Amphetamines | Types, Uses, Effects, & Warnings

Many Ohio residents use amphetamines. These central nervous system stimulants boost your energy, concentration, and alertness. They’re often prescribed to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy. Some people also abuse them to get high. Amphetamine abuse poses serious health risks, including addiction.

Amphetamines are among the most commonly prescribed drugs in Ohio. 

They belong to a class of drugs called central nervous system (CNS) stimulants (also known as “uppers”). When used as prescribed, they’re generally safe. However, some people abuse amphetamines, which can have dangerous short-term and long-term effects. 

Types Of Amphetamines

There are two main types of amphetamines: prescription amphetamines and illegal amphetamines.

Prescription Amphetamines

The most popular prescription amphetamines include:

  • Adderall/Adderall XR (a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, which is a derivative of amphetamine)
  • Desoxyn (methamphetamine, a derivative of amphetamine) 
  • Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine)
  • Dynavel (amphetamine) 
  • Evekeo (amphetamine) 
  • ProCentra (dextroamphetamine) 
  • Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine, a derivative of amphetamine) 
  • Zenzedi (dextroamphetamine) 

Other prescription stimulants that are sometimes described as amphetamines include methylphenidate (sold under the brand names Concerta, Daytrana, Metadate, Methylin, and Ritalin) and dexmethylphenidate (brand name Focalin). These drugs aren’t actually amphetamines. However, they act similarly. 

Illegal Amphetamines

The most popular illegal amphetamine is methamphetamine (or “meth”). Unlike Desoxyn (the prescription version of methamphetamine), illegal meth is made using toxic substances like anhydrous ammonia, hydrochloric acid, and phosphorus. 

Another illegal drug that’s considered an amphetamine derivative is MDMA (also called “ecstasy” or “molly”). 

Amphetamine Uses

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved prescription amphetamines to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy

ADHD is a mental health condition characterized by attention problems, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness. 

Some prescription amphetamines are also used off-label to treat obesity. In addition, in rare cases, doctors may prescribe amphetamines alongside antidepressants to treat depression.

Amphetamine Effects

Amphetamines increase the activity of multiple neurotransmitters (brain chemicals), including:

  • dopamine, which affects motivation, reward, memory, and movement
  • norepinephrine, which enhances attention and alertness
  • serotonin, which affects mood and behavior 

By increasing the activity of these neurotransmitters, amphetamines boost your energy, alertness, and concentration. They can also cause euphoria (intense joy), especially at high doses.

Like other drugs, amphetamines may have physical and psychological side effects. 

Physical Side Effects

The most common physical side effects of amphetamines include:

  • increased heart rate
  • changes in blood pressure
  • nausea
  • loss of appetite
  • weight loss
  • dry mouth
  • blurry vision
  • stomach pain
  • sweating
  • trouble urinating
  • faster breathing
  • tics (sudden, uncontrolled movements or sounds)
  • acne, rash, or hives

Psychological Side Effects

The most common psychological side effects of amphetamines include:

  • increased talkativeness
  • increased confidence
  • lowered inhibitions
  • irritability
  • restlessness
  • anxiety
  • trouble sleeping
  • changes in sex drive

Amphetamine Warnings

Along with unpleasant side effects, amphetamine can cause serious health problems, especially if you abuse them. Amphetamine abuse occurs when you use an amphetamine in a manner not prescribed by a healthcare professional. For example, you might:

  • use a prescription amphetamine more often or at higher doses than prescribed
  • use a prescription amphetamine without a prescription
  • use an illegal amphetamine, such as methamphetamine

This behavior increases your risk of the following health problems:

Mental Health Problems 

People who abuse amphetamines face a higher risk of various mental health issues, including:

  • confusion
  • memory problems
  • anxiety and panic
  • mood swings
  • depression
  • suicidal thoughts

Some people also experience psychosis. Psychosis is a temporary loss of connection from reality. It often involves paranoia (irrational distrust of others), delusions (beliefs that conflict with reality), and hallucinations (sounds, images, or sensations that aren’t really there). 

When not caused by drug abuse, psychosis may be a symptom of a mental health condition like schizophrenia. 

Cardiovascular Problems

Amphetamine abuse takes a serious toll on your cardiovascular system. It can lead to hypertension (high blood pressure), heart attack, and stroke. 

Extreme Weight Loss

Because amphetamines reduce your appetite, they can cause extreme weight loss and malnutrition if you abuse them. 

Birth Defects

The use of amphetamines during pregnancy can lead to birth defects such as:

  • smaller head size
  • poor growth
  • delayed motor development
  • cleft lip or cleft palate

Drug Interactions

Even if you take amphetamines as prescribed, they can interact negatively with certain prescription and over-the-counter drugs, including:

  • antacids
  • monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) 
  • tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs)

Taking these drugs alongside amphetamines may increase your risk of side effects. That’s why you should tell your doctor about all the medications and supplements you use before you start using amphetamines. 


Like other drugs of abuse, amphetamines can cause overdose. The most common signs of amphetamine overdose include:

  • dizziness
  • irritability
  • confusion
  • nausea and vomiting
  • increased body temperature
  • fast, slow, or irregular heartbeat
  • fast breathing
  • sweating
  • hallucinations 
  • seizures
  • loss of consciousness

If you or someone you know experiences these symptoms, call 911 right away. When left untreated, an amphetamine overdose may be fatal. 


Amphetamine addiction is a serious disease that makes you feel unable to stop using amphetamines. Common symptoms include:

  • frequent cravings for amphetamines
  • tolerance (needing increasingly higher or more frequent doses of amphetamines to feel the desired effects)
  • physical dependence (experiencing withdrawal symptoms, such as mood swings and fatigue, when you don’t use amphetamines)
  • loss of motivation
  • loss of interest in activities once enjoyed

Like other diseases, amphetamine addiction requires professional treatment.

To learn about amphetamine addiction treatment options, please contact Ohio Recovery Center. Our substance abuse treatment programs offer medical detox, mental health counseling, and other evidence-based treatments to help you or your loved one control your drug use.

  1. Drug Enforcement Administration — Amphetamines
  2. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus — Substance use - amphetamines
  3. Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinics of North America — Prenatal exposure to amphetamines. Risks and adverse outcomes in pregnancy

Written by Ohio Recovery Center Editorial Team

Published on: August 8, 2023

© 2024 Ohio Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

Prefer Texting?
We've got you covered.

Receive 24/7 text support right away.
There is no obligation and you can opt out at any time.

Sign up for text support

Receive 24/7 text support right away.
There is no obligation and you can opt out at any time.
Let us walk you through the treatment process. We're here to help.
For 24/7 Treatment Help:
100% Free & Confidential. Call (419) 904-4158
(419) 904-4158