What are Stimulants
Addiction to Stimulants
Physical Effects of Stimulants
How Stimulants Affect the Body
Stimulants increase activity in the brain by changing the balance of neurotransmitters, namely dopamine and norepinephrine. Dopamine is involved in reinforcing the brain’s rewarding behaviors. Norepinephrine affects the body’s cardiovascular system, increasing blood pressure, heart rate, blood sugar, and breathing.
The effects a stimulant has on a person can vary depending on:
- Their size and health
- Length of use
- Dosage taken
- Drug potency
Effects of stimulants in low dosages:
- Feelings of wellbeing
- Increased heart rate
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased alertness
- Increased energy
- Reduced appetite
Effects of stimulants in high dosages:
- Chest Pain
How Stimulants Affect the Brain
As users build a physical tolerance to the drug, they will have to seek higher doses to keep feeling their new normal. Physical dependence also forms in the body as the brain becomes reliant on the drugs to produce its dopamine. Stimulant abusers will suffer withdrawal symptoms and crashing, both physically and mentally, when the drug use stops.
Withdrawal makes it physically and psychologically difficult to stop stimulant use, and can even be dangerous. This danger is why detox and rehab in a medical facility is the most recommended way to recover from stimulant addiction.
The psychological effects of stimulant abuse are severe. Illicit stimulants such as cocaine and crystal meth often lead to binges to avoid feeling depressed or exhausted. When a user is bingeing, they might not sleep for several days, which is a common side-effect called tweaking. Though most associated with meth users, all users struggling with any stimulant abuse can go on similar binges.
Other psychological effects of using stimulants include:
Types of Stimulants
Other stimulants fall into the methylphenidate class, which includes prescription drugs such as Ritalin and Concerta. Their effects are very similar to amphetamines and work in the same way. Their difference comes from the fact that some people respond better to one or the other in achieving desired results, such as treating ADHD.
Synthetic cathinones are modeled after cocaine, with bath salts being the most notorious form. They have grown in popularity in the United States recently due to its cheap availability, despite its illegal status. These drugs are difficult to dose properly and have unpredictable effects on the brain, making accidental overdose dangerously easy.
Methamphetamine, or meth, is another highly addictive stimulant. Meth is found in either powder or crystal form, and its popularity in the United States has been growing. Meth causes an intense rush of euphoria accompanied by severe crashing afterward. Methamphetamine is dangerously easy to overdose on, often leading to severe physical problems and death.
Medical issues from meth use include:
- Extremely high body temperatures
- Severe itching
- Broken teeth and dry mouth, known as meth mouth
- Cognitive issues
- Mental and physical degradation
Caffeine & Nicotine
- Difficulty concentrating
- Depressed mood/irritability
- Flu-like symptoms
Treatments for Stimulant Addiction
Stimulant Inpatient Rehab
Stimulant Outpatient Rehab
Outpatient treatment programs often involve group therapy, individual therapy, and family therapy. Outpatient rehab is most often used as an aftercare or step-down program upon completing an inpatient treatment program. This helps the patient transition back to daily life while maintaining recovery.