Stimulants are powerful psychoactive substances that increase activity, alertness, and produce euphoric effects on the body. This class of addictive drugs has added to the opioid addiction crisis that is sweeping our nation. In 2017, it was estimated that over 19 million adults struggled with a substance abuse disorder. This number is crippling, but hope and understanding are being gained through research and discussions as we work through this crisis together. Drug treatment centers are providing programs that are making a difference in the lives of many people seeking recovery for addiction. These programs are also offering hope and support for families affected by addiction.
Stimulant addiction and abuse refer to compulsive behaviors that become significant enough to change and or cause harm to a person’s life. Addiction causes the brain to have a strong drive for behaviors that provide instant gratification. Continuous stimulant abuse can affect the brain’s structure by decreasing the production of endorphins, our feel-good hormones, without consuming higher amounts of the altering substance. The combination of tolerance, physical dependence, and the psychological feelings of not being able to live without feeling pleasure, can lead to addiction.
TYPES OF STIMULANTS
There are two classes of stimulants, illegal and illicit. Both of these types of stimulants can lead to addiction and abuse. Illegal stimulants include cocaine, methamphetamine, amphetamine, and crack. Illicit stimulants include prescription drugs that are used for conditions similar to ADHD, narcolepsy, and mild depression. The most common of these stimulant prescriptions are Ritalin, Adderall, and Concerta.
TYPES OF STIMULANTS
- An increased level of consumption and use frequency.
- High alcohol tolerance or a lack of symptoms associated with hangovers.
- Drinking in places such as work or church, or drinking right away in the morning.
- Avoiding situations where no alcohol will be present.
- Changes in relationships. Many alcoholics choose friends who are heavy drinkers as well.
- Avoiding friends and family.
- Hiding their drinking habits or hiding alcohol in the home.
- An inability to function in everyday life without drinking.
- A noticeable increase in depression, anxiety, lethargy, or other emotional issues.
- Professional or legal problems, such as loss of a job or an arrest.
Addictions get worse as time goes on. This makes it very important to spot some of the early warning signs. When alcoholism is noticed and treated in its early stages, an alcoholic might be able to avoid the significant consequences associated with alcoholism.
If you’re concerned that a friend or loved one is addicted to alcohol, approach them in the most supportive way possible. Avoid laying on guilt trips or shaming them for their addiction. It might push them away and cause them to resist the help you wish to give.
CAUSES OF ADDICTION
Causes of addiction can be predisposed by genetics and environmental factors. Research indicates that about 40% to 60% of a person’s risk of addiction is genetically influenced. The risk of addiction increases with common negative environmental factors that aren’t avoidable. Among these factors are:
- The influence of peers
- Difficulty with academics
- Parents’ attitude and drug use
- Abusive and, or a tumultuous home life
- Mental illness
WHO DOES STIMULANT ADDICTION AFFECT?
Stimulant addiction does not discriminate and affects individuals from all walks of life. A study done in 2017 concluded that the number of people suffering from substance abuse, who were ranging in age from 12 – 65 and older, showed alarming percentages all across the board. Although there were more substantial variances between specific age groups, the numbers are showing, and predicting, a massive problem with addiction and the consequences of drug abuse.
ADDICTION AND ABUSE
Determining addiction can be a challenging and sensitive topic. Often, the addict doesn’t accept their addiction until things have spiraled out of control, and they’ve hit rock bottom. Many people struggling with addiction are ashamed or too afraid to seek help. Other people caught in addiction feel hopeless and helpless; they aren’t able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Help and information are readily available; encouragement and support through this entire process are essential to a successful start and continued fulfillment through the recovery journey.
When considering addiction, some behaviors to be concerned with include behaviors that are risky, new, and out of character, extreme or sudden weight loss, and aggressiveness or severe mood swings. It is likely that if you are questioning, dwelling on, or researching addiction, there is already a problem that needs to be addressed. Please reach out and ask for guidance, help is around the corner.
SYMPTOMS AND WARNING SIGNS
Addiction is usually a slow process that can take families and loved ones’ hostage before there’s time to realize what happened. It not only affects the person with the addiction but also those that they care about and care about them. Some warning signs that can cause concern include:
- Increased tolerance (needing more for the desired effect)
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms
- Frequent unsuccessful attempts to quit or cut back
- Sleep Deprivation
- Weight loss
- Unusual behavioral changes
TREATMENT AND REHAB
There are many drug rehabilitation and treatment programs available, depending on the needs of the addict. Choices may include an outpatient structure or an inpatient structure. Depending on the complexity of the addiction, starting recovery in an inpatient facility with medical support, intense monitoring, and strict structure, is usually advised.
Outpatient drug treatment programs allow patients to live at home while maintaining their daily responsibilities. Treatment services are provided at pre-planned and agreed upon scheduled times. These programs are often utilized, after a person in recovery has already successfully participated in an inpatient program.
SERVICES OFFERED IN RECOVERY PROGRAMS
Addiction can be the result of other disorders, or it can occur with other conditions; finding a recovery program that can treat dual diagnosis can be very important to a successful recovery. Services offered at drug treatment programs can vary depending on their methods and practices. Some standard services provided are:
- Individual and group therapy sessions
- Psychiatric evaluation
- Family therapy and support
- Cognitive and behavioral therapy
- DBT skills
- Dual-diagnosis treatment
WITHDRAWAL AND DETOX
The process of withdrawal and detoxing from stimulant drugs can be very uncomfortable. It is recommended to have medical supervision when discontinuing the use of a stimulant to ensure the safety and success of detoxification. Many inpatient programs supply medical detox as part of their drug treatment plans. Detox symptoms can vary in intensity and type, but may include:
- Strong Drug Cravings
- Lack of Pleasure
- Increase in appetite
- Slowed Activity
- Unpleasant Dreams
- Suicidal Ideations
HOW LONG DOES STIMULANTS STAY IN YOUR SYSTEM?
The amount of time that a stimulant stays in your system depends on the type, quantity, and how it was ingested. That being said, general symptoms of withdrawal set in about 24 hours after the last dose. These symptoms appear mild at first; then, they can get persistently worse as your body craves the psychoactive effects of stimulants. According to a guide used for medical advising on drug use, amphetamines can stay in your urine for 1 to 2 days, it will test positive on hair for up to 90 days, and it stays in the blood for 10 – 12 hours after use.
Addiction can create a scary world; don’t be afraid to conquer it, you’re not alone. Take this time to consider reaching out for help and acquiring more valuable knowledge. This will give you the information you need to make the most informed decision for starting recovery from addiction. Remember, when recovery begins, so does healing and hope.
LONG-TERM EFFECTS OF STIMULANT ADDICTION
The long-term consequences of stimulant addiction can be devastating, making it critical to reach out for help for yourself or your loved ones. Long-term, psychological symptoms of stimulant abuse can include ongoing anxiety, depression, paranoia, delusions, and hallucinations. Long-term physical symptoms can include:
- Permanent damage to blood vessels
- Cardiovascular and brain damage
- Liver, kidney, and lung damage
- Infectious Disease
- Muscle Deterioration
- Reduced Sexual Functioning
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