What to Know About Stimulant Abuse, and How You Can Fight Back

Every day, 100 people die from a prescription drug overdose in the United States. Learn more here about stimulant abuse (prescription and non-prescription) and how to fight it.

At least 7 in 10 Americans take prescription drugs every day. While not all stimulants are available by prescription, certain prescription drugs like Adderall often find their way into the hands of others without the prescription for them. This contributes to stimulant addiction.

Here’s what you need to know about stimulant abuse.

Stimulants 101

Here are some facts about stimulants:

Stimulants are a class of drug that is designed to keep users awake and alert. They also cause euphoria, increased sex drive, increased concentration, and decreased appetite. Stimulants also give you energy and make you much more talkative.

The effects of stimulants depend on which stimulant is used. However, stimulants generally produce an overabundance of dopamine in your brain. Dopamine controls feelings of reward and pleasure.

After prolonged stimulants abuse, the brain can’t produce dopamine by itself anymore.

This inability to produce dopamine leads to users taking more stimulants. It’s a vicious cycle that keeps on going. This is a major reason why stimulant abuse is often associated with depression.

Using stimulants can also cause psychosis, chest pain, panic attacks, stroke, kidney damage, muscle weakness, abdominal pain, overdose, and heart attacks.

Types of Stimulants

Stimulants are available both by prescription and without a prescription. Here are some examples of stimulants:

Adderall is a common stimulant you can get with a prescription, but nonprescription Adderall use is on the rise. Other stimulants available by prescription that are frequently abused include Dexedrine, Ritalin, Concerta, Desoxyn, and Ephedrine.

Note: You can still experience the negative side effects of stimulants (like psychosis or panic attacks, for instance) if you’re taking the prescribed amount.

Other stimulants are street drugs that aren’t prescribed to anyone. This includes cocaine, crack, ecstasy (also known as MDMA), and crystal meth. These drugs are notorious for doing a lot of damage in short periods of time.

Why People Use Stimulants

People use stimulants for a variety of reasons. Many people simply like the feeling of using stimulants, while others use them for weight loss.

Because stimulants promote wakefulness and concentration, people use them for studying. People also use stimulants because they make you less aware of how much alcohol you consume. But know that alcohol and stimulants can be a deadly combination.

Others use stimulants because they have emotional or mental problems they’re trying to escape through drug use.

Either way, all of these “reasons” for using stimulants still pave the path to drug addiction and abuse.

How People Use Stimulants

The ways people use stimulants make these drugs even more dangerous.

Prescribed stimulants come in pill form. People who abuse stimulants often break the capsule in half or empty the contents of time-released capsules to make them kick in faster. Tampering with stimulant pills is dangerous because it increases one’s likelihood of overdosing.

Individuals suffering from stimulant addiction also take stimulants via injection or by smoking them. Injection and smoking make the drugs kick in faster, but both of these methods are the most dangerous. Smoking crack significantly harms your lungs and can lead to serious infections.

Snorting or swallowing stimulants are slower at increasing blood levels, so they produce slower, less intense effects. However, you’re still at a serious risk for experiencing harmful side effects if you take stimulants in these ways.

Symptoms and Asking Questions

If you suspect you or a loved one are abusing stimulants, you need to ask certain questions. The answers must be completely honest.

Do you or your loved one experience the following symptoms? These symptoms include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Insomnia
  • Hyperactivity
  • Appetite loss
  • Weight loss
  • Sweating
  • Anxiety attacks
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Increased breathing rate
  • Seizures
  • Aggression
  • Malnutrition
  • Poor hygiene

Once again, assessing symptoms requires honest answers.

How often do you or your loved one use stimulants? How often do doctors want this person to take stimulants, if at all?

Do you or your loved one break pills apart or inject, smoke, or snort stimulants? If so, this is stimulant abuse.

What are the reasons behind using stimulants? The only right answer is to treat a health condition with a doctor’s supervision. Using stimulants to treat self-diagnosed problems is still stimulant abuse.

Do you/your loved one take more stimulants than you should? Whether it’s exceeding the prescribed dose or taking an excess amount of stimulants, taking stimulants puts your health in jeopardy.

What To Do

Once someone admits to stimulant abuse, remain as calm and non-judgmental as possible while approaching them about the subject. Emphasize positive things such as personal abilities or a future without drug abuse whenever you can.

If a person can’t stop using stimulants on their own, it’s important to get them professional help. Stimulant addiction is a legitimate medical and psychological problem that needs proper treatment.

Research different counselors and drug treatment programs in your area. Make sure these providers accept your insurance before signing in.

Talk with facility directors and see which program is best. Depending on the severity of the stimulant addiction, there are both inpatient and outpatient treatment programs to treat this addiction.

If your loved one is addicted to stimulants, encourage them to get as much help as possible. If possible, offer to take them to the treatment program. Be supportive of your loved one’s sobriety and recovery in whatever ways you can.

Recovery Is Possible

Police seized 15 kilograms of stimulants for every kilogram of heroin they seized in the last 5 years. This means stimulant abuse is increasing in the United States.

At least 2.7 million people started using stimulants in 2016 to get high. That number is climbing at a devastating rate. Treat stimulant addiction before it’s too late.

Make a healthy decision and learn more about stimulant addiction programs. It could help you save a life.

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