Stimulants and Stimulant Addiction Overview
Stimulants are often prescribed to treat asthma, respiratory problems and certain sleep disorders as well as ADHD. Stimulants work to stimulate the brain and enhance brain activity which results in increased alertness and attention. Stimulants can also promote increased energy which is why they are sometimes prescribed to treat obesity but in this case stimulants are only used as a short-term treatment which is later followed by additional treatment with or without drugs.
Stimulant addiction is not typically a physical addiction that includes withdrawals and dependence on the drugs but it is possible to gain a mental or psychological addiction to stimulants which can be equally as dangerous as any physical addiction to a drug. Stimulants are commonly associated with teen substance abuse.
Effects of Stimulants and Stimulant Abuse
The effects of stimulants vary from increased blood pressure and increased heart rate to euphoria. The increased feelings of euphoria are what make stimulant abuse so popular among teenagers especially during exam times such as finals week. Many teenagers report saving up their ADHD drugs (stimulants) until exam time and then selling them to their peers. Others report saving the stimulants throughout the week and then sharing them with friends at parties on the weekends.
Stimulant abuse is marked by physical side effects which include suppressed appetite, loss of coordination and elevated blood pressure. Additional physical effects of stimulants include excessive sweating, vomiting and abdominal cramps. Some people will have headaches, chest pain and tremors as a result of stimulant abuse.
Psychological side effects of stimulants include anxiety, suicidal tendencies and hostility or aggression toward others. Taking high doses of stimulants can also result in paranoia which includes both auditory and visual hallucinations in which the individual is not sure what is real and what is not.
Dangers of Stimulant Addiction and Interaction of Stimulants with Other Drugs
Stimulants are extremely dangerous prescription drugs that should not be used unless under the supervision and care of a medical doctor. Although stimulants are not physically addictive, there are psychological implications associated with discontinuing stimulant use. Individuals who stop using stimulants may have feelings of depression which can be moderate to severe and may be accompanied by suicidal thoughts, sleep patterns can be greatly disturbed and the individual is likely to feel chronic fatigue as a result of the discontinued use of stimulants.
Overdose of stimulants can result in high fever, strain on the heart and ultimately death. Signs of stimulant overdose include convulsions, hallucinations, delusions, and heart failure. Stimulant overdose is common when stimulants are used with other drugs or alcohol, especially by teenagers. Alcohol, marijuana and various over-the-counter drugs can all have adverse effects on the user when combined with stimulants.
Stimulants should never be taken with other medications unless those medications have been properly prescribed by a physician. Certain over-the-counter medications and decongestants when taken with stimulants can cause dangerously high blood pressure and may also result in irregular heart rhythms. When stimulants are taken with alcohol, the risk of alcohol poisoning is increased as the individual does not fully feel the effects of the alcohol until the stimulants wear off.
Stimulant Addiction Rehab Centers
Drug rehab centers can help individuals who are mentally addicted to stimulants in a number of ways. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a common treatment for many drug addictions including stimulant addiction and prescription drug addiction. This type of therapy is marked by group counseling, individual counseling and even sometimes family counseling sessions that can help the addict learn how to cope and deal with situations without the use of stimulants or other prescription drugs.
Behavior modification is a process of teaching the addict how to change bad behaviors such as those which cause increased stimulant abuse. For instance, a therapist may help an individual learn how to eat healthier meals rather than use stimulants as an appetite suppressant. This is just one of thousands of ways that therapists and counselors at drug rehab centers can help addicts to change behaviors so that they no longer have a dependence on stimulants.
For teenagers who abuse stimulants, parents can help by assuring that their teens are taking their prescription medications and not saving them up. Parents should not leave prescription medications anywhere that a teenager can get them without the parent knowing (and seeing) what is going on. Many stimulant overdoses can be prevented with increased awareness by parents.