What Are Stimulants?
Table of Contents
- Signs and Adverse Effects of Stimulant Abuse
- Proper Use Vs. Abuse
- The Key Details of Stimulant Addiction Treatment
- The Basic Timeline of Stimulant Withdrawal
- How to Find the Right Treatment Program
- Recognizing Your Addiction and Coming to Terms With It
- Successful Recovery Is Possible, for Yourself or a Loved One
Stimulants, which are also known as “uppers,” boost alertness, energy level, and attention. They also cause your heart rate and respiration to increase significantly. Nicotine and caffeine are two of the most well-known stimulants, and their effects are relatively mild. Cocaine, speed, and crystal meth are some of the more lethal illegal stimulants, and chronic users develop a debilitating tolerance.
A prolonged and dedicated process is what it takes to achieve successful recovery. Assisted withdrawal and behavioral counseling are two key elements to getting your life back, and you can’t do these things on your own.
These types of drugs were once prescribed quite often for asthma and other breathing problems, neurological disorders, and even obesity. They were even used during wartime to keep soldiers and pilots awake and alert for long periods of time.
Since we have learned more about the potential for abuse of stimulants, doctors have become much more selective in prescribing them. Today, they are typically used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children. Although ADHD is usually thought of as a childhood disorder, it often persists through adolescence and into adulthood. Stimulants prescribed to treat ADHD, such as Adderall, Ritalin, and Vyvanse, are often abused by college students and teens because they are easier to come by than illicit drugs like cocaine and crystal meth. However, their abuse certainly isn’t limited to that demographic.
Signs and Adverse Effects of Stimulant Abuse
Abusing stimulants causes a disruption of normal communication between your brain cells and its ability to produce dopamine. This makes it harder for you to find pleasure in other activities, and it leads to a host of short-term physical side effects. These include increased blood pressure, rapid heart rate, and very high body temperatures. You may also experience paranoia and have difficulty sleeping.
The long-term effects of stimulant abuse can be lethal, and they include:
- Cardiovascular damage
- Extreme exhaustion
One alarming aspect of stimulant abuse is that people seek out more effective means of ingesting them as their addictions grow. Oral ingestion often escalates to snorting, smoking, and injecting. Smoking and injecting stimulants produce the fastest desired effects, but they also enhance the medical risks. The brain also becomes accustomed to the higher level of stimulation, which creates a deadly type of tolerance.
In extreme cases of abuse, the euphoric feelings and rapid heart rate caused by stimulants can lead to deadly outcomes. Overdosing on stimulants can lead to heart attack, stroke, seizure, and even death.
Proper Use Vs. Abuse
The major appeal of taking stimulants is their ability to give users a quick boost of energy through a brief release of dopamine, the chemical responsible for happiness and overall feelings of well-being. Although high school and college students tend to use stimulants as “study drugs,” research has shown that students who abuse prescription stimulants perform at lower levels than those who abstain from them.
Maybe the scariest part of this trend toward teen stimulant abuse is the fact that the brain is continually developing throughout adolescence. Abusing stimulants during this crucial growth phase can have long-term adverse effects on mental health. Most young people don’t understand the damage stimulants can do, so educating them about the risks is essential.
Although high school and college students tend to use stimulants as “study drugs,” research has shown that students who abuse prescription stimulants perform at lower levels than those who abstain from them.
For people with ADHD, properly prescribed stimulants provide greater focus and heightened alertness. Stimulants are carefully introduced to ADHD patients, and then gradually increased until symptoms fade.
When abused, stimulants cause dramatic increases in dopamine that can’t be sustained. The effectiveness wears off when a planned, incremental dosage isn’t followed, and the user searches for more intense highs. This leads to increased doses and different methods of use, such as snorting and injecting.
Because ADHD diagnoses continue to rise, there are more teens trying and abusing stimulants. Cheaper and more easily prepared forms of these substances are also more prevalent, which means addiction rates figure to keep growing.
Nearly 1.6 million Americans 12 and older reported current nonmedical use of stimulant medications in a 2014 survey. In the same year, there were nearly 5,500 fatal overdoses of cocaine in the U.S. Stimulants are a widely abused class of substances, in both prescribed and illicit forms.
The Key Details of Stimulant Addiction Treatment
With the help of a medical professional, you can cut down your stimulant use without the worst withdrawal symptoms. Although everyone responds slightly differently to the detox process, you can expect to experience a darkened mood and any of the following symptoms:
- Slowed speech
- Increased appetite
- Hallucinations or delusions (in serious cases)
Generally speaking, these symptoms present themselves within a few hours to a few days after stimulant cessation. Although most symptoms peak within about one week, psychological effects such as depression can last months after quitting.
