Drugs have been around since the beginning of time and in the past used for a variety of medical and even spiritual properties. Many individuals are able to use substances with no negative consequences, but for many it can lead to addiction. Addiction will lead the individuals to have to chronic, relapsing, and compulsive behavior despite the known negative side effects. There are many substances that can lead to addiction and these substances are broken down into categories (Capuzzi & Stauffer, 2015). Substances that are popular and highly addictive yet cause very different out reactions are amphetamines and opiates.
Amphetamines are a group of synthetic psychoactive drugs called central nervous system (CNS) stimulants. Amphetamines came into effect in the 1930s and the negative effects were not yet noticed, during this time it was used for nasal congestion, hangovers, depression, weight loss, and hyper activity in children. It began its rise due to believing it did not pose a risk, its availability, long lasting effects, and it was inexpensive. Amphetamine began its rise in 1960s and 1970s during the war where it was used to increase alertness and endurance.
There are different types of ways amphetamines can be used, orally, injected, or smoked which has quick body absorption time and no risk associated with drug injection (Capuzzi & Stauffer, 2015) When amphetamines are used, the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine are released from nerve endings in the brain. When nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord are activated by amphetamine the mental focus, the ability to stay awake, and the ability to concentrate is improved, which is helpful for those with hyperactivity disorders or narcolepsy.
The experience of using amphetamines will depend on the type that is used, some can last several hours and some such as cocaine he effects generally last less than one hour. (Brands, Sproute & Marshman, 1998). Amphetamines stimulate nerve cells throughout the brain and body and affect the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. With repeat doses, these systems can begin to break down and function abnormally causing neurological impairments that result in serious or permanently disabling and fatal health consequences.
The disruptions in nerve cell communications that help to regulate cardiovascular functions and temperature are primary causes of amphetamine overdose even in small amounts” (Amphetamines, n. d. ). In high doses that can be toxic amphetamines will produce agitation, anxiety, hallucinations, delirium and even death. Short term effects term effects include high body temperature, increased heart rate, increases activity, euphoria, decreases appetite, dry mouth, dilated pupils, ext. Long term effects are difficulty breathing, mood changes, cardiac issues, convulsions, or death.
The National Drug Intelligence Center reports that between two and four million children have been diagnosed with ADHD and as a result been prescribed amphetamine medication, which can improve symptoms when those with the disorder use them properly (National Drug Intelligence Center, 2003). When prescription amphetamines are taken in low prescribed doses, abuse and addiction is not a serious risk. However, drug addiction will become a risk when those amphetamines are consumed at doses higher than what is prescribed.
Use of amphetamines can lead to tolerance and physical and psychological dependence, When this happens the user will be consuming increasingly higher dosages, and will attempt to maintain their high by continuing to use these drugs (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2014). Amphetamine has a high potential for abuse and tolerance to this drug builds up quickly. Pharmaceutically produced amphetamines known as ADHD medication will cause behavior changes and improved concentration.
Research has began to point out the long term effects of this specific type of narcotic includes liver damage, seizures, growth hormone disruption, heart tissue damage. There are alternatives to pharmaceutically produced amphetamine and are now at home labs which produce low cost product which is sold on the streets known as meth. This narcotic is made from a variety of chemicals such as antifreeze, paint thinner, lithium batteries and other high dangerous chemicals (Capuzzi & Stauffer, 2015).
The repeated use of amphetamines can lead to physical and psychological dependence that will also result in withdrawal when the drugs are no longer being used. When use of amphetamines stops, withdrawal symptoms quickly set in causing the brain and the body to go through a series of uncomfortable actions both physically and psychologically. Amphetamine causes an initial spike epinephrine and norepinephrine which is followed by a lowered production of these naturally occurring hormones over time.
The result is a physical dependence and the body will loose the ability to naturally send out these hormones which means the individuals will seek the drug to do the job. Physical withdrawal symptoms include intense cravings, oversleeping, pain and discomfort, shaking and seizures, and due to the increased blood flow and increased heart rate many cardio complications may occur. Psychologically, the symptoms of amphetamine withdrawal can be different from one person to the next.
The most common symptoms include panic attacks, paranoia, irritability, depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, hallucinations and psychosis (Amphetamines, n. d. ). Opiates came into popularity during the Civil war with the use of morphine, and became known as the “soldieries disease” (Stevens 2009). Heroin is the most popular narcotic that was extracted from opium in 1895, this is used intravenous, snorting, and smoking (Capuzzi & Stauffer, 2015) Opiates are sedating painkillers that act the opposite as amphetamines and depress the central nervous system, slow down body functioning, and reduce physical and psychological pain.
Opioids depress nerve transmission in sensory pathways of the spinal cord and attach to receptors in the brain, they send signals to the brain to blocks pain, slows breathing, and has a general calming and anti-depressing effect, their chemical structure mimics that of a natural neurotransmitter. Opioids target the brain’s reward system by flooding the brain with dopamine. The overstimulation of this system, which rewards our natural behaviors, produces the euphoric effects which will be sought by people who use the drug (“How do opioids work in the brain? , n. d. ).
When correctly manages short term does rarely causes addiction, it can cause drowsiness, slowed breathing, constipation, nausea, unconsciousness. When used in large doses dependence is the main long term effect also including vomiting, liver damage, brain damage and respiratory depression which can result in death. When the drug is injected this can lead to heart problems, infections at the injection site, hepatitis and HIV (“The effects of Opiate use,” 2013).
Opioid tolerance is a response due to the narcotic reducing the sensitivity of the system and will need more of the narcotic to compensate for continued exposure to high levels of the opiate. When the drug is stopped, the system is no longer as sensitive to the soothing effects and the pain of withdrawal is produced (“Heroin”, 2014). Since prolonged use of this drug changes the way your brain receptors work and your brain becomes depended on the drug. this is when dependance and withdrawal take affect.
Symptoms of withdrawal with depend on how long you have been on the drug and everyone will experience withdrawal differently. the onset of symptoms can begin in the first 24 hours and include muscle aches, restlessness, anxiety, sweating, and sleeping issues. Later and more intense symptoms include headache, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, shaking, seizure, rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure. The amount of time your symptoms last depends on the frequency of use and severity of the addiction.
Opiate withdrawal can be very uncomfortable and intense withdrawal symptoms may require hospitalization and medications such as methadone can be used for long-term maintenance therapy. It’s still a powerful opiate, but it can be reduced in a controlled manner that is less likely to produce intense withdrawal symptom (Case-LoMedically, 2005). Addiction has no single cause or reason but there are a number of biological, psychological and social factors that can play a part in developing an addiction.
One can not predict the was substances will effect you whether in small or large doses, everyones body and brain are different. What can we predict is that long term use of a substance increases the risk for abuse, addiction, and serious health problems. Addiction can have a devastating impact on ones life from destroying relationships to ones own brain. There is no one solution to solving the addiction crisis but education and getting help to those in need is a good start.