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Are All Stimulant Drugs Addictive?

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“So, in a sense, crystal methamphetamine is the nuclear weapon in the brain, contrasted to conventional weapons of alcohol, cocaine, and marijuana.”

~Dr. Petros Levounis, Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Rutgers Medical School in New Jersey

When it comes to the drug problem in the United States, much of the attention is focused upon the issue of prescription opioid painkillers and the resurgence of the street drug heroin. But lost in the shuffle is a class of dangerous drugs that never went away – stimulants.

What are Stimulant Drugs?

Stimulant drugs are those that increase attention, alertness, and energy. They work by elevating blood pressure, respiration, and heart rate. These drugs have been used to treat a wide variety of ailments over the years. They can be used to treat obesity, asthma, and neurological disorders. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, this changed when the risks for abuse of stimulants became apparent. Today, they’re only used to treat a few health problems.

People who suffer from ADHD, depression, and narcolepsy are often treated with stimulant drugs. However, these medications are frequently only used when other treatment methods have failed.

Of course, there are other types of stimulants as well; ones that are not legal in the United States. Cocaine, methamphetamine, and Ecstasy are examples of common stimulant drugs. In many ways, the two types are very similar to one another. Both can be abused and can even lead to addiction.

Stimulants Addiction

Most people start taking prescribed stimulants at the advice of a doctor. They’re given a prescription along with strict instructions to adhere to it. However, there are also those who take these drugs without a prescription. This typically happens on college campuses. Students often have a problem staying up late to study for exams. Or, they may need help to stay awake in class. Stimulants provide a way for that to happen.

For illegal stimulants, their use begins with abuse. Any use of these drugs is considered to be abuse, and it’s often done out of curiosity. In both instances, abusing these drugs can lead to an addiction.

This is surprising to some who have a hard time believing that it’s possible to become addicted to a legal, prescribed medication. Many times, these drugs may not have warning labels on them. However, they can still be very addictive.

In most cases, a stimulants addiction doesn’t happen overnight. Although there are some people who have claimed to become addicted to cocaine after just one use. It usually takes multiple uses for an addiction to form. The individual may feel as though they can’t live without the drug in their system. They believe they need it to survive.

Signs You’re Addicted to Stimulants

There could be many signs that you’ve become addicted to a stimulant drug. For example, you may exhibit:

  • Bizarre, erratic behaviors
  • Instances of psychosis
  • Hostile behaviors
  • The onset of paranoia
  • Delusions or hallucinations
  • At high doses, suicidal or homicidal thoughts

When someone is addicted to a stimulant drug – whether it’s legal or illegal – the signs are obvious. They may need to use when they wake up in the morning. They may participate in doctor shopping in order to have enough of the drug on hand at all times. They also most likely change many parts of their life in order to accommodate their drug use.

If you’re not sure if you’re addicted to stimulants, you need to find out. You can talk with a professional about your symptoms. If you’re not ready to take that step yet, consider taking an addiction quiz to get more insight.

Stimulants Effects

Stimulants have a profound effect on the body and on the mind. There are both short and long-term effects associated with misusing and abusing stimulants. It’s important for you to understand both of these.

The short-term effects of stimulant drugs include:

  • Improved self-esteem
  • Intense feelings of being happy
  • An improved attention span
  • Increased sexual desire
  • Improved sexual performance
  • Easier breathing
  • Appetite suppression and possible weight loss

These effects are all very desirable. They are actually why people start using stimulants in the first place, in most cases. People expect these positive effects to last forever, and they’re often upset when they don’t.

As an individual gets deeper into the throes of addiction, they often find that the drug isn’t desirable after all. Some of the long-term effects of stimulant drugs include:

  • Deterioration of the muscles in the body
  • Feeling exhausted all the time
  • Ongoing headaches
  • The risk of cerebral hemorrhage
  • The risk of a stroke
  • The risk of seizures
  • Heart disease or damage
  • Problems with the stomach and digestive system
  • Reduction in sexual functioning
  • Excessive weight loss

It is our hope that as you look at this list, you can’t help but think, It’s just not worth it. It truly isn’t. It’s up to you to take care of your health. Even if the drugs you’re currently taking are prescribed, the fact that you’re now addicted to them is a problem. Please know that there are other ways to treat your condition rather than addictive drugs.

When it comes to the drug problem in the United States, much of the attention is focused upon the issue of prescription opioid painkillers and the resurgence of the street drug heroin. But lost in the shuffle is a class of dangerous drugs that never went away – stimulants.

