An Overview of Stimulants
Stimulant drugs increase the activity of our central nervous system by speeding up the messages that travel between our brains and bodies. This change creates a boost in our dopamine and norepinephrine levels.
The desired effect is that we feel more alert, awake, or focused. There are both prescription and illicit stimulants. While some people benefit from prescription stimulant use, it can still lead to addiction and other unwanted side effects.
In 2017 alone, over one million Americans misused prescription stimulants.
Types of Stimulant Drugs
Medical professionals use prescription stimulants to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy. Adderall, Ritalin, Concerta, and Dexedrine are some of the most common prescription stimulants.
Other stimulant drugs include cocaine, amphetamines, nicotine, and methamphetamine. Both prescription and illicit stimulants can be dangerous. In 2017, drug overdose deaths involving cocaine increased by over 34 percent, totaling nearly 14,000.
In the same year, psychostimulant overdose deaths rose by 37 percent from the previous year, totaling over 10,000. Psychostimulants include both illegal drugs, like ecstasy and methamphetamine, and prescription stimulants.
The belief that prescription drug use can’t be dangerous is false and misleading. Even when a drug is prescribed, we have to do our part not to abuse it. When we do misuse our prescriptions, addictions, and overdoses become more likely.
Warning Signs of Stimulant Abuse
There are many ways to abuse prescription medications. Some of the most common warning signs of stimulant abuse include:
- Taking it in a way other than the way that it was prescribed, i.e., crushing and snorting or injecting it instead of swallowing it.
- Taking a higher dose than the one you were prescribed.
- Taking the pills more frequently than your prescription calls for.
- Swapping pills, buying, or stealing someone else’s medication.
- Taking it only to get high rather than treating a medical concern, condition, or symptom.
These are some of the most common behavioral symptoms of misusing prescription stimulants. Illicit drug abuse is even easier to identify because any use of a drug with no approved medical purposes constitutes abuse.
Why We Get Addicted to Stimulants
Stimulant drugs, whether prescription or illicit, boost the feel-good chemicals in our brains. They boost our energy, focus, and other positive feelings. Over time or in high doses, the body comes to rely on the stimulant to produce these boosts and stops creating them on its own.
Once this happens, you start to feel like you need to take stimulants to feel normal again. And as tolerance develops, you’ll need more of it to achieve the same effects.
Emotional and Physical Symptoms of Stimulant Misuse and Addiction
One of the first physical signs of stimulant abuse and addiction is the presence of withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking them. Drug cravings, muscle aches, depression, irritability, and agitation are some of the most common stimulant withdrawal symptoms.
Stimulant withdrawal symptoms can vary in type, severity, and length depending on certain individual factors. For example, the type of drug, method of use, dose, and frequency can all alter your experience.
You may notice these withdrawal symptoms as soon as a few hours after your last dose. Stimulant withdrawal symptoms can last a few days or several weeks, depending on individual factors like the type of drug and the severity of the addiction.
Misusing prescription stimulants can also cause personality changes, nausea, and vomiting, paranoia, anger, or psychosis. But one of the most concerning potential symptoms of stimulant misuse across the board is an overdose.
What Happens During a Stimulant Overdose?
Some of the most common symptoms of a prescription stimulant overdose include:
- Overactive reflexes or tremors
- Rapid breathing
- Panic and confusion
- Muscle pain and weakness
In more severe cases, hallucinations, heart problems, nerve problems, and abnormally low or high blood pressure are possible. Stimulant overdoses can be fatal. If you believe that you or someone you know is overdosing, seek immediate medical attention.
Are You (or a Loved One) Addicted to Stimulants?
Do you recognize the signs, symptoms, and side effects listed above? We are often more intuitive than we believe. If you’ve read this far because you think you may have a problem, chances are good that you’re right.
If you’ve noticed the signs of stimulant abuse in yourself or a friend or loved one, help is available. We know that addiction can be all-consuming. It may feel now like it’s easier to brush your addiction aside, but we know from experience that doing so will not make it go away.
Recovery will take time and effort, but it will always be worth it. And we’ll be by your side every step of the way.
Foundations for a Lasting Recovery
One of the primary foundations for lasting recovery is customized treatments. At The Discovery House, we pride ourselves on building customized and compassionate recovery programs rather than offering one-size-fits-all solutions.
Motivational interviewing therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy for stimulant addiction are some of the most common treatment methods. These types of therapies help us identify our motivations for making a change and teach us how to identify and alter damaging thought patterns and behaviors.
We also offer creative therapies, including art and music therapy, mindfulness and meditation, yoga, and holistic massage. Lasting recovery starts with a well-rounded, personalized treatment plan. Depending on your addiction level, schedule, and other needs, this treatment plan can take place in several different settings.
Inpatient Treatment for Stimulant Addiction
Inpatient programs are ideal for individuals with moderate to severe addictions and withdrawal symptoms, a history of relapse, or other concerns. With access to round-the-clock support in the comfort and safety of our luxury facility, this is the highest level of addiction care available.
Your days will feature proven and creative treatment methods, support group meetings, healthy meals, sober socialization, outings and activities, and more. Many in recovery choose to start with an inpatient program before later transitioning into outpatient services.
During our outpatient addiction treatments, you can attend many of the treatments listed above at our facility each week before returning home in the evenings. Outpatient programs give individuals in recovery the best of both worlds.
You can continue to work, go to school, and spend time with family while attending meetings and getting support through other methods. But it’s crucial to start with the program that you will benefit from the most rather than the one that sounds the most convenient before you start.
What is the Normal Progression from Detox to Aftercare?
Most people follow a path that looks something like this:
- Inpatient drug rehab
- Intensive outpatient rehab
- Outpatient program
- Aftercare (alumni programs, support group meetings, etc.)
But remember, everyone is different. Our dedicated team will help you decide where to start and build a customized care plan from there. We will meet you where you are in your recovery journey and help you get where you need to be.
Recovery at The Discovery House
Stimulant drug addiction, whether illicit or prescription, can be scary and challenging when you feel like you’re alone. But when you choose recovery at The Discovery House, you never have to face your addiction alone. Call our 24-hour confidential line today at 818-452-1676 for more information or to start building your customized care plan.