Stimulant-related disorders include opioid use disorder, intoxication, and withdrawal.
Stimulant use disorder is a problematic pattern of use that causes significant problems, distress, and/or impairment. The severity of this disorder is based on how many symptoms the individual is experiencing. When two to three symptoms are experienced in the past 12 months the disorder is considered mild; four to five symptoms are moderate, and six or more symptoms are considered severe.
Symptoms of a stimulant use disorder include the following:
- Larger amounts of stimulants are used over a longer period than was intended
- Persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to control use
- A great deal of time is spent obtaining, using, or recovering from stimulants
- Craving or a strong desire to use stimulants
- Recurrent stimulant use when it is physically hazardous
- Continued use despite knowledge of how it is causing or exacerbating physical and/or psychological problems
- Increased tolerance for stimulants
- Withdrawal symptoms when use is stopped
Stimulant Withdrawal Symptoms
If stimulant use is abruptly stopped after prolonged heavy use the withdrawal symptoms can become very uncomfortable and should be monitored by a qualified physician. While the withdrawal symptoms for quitting stimulants can vary depending on the individual, some of the more common ones can include: feelings of anxiety, irritability or depression, low energy or lethargy. There are medications a physician can prescribe to help manage the symptoms of withdrawal and ease the recovery process.
Examples and Types of Stimulants
Different types of stimulants commonly misused or abused include:
- Other stimulant prescription medication
Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant drug extracted from the coca plant, usually grown in the jungles of South America. For thousands of years, tribes in the Andes Mountains chewed the plant only during religious ceremonies. Starting with the arrival of the Spanish in the 1500s, the coca plant became used as a stimulant for forced workers in mines. The addictive chemical was first isolated in 1859 by a scientist, what we know as cocaine. Ever since, cocaine’s highly addictive and dangerous properties have ruined the lives of addicts and their families.
Methamphetamine is a man-made substance that mimics the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is responsible for reward-seeking behavior. Its effects are very powerful, highly addictive, and long-lasting, which is why many people seek out the drug as opposed to other, more fleeting stimulants. Meth can be used in a variety of ways, either by smoking, injecting, snorting or oral consumption, all of which become extremely habitual and can overcome even the strongest mindsets.
Often referred to as “smart drugs,” “neuro enhancers,” and “cognitive enhancers,” Adderall and other “study drugs” are powerful stimulants that are prescription-strength amphetamines. Effective in treatments for ADHD and narcolepsy, the chemical makeup of Adderall increases naturally occurring chemicals in the brain such as dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. When Adderall enters the body, it causes receptors in the brain to release unnatural and excessive levels of these chemicals, creating a chemical dependence after prolonged use.
Prescription Medication Misuse and Abuse
Addiction of any kind is the inability to function without consumption of the substance, but prescription drug addiction is an unintentional medically-assisted type of addiction. Prescription drugs become the center of the brain’s focus and are often sought out through any means possible. Drug addiction is considered a brain disease because of its ability to alter the normal brain functioning, ultimately resulting in loss of performance. Although a person might initially choose to take drugs, continued use can lead to addictive behaviors caused by structural changes in the brain.
Stimulant Use Disorder Treatment and Recovery
At Boardwalk Recovery Center, we have decades of experience with a passionate and expert medical staff as well as people who have recovered from stimulant addiction, too. Not only do we provide a safe space to help the addict get physically sober, but we offer individual and family therapy to help everyone learn new healthy behaviors. We know that many users fear never having fun without their drugs, so we also emphasize treatments that help people developing healthy ways to have fun such as yoga, meditation, surfing, and numerous other activities.
Whether you or a loved one is battling a single addiction to stimulants or co-occurring addictions to other drugs like alcohol and/or opioids, Boardwalk Recovery is ready to answer any questions and help you formulate an effective and lasting treatment plan.