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Stimulant Addiction

Addiction is a disease that currently impacts the lives of millions of substance users around the world and their loved ones. Addiction, also known as a substance use disorder, is chronic and progressive. This means that it will continue to manifest in your life while also continuing to get worse, never better. Since it is such a serious condition, it’s crucial to understand how it impacts your physical health, emotional state, and financial stability.

If you believe you or a loved one is currently struggling with addiction, it’s essential to get a proper diagnosis. Substance use disorders are officially considered a disease by medical and mental health professionals around the world. There are certain criteria set forth by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5) a person must meet to be diagnosed.

The criteria are as follows:

  • Taking the substance in larger amounts and for longer than you meant
  • Wanting to cut down or quit but not being able to do it
  • Spending a lot of time getting, using, or recovering from use of the substance
  • Craving or a strong desire to use the substance
  • Not managing to do what you should at work, home or school, because of substance use
  • Continuing to use, even when it causes problems in relationships
  • Giving up important social, occupational or recreational activities because of substance use
  • Using substances again and again, even when it puts you in danger
  • Consistent use of a substance despite acknowledgment of persistent or recurrent physical or psychological difficulties from using substances
  • Needing more of the substance to get the effect you want (tolerance)
  • Development of withdrawal symptoms, which can be relieved by taking more of the substance

You must meet a minimum of two to three of the criteria to be diagnosed with a mild substance use disorder (SUD). If you count four to five, it is considered a moderate substance use disorder. Should you have six to seven (or more), it will be diagnosed as a severe substance use disorder.

Stimulant addiction is one of the most challenging forms of a substance use disorder. While different forms of a substance use disorder, such as opioid or benzodiazepine, there may not be physical dependence on stimulants

Stimulants primarily cause psychological dependence. That means that you become mentally dependant on it rather than physically needing those substances for your body to function properly.This can actually be even more difficult for substance users because the disorder requires intensive therapeutic interventions to change the underlying behavioral flaws.

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What Are Stimulants?

Stimulants are a class of substances, both illicit and prescription, that affect the brain and body in a similar fashion. Stimulants increase the levels of activity of the nervous system in the body creting both pleasurable and invigorating mind-altering effects. These drugs will be both pleasurable and invigorating.

When the user ingests a stimulant, the drug will increase various types of physiological processes and increase cell signaling. Stimulants will also cause the brain to flood with the neurotransmitter dopamine. 

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is known as the “reward” chemical. It acts as a neurotransmitter of the reward system in the brain, which means that upon its release, the individual will feel sensations of pleasure and euphoria. Since stimulants cause the brain to release an increased amount of dopamine, it makes their use highly desirable. Stimulant users will associate the consumption of drugs with pleasure, causing the psychological dependency to develop.

Use of stimulants most likely cause an experience of an intense feeling of wakefulness, focus enhancement, appetite suppression, thought acceleration, ego inflation, and euphoria. Stimulants affect different physiological processes including blood pressure, body temperature, and heart rate.

Higher doses of stimulants increase the chances of serious adverse effects or death. Those effects include dry mouth, headache, fever, sweating, diarrhea or constipation, blurred vision, impaired speech, dizziness, uncontrollable movements (twitching, jerking, tremors, etc.), insomnia, or paranoia.The high from stimulants is fairly short-lived, typically lasting mere minutes to only an hour or two at a time. Since the effects of stimulants wear off so quickly, this can leave the user experiencing severe cravings almost immediately in order to maintain the euphoric high. The psychological aspect of stimulant addiction is what leads users to continue to use despite negative consequences they may experience in their lives.

Stimulant addiction can result in long-term health effects and even overdose. This is why it is so important to identify a stimulant dependence as soon as possible and get appropriate help before it is too late. Read on to learn how to identify stimulant addiction symptoms in yourself or others. 

