Stimulants are a broad class of drugs that can increase activity in the brain and the central nervous system as a whole.
Stimulants are generally fast-acting and often produce a rebound or “crash” as the primary effects begin to wear off. This can create a cycle of repeated use that can quickly lead to addiction or other forms of abuse.
Stimulant addiction does respond to many different addiction treatment methods and those suffering from stimulant addiction have recovery options that are proven to be effective.
Below, we’ll explain the different signs and symptoms of stimulant addiction as well as go over several treatment options to end the cycle of addiction when abusing stimulants.
What are Stimulants?
Stimulants are a class of drugs that increase brain and metabolic activity along with an increase in certain neurotransmitters. This increased activity can lead to the user feeling more energized, and focused, as well as a sense of euphoria or well-being.
When abused, these stimulants can also cause anxiety, panic attacks, mood swings, and sleep disorders. With repeated abuse, these negative effects often become more pronounced and debilitating.
Due to the increase in heart rate and other bodily functions, stimulants can have detrimental physical effects as well. In severe cases, cardiovascular damage or seizures can occur.
Stimulants can be purchased on the street, but they can also be prescribed by a doctor depending on the type of stimulant. In both cases, abuse is still possible.
Common stimulants include:
- Ecstasy (molly/MDMA)
- “Bath salts”
Symptoms of Stimulant Addiction
It’s common for patients who abuse stimulants to not be aware of their addiction until it has progressed to the later stages. Because stimulant users often feel more aware and alert when abusing, it can create a false sense of control.
Stimulant addiction can also make the patient feel as though they are accomplishing more or being more productive. This can often mask the more negative consequences of stimulant abuse, obscuring the true nature of the addiction.
Below are some common symptoms of stimulant abuse and addiction.
- Weight loss or lack of appetite
- Tooth decay or other oral problems
- Skin problems or lesions
- Anxiety or panic attacks
- Paranoia or delusions
- High-risk behavior
- Severe fatigue when not using stimulants
Some of these symptoms such as anxiety or high-risk behavior can occur after a single use and may not be indicative of addiction. However, they still present an adverse reaction that can lead to physical and mental harm.
Prescriptions Stimulant Addiction
A newer form of stimulant addiction can occur with popular prescription drugs such as Adderall or Ritalin. These drugs are commonly used to treat Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD), but they can be abused both by patients and those without a prescription.
The symptoms and treatment for prescription stimulant abuse can be very similar to that of other stimulants.
Abuse of prescription stimulants can also lead to dangerous and risky behaviors such as trying to secure counterfeit or other stimulants on the street when the prescription is no longer available.
It’s not for those who abuse prescription drugs to switch to other street drugs after some time. This is one of the reasons why it’s so critical to recognize the early signs of prescription stimulant addiction and to take action before the situation becomes worse.
Treatment For Stimulant Addiction
There are several highly effective treatments for stimulant addictions. Depending on the level of addiction and the type of stimulants used, your addiction specialists will determine the best options for your situation.
Every treatment option will start with a detoxification period where the patient suspends any use of stimulants.
This can be a difficult time as the patient’s nervous system and body adjust to a more normal state of activity when stimulants are not present.
Withdrawal and cravings can also be strong during the detoxification process. This is why it’s so critical to be under the supervision of an addiction specialist who can provide the assistance and guidance to successfully navigate this delicate period of sobriety.
Outpatient Treatment For Stimulant Addiction
After the successful stimulant detoxification process, most patients opt for an outpatient treatment program. While inpatient programs are available, these are often more costly and less flexible than modern outpatient options.
However, in some cases, inpatient care may be more appropriate if the patient has coexisting physical or mental health problems that require more specialized care.
During both outpatient and inpatient care, most of the treatment for stimulant addiction will be based on various Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques (CBT).
These techniques help the patient adjust certain behaviors which can lead to stimulant abuse.
With outpatient CBT-based therapy, the goal is to provide the patient with the tools and techniques to help them stay sober on their own once the therapy is over.
Many of the techniques revolve around providing methods for dealing with stressors or triggers that can lead to relapse.
Outpatient programs for stimulant addiction can be intensive at first, with 20 or more hours of counseling per week. As the patient makes progress, the length and frequency of the counseling can be reduced as needed.
This type of flexibility makes it easier for the patient to maintain certain obligations outside of therapy while still getting the care and support they need for recovery.
Ongoing Outpatient Therapy
When the initial outpatient therapy is complete, it is highly recommended that patients continue with ongoing therapy, which is referred to as aftercare. Aftercare can be in a group setting and is less formal.
However, stimulant addiction statistics show that patients have higher success rates when they participate in aftercare programs once they have completed their outpatient treatment.
Help Finding Stimulant Addiction Resources
If you or someone you love is dealing with stimulant addiction, there are powerful treatment methods that are available.
At Emory Recovery Center, we offer intensive and aftercare outpatient programs for prescription and non-prescription stimulant addiction.
Our caring and compassionate staff can help you find the right treatment options to match your needs.
If you need more information about stimulant addiction treatment, contact the Emory Recovery Center to learn more from one of our dedicated addiction specialists.