It is not uncommon for people who are concerned with performance or weight loss to come across ephedrine. This alluring drug is often used as a performance enhancer, smart drug or weight loss pill. But did you know that ephedrine is also highly addictive and dangerous to your health?
- Ephedrine is commonly used as a performance enhancer or smart drug. But what are the health risks behind this easily available and widely misused stimulant?
- Abuse of ephedrine has been linked to cases of sudden death. What makes it so dangerous?
Ephedrine is a medicine that is commonly used to help with various medical conditions – mainly low blood pressure, but it also suppresses appetite and assists with concentration. Ephedrine stimulates the brain. It increases heart rate, blood pressure, metabolism and body heat. These desirable physiological effects, coupled with the release of feel-good chemicals in the brain, make it a highly addictive substance. Not only is ephedrine addictive, is also incredibly dangerous. We discuss some important facts about this commonly abused drug, as well as treatment available for ephedrine addiction.
Common Abuses of Ephedrine
Increased heart rate and blood pressure caused by ephedrine make it an attractive performance enhancer for athletes and body builders. It is also commonly used by college students as a smart drug, and by people who work long or unusual hours, because of its concentration and wakefulness-boosting properties. The drug’s metabolism-enhancing and appetite-suppressing side effects also make it popular among those who wish to lose weight quickly.
But despite these seemingly positive outcomes of using the drug, the abuse of ephedrine has been linked to cases of sudden death. This has spurred many countries to ban ephedrine. The drug is also prohibited in the Olympics, FIFA and virtually all other sporting competitions.
Ephedra and The Heart
The sudden deaths caused by ephedrine have largely to do with the drug’s effect on the heart. As previously mentioned, ephedrine is a stimulant that causes increased heart rate, metabolism and body heat. It creates great instability in the electrical activity of the heart, making the user susceptible to:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Heart attack
Ephedrine use comes with many other side effects, but the most life-threatening of all is its inference with the heart.
How Ephedrine is Similar to Amphetamines
The chemical compound of ephedrine is likened to the structure of amphetamines; it can even be used to make methamphetamine. This makes it a high-demand substance for illicit drug manufacturers and another key reason that ephedrine has become more difficult to obtain.
Ephedrine’s similar structure to amphetamines explains its addictive nature. Both drugs interact with the brain’s feel-good chemicals, causing the user to continually crave more of the substance. Those who use ephedrine regularly find that their tolerance increases. As this happens, the risk of heart attack, seizures, stroke, coma and death also increase.
Quitting Ephedrine: Is there Withdrawal?
It is possible to be addicted to ephedrine and not experience a physical dependence on the drug. In these cases individuals are not using large amounts yet and, with support, are able to stop using the drug with minor or no physical withdrawal symptoms.
Others who have abused ephedrine for longer, and therefore are likely consuming it in large amounts, can expect to experience physical withdrawal from the drug. The typical side effects ephedrine of withdrawal are: nausea, vomiting, headache, diarrhea, dizziness and decreased energy and mood.
That said, ephedrine does not cause a withdrawal as intense as other substances like alcohol or heroin. However, depending on the level of the addiction, quitting this drug can require a supervised detoxification setting.
Treatment for Ephedrine Addiction
If you or someone who know is struggling with an ephedrine addiction, there is quality treatment available. At The Cabin Chiang Mai, we specialise in treating a variety of addictions. Our resort-style facilities are located on the river banks of Chiang Mai, Thailand, providing the most peaceful and luxurious environment to heal from addiction.
If you or someone you know is struggling with an ephedrine addiction, the time to seek help is now. Contact us today.