Both illicit and prescription stimulants are used by people seeking increased energy, focus, and euphoria. Stimulant use can cause adverse health effects like heart and nerve problems, and increased the risk of overdose and addiction.
Prescription stimulants are drugs that can help treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or narcolepsy, a condition of uncontrolled episodes of sleep. Stimulants work by boosting alertness and energy. As a properly managed medication, stimulants can be very effective and improve the quality of life for many people.
Unfortunately, like many other prescription and over-the-counter drugs, stimulants can be misused by people in ways that can cause dependence, addiction, and increase the risk of negative health consequences. Both illicit and prescription stimulants are misused by people seeking increased energy, focus, and euphoria.
At the high school and university level, stories of students taking Adderall® in order to help them stay up longer and focus on studying and cramming the night before a big exam are fairly common and accepted as simply something that happens. Since Adderall isn’t too hard of a prescription to get hold of, either by misusing an already prescribed bottle or using a friend’s prescription, it has become almost a staple in the academic landscape as a source of focus and energy.
If you or someone you know has formed a dependency on stimulants, treatment is available! Breaking an addiction or dependency by yourself can be difficult. You don’t have to do this alone. At Vertava Health Ohio, we’re here to provide support and quality addiction treatment services.
What Are Stimulants?
Stimulant misuse can cause adverse health effects like heart and nerve problems, and increase the risk of overdose and addiction.
Stimulants are drugs that cause heightened mental and nervous system activity. They increase a person’s energy levels and concentration and—when taken in high amounts—can produce a feeling of euphoria.
These drugs can be obtained illicitly on the street or legally by prescription. Stimulants are most commonly prescribed to help treat ADHD and narcolepsy. Both prescription and street-acquired stimulants have potential to be misused by some individuals who are seeking pleasurable effects that the drug can offer.
Many stimulants are more recognizable by their brand names:
- dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine®)
- dextroamphetamine/amphetamine combination product (Adderall®)
- methylphenidate (Ritalin®, Concerta®)
Perhaps the most well-known stimulant is Adderall, a prescription used by many individuals with ADHD to help them better focus and concentrate. Adderall in particular is known for being an illicitly used drug in academic circles. Access is rendered easy when someone has a friend with the prescription and simply takes some of their medication.
Although it might seem harmless to use stimulants in an attempt to boost one’s energy or help one focus on studying or working, repeated stimulant misuse can be hazardous to a person’s health and well-being and may lead to life-altering addiction.
Cocaine, crack cocaine, and methamphetamine are common stimulants sold illegally on the street. While these substances are still legal for medical use, they are Schedule II controlled substances. Schedule II controlled substances are a classification of drugs that have a high potential to be misused.
There are a variety of names that may be used to refer to stimulants. Cocaine, for example, is also known as flake, base, toot, yeyo, or candy, while methamphetamine is commonly known as crystal, glass, ice, or speed.
People often use clever code names for prescription stimulants so that they can talk about them openly. Some of these names include Diet Coke®, Kiddy Coke, Smarties® or Kibbles & Bits®.
Prescription stimulants like Adderall are referred to by a different set of names that distinguish them from stimulants like cocaine or methamphetamine. Prescription stimulants may be known popularly as speed, uppers, and vitamin R.
Stimulants are usually taken orally in pill form but may be smoked, crushed and snorted, or dissolved in water and injected into a vein. Drug misuse is also characterized by using a substance in a way other than prescribed. Deviating from the traditional manner of swallowing the prescription pill can be classified as drug misuse.
Signs Of Stimulant Addiction
Many people who become addicted to prescription stimulants never intend to become addicted or dependent on the drug. Usually drug use starts out small. With prescription stimulants, people begin taking them before big events like midterms or all-night work assignments. As they experience success, they begin to take them before every project or test and can become mentally and physically dependent on them. A person may begin to inadvertently put themselves in a position where their mind and body begin to associate success at school or work with the prescription stimulant. Eventually, that person will need to keep taking the drug.
Illegal stimulants are often misused because they produce a sense of euphoria and a boost of energy. These may be taken in a binge and crash pattern, in which a person takes repeated doses to maintain a high until they are so exhausted they may sleep for days. This can also indicate an addiction.
Other signs of stimulant addiction can include:
- Physical health effects as a result of excessive stimulant use
- Trying to get money from friends or family members
- Selling things to pay for drugs
- A formerly responsible person becoming irresponsible and careless
- Visiting multiple doctors for prescriptions (“doctor shopping”)
- Loss of interest in social activities
Strained relationship with family members
sign-of-stimulant-addictionIf someone wants to help a loved one who is struggling with stimulant addiction, it is essential that they do not enable drug misuse. This may mean cutting the person off financially, which can be heartbreaking. A person who is addicted to stimulant drugs may spin stories about emergencies and situations that have real consequences, but it’s important to realize that some addicted persons intend to buy drugs instead of paying their rent, fixing their car or buying food as they might promise to do.
