10 February 2017

Study Links Amphetamine Addiction with Premature Ageing

Those who abuse illegal drugs have the potential to develop devastating addictions that can destroy their lives. Most people are aware of drugs such as heroin or cocaine, but one drug that is becoming more prevalent, especially in Australia, is the amphetamine known as ‘Ice’. An amphetamine addiction can cause serious problems for the user as it has many side effects associated with it, including rapid heartbeat and raised blood pressure. This strong stimulant induces a feeling of alertness and power, and because the user does not feel tired or hungry, he or she will often go without eating or sleeping for long periods of time, which in itself is detrimental to health.

One of the biggest issues with an amphetamine addiction is the fact that the user will often continue to take the drug until it runs out or until he or she collapses due to exhaustion. This is because the user typically does not want the high to end. Extended binges on amphetamine can cause a devastating effect on the body.

Effect of Amphetamine Addiction

As those with an amphetamine addiction often go for long periods without eating or sleeping, they will often become malnourished, and many will go on to develop mental health problems. The effect on the physical appearance can be dramatic; now an Australian study has found that amphetamine addiction causes premature ageing too.

A study carried out by researchers at the University of Western Australia and published in the BMJ journal Heart Asia has found that those who abuse amphetamines such as speed and ice usually have hardening of the arteries as the drug dramatically ages their cardiovascular system.

It was also found that as the amphetamine user gets older, the effect on the cardiovascular system occurs more rapidly. The authors wrote in the report: “The implication from the present work is that recurrent habitual amphetamine abuse ages the cardiovasculature, and likely the whole organism generally.”

Measure of Age

Doctors usually associate arterial stiffening with biological age, with lead author associate professor Stuart Reece calling it a ‘surrogate measure’. He said that this study could indicate why those with amphetamine addiction often display such ‘disturbing physical transformations’.

Before and after images of amphetamine users are frequently used in anti-drug campaigns because of the devastating impact the drug has on the physical appearance. Professor Reece said, “Suddenly the whole picture makes sense.”

Study

During the study, researchers analysed 55 amphetamine users, 68 methadone users, 107 smokers and 483 non-smokers. These individuals were examined between 2006 and 2011. Doctors did not include anyone who already suffered from cardiovascular disease.

Researchers monitored radial pulse with tonometry technology in order to measure the stiffness of the participants’ arteries; this gave them a biological age for each patient. They found that those with an amphetamine addiction aged much quicker than those who did not use the drug. Their age increase was around twenty-five per cent, meaning that those aged between forty and fifty looked around ten years older than they actually were.

Reducing Harmful Effects

According to Professor Reece, those who manage to beat an amphetamine addiction would become biologically younger, and their risk of developing a stroke or heart attack would decrease. He said that even those who abuse the drug but do not have an addiction could be suffering the consequences, with their stem cells being progressively damaged.

Overcoming an Amphetamine Addiction

It is difficult to overcome an amphetamine addiction because of the intense cravings that tend to occur. This is a drug that is highly addictive and those who try to quit often find they are unable to. For most people, professional help is required to prevent them from returning to the drug as soon as the cravings occur.

Those who want to quit amphetamines will often need a detox, which should preferably be carried out in a supervised detox facility. Most people who have been taking this powerful stimulant will be hit with the effects that the drug has been covering up for so long as soon as they stop taking it. This will often include severe fatigue, anxiety and depression. Without the drug to boost energy or mood, it is likely that the recovering addict will feel very unwell, but in a supervised facility, these symptoms can be alleviated.

Here at UKAT, we have experience in helping those with an amphetamine addiction to recover. Beating this type of illness requires plenty of support, which is something that we excel at. Our clinics are staffed by fully trained and dedicated professionals who will ensure that you are guided and supported throughout the process.

If you are worried about yourself or a loved one, call UKAT today. We can help when it comes to overcoming an amphetamine addiction or any other type of addiction. For more information on our programmes, contact us today.

Source: Amphetamines speed ageing process: study (SBS)

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