Addiction is a disease that currently impacts the lives of millions of addicts 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 important to understand how it impacts your physical health, emotional state, and financial stability.
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Stimulant addiction is one of the most challenging forms of a substance use disorder to possess. While different from other drugs like opioids or benzodiazepines in the sense that there may be no physical dependence on stimulants, stimulant addiction presents different difficulties for addicts.
Stimulant addiction is primarily a psychological addiction. This means you will develop a dependence on the drug in a different manner. Rather than physically needing these substances for your body to function properly, you become mentally dependant on it.
This can actually be even more difficult for addicts because you cannot simply detox and be done with it. It requires intensive therapeutic intervention to change the underlying behaviors behind addiction.
In 2014, there were an estimated 1.5 million current (past-month) cocaine users aged 12 or older.
If you believe you or a loved one is currently struggling with addiction, it’s important to get a proper diagnosis. Substance use disorders are officially considered a disease by medical and mental health professionals around the world. In order to receive your diagnosis, there are certain criteria set forth by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-V) you must meet.
The criteria are as follows:
- Taking the drug in larger amounts and for longer than intended
- Wanting to cut down or quit but finding yourself unable to do so
- Spending copious amounts of time to obtain the substance
- Using the drug after continual physical/psychological difficulties
- Finding yourself incapable of performing obligations
- Continuing to use the substance despite consistent issues
- Cessation of important activities
- The habitual drug use in physically dangerous situations
- Experiencing cravings for the drug
- Building a physical tolerance to the drug
- Undergoing withdrawal symptoms when drug use is stopped
You must have a minimum of two to three of the criteria to be diagnosed with a mild substance use disorder (SUD). If you have 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.
What Are Stimulants?
Stimulants are a classification of substances, both illicit and prescription, that act upon the brain and body in a similar fashion. Stimulants are substances that raise the levels of physiological or nervous activity in the body. These drugs will be both pleasurable and invigorating.
There are many stimulants that you may have heard of such as cocaine, crack cocaine, methamphetamine, and Adderall just to name a few. These drugs all interact with the body in the same way.
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.
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Dopamine is a chemical that is known as the “feel-good” chemical. It acts as a portion of the reward system in the body, which means that upon its release, the individual will feel sensations of pleasure and euphoria.
Since stimulants cause the brain to release mass amounts of dopamine, it makes their use highly desirable. Stimulant users will associate the consumption of the drugs with pleasure, causing the psychological addiction to develop.
Stimulants will cause you to experience an intense feeling of well-being, attention, increased energy, and a higher level of alertness.
They can cause the user to have a number of other effects such as suppressed appetite, increase in libido, and a higher level of sociability. These substances also impact the body on a physical level. Stimulants increase certain physiological processes including blood pressure, body temperature, and heart rate. Stimulants can also cause the individual to experience muscle spasms or tremors and even feelings of agitation.
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 encountering in their lives.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimated the worldwide production of amphetamine-type stimulants, which includes methamphetamine, at nearly 500 metric tons a year, with 24.7 million abusers.
Stimulant addiction can lead to multiple physical health issues as well. Possessing a stimulant addiction is a serious problem, as the number of emergency room visits associated with stimulant abuse has been on the rise within the last decade.
Stimulant addiction can result in long-term health effects and even overdose. It is a precarious situation and identifying a stimulant addiction as soon as possible is important to get yourself or your loved one help before it’s too late. Read on to learn how to identify stimulant addiction symptoms in yourself or others.
What Are the Signs of Stimulant Addiction?
Addiction may manifest differently for everyone. As a mental health disorder, it is as individual as each person struggling with it. That said, this may mean that the stimulant addiction symptoms that develop may look a little bit different on a case-by-case basis.
