One of the most seen and known childhood neurodevelopmental disorders is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD. This disorder can continue all the way through the teen years and into adulthood. What most reach for when dealing with this type of disorder is stimulant medication.
Surveys are finding that the use of prescription stimulants has been increasing. Stimulants, both illicit and prescribed, have several notable effects, including creating a more alert state, increasing attention; and raising blood pressure, breathing, and heart rate. There are different types of stimulants that are commonly used, and two of them are amphetamines and cocaine.
So, is cocaine an amphetamine? Much like cocaine addiction, there are many ways to use and use amphetamines. They can be taken orally, snorted, smoked, or injected. When this drug is put into the body, the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine are activated from the nerve endings in the brain and their reuptake is constrained.
Amphetamines cause a buildup of neurotransmitters at synapses within the brain. This creates a sharp mental focus, a state of wakefulness, and increased concentration—elements that normally aid those who have ADHD. Amphetamines are often mixed with other drugs or alcohol, making the effects even more intensified.
Commonly used amphetamines include:
- Adderall (mixed amphetamine salts)
- Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine)
- Desoxyn (prescription methamphetamine)
- Crystal Methamphetamine
Amphetamine Addiction And Abuse
Amphetamine is abused in several ways. Of course, it is possible just to take the pills and experience a mild high that way. However, some people crush the pills and snort them, creating a faster, stronger high. One of the quickest ways to get high from amphetamine or methamphetamine is to dissolve the powder in water and inject it. This method gets the drug into the bloodstream and to the brain almost immediately, creating an intense high.
Students often abuse amphetamine through off-label use as a study aid. These individuals consider that the high energy and focus that result from using the drug can help them perform better on tests and in school. However, an article from TIME discusses a study that showed
students who use amphetamines do not perform any better; in fact, they often perform worse. Nevertheless, the drug does make people feel like they can focus more and do better even if the opposite is true. More significantly, this level of abuse can lead to more severe, illicit use of the drug to get high.
The 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reports that about 4.8 million people in the US abused prescription amphetamine medications that year, equivalent to about 1.8 percent of the population that is 12 and older. The National Institute on Drug Abuse, on the other hand, reports that about 1.2 million people use methamphetamine; this is about 0.4 percent of the population.
Signs of Amphetamine Addiction
There are multiple ways of recognizing amphetamine addiction, including physical and mental symptoms and changes in behavior as described here:
- Visual, auditory, or tactile hallucinations
- Inability to keep up with work, school, or home responsibilities
- Much of the person’s time spent seeking or using the drug
- Missing pills from a prescription
- Changes in groups of friends and difficulties with relationships
- Loss of interest in previous activities
In the case of methamphetamine, dental problems, skin sores, and severe weight loss are highly visible signs that the drug is being abused, as described by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
The Effects of Amphetamines
Amphetamines are used for several medical disorders, and when used illicitly, may cause a variety of uncomfortable, and even dangerous, side effects. As referenced from the Center for Substance Use Research, these include:
Medical applications of amphetamines:
- Narcolepsy (uncontrolled episodes of sleep)
- Parkinson’s disease
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
Is cocaine an amphetamine? Short-term effects of amphetamine use:
- Increased body temperature and blood pressure
- Exhibiting hostile or paranoid behaviors
- Becoming increasingly active or talkative
- Becoming less tired or lethargic
- Dilated pupils
- Cardiovascular system failure
- Intense feelings of well-being or euphoria
- Erratic or increased heart rate
- Dry mouth
- Becoming more alert or energetic
- Increased respiratory rate
- Nausea or suppressed appetite
- Heart palpitations
- Decreased inhibitions in social settings
- Uncontrollable movement of muscles within your extremities
- Changes to sexual conduct
- Feeling overly powerful, clever, or competent without cause
Is cocaine an amphetamine? Long-term effects of amphetamine use:
- Toxic psychosis
- Dizziness or trouble breathing
- Excessive fatigue or weakness
- Physiological, behavioral, or mental disorders
- Malnourishment or becoming deficient in certain vitamins
- Alterations to a person’s mood or mental state
- Repetitive motor activity
- Cardiac arrhythmias or pounding heartbeat
- Skin becomes pale or flushed
- Skin conditions
- Impaired coordination and physical collapse
- Use or addiction
- Convulsions, coma, and death
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder has been seen and detected in two to four million children. With this disorder on the rise, and also affecting adults, amphetamines are being prescribed more and more. If the doctor’s instructions are followed the way they’re supposed to be, this drug can help improve the health of these individuals. The temptation for drug use and the potential for addiction is far lower when these prescriptions are taken orally and in the way, they are prescribed.
When an individual uses amphetamines in a binge-like fashion, that is, in increasing amounts and frequencies, there is a much higher risk of use or addiction. An amphetamine binge can leave an individual with several negative effects such as depression, anxiety, intense exhaustion, and an urge to use more of this drug.
The person may also experience violent and erratic behavior, which may lead to other types of psychosis as well. Much like schizophrenia, paranoia or other forms of hallucinations may start to occur.
Is cocaine an amphetamine?
What is Cocaine?
Cocaine comes from a South American plant called the Erythroxylon coca. Within this region, the natives of the Andes would take the leaves of this plant and chew them for an energized feeling. When this was discovered, cocaine was created, offering a much more potent impact than chewing the leaves offered.
This was quickly discovered by the medical world. This drug soon became widespread, and companies started to use it at a rapid rate in their products. People soon got addicted to these products because of the cocaine in them. In some cases, cocaine has been used for medical purposes, but for the most part, it is an illegal substance in the United States. An upper-class form of cocaine is the pure white powder, and the freebase, crystal form known as “crack” is less expensive and is a variety of colors from light brown to white.
The Difference Between Amphetamines and Cocaine
Growing in the Andes mountains, cocaine is naturally derived from the coca plant. Amphetamines, on the other hand, are similar to ephedrine and are synthetically made. Both of these drugs are offered, and used, in numerous forms, and each form has its differences.
Cocaine and amphetamines have very similar effects on the brain and normally attract similar people who use each. Cocaine and amphetamines both increase the circulating levels of certain neurotransmitters within the brain. Dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin are stimulated and increase inactivity when amphetamines are used.
Cocaine blocks the reuptake of certain neurotransmitters, notably dopamine, causing the levels to rise. Even though the physiological results between cocaine and amphetamine are nearly mirrored, the impact of amphetamine may be felt for several hours, whereas cocaine’s effects are usually present for an hour or less.
Historically, both drugs had their applications. Cocaine was isolated from coca leaves and began to be used as an anesthetic. Sigmund Freud recommended cocaine’s power in aiding with depression and morphine dependence; however, once he understood the side effects, he no longer promoted the drug. Amphetamines were used to help soldiers in World War II overcome fatigue. In conclusion, both of these drugs have similar effects on the brain and body, but unlike cocaine, amphetamines are frequently prescribed in medical applications to help aid ADHD and other disorders.
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 Berman, S., O’Neill, J., Fears, S., Bartzokis, G., & London, E. D. (2008). Abuse of amphetamines and structural abnormalities in the brain. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1141, 195–220. https://doi.org/10.1196/annals.1441.031