Amphetamine is a stimulant of the Central Nervous System (CNS) commonly used in the treatment of Attention Deficiency Disorder (ADD) (Rasmussen, 2008). The drug, which also goes by the names “Uppers” or “Speed” is also, used to suppress appetite and fatigue, increase feelings of alertness, self-confidence, and energy (Healey, 2007). These effects endear amphetamines for use as an ergogenic drugs. Ergogenic drugs are those substances that athletes use to boost sporting performance. Though amphetamine can enhance sporting performance, its side effects can cause serious health effects and as such, the drug should not be used as an ergogenic aid.
Scientists have proven amphetamines as being effective in the treatment of CNS conditions and increasing alertness. Since 1970s, the laws have restricted the medical use of amphetamines. The only two amphetamines licensed by the government for medical use are Methylphenidate (to treat hyperactivity) and Dextroamphetamine (to treat narcolepsy) (Rasmussen, 2008). The uses of amphetamines to increase athleticism and competitiveness usually fall under the illegal usage of the drug. The illegal use of amphetamines during vigorous exercise can result in death, as was the case with British cyclist Tom Simpson.
Amphetamines are used as ergogenic drugs because they have effects comparable to those of adrenaline (Alttoa & Harro, 2004). According to Klee (2001), amphetamines raise blood pressure, suppress pain and fatigue, while also speeding up reactions. They also redistribute blood flow to the skeletal muscles (drugs.com, 2013). The stimulation of the CNS increases mental alertness, heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tension, blood glucose, and Free Fatty Acid (FFA) levels (Duarte et al, 2004). As such, users feel confident, alert and can work harder for longer periods. The ability of amphetamine to suppress pain can cause the athlete to comfortably ignore injury warnings and enable him/her to play while injured and still win medals or break records! These effects make the amphetamine drugs ideal for usage in the sprints to assist the sprinters react to time. Sporting events that require endurance and that take long also attract hordes of athletes to use the drug. Marathoners, long distance athletes, and cyclists use amphetamine in order to mask fatigue, and increase their tolerance to lactic acid accumulation (Healey, 2007). Overall, amphetamine increases the strength, aggression, and acceleration of the athlete.
Sporting organizations and bodies have banned the use of performance enhancing drugs by athletes. These bodies include the International Associations of Athletics Federations (IAAF), and tthe IOC (International Olympics Committee). The bodies carry out regular and thorough doping tests in order to seize users of the drugs who are consequently banned from participating in their disciplines for lengthy periods. Athletes have tried to mask their usage of the drugs by consuming them in “acceptable” forms such as painkillers, energy drinks, and appetite boosters among others (Rasmussen, 2008). Healey (2007) notes that many athletes use amphetamine as ephedrine- a drug used to treat coughs, common asthma, and sinus. However, doping authorities are usually able to detect the drugs and the cornered athletes are warned, fined, or banned depending on the gravity of the issue.
There are several side effects of using amphetamine as an ergogenic aid. It can cause physical and psychological differences, anxiety leading to aggressive behaviors (Duarte et al, 2004). Users of the substance also confess to feeling “low” afterwards. Because of hiding or masking pain, tiredness, and fatigue, the aftermath of using amphetamines is usually characterized by blurred vision, dizziness, and extreme exhaustion (Klee, 2001). Medical professionals confirm that as the drug causes high heart rate and blood pressure, users can suffer arrhythmia or increased heart rate (Klee, 2001). This condition is unfavorable to human health. In the end, heavy use of amphetamines can lead to chronic high blood pressure, brain, and liver damage.
Medical professionals warn people against using amphetamine when they are suffering from some medical conditions. These conditions include arteriosclerosis (hardening of arteries), glaucoma, cardiac diseases, anxiety disorders, hyperthyroidism, and history of drug and alcohol abuse. It is important that one avoids taking amphetamines as ergogenic drugs if they have Tourette ’s syndrome, diabetes, epilepsy, and seizure disorders (Healey, 2007). Moreover, people who have taken drugs containing monoamine oxidase inhibitor such as pheneldine (nardil), tranylcypromine (parnate) among other related ones should also not take amphetamines as ergogenic drugs (drugs.com, 2013). Since it is at times impossible for one to know whether they suffer from any of the aforementioned conditions or they have taken drugs containing the mentioned substances, it is always important that one take amphetamines upon prescription by a qualified medical professional. This way, the person uses the drugs in a safe way though they still risk being detected by relevant sporting bodies during doping exercises.
Amphetamine is a stimulant of the Central Nervous System (CNS) commonly used in the treatment of Attention Deficiency Disorder (ADD). However, its effects of raising blood pressure, suppressing pain, fatigue, and speeding up reactions endear the drugs to usage by athletes to aid them perform in their sporting disciplines. Since athletic organizations ban the use of performance-enhancing drugs by athletes, many athletes mask their use of amphetamine through ephedrine- a drug used to treat coughs, common asthma, and sinus. Sprinters use the drug because it makes them conscious of time and it gives them extra energy and alertness because blood flows faster round the body. Long distance runners and cyclists also use the drug because it helps them endure fatigue and pain. Though athletes can use amphetamine and perform optimally, they risk detection and consequent lengthy bans during doping exercises. Besides addiction, there are also numerous side-effects to the health of the users that should dissuade athlete from ever using amphetamine as an ergogenic drug.
Alttoa, A., & Harro, J. (2004). Effect of CCK1 and CCK2 receptor blockade on amphetamine-stimulated exploratory behavior and sensitization to amphetamine. European Neuropsychopharmacology, 14(4), 324-331.
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Duarte, J. A., Carvalho, F., Fernandes, E., Remião, F., Bastos, M. L., Magalhães, J., et al. (2004). D-Amphetamine-Induced Hydrogen Peroxide Production in Skeletal Muscle is Modulated by Monoamine Oxidase Inhibition. International Journal of Sports Medicine, 25(6), 446-449.
Healey, J. (2007). Amphetamine use. Thirroul, N.S.W.: Spinney Press.
Klee, H. (2001). Amphetamine use: crystal gazing into the new millennium: Part Three - prospects of collaboration, containment and ultimate control. Journal of Substance Use, 6(3), 158-173.
Rasmussen, N. (2008). On speed: the many lives of amphetamine. New York: New York University Press.