Addiction: Amphetamine – Personal Experience

I decided to write about addiction on my blog recently, as you may have seen the article I wrote about addiction in general here. However, I’m doing this not only to provide an accurate academic view of addiction, but also to provide my personal experiences with it; as addiction affects every individual differently. I also hope to provide something that others with the same issues can relate to, as well as provide hope itself.

My addiction story with amphetamine began over five years ago. At the start of the year 2011, I was merely 13 years old. I had begun drinking heavily since the start of the year in order to cope with my first depressive episode, which was extremely severe and lasted a duration of six months. However, the start of the year also marked the transition from being in a depressive episode, to my first manic episode.

During January of that year, I would drink alcohol every night without question, resulting in myself going to school with a hangover pretty much every day of that month. It was around mid-January that I had my first experience with amphetamine, and I loved it. However, it wasn’t until the February in which I turned 14 that my addiction truly started. For a good few months I’d go out super early in the morning before school (anytime between 5am and 6am usually), in order to go pick up a couple of grams of amphetamine. Then I’d go back home, sniff a few lines, and off to school my amphetamine and I went. Regardless of where I was and who I was with, I would take amphetamine all day and all night. During this period I rarely slept, although that was due to the effects of both the amphetamine and mania, it was also due to the fact that any time I spent sleeping, meant that it was time spent where I couldn’t take amphetamine, and I wasn’t having that.

During these months I was completely oblivious to the fact that I was indeed addicted to amphetamine. I felt like I couldn’t do anything without it, I wouldn’t do anything without it, and I believed that when I was taking amphetamine, I was the best I could be. However, that was all completely wrong. I’d put both my body and mind through hell, and they both desperately needed to recover. When I did come to the realization that I was addicted to amphetamine and finally accepted it, I did attempt to cut down my use, to no success. It was that easily accessible, that I simply couldn’t resist taking it. My next attempt at beating addiction was making sure I had no amphetamine in my house or on my person, but once again, it was to no success. This was due to the fact that I knew I could leave my house, go on a fairly short walk, and return with as much amphetamine as I could get.

After my failed attempts of beating addiction, and having amphetamine rule my life, I was pushed over the edge and decided that enough was enough. I realised that the way in which I was trying to beat my addiction wouldn’t work, no matter how hard I would try my failed attempts were just that, failed attempts. I knew that I had to go differently about it, and the only thing I hadn’t attempted to do so far was go cold turkey on it; which I did, and I did it successfully. However, this wasn’t without its hardships. I remember having to take over a week off from school due to a horrendous comedown and withdrawals.

My stomach was practically destroyed, I couldn’t eat or drink without immediately throwing it back up during the first few days. This led to me feeling even worse due to being dehydrated and undernourished. I felt extremely weak and could barely muster up the strength to do anything, therefore I slept, or attempted to sleep through most of it.  I had shakes and tremors for quite a while after ceasing my amphetamine use, even when my other withdrawal symptoms vanished. The cravings were impossible to ignore, till this day I still have no idea how I managed to have the strength to pull myself through this, particularly at such a young age. I was very irritable and depressed during the week of withdrawals, and I never thought I’d say this but thankfully the mania did return and I was left feeling great again.

I will always have a love for stimulants, especially amphetamine. Which I do still use from time to time, but it can get out of hand very easily so I know I have to keep my wits about me and remain cautious at all times. I never intend on allowing amphetamine to become such a large part of my life, but I never intend on ceasing the use of it altogether either.  Everything is fine in moderation, and to end on a relatively good note, here is a quote from my 15 year old self which never fails to make me laugh:

“I take addictive drugs and then wonder why I’m addicted”.

Addiction

Addiction is a mental disorder in which a person will either consume a substance or engage in an activity which becomes a compulsive need and interferes with day-to-day ordinary life. Addiction is defined by not having control over your compulsions, or what you are taking or using to the point that it could become harmful to you. When a person is addicted to something, they will experience withdrawals once they cease consuming the substance or engaging in the activity they are addicted to. When you first hear the word ‘addiction’, the majority of people typically think about drugs, alcohol and gambling. Whereas a person can actually become addicted to just about almost anything, some other common addictions include:

  • Work
  • The internet
  • Shopping
  • Exercise
  • Food / Drinks
  • Gaming
  • Sex
  • Hoarding

A person who is suffering from addiction problems may not be aware of their behaviour or the problems it is causing for themselves and those around them. This can make them far less likely to accept treatment as they do not see a problem with their ways, and they may even refuse to accept that they do have a problem, which is what can make addiction so difficult to treat; but it can be done, and it can be done successfully.

When a person is aware of their addiction, the strain of managing it can still cause serious problems in your life, work and relationships. Depending on what addiction you have, it can also cause a number of serious psychological and physical effects. It can also be used as a way of blocking out difficult issues, which may provide a temporary solution initially, but it will soon add to your problems rather than solve them. Addiction is a mental illness than can affect people of all ages from all backgrounds, therefore it should be treated as one. Addiction is capable of destroying lives of the people who suffer from it, as well as those around them, but it doesn’t have to be that way. As I will discuss later, there are treatments available for addiction, and the subject should be approached with understanding and care rather than negativity. Encourage those suffering from addiction to get the help they require.

What Causes Addiction?

There are a huge range of reasons of why addictions begin. Although some studies suggest that addiction is genetic, environmental factors are also thought to increase the risk of addiction.

In order to avoid withdrawal symptoms or what is known as a ‘come down’, the person would have to continue their consumption of a substance or engaging in the particular activity they are addicted to. The reason addicts do this is because withdrawal symptoms are often extremely unpleasant can last lengthy durations of time, therefore it is easier for the said person to continue taking or doing what they are addicted to and the cycle continues. As with a lot of addictions, in order to achieve the same satisfaction or high, the user will often have to take or do more to achieve the same effect; which is where addictions often get out of control.

Some people may suffer from an addictive personality disorder, this makes that individual predisposed to developing an addiction. They may experience feelings of depression and anxiety which are managed by developing an addiction to a substance or activity. This also means that an addict is more prone to experience feelings of anxiety, anger, and depression.

Treating Addiction

Addiction is a treatable condition, which can be treated and managed in a number of ways, regardless of what the addiction may be. In order to receive the help you require, you should go to a professional for treatment; whether that be a doctor, counsellor, therapist, rehab centre, psychiatrist or maybe even a combination of them.

The first phase of treatment is detoxification or withdrawing from the substance or activity the individual is addicted to, this is the process in which the body will rid itself of a substance if the addiction is substance related. Following this behavioural therapy and counselling would take place, they are important parts of addiction treatment as they help the person to identify, avoid and cope with situations in which they are most likely to abuse substances or activities. Family therapy may also be used in order to help the patient maintain a supportive environment, as well as improve family functioning. Depending on the addiction, medication may also be used as a treatment, this is typically for those suffering from a substance addiction. There will also be an evaluation as well as treatment for any coexisting mental health problems within the patient. Rehabilitation programs and long-term follow ups are often used to help patients gain necessary job and life skills as well as to prevent relapse.