Stimulants

Traditionally prescribed to treat respiratory problems, neurological disorders, and a host of other illnesses, stimulants or “uppers,” refer to a group of drugs that speeds up the functioning of the body’s systems, increases alertness, physical activity or energy, elevates blood pressure and increases heart rate and respiration. Stimulants is available in the form of powder, rocks, pills and injectable liquids. They include prescription drugs like methylphenidate, amphetamines, diet aids as well as illicitly produced drugs like methcathinone, methamphetamine and cocaine.

Their mood-elevating effects often make them potent drugs of abuse. Popularly known by street names like “Coke,” “Crank,” “Snow,” “Uppers,” and “Ice,” smoking, snorting, or injecting these drugs can produce a rush or a flash. When not taken under the doctor’s prescription, stimulants are frequently taken to enhance self-esteem, extend wakefulness for extended periods, reduce appetite, and increase activity, among others. Repeated use of stimulants can also lead to paranoia and feelings of hostility. Their abuse is often associated with binge use patterns. An abrupt cessation of stimulants is known to produce drug cravings, depression, anxiety and extreme fatigue.

Stimulants: short-term effects

Stimulants work by increasing the release of chemicals called monoamines in the brain. These include dopamine, which produces euphoria, and norepinephrine, which heightens physiological responses. Stimulants affect the central and peripheral nervous systems, temporarily enhancing and speeding up the processes of the mind and body. Teens often abuse stimulant drugs to boost their performance at school.

Following are some of the short-term effects of stimulant abuse:

  • Alertness
  • Feelings of increased energy and attention
  • Euphoria
  • Increased respiration
  • Fast and/or irregular heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Vasoconstriction (narrowing of blood vessels)
  • Panic attacks
  • Anxiety
  • Sleep difficulties (for e.g., insomnia)
  • Lack of appetite

Stimulant abuse: dangers and consequences

The widespread abuse of stimulant medications by teens and young adults is largely due to the acceptance of use of common stimulant drugs like Adderall by children and adolescents with ADHD to help them maintain focus in studies. An estimated 1.7 million people (aged 12 or above) misused stimulants in 2016, with about 92,000 adolescents misusing the substance.

Teens and young adults who take larger doses than prescribed and who take stimulants without a prescription for the purpose of enhancing academic performance, feeling “high,” to stay up for long periods, or losing weight are at a risk of developing an addiction to stimulants and experiencing serious psychological and cardiovascular consequences. When consumed in excess, stimulant drug use can have serious effects. When taken without medical supervision, stimulant abuse can lead to addiction.

Following are some of the consequences of stimulant abuse:

  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Chest pain
  • Heart palpitations
  • Cardiac arrhythmias
  • Hypertension
  • Vomiting
  • Cramps
  • Seizures
  • Heart failure
  • Excessive sweating
  • Inability to regulate body temperature
  • Physical exhaustion
  • Stroke
  • Paranoia
  • Hostility
  • Physical and psychological dependence
  • Addiction

Due to the suppressant effect of stimulants on appetite, people who abuse these drugs can also experience malnutrition and its consequences. Heavy stimulant users will often continue to take high doses until they run out of their supply. Tolerance to stimulant drugs can quickly develop, and people who develop addiction can sometimes take large doses, which increases their risk of adverse effects and even death.

Stimulant abuse: dependence and withdrawal

Stimulant overdoses can lead to potentially fatal symptoms, such as high body temperature, seizures, agitation, hallucinations and death. The chronic abuse of stimulant drugs can also increase the risk of developing stimulant dependence and/or addiction. Unpleasant withdrawal symptoms can occur when people who develop physical dependence or addiction attempt to reduce their dosage or try to stop it completely.

Following are some of the withdrawal symptoms of stimulant abuse:

  • Fatigue
  • Sleep problems
  • Depression

Treatment for addiction to stimulants

Similar to any other substance abuse treatment, the first step in treating substance abuse is medically supervised detoxification treatment that helps get the addictive stimulants out of the system and ease the withdrawal symptoms. Post a detox program at certified stimulant detox centers, patients undergo behavioral therapies or counseling sessions.

In addition to equipping patients with the necessary life skills to avoid drug abuse after their treatment, psychotherapies also help prevent a drug relapse by ensuring that co-occurring conditions are treated and negative behavioral patterns are changed.

While a stimulant detox treatment is considered beneficial, often, the addiction expert plan to adopt a non-conventional approach to treatment. However, the same may not work in all cases, hence, it is important to follow the recommendations of the consulting expert so that there are no unexpected challenges during the recovery.

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Why choose Sovereign Health

Sovereign Health of Rancho San Diego treats adolescents addicted to stimulants, and suffering from other problems like substance use disorders, eating disorders, mental disorders and co-occurring conditions. Adolescents who have an addiction to stimulants receive comprehensive behavioral health treatment services that include evidence-based treatments, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT). Depending on the duration of the disorder and severity of symptoms, a treatment program may include psychotherapies, counseling sessions or experiential therapies like yoga, meditation and expressive arts therapy.

Our amphetamine dependence treatment programs at Sovereign Health also help patients addicted to stimulants to improve their mood and cognitive functioning and to lessen the withdrawal effects of the drugs. Our mental health professionals work hard each day, diagnosing and treating these problems for the benefit of our young patients and their families. Teens who have an addiction to stimulants receive thorough medical and biopsychosocial assessments as part of the admissions process to ensure that the primary condition and any co-occurring conditions are diagnosed and treated adequately. The thorough assessments are also useful for creating individualized treatment programs for teens.

Stimulant abuse can cause many physical and mental difficulties, necessitating treatment. Here at Sovereign Health, our treatment programs combat the psychological aspects of substance abuse and addiction by utilizing cognitive behavioral therapies as well as educating patients on handling and avoiding situations that trigger use.

All patients receive traditional treatments, such as cognitive behavioral and group therapies along with experiential treatments, such as equine therapy, exercise, yoga and more. We go the extra mile with a variety of modalities to ensure that our patients experience a full and long-lasting recovery. For more information about Rancho San Diego’s adolescent stimulant treatment program, call our 24/7 helpline to speak to a member of our admissions team. You can even chat online with our representatives for further assistance.

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