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Common Stimulants

There are a variety of different stimulants that you or a loved one may encounter. These substances might be illicit and prescription. They can cause serious health issues for you or your loved one’s life. Stimulant use disorder is a common but treatable health condition. Learn more about the different stimulant drugs that you may encounter

  • Methamphetamine
  • Amphetamine
  • Lisdexamfetamine
  • Methamphetamine
  • Ephylone
  • Ethcathinone
  • Ethylone
  • Hexedrone
  • Adrafinil
  • Aniracetam
  • Armodafinil
  • Bromantane
  • Coluracetam
  • Memantine
  • Modafinil
  • Noopept
  • MDMA
  • MDA
  • MDEA

What Are the Signs of Stimulant Addiction?

Addiction may manifest differently for everyone and symptoms may present a little bit different in each substance user. Identifying the signs and symptoms of stimulant use disorder is an essential first step toward knowing you or a loved one has a problem. Once you know that there is an issue, you can take the proper steps toward getting help in all aspects of life, including physical, emotional, behavioral, and financial.

The most prevalent symptoms of stimulant use disorder are the following:

  • Intense cravings for substance
  • Obsessive thoughts surrounding obtaining or using stimulants
  • Going to great lengths in order to obtain the drugs
  • Withdrawing from social situations; isolation
  • Strained interpersonal relationships
  • Not taking the drug as prescribed
  • Encountering withdrawal symptoms whenever stimulant use is stopped
  • Continuing to use stimulants despite negative consequences or to avoid withdrawal
  • Sneaky or secretive behavior; lying about stimulant use
  • Inability to stop taking the drug on your own
  • Unable to function throughout the day without the drug
  • Insomnia or irregular sleeping patterns
  • Disheveled or unkempt appearance
  • Experiencing financial difficulties due to stimulant use
  • Having a lack of interest in participating in activities once found enjoyable
  • Inability to keep work, social, or family obligations
  • Decline in performance at work or school
  • Extreme unexplained weight loss

These are just a few of the commonly seen stimulant addiction symptoms. What’s important is that if you believe there may be a problem, you must act quickly. Stimulant addiction can result in long-term or permanent health problems, including overdose. Getting proper stimulant addiction treatment is a time sensitive matter.

Read on to learn what goes into stimulant addiction treatment. 

What is Involved in Stimulant Addiction Treatment?

If you have determined that you or a loved one is currently struggling with a stimulant addiction, then it’s time to consider drug rehab. Stimulant addiction treatment is the only way to get the disorder to a manageable level. While there is no cure for addiction, undergoing proper addiction treatment will be able to get it to a manageable level. 

There are many approaches to the treatment of substance use disorder, including 12-step programs, dual diagnosis treatment, men’s drug rehab treatment, women’s drug rehab treatment, Christian rehab, inpatient drug rehab, outpatient drug rehab, long-term drug rehab, and even alumni programs. The treatment should be individualized to be effective.

The concept of the full continuum of care is considered to be the most effective. The full continuum of care refers to successfully completing every and each level of the treatment, starting with higher levels of care and descending in a step-down approach to lower levels of care. The higher level of care refers to more hands-on medical and clinical interventions, while the lower level of care incorporates less direct interventions and shifts the responsibility for a recovery towards the patient.

The first step in the full continuum of care is medically supervised detoxification. This level of care contains the most intense clinical and therapeutic interventions. The primary goal of medical detox is to guide you through the stimulant withdrawal process and get you medically stabilized. Since long-term drug use can cause a variety of health problems, getting medical treatment is crucial in the treatment of substance use disorder.

Detox is slightly different because Stimulants do not cause physical dependence; however, the stimulant withdrawal is different than other substances. The stimulant user most likely will experience the so-called “crash.” During this phase, the stimulants wear off, and the user begins to feel anxiety, sadness, sleepiness, difficulty focusing, and other uncomfortable symptoms.

Those symptoms are uncomfortable but not life-threatening. Unfortunately, many stimulant users engage in using multiple substances, such as alcohol, opioids, or benzos, at a time, which makes the process of detox more complex.

Upon your arrival at detox, you’ll undergo a full medical assessment that takes a look at your stimulant addiction, whatever other substances you may be abusing, and your overall physical health. From there, the medical team of doctors, nurses, and medical support staff will create and implement a personalized detox plan comprised of detox medications intended to treat any detox side effects you may encounter.

In addition to medical care, your treatment plan will also include behavioral therapy and emotional support. This is the most important part of withdrawal treatment for stimulant drugs because addiction is primarily emotional and psychological.

