Amphetamines, also known as “speed,” can offer a much-needed pick-me-up in today’s fast-paced world. Unfortunately, these drugs can cause more harm than good when taken for nonmedical purposes. Commonly used to treat conditions like ADHD and narcolepsy, prescription amphetamines work well when taken as prescribed.
When taken for nonmedical or recreational purposes, amphetamine tolerance can develop rather quickly. These drugs directly interfere with chemical processes in the brain by stimulating key cell receptor sites. Once stimulated, brain cells secrete unusually large amounts of neurotransmitter chemicals, which accounts for the “speed” effects users experience.
Over time, the brain starts to become less sensitive to amphetamine’s effects. When this happens, amphetamine tolerance levels rise so users must take larger doses to experience the same desired effects.
With ongoing use, amphetamine tolerance levels continue to increase to the point where users start to experience dangerous physical and psychological effects. Heart problems, bingeing behaviors and serious psychological problems will eventually develop as amphetamine tolerance levels rise.
In chemical structure, amphetamines most resemble the body’s own adrenalin and noradrenalin chemicals. Normally, the brain releases adrenalin and noradrenalin in response to a person’s experiences throughout any given day. According to the U. S. National Library of Medicine, amphetamine’s effects stimulate the release of these chemicals and essentially overrides the brain’s input.
With continued drug use, the brain comes to rely on amphetamine effects to the point where it loses its ability to regulate its own chemical processes. In effect, amphetamine tolerance develops out of the “easy” relationship the brain enters into with the drug.
Heart & Circulatory Problems
Amphetamine drugs naturally speed up the body’s blood circulatory system, causing increases in blood pressure and heart rate. The drug’s stimulant effects also cause blood vessel passageways to constrict, which forces the heart to work harder to move blood through the body.
Since users tend to ingest larger doses as amphetamine tolerance levels rise, arterial blockages are likely to form from the ongoing strain placed on the body. Under these conditions, the risk of heart disease and heart attack increase considerably. Circulatory obstructions can also reduce the amount of blood that reaches the brain, creating a high risk for stroke.
Heavy drug users will likely see their amphetamine tolerance levels rise rather quickly. Amphetamines tend to produce short-acting effects, so users reach a point where they have to ingest large doses on a frequent basis to maintain any semblance of a “drug high.” This practice is known as bingeing.
Bingeing behaviors open a person up to any number of dangers, both physical and psychological. Dangerous effects from bingeing often take the form of –
- Violent behavior displays
- Psychotic-like behaviors
- Impulse control problems
- Risk taking
The dangers of amphetamine tolerance can cause substantial damage to brain cells and brain structures in general, which gives rise to rampant chemical imbalances throughout the brain. According to the National Center of Biotechnology Information, under these conditions, a person may start to experience brief psychotic episodes, commonly known as stimulant-induced psychosis.
These episodes take place while a person is “high.” Symptoms associated with stimulant-induced psychosis include –
- Visual hallucinations
- Auditory hallucinations
- Intense feelings of fear
Large dosage intakes trigger stimulant-induced psychosis, so both first-time users and long-time users remain at risk.