Short Term Effects
Amphetamines, like adrenaline, affect not only the brain but also the heart, lungs, and many other organs. At low doses, such as those prescribed medically, physical effects include loss of appetite, rapid breathing and heartbeat, high blood pressure, and dilated pupils. Larger doses may produce fever, sweating, headache, blurred vision, and dizziness. And very high doses may cause flushing, pallor, very rapid or irregular heartbeat, tremors, loss of coordination, and collapse.
Methamphetamine — Immediately after smoking or injection, the user experiences an intense sensation, called a “rush” or “flash”, that lasts only a few minutes and is described as extremely pleasurable. After the initial “rush”, there is typically a state of high agitation that in some individuals can lead to violent behavior. Other possible immediate effects include increased wakefulness and insomnia, decreased appetite, irritability / aggression, anxiety, nervousness, convulsions, and heart attack.
Ecstasy — Users report that Ecstasy produces intensely pleasurable effects including an enhanced sense of self-confidence and energy. Effects include feelings of peacefulness, acceptance and empathy. Users say they experience feelings of closeness with others and a desire to touch others. Other effects can include involuntary teeth clenching, a loss of inhibitions, transfixion on sights and sounds, nausea, blurred vision, chills, and / or sweating. Increases in heart rate and blood pressure, as well as seizures, are also possible. The stimulant effects of the drug enable users to dance for extended periods, which when combined with the hot crowded conditions usually found at raves, can lead to severe dehydration and hyperthermia or dramatic increases in body temperature. This can lead to muscle breakdown and kidney, liver, and cardiovascular failure. Cardiovascular failure has been reported in some of the Ecstasy-related fatalities. After-effects can include sleep problems, anxiety and depression.
Long Term Effects
Because amphetamines specifically suppress appetite, chronic heavy users generally fail to eat properly and thus develop various illnesses related to vitamin deficiencies and malnutrition. Users may also be more prone to illness because they are generally run down, lack sleep, and live in an unhealthy environment. Chronic heavy users may also develop a mental disturbance very similar to paranoid schizophrenia. Methamphetamine is addictive, and users can develop a tolerance quickly, needing larger amounts to get high. Chronic use can cause paranoia, hallucinations, repetitive behavior (such as compulsively cleaning, grooming or disassembling and assembling objects), and delusions of parasites or insects crawling under the skin. Users can obsessively scratch their skin to get rid of these imagined insects. Long-term use, high dosages, or both can bring on full-blown toxic psychosis (often exhibited as violent, aggressive behavior). This violent, aggressive behavior is usually coupled with extreme paranoia. Methamphetamine use can also cause strokes and death.
Repeated use of Ecstasy ultimately may damage the cells that produce serotonin, which has an important role in the regulation of mood, appetite, pain, learning and memory. It produces nerve cell damage and can result in psychiatric disturbances and long term cognitive impairments.