Stimulants are the opposite of depressants. They increase central nervous system activity and, as a result, create alertness with increased vigilance, a sense of well-being, and euphoria. Stimulants are commonly known as uppers. They encompass a broad category of substances and can be found in over-the-counter drugs, prescription medications, illegal substances and herbal extracts.
Addiction to stimulants and stimulant dependence are common and can result in extreme physical complications, such as anorexia, myocardial infarctions and strokes. If you or a loved one has an addiction to stimulants, it is time to seek immediate help.
Stimulants are used for many medical conditions, such as allergic rhinitis, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, narcolepsy and obstructive sleep apnea. When prescribed and taken correctly, their benefits can strongly outweigh their abuse potential. However, when stimulants are abused, they can create many unwanted and dangerous side effects.
Stimulants that are not medically prescribed can be found on the streets and in herbal extracts. These are commonly taken to induce a sense of euphoria and as appetite suppressants to lose weight. Common examples of illegal street drugs that are stimulants include cocaine, MDMA, amphetamines and ephedrine.
Side effects of stimulant dependence
Someone who is addicted to stimulants may experience numerous side effects. Some of these are as mentioned below:
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
- Pupillary dilatation
- Increased alertness
- Pressured speech
- Flight of ideas
When an individual withdraws using stimulant, it can lead to withdrawal effects such as:
- Depressed mood
- Psychomotor agitation
- Decreased attention
- Sleep disturbances
Types of stimulants commonly abused
Amphetamine is a Schedule II drug that has a high potential for abuse, especially among college students. Commonly abused by students and general population to increase alertness and wakefulness, amphetamines are currently used to treat narcolepsy and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Amphetamines were initially used in inhalers for nasal congestion in the 1930s. A common ADHD medication, methylphenidate has a similar action to amphetamines but the two do not share the same chemical structure. Although methylphenidate is not technically considered an amphetamine, it is still placed in this class.
Cocaine is a Schedule II drug, which has no medical indication and is derived from the Erythroxylum coca plant. It can be snorted, injected or smoked, depending on the composition. Cocaine abuse can result in myocardial infarctions, tactile hallucination, commonly known as “coke bugs,” which makes one feel that bugs are crawling on their body, heart palpitations, chest pain, diaphoresis, agitation and an impending sense of doom in otherwise healthy, young individuals.
MDMA (3, 4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine), which is commonly known as ecstasy, E or X, is derived from methamphetamine and is commonly used in clubs or parties of high school and college students. Typically used to enhance euphoria, its stimulant effects result from the increase in epinephrine, norepinephrine and dopamine.
Modafinil is an atypical stimulant that has lower abuse potential than most other stimulants. It is used to treat narcolepsy. The drug has a similar effect on the dopamine centers of the brain, responsible for triggering feelings of pleasure, in the likes of cocaine, meth and amphetamines. If used, other than prescribed, individuals have a greater chance of developing an addiction.
Ephedrine is commonly used in weight-loss supplements. The common drug “Fen-Phen” – composed of the amphetamines fenfluramine and phentermine – caused multiple deaths due to acute cardiovascular complications in otherwise healthy adults. Marketed as a natural weight-loss supplement, this Schedule IV drug no longer exists in the market. In 2004, the FDA prohibited dietary supplements containing ephedrine, stating that they directly cause an unreasonable risk due to their potential health risks and questionable health benefits. However, phentermine is still available to treat obesity.
Stimulant addiction treatment
There is no specific treatment for the acute intoxication of stimulants, because each individual’s addictive habit might be different from that of others. Treatment for stimulant addiction aims at providing symptomatic care. Decreasing the patient’s level of stimulation by dimming the lights, speaking in low voices, minimizing touch and other calming effects have been shown to help alleviate symptoms. Acute cocaine intoxication with abnormal vital signs or abnormal cardiac activity should be treated with benzodiazepines in a hospital setting.
Mission Recovery provides stimulant addiction treatment through a comprehensive treatment program in a safe, controlled and supervised environment. The treatment at Mission Recovery begins with stimulants detox treatment, which is highly beneficial in cleansing one’s body of all the unnecessary elements. Moreover, withdrawal symptoms can be effectively managed by our clinical experts at all our state-of-the-art stimulants detox centers. The detoxification treatment offered using a customized detox program helps the body to be ready for further treatment processes. This step is, then, followed by a complete treatment program that includes a mix of medications, therapies and relapse prevention plans that help ensure the complete recovery of the concerned person.