise to use by writing for WiseGeek, plus various magazines, websites, and nonprofit organizations. She published her own novella and has other literary projects in the works. Sara's diverse background includes teaching children in Spain, tutoring college students, running CPR and first aid classes, and organizing student retreats, reflecting her passion for education and community engagement.
Discussion Comments
By anon337254 — On Jun 04, 2013

@StarJo: Exactly. This is a fact!

By kylee07drg — On Aug 04, 2012

It is sad to me that some really good allergy medications are no longer available over the counter, because people were using them to make methamphetamines. Pseudoephedrine was the only thing that worked to ease my congested nose, and now, I can't get it on the shelves of my local pharmacy.

By lighth0se33 — On Aug 03, 2012

@StarJo – My sister has ADHD, and she is taking an amphetamine. She didn't realize it could make her lose weight until after she started taking it and dropped several pounds during the first week.

Her doctor told her that this was normal, and since she was thirty pounds overweight to begin with, it would be safe for her to lose that much. The amphetamine really suppressed her appetite, so much so that she only needed to eat one meal a day.

When people asked her how she lost the weight, she would tell them that she was on the amphetamine diet. She didn't recommend it to others, though, because amphetamines can have so many bad side effects.

By Perdido — On Aug 02, 2012

I had a friend with an amphetamine addiction. He was actually making crystal meth, though I didn't know it at the time. He later spent time in prison for this.

He would stay awake for days at a time, and during that time, he would feel the need to constantly be working on something. He actually took apart an amplifier once just so that he could put it back together.

Then, he would crash for a couple of days. He was very unreliable and he was on a dangerous path. I think that getting caught was the best thing that could have happened to him.

By StarJo — On Aug 01, 2012

My husband takes an amphetamine to treat his ADHD. It amazes me how amphetamines have such a different effect on someone with ADHD than on someone without this disorder.

Naturally, my husband's brain is a bit overactive. He can be a bit hyper at times. However, when he takes his medicine, it calms him down and helps him focus.

If I were to take an amphetamine, my heart would probably speed up to dangerous levels, and I would become very hyper. I think that this is a good way for doctors to tell who really has the disorder and who doesn't, because if they become more hyper with it, then they don't really have ADHD.

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt
With a Master's Degree in English from Southeast Missouri State University, Sara Schmidt puts her expertise to use by writing for WiseGeek, plus various magazines, websites, and nonprofit organizations. She published her own novella and has other literary projects in the works. Sara's diverse background includes teaching children in Spain, tutoring college students, running CPR and first aid classes, and organizing student retreats, reflecting her passion for education and community engagement.
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