The Basic Timeline of Stimulant Withdrawal
There is usually a pattern to the types of withdrawal a person experiences. In the immediate aftermath of quitting stimulants, you will likely feel sad and a bit agitated. Intense cravings for the drug can also be expected. Difficulty sleeping, fatigue, and body aches are also common. For heavier users, the first three days of withdrawal may bring hallucinations and panic attacks.
Mental and physical exhaustion will likely greet you during this phase, along with cravings and increased depression. Withdrawal symptoms typically last about seven days, but drug cravings are likely to intensify as other symptoms fade.
Having support from other addicts going through the same recovery process is an effective weapon against relapse.
Between 11 and 17 days after quitting stimulants, insomnia and depression tend to become the worst remnants of the withdrawal process. Mood swings often accompany these symptoms. Depression may linger for months after cessation, as well as your cravings. Suicidal thoughts may enter the mix here, which is why having a medical professional at your side is so important.
Using an addiction treatment medication such as Suboxone is a good way to taper off stimulant use. Doctors might also prescribe antidepressants to help with the depression, insomnia, and general agitation that often comes along with the detox process. A short course of antipsychotic medication may be used in the event of significant signs of psychosis during recovery.
People going through stimulant detox often need some type of nutritional supplements or treatment as well. It is also essential to address the underlying psychological issues, and anti-anxiety medications may sometimes be used in the short term to ease certain withdrawal symptoms.
After the detox process is complete, behavioral therapy is often the next step in recovery. Having support from other addicts going through the same recovery process is an effective weapon against relapse. Both one-on-one sessions and group meetings will help an addict learn to cope with cravings and find happiness without stimulants.
How to Find the Right Treatment Program
The first thing to ask yourself is if you prefer inpatient or outpatient care. Both options typically feature detox and counseling sessions to help you deal with cravings and avoid relapse. The biggest difference is that an inpatient program requires a stay at a sober facility, while outpatient programs allow you to go through treatment at home. It’s a good idea to consult with a medical professional before you choose which option is best for you.
It’s important to consider the physical and mental space you create for yourself when you opt for an outpatient program. Although some people prefer to be closer to family and friends for additional support, there’s something to be said for getting away from everything and dealing with your addiction as well.
We would also recommend finding a program that specializes in stimulant addictions. This type of program will be better equipped to confront the unique issues that emerge during stimulant detox and withdrawal.
Recognizing Your Addiction and Coming to Terms With It
Long-term abuse of stimulants causes a range of physiological and psychological effects, including anxiety, irritability, and insomnia. More than anything else, though, it robs you of the ability to feel pleasure and happiness from everyday experiences. When this is the case, you must come to terms with your addiction and seek professional help.
Quitting stimulants on your own is a highly ineffective method, and withdrawal symptoms will almost certainly lead to a relapse if you don’t have a dedicated professional helping you along your journey.
For many drug addicts, there is an underlying and undiagnosed mental illness behind their addictions. If this is the case for you, attempting to quit stimulants on your own could lead to significant mood disturbances and a host of other psychological side effects. Don’t risk it by going through recovery on your own; find the right professional treatment program with our help.
Successful Recovery Is Possible, for Yourself or a Loved One
An intervention is a good way to address an addict’s behavior and express your support for his or her recovery. With a counselor or medical professional at your side, you can show the addict that he or she is truly loved while you provide an effective path to rehabilitation. Whatever you say during the intervention, make sure to emphasize that the addict is loved and that you will always be there to support him or her.
This is the most important point, because it can seem like you’ll never get past your addiction and experience happiness without stimulants. You can win the battle with addiction, and you don’t have to face it alone. With the right treatment program and help from medical professionals, you can reclaim the healthy lifestyle you deserve.
A prolonged and dedicated process is what it takes to achieve successful recovery. Assisted withdrawal and behavioral counseling are two key elements to getting your life back, and you can’t do these things on your own. With medical professionals at your side, you can overcome your addiction and any mental issues at play. All you must do is make the decision to enter treatment and get started.
If you’re concerned about paying for rehab and aftercare, there are many options you can consider. Your insurance provider may cover a stay in a rehabilitation center, and treatment centers typically offer a variety of payment plans. Whatever your situation, we will help you find the ideal option that ensures your recovery.
Start today by calling Rehab-Finder.Org at 877-251-4813.