Fresh Start


Amphetamines are synthetic stimulants that are mood altering and addictive. Amphetamines may be either pharmaceutical or illicit. Pharmaceutical amphetamines are a group of medicines that may be prescribed to treat attention, sleeping and weight disorders such as ADHD, narcolepsy and obesity. Illicit amphetamines include the illegal distribution of pharmaceutical amphetamines as well as illicitly produced “street drugs”. Illicit amphetamines include crystal methamphetamines, speed and performance enhancing drugs; these are unregulated, have varied ingredient components, are often mixed with other dangerous substances and vary in strength, making them extremely dangerous for users.

How common are amphetamine substance use disorders in Australia for all people aged 14+?

  1. Alcohol 77%
  2. Cannabis 11.6%
  3. Nicotine/Cigarettes 11%
  4. Misused Prescription Opioids 3.3%
  5. Benzodiazepines 1.6%
  6. Methamphetamines 1.3%
  7. Psychoactive Substances 0.2%
  8. Illicit Opioid 0.1%

Methamphetamine use is ranked 6th in relation to all substance use disorders and substance misuse and is the 2nd most common drug of concern for people seeking treatment in Australia.

Amphetamine use can result in different social and health-related harms with short-term and long-term effects and burden of disease.

Short-term effects Long-term effects
  • increase in heart rate, breathing and body temperature
  • nausea and vomiting
  • enlarged pupils
  • dry mouth
  • teeth grinding
  • restless sleep
  • paranoia and anxiety
  • increased libido
  • aggression and violence
  • extreme weight loss due to loss of appetite
  • dental and oral problems
  • increased incidence of flus and colds
  • depression, anxiety and paranoia
  • increased risk of stroke and heart attack
  • deviated septum and nosebleeds
  • increased risk of bloodborne viral infections such as HIV and hepatitis C
  • psychosis

Burden of disease for amphetamines is responsible for 0.7% of the total burden of disease in Australia with 32% having a drug use disorder, 17% poisoning, 5.4% self-inflicted injury and suicide, and 9% traffic accidents. It is estimated that the social cost of amphetamines in Australia is $5 billion; this includes prevention, harm reduction, treatment and health care costs, premature death, crime, child maltreatment and protection, and workplace accidents and productivity.

Amphetamine dependence is defined by changes in behavioural, cognitive and physical wellbeing. This includes strong cravings for amphetamine substances and difficulty in controlling the use of them, continuing or increasing use despite current and potential harms and consequences caused by amphetamine use, increased tolerance to the substance, physical withdrawal symptoms when use stops, prioritising use of amphetamines over people and other obligations such as engaging with friends and family or going to work or school.

At Fresh Start we offer craving management pharmacotherapy for amphetamine use disorders, and where suitable, accompany this with other pharmaceutical treatments to prevent relapse.

As amphetamines are synthetic substances that are continually changing, there are currently no treatment options that will block the effects of the substance. However, there are pharmacotherapies that can decrease cravings and withdrawal symptoms, and when used along with counselling and other supports, are able to effectively address and maintain recovery.

Whilst it is possible to reduce the effects of withdrawal symptoms, it is not possible to stop them completely. However, with the right medical and other professional support, detoxing can be managed safely, and options for long-term recovery can be made possible.

Recovery from substance use disorders is possible through the appropriate addiction treatments and recovery plans.

Amphetamines – Alcohol and Drug Foundation (adf.org.au)