Constipation is a health issue in the gastrointestinal tract that impacts millions of people globally. This uncomfortable and dangerous condition is frequently related to a wide variety of factors. These include lack of exercise, nutrition, medication, and medical conditions.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), in the United States, approximately 33 out of 100 adults suffer from constipation. Recently, there have been concerns about the possible link between constipation and the use of amphetamines.
What Are Amphetamines?
Amphetamines are a class of controlled substances that stimulate the body’s central nervous system. They are frequently prescribed for conditions such as narcolepsy, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and even obesity.
As a mood-altering drug, amphetamines inhibit the reuptake and stimulate the release of particular neurotransmitters that communicate with the brain. Norepinephrine and dopamine are examples of the neurotransmitters that the drug affects. The drug’s mechanism of action increases concentration, focus, and alertness, which is why it is effective in treating symptoms of ADHD.
However, amphetamines don’t only stimulate the brain. They also produce various systemic effects throughout body systems. We will explore why amphetamines can cause constipation, what mechanisms produce this condition, and what strategies can be implemented to manage this side effect.
Constipation and the Digestive System
Constipation is defined as a chronic condition that produces irregular bowel movements and/or difficulty passing stools. The diagnosis is generally based on a person’s lack of frequent bowel movements (less than three per week) and difficulty passing stools that lasts for at least several weeks at a time.
It is an uncomfortable and extremely unhealthy condition that interferes with one’s ability to carry out their normal daily tasks. Those who suffer from constipation usually experience episodes of excessive strain, which leads to many other health conditions.
Constipation is characterized by the following symptoms:
• Hardened stools
• Straining during bowel movements
• Incomplete evacuation
• Abdominal cramps
In order for the digestive tract to remain healthy, it is necessary to have smooth muscle contractions that allow waste to move through the intestines. If the process is in any way disrupted, a person can experience constipation.
The Link Between Amphetamines and Constipation
Although the relationship between amphetamines and constipation has not been researched extensively, there are studies that have found a potential link. Health researchers have found that amphetamines can produce many changes in the body that can produce constipation, including:
• Decreased secretions of the GI tract
• Reduced intestinal motility
• Changes in the neurotransmitter balance that controls bowel movements
Why Are Secretions and Intestinal Motility Important?
When the body is ready to evacuate, it relies upon the intestinal motility and secretions of the gastrointestinal tract. When this part of our physiology malfunctions, it slows down the movement of waste material that is making its way out through the intestines and colon.
The result is decreased motility and increased transit time of waste. It also causes a rise in water absorption, which leads to the hardening of stools. In addition, amphetamines can reduce GI tract secretions that are filled with digestive enzymes and mucus that help keep stools soft for easy excretion.
Lack of Neurotransmitter Balance
The use of amphetamines affects the balance of the body’s neurotransmitters that work to produce healthy bowel movements. An example is dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is responsible for digestive motility. Alterations in dopamine levels are likely to disrupt the natural physiology of the digestive system and create constipation.
Another example is the neurotransmitter norepinephrine, which is also altered by amphetamines. When out of balance, the body cannot carry out its normal digestive secretions and motility.
How to Safely Manage Constipation Produced By the Use of Amphetamines
If you are one of the 34.07 million people who use amphetamines globally, you may be experiencing constipation. It is, therefore, essential to talk about your condition with your physician. You will need to receive customized indications according to your specific case.
These are general methods that can help you manage constipation:
1. Eat enough fiber: There are many reasons why fiber is an essential part of nutrition. Fiber helps to soften your stools so that you can achieve easy and regular bowel movements. Eat foods such as vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains.
2. Stay well-hydrated: Drinking enough water is a vital habit that can keep your overall health at its best. It also prevents constipation by keeping your stool soft while helping you maintain a healthy fluid balance in your digestive system.
3. Engage in physical activity: One of the best habits you can develop is to keep moving. Regular exercise not only promotes healthy digestion but also keeps your cardiovascular system healthy and elevates your mood. To increase your digestive motility, engage in moderate exercise, such as walking for at least 30 minutes per day.
4. Try laxatives when having difficulty: There are many types of laxatives available. In some cases, they have to be used to help you evacuate. Your physician may recommend an over-the-counter brand or write a prescription for you. If you are experiencing chronic constipation, be sure to use laxatives only under medical supervision and for the short term. You don’t want to use laxatives for a long time because your body will become dependent, causing a further interruption of your natural digestive process.
