What are Stimulants?
Stimulants are part of a class of drugs that stimulate the central nervous system. There are many different types of stimulants, and together they comprise a wide range of legal and illegal substances. Common prescription-based stimulants include those such as Ritalin, Concerta or Adderall, used to treat conditions such as attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. Common illicit stimulants addiction and abuse is attributed to amphetamines and cocaine.
Stimulants are among the most widely abused drugs in the world, and are notoriously difficult to quit. Of the 22 million Americans reported to be addicted to a substance, some 1.6 were cocaine addicts, and more than 400,000 were addicted to other types of stimulants.
While many stimulants are legitimately prescribed to treat valid medical conditions, they can still be abused. Moreover, prescription drugs can also be sold illegally on the street or sourced by those other than the patient they were intended for. Prescription drugs are a common source of drug experimentation for young people, and can act as a “gateway drug” to harder substances. So if you’re asking yourself, “are ADHD drugs addictive?” The answer is clearly “yes.”
Types of Stimulants
Illicit stimulants include:
Prescription stimulants include:
Other types of stimulants include:
In the US, stimulants largely fall under the umbrella of Schedule II substances, a classification that recognizes their potential for abuse and addiction. Schedule II substances are considered to have high potential for abuse, as well as high potential for physical or psychological dependence. Both cocaine and amphetamines fall under the Schedule II designation.
Drug History and Trends in Usage
Stimulants have been available in the US since the early twentieth century, where they were common in cold medications and as antidepressants. Later, their use shifted to help treat attention- and sleep-based disorders. An increase in prescribing and public acceptance has led to greater use of stimulants, and their common prescription among teenagers and youth has made it easy for young people to illicitly source prescription stimulants from those with a legitimate prescription.
In 2011, 11% of youth aged 4-11 were diagnosed with ADHD, and it is likely that prescriptions were made accordingly. While cocaine is less readily available than prescription-based stimulants, it remains fairly widely used by young adults from 18-25, with around 1.5 million current self-reported users in the US today.
Side Effects of Stimulants Addiction and Abuse
Stimulants create a sense of euphoria as well as an increased alertness and sense of concentration. Users will typically experience a “speeding up” effect that may manifest as increased heart rate, breathing rate, and heightened blood pressure. They may also experience dilated pupils, twitching and restlessness.
Taken in high doses or over long periods, stimulants can increase the risk of cardiovascular problems and stroke. The long-term side effects of chronic stimulants abuse depend on the types of stimulants involved, but can lead to heart attacks, seizures, restlessness, paranoia, tremor-based diseases such as Parkinson’s and hallucinations. Users may also begin to demonstrate signs of psychosis, along with erratic or self-harming behavior.
Withdrawal symptoms of Stimulants
The withdrawal symptoms of stimulants typically include dysphoria and lethargy, aches and pains, anxiety and restlessness, nightmares and sleeplessness and increased appetite. Individuals may also experience paranoia and mental disturbances that may take up to a year to fully dissipate.
The severity of withdrawal symptoms will depend on how heavily and frequently an individual has been abusing stimulants.
Treatment for Stimulants Addiction and Abuse
Stimulant abuse and treatment can be a difficult task, as the challenge of quitting stimulants can be formidable, especially when young users are involved. Psychotherapy is a popular approach towards helping managing stimulants addiction, and some medications may be prescribed to assist with managing withdrawal symptoms, although no compounds as yet have been approved by the FDA for this purpose.
Behavioral therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy, contingency management and counseling can assist with successfully managing stimulant abuse and treatment. Detox programs that provide a safe, structured space for patients to learn to manage their addiction, deal with withdrawal symptoms, and address any underlying psychological issues can also be highly valuable in helping manage addiction.
If you or someone you know is struggling with a stimulants addiction and abuse, get help now. Contact White Sands Tampa about our stimulants addiction treatment programs today at 1-877-640-7820.