Of course, one should make decisions about this with great seriousness. But, there are still ways you can support your loved one without completely cutting them out from your life. You don’t have to provide financial support in order to help support someone with an addiction. Instead, try to maintain a relationship with healthy boundaries. Offer to help find treatment or engage in positive actions like driving your loved one to a job interview or a doctor’s appointment.
Short-Term And Long-Term Effects Of Stimulants
Stimulants increase attention, alertness and energy. They may enhance performance for a short time. Right after taking a stimulant drug, a person might feel:
- Able to breathe more easily
- Less hungry
- More focused
- Shaky (tremors)
When someone takes stimulants, their heart rate increases and may become erratic as their blood pressure rises. Their body temperature goes up, which can cause hyperthermia (dangerous overheating). The stress that this puts on the body can cause sudden death, especially in the case of stimulant misuse.
A person who misuses stimulants may experience these long-term effects:
Heart damage (generally irreversible)
Stomach and intestine problems
Can You Overdose On Stimulants?
It is possible to overdose on stimulants by taking a high dose or taking them too frequently. This can occur with prescription or illicit stimulants and produces similar effects in either case.
Signs of a stimulant overdose include:
- Rapid breathing
- Aggression or panic
- Muscle pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Cramps and diarrhea
Heart attack and nerve problems that may cause seizures are two of the most severe consequences of stimulant overdose. When more than one stimulant drug is taken at the same time, the chance of overdose goes up, as does the likelihood that it will be fatal.
When a person first stops using stimulants, they may feel sad, agitated, and have intense cravings. Once the initial withdrawal has passed, they may have foggy thinking as well as physical and psychological exhaustion that can lead to depression.
During this time, many people relapse because they feel like the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms will never pass. Social or medical support during the detox process is helpful in preventing relapse and ensuring a person’s safety.
Stimulant withdrawal may last anywhere from four days to a few weeks. The intensity of the cravings usually gets worse before it gets better. Even after the withdrawal is passed, a person may still experience some cravings and triggers for stimulant use.
Treatment for stimulant addiction helps people manage these cravings and triggers. It focuses on replacing substance misuse with healthier behaviors.
Treatment For Stimulant Addiction
At Vertava Health Ohio, each person begins stimulant addiction treatment with a thorough assessment that is used to create a unique treatment plan. The most effective care considers all aspects of a person’s life that contribute to, or are affected by, addiction, and this is different for everyone.
Our holistic inpatient rehab program provides a safe environment where individuals can work together to heal their mind, body, and spirit. We offer a variety of evidence-based practices such as cognitive behavioral therapy and dual diagnosis treatment.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
This form of psychotherapy helps a person assess negative thought patterns and habits that may be keeping them in a cycle of addiction. CBT helps a person rewrite these patterns with more positive and solution-based thoughts and actions.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
DBT helps individuals deal with their most painful emotions and relationship challenges. As they do this, they learn to express their emotions and love themselves first by setting appropriate boundaries so that they can more openly love and accept others.
Vertava Health Ohio is fortunate to be situated in a peaceful, natural setting that allows plenty of opportunity for recreation and adventure therapy. This involves activities like hiking and camping that promote physical and mental health.
We also offer experiential therapies such as yoga, art, and music to encourage personal expression and healthy outlets of creativity.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment
People who have a stimulant addiction may also have a co-occurring mental disorder that makes overcoming addiction more difficult. This may be a primary or secondary disorder that either led to, or stems from, substance misuse.
If mental issues are not addressed during addiction treatment, relapse is more likely to occur. Our goal is to heal addiction from the inside out so each person can experience lifelong recovery.
Get Treatment For Stimulant Addiction
At Vertava Health Ohio, we know that stimulant addiction can seem difficult to overcome. We’re here to provide the best quality treatment and support in order to help you recover and commit to lifelong recovery. Get started by calling 844.954.1771 today.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to treat stimulant addiction?
At Vertava Health Ohio, we believe in using treatment plans that take each individual’s needs into consideration. Our stimulant addiction treatment program includes evidence-based cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dual diagnosis treatment. CBT seeks to teach clients to unlearn negative and unhelpful thought patterns. Dual diagnosis treatment is aimed at addressing co-occurring mental health disorders. Often, individuals who struggle with a substance use disorder also struggle with a kind of mental illness. In order to best help our clients, we’re committed to addressing both conditions.
Why is stimulant addiction so hard to break?
Like many other kinds of addictions, stimulant addiction is difficult to move away from. It becomes even more difficult to break a stimulant addiction when it’s a big part of someone’s life. The more a person relies on a substance to help them in difficult situations, the more the body will desire that substance.
Moving away from that substance will cause the body to question the lack of it, causing cravings and that mental desire to return to using stimulants.
What medication is used to treat stimulant addiction?
The search for a medication that can be used to treat stimulant addiction continues. Currently, there aren’t any drugs that have been created to treat this addiction. However, some other kinds of medication may help reduce cravings to some degree.
Prozac® and naltrexone are two of these drugs that may help. Prozac is usually prescribed for depression or obsessive compulsive disorder, and naltrexone is often used in opioid and alcohol addiction treatment.
Written by Vertava Health Ohio Editorial Team.
This page does not provide medical advice.