Amphetamines and Methamphetamine: What Is the Difference?

Amphetamines and Methamphetamine: What Is the Difference?

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Amphetamines are highly addictive drugs that stimulate the central nervous system. Methamphetamine (also referred to as “meth”) is a form of amphetamine that is more addictive than other types of amphetamines. Those who use amphetamines are likely to develop substance use disorder (SUD). Both amphetamines and methamphetamine use can lead to SUD, and it is important to find treatment.

At First Steps Recovery, SUD is addressed through individualized treatment. Clients are provided with treatment plans that address all unique factors in their particular addiction. Addiction recovery, though, starts with understanding. It is important to understand one’s addiction, including the cause of the addiction and the effects of the substance being used.

What Are Amphetamines and Methamphetamine?

Amphetamines and methamphetamine are psychostimulants, meaning that they stimulate nerve cells, leading to greater mental acuity and increased physical stamina. All amphetamines release an excess of dopamine, which creates a positive mood, increased focus, and increased energy.

Amphetamines cause users to feel energetic, confident, talkative, and excited. These drugs are sometimes used in conditions like attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to produce better focus. On the other hand, a number of negative symptoms can occur, such as nervousness, hostility, fever, sweating, nausea, tremors, loss of coordination, and irregular heartbeat. Amphetamines can also cause vitamin deficiency, insomnia, malnutrition, and issues with the immune system, leading to a number of sicknesses. Depending on the drug used, hallucinations, paranoia, delusions, and violent behaviors can occur over a period of time.

Methamphetamine affects the central nervous system, leading to euphoria, talkativeness, and long-lasting nervous system effects. The stimulant also can lead to rapid heart rate, high blood pressure, insomnia, tremors, convulsions, high body temperature, stroke, and heart attack. When using long-term, people may experience decreased motor skills, decreased learning ability, increased dental problems, and the onset of malnutrition. Additionally, a person may experience memory loss, chronic anxiety, delusions, hallucinations, violent behaviors, and mood disturbances.

Key Differences Between the Two Drugs

One of the main differences between amphetamines and methamphetamine is that methamphetamine leads to a greater rate of dopamine exertion. While methamphetamine is a type of amphetamine, methamphetamine produces greater effects. For instance, one may feel more euphoric, like the brain and body are moving at a rapid pace, or there can be a sense that one’s physical activity is greatly increased.

Because methamphetamine leads to a greater and stronger release of dopamine, users tend to experience crashes more often. These crashes can also be more extreme, causing clients to continue methamphetamine use over and over again. A person using methamphetamine may experience stronger withdrawal symptoms as well.

Regardless of the drug at hand, though, clients coping with amphetamines and methamphetamine abuse should seek treatment to heal from their addiction. Addiction can lead to mental health disorders or symptoms, overdose, and a variety of other issues in one’s life. Recovery, however, can break one’s dependency and open doors to a healthier, happier, and more fulfilling life.

Recovering From Abuse of Amphetamines and Methamphetamine

Amphetamines and methamphetamine recovery first begins with recognizing that addiction is present. Behavior-focused therapies (such as certain talk therapies) and family counseling are two clinical services that are often recommended.

At First Steps Recovery, the first step in recovery before entering treatment and therapy is the detoxification program. Detox is the first active step of recovery that can be done in a medically supervised setting. Here, clients begin to lessen the severity of their physical dependency on the drug at hand.

While detox typically lasts a week, detoxification from amphetamines and methamphetamine can last one to five weeks longer. This is dependent on the severity of the addiction as well as the severity of the withdrawal symptoms.

Symptoms When Detoxing From Amphetamines and Methamphetamine

The following are potential effects people can experience during detoxification from amphetamines and methamphetamine:

  • A “crash” stage, which can last from 24-48 hours
  • Abnormal sleep patterns or drowsiness
  • Headaches
  • Lack of appetite
  • Muscle spasms
  • Hallucinations
  • Discomfort
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Low energy and motivation
  • Cravings

After detoxification, clients are encouraged to continue their treatment at a facility such as First Steps Recovery that can address underlying factors in addiction and help prevent relapse.

Treatments at First Step Recovery

For those recovering from amphetamines and methamphetamine addiction, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and counseling sessions are recommended. Counseling can be done in an individual setting, group setting, or family setting, depending on the needs of the client.

During CBT sessions, clients address their thought processes, which can ultimately lead to fewer destructive behaviors. For some clients, SUD begins with underlying mental health issues or disturbances to one’s thinking and perception. CBT helps clients reverse these negative thoughts, restructure them, and use these more positive thoughts and perceptions to combat drug use.

When clients participate in individual and group therapy, this helps them express themselves in a safe environment. Clients can confidently and privately discuss their addiction as well as their progress in treatment with their therapist. A group setting, on the other hand, helps clients create a community with those who have shared experiences. This leads to a greater sense of understanding. Family counseling allows clients to create a stronger connection with their families. When clients involve their families in the recovery process, their families can become a compassionate, close-knit support system.

At First Steps Recovery, we can help you understand the various elements at play with addiction. Amphetamines and methamphetamine, for instance, are often thought about as one. However, methamphetamine can cause more extreme effects (from euphoria to more severe crashes). These differences in the drugs’ effects impact how a treatment plan is created. At First Steps, we encourage clients to detox before entering a treatment program where they are exposed to different therapeutic methods. Individual, group, and family counseling are services offered to clients alongside cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). A combination of these services brings opportunities to strengthen relationships, become honest about one’s addiction, and create constructive behaviors. To learn more about amphetamines and methamphetamine, please call us at (844) 489-0836.

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