5. Change your amphetamine dosage: Amphetamines should only be used under medical supervision. Talk to your doctor if your constipation becomes too frequent or if you experience it for too long. Having constipation can affect the quality of your life. Your doctor will be able to monitor your progress and adjust the dosage or medication brand as needed.
6. Consume probiotics in your diet: Probiotics aid digestion by helping your body maintain a healthy gut microbiome balance. When in balance, the healthy bacteria in your gut help you experience easy and plentiful bowel movements to keep your digestive health at its best. Before starting a probiotics regimen, be sure to consult your doctor, who will determine if probiotics are beneficial to you.
7. Pay attention to your daily routines: By establishing the same daily routine, you are more likely to experience regular bowel movements. The body will become accustomed to calmly going to the bathroom at the same time each day.
8. Practice stress management: One of the most common health conditions in the U.S. is anxiety and stress. These emotional states can worsen constipation. Therefore, it is important that you practice relaxation techniques, including yoga, deep breathing, therapy, and many other alternatives.
9. Try natural remedies: There are many natural remedies that help you find relief from constipation. These include ginger or peppermint tea, which both aid digestion. Herbal supplements such as senna or aloe vera can also help by providing laxative properties. As always, be sure to consult your physician before starting new regimens to ensure you stay safe and your methods are effective.
10. Stay away from certain substances and medications: If you are experiencing constipation, it is advised to stay away from certain antidepressants, opioids, antacids that contain calcium or aluminum, and other substances that contribute to constipation. Caffeine and alcohol can also produce constipation or worsen your chronic symptoms.
11. Practice abdominal massage: Whether you do it on yourself or receive it from another person, use a gentle massage technique on your abdomen. With open palms, use a circular motion to stimulate your intestines to produce a bowel movement. It is a great way to relieve bloating and constipation while relaxing the GI tract. Use video tutorials to learn techniques or consult a professional massage therapist that specializes in abdominal massage techniques.
12. Follow up with your healthcare provider regularly: To stay healthy and achieve recovery from amphetamines, it is essential that you regularly follow up with your doctor. You will receive the proper monitoring necessary to avoid the negative side effects of amphetamines while providing the guidance you need to manage constipation and all its symptoms.
Understanding the Characteristics of Chronic Constipation
Although there are not many concrete research studies about the link between constipation and amphetamines, its mechanism does appear to produce less secretion and motility of the GI tract.
If you are taking amphetamines, it is imperative for you to understand its potential side effects. You must also become familiar with the signs of chronic constipation so that you can easily monitor yourself and have information to give to your physician. You can also implement various lifestyle modifications that will keep your GI tract healthy, such as exercising and drinking enough water.
Once you implement lifestyle modification and discuss the treatment options with your doctor, you will likely be able to manage the condition successfully until it is no longer present.
Understanding Your Amphetamine Use Disorder
Amphetamine use disorder (AUD) is a grave condition that involves the prolonged and compulsive misuse of amphetamines. Amphetamines are addictive stimulants that elevate brain activity to cause a heightened state of euphoria and alertness.
Addiction to amphetamines involves the ongoing use of the substance leading to repetitive distress and impairment. If you find yourself craving the drug, have built a high tolerance, or are experiencing withdrawal symptoms, chances are you are suffering from addiction.
Other signs of addiction include neglect of personal responsibilities, lack of social interactions, and occupational alterations. Amphetamine use disorder can be due to a psychological condition, environmental factors, or even a genetic predisposition. For some people, particular personality traits such as impulsivity can also make you more likely to develop an addiction.
How Amphetamine Use Disorder Effects You
When you are addicted to amphetamines, you may start to experience a wide range of physical and mental symptoms. In the short term, with amphetamine use, you may start to notice an elevated heart rate, rise in blood pressure, less appetite, trouble sleeping, and excessive alertness.
Long-term use can cause cardiovascular disease, paranoia, cognitive impairment, hallucinations, and malnutrition, as well as psychological disorders, including psychosis, depression, anxiety, and other conditions.
Get the Help You Need to End Your Amphetamine Addiction
If you are addicted to amphetamine use, in conjunction with your physician, you will find support and a customized treatment plan at Defining Wellness Centers. Our mission is to help each client get well physically, mentally, and spiritually. We understand that each individual is unique and requires a tailored approach in their recovery from amphetamine use disorder.
Defining Wellness Centers’ compassionate treatment team can help you develop the inner resources necessary to carry out a healthy life. Contact us today to learn more about how Defining Wellness Centers can help you start your journey to a clean and vital life.