Stimulant Addiction – Residential Treatment

Stimulant Addiction - TTCCareStimulants are a class of drug that directly impact cognitive function. As the name might suggest, these kinds of substances work to “stimulate” your central nervous system, heightening alertness, focus and energy. Its effects include increasing blood pressure, heart rate, blood glucose levels, and even your breathing rate. Unlike a lot of other addictive substances, stimulant drugs fall into all four categories of drugs: legal, illegal, natural and synthetic. Both synthetic and natural stimulants can be found in things used in everyday life. The caffeine in coffee is one example of this. Additionally, many legal stimulant drugs are used in medicine and are relatively harmless, including:

  • Amphetamines
  • Codeine
  • Ephedrine
  • Pseudoephedrine

However, what makes stimulant drugs so dangerous is their high potency and potential for addiction. Some of the most infamous habit-forming stimulants include:

  • Cocaine
  • Crack
  • Crystal meth
  • MDMA
  • Speed

No matter what category they fall in, stimulant drugs have a high potential for abuse and subsequent addiction. In fact, users can become addicted with as little as one use. If you have a stimulant addiction, it’s important to seek help.

Stimulant Tolerance, Abuse and Addiction

Stimulant abuse is a growing problem in the U.S. today, especially among young adults. Since stimulant drugs are widely available in the form of prescription medication, misusing them even once can significantly boost the user’s risk of developing an addiction. This is because increased tolerance can trick the user’s system into thinking it needs more of the drug to function the way it’s become accustomed to.

When you build tolerance to a substance, your body gets so used to it that it needs more to get the desired effect. For example, if you take medication for ADHD and you feel as though the prescribed dosage isn’t enough to help anymore, then you’ve likely built up a tolerance to the medication and need a dosage adjustment from your doctor.

If you take stimulant medication, it’s important to always talk to your doctor about changing your dosage. Attempting to “self-medicate” with any sort of stimulant yields higher chances of forming an addiction. This is because, in addition to inducing focus and energy, stimulants aid in the brain’s production of dopamine, the body’s natural “feel-good” chemical. So, with continued stimulant misuse, your brain will eventually be unable to produce normal amounts of dopamine on its own. This newly-engrained physical need for dopamine is part of what reinforces stimulant abuse, which can easily become an addiction over time.

Some Shocking Stimulant Statistics

Demographics of stimulant abuseThe national rates of stimulant abuse and addiction are alarming. While there are some cases among adolescents aged 12 and older, stimulant addiction is most commonly found among adults aged 26 and older. In fact, an estimated 63% of stimulant users are older than 26. Statistics show that 38% of stimulant users are employed, 30% work part-time jobs, 15% are unemployed, and 17% are out of the labor force entirely. But just how prevalent is the problem?

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), stimulant addiction reached its peak in 2014, when surveys found that:

  • Roughly 570,000 people admitted to regular methamphetamine misuse
  • Over 1 million people were found to have used prescription stimulant drugs non-medically
  • Nearly 1.5 million people were found to be active cocaine users, with 350,000 of them using crack
  • Over 3 million people admitted to stimulants abuse within the last month

The hospitalization rates as a result of stimulant abuse prior to 2014 are just as shocking. SAMHSA has determined that the number of users admitted has skyrocketed from 2,300 in 2004 to almost 17,300 in 2011.

Risk Factors of Stimulant Addiction

Increasing stimulant abuse ratesMany seasoned mental health professionals and addiction specialists theorize that stimulant abuse, as well as subsequent addiction, stems from a variety of factors. In fact, some of the most common theories behind the onset of stimulant abuse and addiction involve both environmental and genetic factors.

Environmental factors have been known for decades to be a main contributing factor in the development of stimulant addiction. Peer pressure within close social and familial circles is probably the biggest example of this.

In addition, years of research has shown that genetics can play a major role in the development of addiction. In the case of stimulant addiction, individuals who have a family history of substance abuse problems are at a higher risk for developing an addiction than those who do not.

How Can I Know for Sure if I Have an Addiction to Stimulants?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), people misuse stimulant drugs for two main reasons: either to enhance work/school performance or to get high. In either case, the people who develop an addiction to these substances will typically ignore or deny its negative consequences. If you are concerned that you or someone you know may be developing a stimulant addiction, there are a number of signs you can look for to find out for sure. The more common physical, behavioral, cognitive and psychological warning signs can be found below.

Physical Signs of Stimulant Addiction

  • Higher blood pressure than normal
  • Chest pains and/or palpitations
  • Lack or loss of coordination
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Frequent headaches
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Excessive sweating
  • Dizziness

Behavioral Signs of Stimulant Addiction

  • Erratic behavior
  • Engaging in uncharacteristically risky behaviors
  • Giving up activities once considered enjoyable
  • Disproportionate unhealthy sense of well-being
  • Shows of borderline or extreme violent behavior
  • Decreased sleep or disrupted sleep cycle
  • Increased energy and/or restlessness
  • Hyperactivity and/or mania

Cognitive Signs of Stimulant Addiction

  • Constant breaks from reality (i.e. “spacing out”)
  • Poor concentration
  • Poor judgment
  • Hallucinations
  • Psychosis

Psychological Signs of Stimulant Addiction

  • Suicidal or homicidal thoughts
  • Anxiety and/or panic
  • Aggression
  • Delusions
  • Paranoia

If you use stimulants and experience one or more of the signs listed in each section above, you may be developing an addiction if you haven’t already. In any case, it’s important to seek help.

Stimulant Withdrawal and Overdose

Quitting stimulant drugs is incredibly difficult to do alone. The withdrawal symptoms that come with stimulant detox at home can range from uncomfortable to unbearable.  The most common symptoms of stimulant withdrawal typically include:

  • Compromised concentration
  • Decline in cognitive function
  • Sleeplessness or insomnia
  • Bodily aches and pains
  • Intense mood swings
  • Extreme cravings

  • Depression
  • Tremors
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Chills

These and other similar symptoms can become so intense that users turn back to stimulant use just to make the withdrawal stop. When this happens, the chances of overdose increase; restarting substance abuse after short-term quitting usually leads to excess drug use. So, if you’re having trouble putting a stop to your stimulant addiction, coming forward for help to get sober might just save your life.

Residential Treatment for Stimulant Addiction at TTC

Stimulant addiction recovery is possible, and it doesn’t have to be handled alone. If you or someone you care about is struggling with a stimulant addiction, please call The Treatment Center at [phone]. Our team of healthcare professionals at our residential treatment facility will ensure your comfort and safety during your transition to a longer, healthier and substance-free life.