Addiction to Stimulants and Overview
Addictions to stimulants are quite commonplace in the United States. Stimulants are drugs that are used to increase alertness and attention. They are also used by many people to improve their energy levels. Stimulant drugs can be prescribed, but there are a few that are illegal in the U.S.
A stimulant addiction is quite easy to form with prolonged use of these drugs. If you have an addiction to stimulants, you need to learn as much about them as you can. The more you know, the more you will see a need to get help and recover.
Stimulants may seem to offer help; especially those that are prescribed. The fact is that even prescribed stimulants can be dangerous when they are misused.
It's not always easy to determine if you have a stimulant addiction. Let's go over some key information about stimulants so that you can be well informed.
What are Stimulants?
The term stimulants covers many different drugs that increase activity within the body. These are drugs that are pleasurable or invigorating. They are frequently referred to as "uppers" because of how they affect the mind and body.
Stimulants are widely used all over the world. Prescription stimulants are frequently used to treat conditions like ADHD and ADD. In these situations, they are quite useful. However, they can still be abused, just like any other prescription drug.
Illegal stimulant use has been around for a very long time. These are recreational drugs that can quickly lead to addiction.
List of Commonly Abused Stimulants
There are many commonly abused stimulants. Again, some of these are prescription drugs, and some are illegal in the United States.
The list of commonly abused stimulants includes:
- Crystal Meth
It's possible that you recognize many of the drugs on this list. You may recognize one or more of the prescription drugs from your own medicine cabinet. Unfortunately, many people take these drugs without realizing their addictive potential.
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Stimulant Abuse and Addiction Statistics
Stimulant abuse and addiction is prevalent in the U.S. Recent stimulant abuse and addiction statistics tell us that:
- Between .8% and 2.1% of people in the U.S. have abused amphetamines, cocaine or MDMA (Ecstasy).
- 1.5 million people have used cocaine (including crack cocaine) in 2014.
- People between the ages of 18 and 25 were more than twice as likely as other adults to use cocaine.
- Men were twice as likely to use cocaine compared with women.
- In 2014, 569,000 Americans had used methamphetamine in the last month.
- There were 103,000 emergency room visits due to methamphetamine in 2011.
- More than 60% of these cases involved mixing meth with at least one other drug.
- In 1987, 0.6% of youth were prescribed prescription stimulant drugs.
- In 2007, that percentage had increased to 9.5%.
- Of those who abuse prescription drugs, 3.6% of them are using prescription stimulants.
These statistics expose the truth about both types of stimulants in our country. Quite often, this is a problem that isn't talked about. Stimulant abuse is still a very serious problem. For those who abuse them, or who struggle with stimulant addiction, it's an issue that needs to be addressed.
What is Stimulant Abuse?
The definition of stimulant abuse may differ depending on the type of stimulants. For prescription stimulants, it refers to the use of them outside of the prescribed information. For illegal stimulants, abuse refers to any use of the drug whatsoever, even one time.
Stimulant abuse is not the same as stimulant addiction. The abuse of these drugs means that they are being misused. There is no compulsion to use them, and no problems when the drugs are stopped.
However, that does not mean that stimulant abuse is not a problem. It is, and a very serious one, at that. Stimulant abuse can and will lead to addiction the longer it is continued.
Some examples of stimulant abuse might include:
- Any use at all of illegal stimulants, such as meth, cocaine or crack.
- Using a prescription stimulant without a prescription.
- Taking too much of a prescription stimulant, even with a prescription.
- Taking dosages of stimulants too closely together.
- Using prescribed stimulants for reasons that are contrary to the reason they were prescribed.
For someone who is participating in stimulant abuse, professional treatment like an IOP program or drug rehab isn't necessary. However, that does not mean that the situation should be ignored.
There is a reason why someone might be abusing stimulants, whether they are prescribed or illegal. For someone with a prescription to a stimulant, his or her dosage may need to be adjusted by the doctor. Also, stress, depression or another problem may be leading to the abuse of stimulants.
For someone who is abusing illegal stimulants, a mental health condition or physical pain could be the reason. Sometimes people with depression will choose to abuse illegal stimulants to feel better.
Regardless of the reason, stimulant abuse should be treated. However, usually counseling is a great option, rather than drug rehab. A counselor can help the individual determine what is encouraging that person to abuse stimulants. Seeking immediate help can effectively keep a stimulant addiction from happening.
What is Stimulant Addiction?
When someone has a stimulant addiction, that person does feel compelled to use these drugs. At that point, stimulant use feels as though it is a necessary part of life. In fact, stimulant addicts often feel like they can't function without stimulant drugs at all. They may panic if and when they run out of their stimulants.
If they need to go a period of time without taking them, stimulant withdrawal is experienced. They may also find that they think about stimulants almost all the time.
Some drugs can take a long time to form an addiction after abuse begins. This isn't necessarily so with stimulants. In fact, illegal stimulants can lead to addiction very quickly. Some experts even say that it's possible to become addicted to cocaine or crack after one use. The same is often said for crystal meth use.
It's important to be able to recognize a stimulant addiction if you have one. To do this, you need to know the signs and symptoms of this type of addiction.
