Amphetamine Addiction

Amphetamines are central nervous system stimulants that have the potential to be very addictive. A person who is using an amphetamine drug may need help to overcome this dangerous amphetamine addiction. Find help for amphetamine addiciton.


The term amphetamine can refer to a single drug known as amphetamine or to a group of related drugs including methamphetamine and dextroamphetamine. Of these, methamphetamine is the most commonly abused in the US, though amphetamine and dextroamphetamine are also abused. Amphetamines do have some medical uses, but these are carefully controlled. Medical use of amphetamines can also cause amphetamine addiction, but addiction is much more common in people who abuse amphetamines because they usually take it at much larger doses than those who use amphetamines medically.

When a person abuses amphetamine, it causes a change in the person's brain chemistry, which results in a high. These changes in brain chemistry can also cause amphetamine addiction as the person begins to need amphetamine to feel normal. A person who is addicted to amphetamines continues using the drug despite its negative effects and seeks the drug compulsively, unable to control his or her drug using behavior. 

A person with an amphetamine addictionmay:

  • Lose interest in other activities
  • Spend a lot of time using or thinking about using amphetamines
  • Hide their drug use, and become angry if confronted about it
  • Steal or engage in other criminal activities to get amphetamines

People who have an amphetamine addiction and continue to use the drug are also at risk for other long-term effects of amphetamine use, such as:

  • Tolerance, which means that a person needs more of the drug to get high or even to feel normal. This can lead to a potentially fatal overdose.
  • Confusion and reduced ability to learn
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Insomnia
  • Violent behavior
  • Reduced motor skills
  • Stroke, which can lead to brain damage or death

When a person is addicted to amphetamine, they experience withdrawal when they stop taking the drug. The symptoms of withdrawal include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Drug cravings

Because a person going through withdrawal will crave amphetamine, he or she is at high risk for an overdose. People who are trying to quit their amphetamine addiction may need medical supervision to help them get through withdrawal safely.

Amphetamine addiction treatment

There are currently no medications to help a person addicted to amphetamines overcome their cravings for the drugs and avoid relapse, though studies are being done to find an effective medical treatment for amphetamine addiction. Currently, amphetamine addiction is treated through a variety of methods that are intended to keep the person from relapsing into drug use:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy, which is a type of therapy that helps people change negative thought patterns
  • Contingency management interventions, which provides rewards for staying clean
  • Individual and family counseling and education about drug abuse
  • Involvement in positive activities that do not include drugs
  • Random drug testing of the person so they known that they will get caught at some point if they use
  • Joining a support group

Each person will need to find the right kind of help for his or her situation, but ongoing support is important to help a person avoid relapsing into amphetamine addiction. Some of the negative effects of amphetamine abuse and addiction begin to heal after a person has been clean for several years.


National Institute on Drug Abuse, Research Report Series, "Methamphetamine Abuse and Addiction" [online]

SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, "The DASIS Report: Characteristics of Primary Amphetamine Treatment Admissions, 2001" [online]

Related Article: Methamphetamine Withdrawal >>