Amphetamines have grown in popularity among students in recent years for their ability to stimulate the brain and body, reduce fatigue, and increase concentration. Amphetamines are often legal by prescription for the treatment of ADHD and narcolepsy, but they have an extremely high potential for abuse and addiction. Amphetamines rapidly change the chemistry of the brain and can lead to very serious psychological symptoms over time. Amphetamines are the most commonly abused prescription drug. This abuse eventually leads to severe psychiatric complications. Currently, the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-%), lists eleven different psychiatric disorders caused by amphetamine abuse: amphetamine-induced bipolar disorder, amphetamine-induced depressive disorder, amphetamine-induced psychotic disorder, amphetamine-induced sexual dysfunction, amphetamine-induces sleep disorder, amphetamine intoxication, amphetamine intoxication delirium, amphetamine withdrawal, amphetamine-induced obsessive-compulsive and related disorder, and unspecified stimulant-related disorder. These amphetamine-related psychiatric disorders can often cause symptoms of paranoia, auditory hallucinations, and visual hallucinations. The National Institutes of Health points out that the symptoms of amphetamine-induced psychosis may be very similar to symptoms of acute schizophrenia, including “lack of concentration, delusions of persecution, increased motor activity, disorganization of thoughts, lack of insight, anxiety, suspicion and auditory hallucinations.” Eventually, chronic amphetamine abuse will cause a user to experience an entire “break from reality”, which, according to the National Alliance on Mental Health, result from extreme changes in brain chemistry: “Amphetamines gradually offset brain chemical levels with continued use. For chronic drug users, psychotic-like symptoms can take shape early on. The more severe the symptoms, the more out of balance chemical levels have become, which also means a certain degree of brain damage is present.” There is also evidence suggesting a correlation between amphetamine abuse and the development of mental illness; roughly 25 percent of amphetamine users will develop a primary psychiatric disorder late in life. Fortunately, the symptoms of amphetamine-induced psychiatric disorders generally resolve within about two weeks without using the drug. Amphetamines are highly addictive, however, and treatment is necessary to prevent relapse.
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