Drug addiction is a serious epidemic we can fight together.
What Are Stimulants?
Stimulants are psychoactive substances that cause heightened energy and alertness by amplifying the activity of certain areas of the brain. This class of drugs includes legal substances, such as ADHD medications like Adderall and Ritalin, as well as illicit substances like cocaine, crack, and methamphetamine all, of which can be abused.
Effects of each stimulant varies slightly dependent on the specific substance being used; however, abusing these substances can lead to similar dangers and, in some cases, may prove fatal. At Resurgence Behavioral Health, we offer the most current, evidence-based treatment for stimulant addiction at all levels of care.
Stimulant Abuse and Addiction
Stimulants are a widely abused class of substances; nearly 1.6 million people, aged 12 or older, report current nonmedical use of stimulant medications, including methamphetamine. Cocaine, in particular, is one of the most widely abused illicit stimulants. In 2014, 1.5 million people, 12 years or older, reported using cocaine.
No matter how a stimulant is used, people risk falling into a pattern of abuse and subsequent addiction.
Abuse of stimulants can occur via a number of different methods: oral ingestion, snorting, smoking, or even dissolving and injecting. The route of administration will determine not only the onset and intensity of effects, but also the medical risks, including the risk of developing an addiction.
Smoking and injection generally produce the most rapid effects, while swallowing and snorting tend to take longer to be absorbed in the blood stream, thus producing less intense, slower onset of effects. The severity of the addiction can cause an individual to seek more instantaneous gratification by exhibiting more high-risk behavior, such as sharing needles or driving while under the influence.
After repeated use, an individual’s brain will begin to grow accustomed to the higher levels of stimulation, requiring ever-increasing amounts of the drug to achieve a desired high. This phenomenon is known as tolerance, and it can develop within a few weeks of use. Attempts to overcome the mounting levels of tolerance often escalate the pattern of stimulant abuse and addiction.
Signs of Stimulant Addiction
Stimulant abuse causes over-stimulation in the brain. This hyper stimulation can result in some notable short and long-term effects, including:
- Euphoric feelings
- Increased blood pressure
- Rapid heart rate
- Dangerously high body temperature
- Rapid Speech
- Paranoia, delusions, and hallucinations
- Weight loss
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Difficulty breathing
- Impotence in males
- Structural brain changes
- Amenorrhea (absent menstrual cycle)
- Blood-borne diseases like HIV and hepatitis B, C, and D secondary to injection use
These symptoms can last as long as the high does, but will vary in intensity dependent on the dose taken. If the dose is high, there is a great risk of a deadly overdose from a heart attack, stroke, or seizure.
The negative consequences of stimulant use are not limited to physical problems. Many psychological and behavioral consequences are commonly seen with chronic or long-term abuse, such as:
- Extreme anxiety
- Suicidal thoughts
Teen Stimulant Abuse
Stimulant abuse by teens largely involves the non-medical use of prescription stimulant medications. In fact, among adolescents aged 12 to 17, 169,000 reported current prescription stimulant use, outside of a prescription, compared to only 39,000 who reported current cocaine use. Of those 169,00 adolescents, 45,000 reported methamphetamine abuse.
ADHD stimulant medications like Adderall, Ritalin, and Vyvanse are now easier for teens to come by than illicit substances like meth and cocaine. They may have a prescription from a doctor, or are able to get it from their friends who have a prescription. Often, these drugs are portrayed as “study aids,” used to facilitate late-night schoolwork and improve attention, but their use also extends into late-night partying due to their stimulant nature.
The brain is continually developing through adolescence, and stimulant abuse during such a crucial time may have long-lasting effects that can impact how the brain grows. Many adolescents can’t even comprehend the damage that can occur as a result of stimulant abuse. At Resurgence, we are committed to helping people of any age who struggle with stimulant addiction. If this is causing problems in your life, or in the life of someone you love, call us at the number below. We can help.