Yellow pills spilled on table

Ephedrine is commonly used as an over-the-counter supplement for bodybuilders, heavy weightlifters, and other athletes. Federal agencies in the United States, however, have discovered some nasty side effects that can occur as a result of ephedrine abuse. Ephedrine use has also been heavily linked to eating disorders and other conditions associated with the physique. As a drug and alcohol rehab in South Florida, we wanted to share everything you need to know about ephedrine abuse. 

What Is Ephedrine?

Ephedrine is a stimulant and drug that is normally used to treat respiratory problems, nasal congestion, low blood pressure, narcolepsy, issues with menstruation in women, and urine-control issues. As a stimulant, ephedrine works by targeting the central nervous system and binding to receptors in the brain that respond to catecholamines, which refers to hormones like adrenaline (epinephrine), dopamine, and noradrenaline. These hormones are released by adrenals glands located on top of the kidneys to normalize your metabolism, blood pressure, immune system, and responses to stress. Depending on the person, the dose for prescription ephedrine usually doesn’t exceed 150 mg per day in adults or 75 mg per day for children.

Common side effects of ephedrine include: 

  • Dizziness
  • Vertigo
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Headache
  • Insomnia
  • Heart palpitations
  • Increased heart rate
  • Sweating 
  • Painful urination

What Is Ephedrine Used For? 

When ephedrine attaches to these receptors, they trigger a “fight or flight” response, increasing heart rate, increasing metabolism, and decreasing appetite. While ephedrine is used to treat a variety of conditions, it’s most popular among athletes and bodybuilders because of its effect on a person’s metabolism and hunger. Ephedrine can help burn fat and can help a person keep the weight off. A 2006 study reported that ephedrine and caffeine were especially effective in long-term weight maintenance as well.1 Combining ephedrine, caffeine, and aspirin, often referred to as “ECA stack,” is a common practice among weightlifters and athletes as well. Ephedrine is also rare in the sense that it becomes more effective over time. Research suggests that ephedrine works better over time because it increases the body’s sensitivity to catecholamines.2 

Is Ephedrine Addictive?

Like many other drugs, ephedrine is addictive and you can overdose on it. Ephedrine works better over time because the body is changed by it. Ephedrine can cause your body to become accustomed to hormones like dopamine, adrenaline, and noradrenaline. While this may be helpful for weight loss, it can also be dangerous. Any time that you take a drug that can affect the balance of hormones in the brain can result in addiction or other side effects. Because many people also combine ephedrine with caffeine and aspirin, their risk of serious health problems increases. Ephedrine is also a stimulant that is often abused for its energy-increasing side effects. Like any other stimulant, it can have a severe impact on brain function. So yes, it’s possible to become addicted to ephedrine, and those who develop an ephedrine addiction can recover at our luxury residential rehab

Signs of Ephedrine Abuse

Addiction is a mental and physical dependency on a substance. If you or someone you know is taking ephedrine, there are some signs of ephedrine drug abuse you should look out for: 

  • Withdrawal symptoms 
  • Constant thoughts about ephedrine use
  • Depression
  • Shaky hands 
  • Anxiety
  • Migraines
  • Hallucinations
  • High blood pressure
  • Coma
  • Liver damage 

Ephedrine will usually last up to five days in your system and can be detected through urine within this time frame. The longer a substance stays in your system, the more difficult it is to detox from it. When a person suddenly stops taking a substance, they may experience withdrawal symptoms. Without medical assistance, these symptoms could cause severe physical reactions that could land the person in the emergency room. Ephedrine withdrawal symptoms can be treated in our luxury detox program at Seaside Palm Beach. In our detox program, patients can learn how to fight addiction cravings and receive 24-hour medical assistance. 

If you or a loved one is struggling with drug addiction, we can help. Call our team today at 561-677-9374 to learn more about our luxury treatment center in Palm Beach and the addiction programs we offer.  


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