You will be under 24/7 medical supervision that will make the process of detox safe.

The next phase of the continuum stimulant use disorder treatment is services at the residential level of care. At this point, you will be medically stabilized and can safely focus primarily on the clinical aspect of treatment. Since substance use disorders affect both physical and mental areas of your life, treating both is important to address the underlying conditions of your problems. You will live at the facility and participate in a variety of psychotherapeutic groups. Each facility will offer different amenities and approaches to treatment, so it’s essential to decide what you’re looking for in therapy before admission.

Regardless of what types of therapies the facility may offer, the goal of residential treatment is to provide you with the ability to build a more effective set of life skills, coping mechanisms, and tools for relapse prevention. This is to set you up for success in recovery in the long run.

Following inpatient/residential treatment, you’ll head off to intensive outpatient (IOP). This level of care is different from inpatient because you will no longer live at the facility. IOP operates on an outpatient basis, meaning you will need to find alternative housing and commute to IOP sessions. You may choose to return home or find a sober living facility/halfway house. Halfway houses are group homes that feature a structured environment geared towards recovery. They often have strict rules designed to keep you on track in recovery and require complete abstinence from drugs and alcohol in order to live there.

At IOP level of care, you’ll still have intensive stimulant use therapy. IOP sessions occur multiple times a week for several hours at a time, with about 20 hours total spent in sessions per week. You’ll have more freedom to begin to acclimate to life as a sober person in the community while still maintaining intense clinical intervention to help you transition to your new life. You’ll have weekly drug tests to help keep you accountable to your sobriety.

Outpatient follows intensive outpatient treatment. This level is similar to IOP, as you do not live at the facility. However, the hours spent in sessions drops down even further to typically one session per week for about an hour.

This phase of treatment will typically last longer. It acts as the final step between substance use treatment and the rest of society at large. You should be fairly stable in your recovery at this juncture, so handling the majority of the responsibility will not overwhelm you.

However, maintaining lasting clinical support can help you make the final transition into life as a sober individual. By continuing your therapy sessions in outpatient, you can have a point of contact with the clinical team if you should ever find yourself struggling. You will also continue to be administered drug tests, which can help keep you on track during your off time as well.

How Dangerous are Stimulants?/ Stimulant Overdose

Stimulants are dangerous substances. They are known to increase various physiological processes throughout the body, including heart rate and blood pressure. Stimulants can cause strokes or heart attacks. Stimulant overdose is not very common, and in recent years, the frequency of emergency room visits specifically for stimulant abuse has gone up.

Another dangerous aspect of stimulant addiction is the capacity for different psychological issues, such as cocaine psychosis. Over time, stimulants have a severe toxic effect on the brain itself. Many people report experiencing hallucinations, paranoia, and other negative consequences of stimulant use. Cocaine psychosis can cause permanent damage to the brain and may manifest into other mental health disorders. 

Stimulant Abuse Statistics

Stimulant addiction statistics as with many other substances, are grim. Many people report using stimulants as early as in their teen or adolescent years. This can cause life-long issues. It’s important to understand just how widespread and serious stimulant addiction is in the United States and around the world.

Check out some of these stimulant addiction statistics:

  • According to SAMHSA’s 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 1.5 million (0.6 percent) people use cocaine, including crack
  • People aged 18 to 25 were more than twice as likely to use cocaine compared with other adults
  • The US consumes an average of 42 metric tons of crystal meth each year

Start Your Journey to Recovery Today

Are you or a loved one struggling with a stimulant addiction? Let the medical and clinical professionals at Ocean Breeze Recovery help you! With years of experience in dealing with and successfully treating stimulant addiction, we can help you get the help you need through our services and programs.

By contacting us, you’ll be connected to one of our admissions team who can walk you through the admissions process and answer any questions or concerns you may have about different treatment options, using private insurance to pay for treatment, and our facility.


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Aguilar, M. (2012, May 29). What Is Cocaine Psychosis? Retrieved April 18, 2018, from

SAMHSA. (2015, September). Behavioral Health Trends in the United States: Results from the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Retrieved April 16, 2018, from

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