What Are Some of the Most Commonly-Abused Stimulants?

There are many different types of stimulants that are misused or abused recreationally, both illicit street drugs and prescription stimulants, including:

  • Crystal methamphetamine –Also known as “crank, ice, meth, or speed”, this drug is usually smoked, snorted, or injected, creating an strong initial rush typically lasting up to eight hours.
  • Cocaine–“Coke” appears as a white powder that is snorted, or as crystalline “rocks” that are smoked as “crack”.
  • Ecstasy –“Molly” is the designer drug of choice in the party-going “rave “culture.
  • Ritalin/Concerta – This prescription amphetamine, with street names such as “Diet Coke, Smarties, or Skittles”, is a common medication dispensed for childhood ADHD.
  • Adderall –Usually prescribed for ADHD, this prescription medication is often abused by students as a performance-enhancing study aid.

Stimulant Abuse Statistics

How Big Is the Problem of Stimulant Abuse in the United States?

Each type of stimulant creates its own problem within society. For example, methamphetamines are widely abused in poor or rural areas, because they are cheap and easily manufactured out of common ingredients. Prescription amphetamines pose a particular risk to teenagers and young adults, primarily because they are dispensed so often.

  • Approximately 5 million Americans are current users of cocaine.
  • Almost 600,000 people are current users of methamphetamines in the United States.
  • This is significant, because in 2010, there were only 353,000 methamphetamine users.
  • 1 out of every 20 Americans ages 12 or older has used methamphetamines at some point in their life.
  • The United States consumes about 85% of the world’s Ritalin.
  • 10% of teenagers abuse Ritalin or Adderall.
  • 8 out of 13 school shootings were perpetrated by individuals who were either taking stimulants or antidepressants at the time.
  • Up to 35% of college students have diverted ADHD stimulants.
  • 1 out of every 8 young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 has used  Ecstasy at some point in their life.

Why Are Stimulants Addictive

What Are Some of the Reasons that Stimulants are so Addictive?

Stimulants are popular recreational drugs because they promote euphoric feelings of well-being and excitement, trigger increased alertness, can aid in concentration, and promote weight loss.

Like all drugs of abuse, stimulants raise the dopamine levels in the areas of the brain that are responsible for reward and pleasure. They “hijack” the brain’s reward pathways, making the abused stimulant the single most important thing in the addict’s life.

Let’s say that in a normal person, their dopamine levels normally stay at 100%. But, by comparison:

  • A pleasurable activity like sex will raise those dopamine levels to 200%.
  • The stimulant cocaine can increase those levels to 350%.
  • Crystal methamphetamine, the strongest and most commonly- abused stimulant, causes dopamine levels to skyrocket to an estimated 4000% above the normal baseline.

This explains why stimulant-addicted people are driven to ingest more and more of the drug, to the exclusion of almost any other activity.

The problem is exacerbated by the fact that long-term stimulant abuse can have a direct destructive effect upon the brain’s neurons, causing disordered thinking, difficulties in concentration, and both short-and-long-term memory loss.

Finally, recovery from stimulant abuse is made harder because there is no established and effective medication that a person in rehab can take that will help, unlike as is the case with other addictive substances such as alcohol, opioids, or tobacco.

Because of this, the type of therapy, education, and counseling that a person receives during drug rehab become that much more important.

Getting Treated for Stimulants Addiction Through Rehab

Northpoint Recovery in Boise, Idaho, has a staff of trained addiction specialists who have both the experience and the expertise required to treat substance abuse disorders manifesting as stimulant addiction.

Individualized treatment plans combat the disease of addiction on multiple levels – physical, mental, emotional, nutritional, and spiritual – by using a combination of 12-step philosophies, evidence-based therapy protocols, and alternative holistic options that together maximize each patient’s chances of successful recovery and long-lasting sobriety.

At this point, you may be feeling a bit paralyzed in your reaction. You may not have known that there was anything wrong with using stimulants. Especially those that have been prescribed by a doctor. It’s understandable if you’ve fallen into this trap. However, please know that you can’t stay there. Getting the help you need is the most important step you can take right now. Please don’t put it off.

Do you have questions about stimulant drugs? Leave us a comment below.

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Are All Stimulant Drugs Addictive


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By |2021-01-28T16:11:25+00:00May 12th, 2016|

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