Some of the more common signs of a stimulant addiction include:
- Exhibiting manic behaviors
- Extreme mood swings
- Secretive behaviors, or lying about drug use
- Lack of interest in personal hygiene or appearance
- Irrational and strange behaviors
- Possible extreme weight loss
- Becoming paranoid
- Feelings of agitation and restlessness
- Becoming easily irritated
Do you recognize any of your own symptoms on this list? If you do, you may have a stimulant addiction. If you're still not sure, you may want to consider taking a quiz that will help point out addictive behaviors.
There are certain risk factors that make some people more likely to abuse stimulants than others. These risk factors are also more likely to lead to stimulant addiction.
You may be at risk for stimulant abuse and addiction if you:
- Have a family addiction history
- Are a male
- Are suffering from a mental health condition, such as depression
- Are lacking social support in your life
- Have taken other highly addictive drugs
Statistics tell us that younger people – and specifically high school and college students – are most at risk for stimulant abuse. In fact, the CLAAD states that:
- 13% of teens admit to taking prescription stimulants that were not prescribed for them.
- 26% of teenagers believe that prescription stimulants can be used as study aids.
- Close to 2 out of 3 college seniors will be offered prescription stimulants for nonmedical use.
- 31% of them will use them at least one time.
- As many as 91.5% of college students who misuse prescription stimulants do so to study.
- About 74% of college students get their prescription stimulants from friends who use them.
The Effects of Stimulants on the Mind and Body for Stimulant Addicts
Whether you are using illegal or prescription stimulants, these drugs have a profound effect on people. They can seem to be helpful at first. However, as time goes on, their negative effects cannot be ignored.
Both types of stimulants produce short-term and long-term effects. The longer they are used, the more pronounced their effects will become.
Stimulants can seem to be very useful when you begin using them. They produce many desired effects, which is why people continue to abuse them.
The short-term effects of stimulants can include:
- Producing a sensation of euphoria
- Increasing blood pressure
- Increasing heart rate
- Faster breathing rates due to opened airways
- Increasing blood sugar levels
- Increasing attention
- Increased sexual desire and performance
- Intense sensations of happiness
The longer an individual uses stimulants, the more dangerous they become. It doesn't take long to form an addiction to these drugs.
The long-term effects of stimulants include:
- The risk of heart problems
- The risk of psychosis
- Decreased appetite and weight loss
- Reduced sexual functioning
- Stomach and digestion problems
- Deterioration of the muscles
- Breathing problems
With prolonged use, stimulants become even more dangerous. There is an increased risk of cerebral hemorrhage and stroke. Also, seizures may begin to develop if you have been using stimulants for a long time.
Stimulant Withdrawal Symptoms Explained
Because stimulants are addictive, stimulant withdrawal is common when these drugs are stopped. Stimulant withdrawal symptoms are very difficult to get through on your own. In fact, most people aren't able to get through them without professional help.
Once you stop taking stimulants, you are likely to experience the following stimulant withdrawal symptoms:
- Intense hunger and weight gain
- Cravings for your stimulant drugs
- A need to sleep excessively
- Bouts of irritability and agitation
- Feelings of mental and physical fatigue
- Problems experiencing pleasure
- Bouts of anxiety
One of the biggest problems with stopping the use of stimulants is depression. Depression is a common stimulant withdrawal symptom. At times, it can become so bad that it leads to suicidal thoughts or gestures.
Stimulant withdrawal occurs because of the changes that take place in the brain when you take these drugs. Stimulants are very powerful drugs, whether they are illegal or prescribed. When they are abused, they cause a flood of dopamine and serotonin in the brain.
Serotonin and dopamine are two of the chemicals that cause you to feel happiness, satisfaction and security. They are essential for a happy life. Your brain normally makes both of these chemicals on its own.
Stimulant abuse will cause your brain to stop making serotonin and dopamine. Therefore, when the stimulant drug is stopped, you don't have these chemicals. As a result, your brain and body respond with withdrawal symptoms.
Methods of Stimulant Addiction Treatment That Help with Recovery
There are different ways to treat a stimulant addiction professionally. As you might imagine, this largely depends on the type of stimulants you are currently using.
If you are addicted to illegal stimulants, you may need to go through a period of drug detox. Drug detoxification will help to purge your body of impurities and toxins. This is such an important step that should not be skipped. Drug detox will help your body heal and recover from the physical part of your addiction.
Once you have gone through detox, the next step is to go through drug rehab. It isn't enough to heal from the physical part of your addiction only. You also need to recover from the psychological part of it as well. This might mean recovering from a co-occurring disorder, or mental health condition.
If you are addicted to prescription stimulants, you also need drug detox. However, it will look a little different. You may be placed on your stimulant medication for a short time while the dosage is tapered down. This will help to reduce your stimulant withdrawal symptoms. It will also protect you from experiencing any dangerous symptoms of withdrawal. You should then go on to complete drug rehab.
Drug Rehab Offers Help and Hope for Stimulant Addicts
When you go to drug rehab for your stimulant addiction, you'll get all the support you need. It is so important that you not try to stop using stimulants on your own. Doing so can result in a relapse, which could possibly lead to an overdose. This, of course, is something you want to avoid because it could be fatal.
Our IOP program may be just what you need to recover from your stimulant addiction.
Intensive outpatient treatment offers you a flexible program that will easily fit into your daily life.
No matter what, please know that you're not alone. A stimulant addiction is very serious, and it requires immediate treatment. Now that you know how they can affect you, please get help today.
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