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Amphetamine use is extremely common today. It is second only to cannabis in fact! As with every potentially addictive pharmaceutical it produces a habitual addiction for some users. Many people use amphetamines properly and illicitly without resulting in a life impeding addiction. Which is a stark contrast to other substances such as heroin or methamphetamine.

The addictive properties are unique when compared with alcohol, opiates or benzodiazepine dependencies. At some point those substances are used solely to stave off sickness/withdrawals and just to be able to feel what their body has come to accept as normal.

Amphetamines when abused result in binges, or extended periods of using amounts of amphetamine well beyond the therapeutic levels. The binge comes to an end and the user will "crash" and feel the repercussions of the abuse. Common after-binge effects are excessive sleeping and aches or other discomforts due to the common malnutrition their body experiences during a binge (e.g. dehydration). After a brief recuperation the next binge takes place at some point, starting the cycle over.

In the infancy of amphetamine abuse users truly don't notice or feel any negative consequences. Instead they feel confident, motivated, more prone to joy and even sometimes empathy. The addiction hooks users once tolerance began to develop, warranting larger and larger doses to feel like the drug they fell in love with in in the genesis of using. Alas, that original high is never achieved again, only to be replaced with a brand new psychological addiction to deal with. There are also associated physical symptoms, however that is not the same as being physically addictive. That is often confused!

If abstinence is pursued the only apparent repercussion is an insatiable desire for sleep, a profound depression and virtually no appetite. Those issues last mere days and mislead people into believing that was the extent of the withdrawal phase. As the days progress new feelings arise that hide the temptations to use again, feelings along the lines of budding cravings for amphetamines and feeling as if they cannot function without it. Perseverance will overcome those symptoms, unfortunately many relapse at this point.

A prevalent complication from habitually abusing the substance is a very deep depression unlike most people's view of a typical depression. This psychological problem is exceedingly difficult to fight through and many users end up believing that there is no other way for them to function without the medicine. The cycle restarts and every so often attempts are made to abstain in a perpetual cycle.

The culprit of the unique amphetamine-induced depression lies within the neurological effects of the substance. To understand the reasoning behind the effect we must first understand exactly how amphetamines operate and what they do that causes the typical desired effects of amphetamines.

At a basic level the substance hijacks our neurological process that controls how we feel pleasure and a positively reinforced sense of well-being. Hence why many people report feeling like a better version of their original self on amphetamines. This is all primarily linked to the neurochemical dopamine (among the other neurotransmitters and various neurological mechanisms).

The prized effect is thought to be caused by elevated levels of extracellular dopamine. Amphetamines release and elevate dopamine levels in three major ways:

1). It serves as a substrate for the dopamine transporters in our brains which in turn causes a competitive inhibition of the ability to uptake the excess dopamine, resulting in abnormally high levels of dopamine.

Simply Put: It makes it more difficult for our brain to absorb excess dopamine, as would happen under normal conditions.

2.) Amphetamines have been shown to actually aid dopamine in moving from the synaptic vesicles and out into the neurotransmitter cell's cytoplasm where it can be now be transported to the synaptic vesicle and one step closer to the synaptic cleft.

Simply Put: It coaxes dopamine out of its storage tube and into an area where it can be easily utilized. Resulting in further elevation of dopamine levels.

3.) The last method of action amphetamine employs affects the dopamine transporters (DAT) itself. It encourages the reverse-transportation of dopamine via manipulating the dopamine transporters towards the synaptic cleft, bypassing the organic action/potential induced vesicular release. Once present in the synaptic cleft dopamine is now able to be bound to the dopamine receptors.

Simply Put: It hijacks the dopamine-storage depots and forces it out to where the receptors are.

It is the process composed of these three processes that induce the motivated and pleasurable reward of amphetamine use.

The Rundown:
Amphetamines stimulate production of dopamine, they block as much of the uptake process as possible, bypass the natural mechanisms behind dopamine release and force it into the synaptic cleft where it will be absorbed. This cumulates in the saturation of dopamine that causes the desired results of using amphetamines.

This integral process has one very crippling flaw. Dopamine is a finite resource and must be renewed by the brain, which is one of the purposes of re-uptaking the excess dopamine to store for later use or to salvage for resources. Eventually the resource pool will deplete entirely as a result of over-saturation that results in a cessation of dopamine production. The brain does not see the need to produce more since the levels are excessive as is. This phenomenon is when the brain changes slightly. The natural reward circuitry is modified due to the decreased need to produce dopamine. Effectively the brain will "forget" to produce enough of it due to the direct influence of amphetamines on the neural pathways and neurotransmitters. Keep in mind dopamine is just one of the transmitters, it affects serotonin and norepinephrine significantly as well!

Once the brain is at this stage of the addiction it relies on amphetamines to regulate our emotions and feelings instead of the neurotransmitters designed to carry out that role. Thus, when amphetamine use is stopped the depression that sets in is because of the lack of neurotransmitters and emotional dysregulation. Typically these adverse changes in the brain's chemistry will rewire themselves over time and begin to produce once more the chemicals essential to our emotional health and happiness amongst the countless other neurological processes they regulate.

There is a chance for permanent neurological damage to occur however, with extended amphetamine abuse. Manifesting as neurological disfunction (e.g. disturbed thought processes, memory problems, severe emotional dysregulation, inability to experience pleasure, motivational blocks and many more detriments of that nature).
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