Identifying stimulant addiction symptoms is important. This is the first step toward knowing you or a loved one has a problem, and once you know that there is an issue, you can take the proper steps toward getting help. Substance use disorders can cause problems in all facets of life: physical, emotional, behavioral, and financial. Below are some of the common stimulant addiction symptoms you should be on the lookout for in yourself or a loved one:
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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 combat you or your loved one’s substance abuse disorder. While there is no cure for addiction, undergoing proper addiction treatment will be able to get it to a manageable level.
There are many types of addiction treatment to consider. Based on your own personal needs, it’s important to select the proper program from you such as 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.
No matter what course of stimulant addiction treatment you decide upon, it’s crucial to your success that you undergo the full continuum of care. The full continuum of care refers to completing each level of stimulant addiction treatment, starting with higher levels of care and descending in a step-down approach to lower levels of care.
Higher levels of care refer to the levels of care, which have more hands-on clinical and medical intervention. Lower levels of care utilize less direct medical and clinical intervention, allowing more of the responsibility for recovery to befall the patient.
This allows the patient to slowly progress through stimulant addiction treatment and have the appropriate amount of personal freedom and responsibility in correlation to where they are at in recovery. This is to prevent you from becoming overwhelmed and risk relapsing.
The first step in the full continuum of care is medical detox. This level of care contains the highest amount of clinical and medical intervention. The primary goal of detox is to guide you through the stimulant withdrawal process and get you medically stabilized. Since long-term drug use can cause a plethora of different health issues, getting medical treatment is crucial before heading off to the therapy to treat your substance use disorder.
In stimulant addiction treatment, detox is a little bit different. Since there is no physical dependence associated with stimulant addiction, the stimulant withdrawal process looks different than other substances. The user will encounter what’s known as a “crash”. This is the phase in which the stimulants wear off and the user begins to feel anxiety, depression, and other uncomfortable symptoms beginning to manifest as a result of the stimulants no longer working.
This can make the user feel uneasy and uncomfortable but is not life-threatening. However, many stimulant addicts engage in polydrug use or using multiple substances at a time. This could be alcohol, opioids, or any other substance. These other drugs require medical intervention during the withdrawal phases, as some drugs present life-threatening withdrawal symptoms.
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.
Throughout your stay at detox, you’ll also be under 24-7 clinical surveillance. Since stimulant withdrawal symptoms are primarily emotional and mental, having access to clinical support is crucial. Many people struggling with a stimulant addiction report encountering serious depression and suicidal ideations. Therapists, case managers, and support staff will all be present to help support you and work with you through these uncomfortable emotional symptoms.
Following inpatient/residential treatment, you’ll head off to intensive outpatient or 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, you’ll still have intensive addiction 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.
The next phase of the full continuum of care for stimulant addiction treatment is inpatient or residential treatment. At this point, you will be medically stabilized and can safely proceed to the next part of the treatment that focuses primarily on the therapeutic aspect of addiction treatment. Since substance use disorders affect both physical and mental aspects of your life, getting treatment for both is important in order to avoid returning to active addiction.
During inpatient or residential treatment, you’ll live at the facility. You’ll undergo full-time therapy that operates on a unique curriculum of different addiction therapies. Each facility will offer different amenities and approaches to treatment, so it’s important to decide what you’re looking for in treatment prior to admission.
Regardless of what types of therapies the facility may offer, the overall goal of inpatient and residential treatment is to provide you with different life skills, coping mechanisms, and give you tools for relapse prevention. This is to set you up for success in recovery in the long run.
Outpatient follows IOP. 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 buffer between rehab 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 you to experience strokes and heart attacks as a result of stimulant abuse. Stimulant overdose is 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 propensity for different psychological issues, such as cocaine psychosis. Over time, stimulants have a severe impact 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 are grim as with many other substances. 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:
Start Your Journey to Recovery Today
Are you or a loved one struggling with a stimulant addiction? Let the addiction 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 addiction treatment, using private insurance to pay for treatment, and our facility.Don’t delay, call 844-554-9279 now. It’s time to start living your best and sober life now! Recovery is possible and it’s only a phone call away!
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- 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