It’s estimated that 500,000 Americans suffer from stimulant use disorder. Stimulants include substances such as Adderall, methamphetamine, PCP, crack, cocaine, and amphetamines. In addition, about 900,000 people abuse prescription stimulants every month. Most need professional assistance and support to get on the road to recovery.
The good news is there are many effective treatment programs available for stimulant use disorder that can improve the overall quality of life and help avoid relapses. With customized medication-assisted treatment (MAT), psychotherapy, and support, you or your loved one can start the journey to recovery.
What Are Stimulants?
Stimulants are psychoactive drugs that provide brief improvements in mental and physical functioning. These substances lead to high energy, mood, and alertness. Users also feel a temporary sense of well-being.
Some of the most commonly abused stimulants are:
Adderall and Amphetamine
Adderall is a prescription drug that contains amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. It’s prescribed to treat ADHD and narcolepsy and is considered one of the best treatment options for ADHD. This medication causes increased serotonin and dopamine levels while reducing overstimulation and hyperactivity, and it can become addictive if not taken under the care of a medical provider.
Adderall addiction can make it difficult to work or stay alert without the drug. Prolonged use can also impact the brain’s chemistry and result in changes in personality. In rare cases, an Adderall overdose can occur.
Adderall can produce a high similar to cocaine but takes longer to kick in. Chronic amphetamine abuse can lead to psychosis which is similar to schizophrenia. Hallucinations and paranoia typically stop after addiction treatment.
Methamphetamine (meth) is a highly addictive, illicit, powerful drug that stimulates the central nervous system. Methamphetamine provides a high that comes and goes quickly, so people tend to take it for hours or even days.
Meth use triggers a rush of natural dopamine, leading to euphoric effects. However, prolonged use can have devastating impacts on a person’s mental functioning, and has been tied to an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.
Cocaine is an illicit, commonly abused substance; consumption leads to increased dopamine levels in the brain and results in a euphoric, on-top-of-the-world effect that can be highly addictive. Over time, this damages the brain’s reward system, making it more difficult for people to stop using the drug and requiring more of the substance to achieve that same high.
Crack is a highly concentrated substance, and is especially addictive, with rare cases of addiction occurring after only one use. The effects are also short-lived, causing people to continue to use it to maintain their high.
Why Are They So Addictive?
Stimulants work on the central nervous system to boost cognitive function and alertness. These substances also increase dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, which gives the user a sense of euphoria. These elevated feelings can be highly addictive.
After regular stimulant abuse, the brain can’t produce normal dopamine levels. Instead, it is conditioned to receive the neurotransmitter from the drug, resulting in withdrawal symptoms when the brain goes too long without the drug.
But with effective treatment, it’s possible to overcome stimulant addiction, recover, and lead a drug-free life.
Signs of Addiction
Symptoms of stimulant addiction are:
- Weight loss
- Hair loss
- Elevated blood pressure
- Changes in appetite
- Skin problems
- Flight of ideas
- Mood swings
Specifically, the body releases increased dopamine during stimulant use. When stimulants are used often, the body grows accustomed to the higher dopamine levels and doesn’t produce as much, making the substances addictive, and causing tolerance to the drugs themselves.
Some people still maintain that stimulant use disorder is merely a moral failing. This isn't true! While it’s true that one must make an initial decision to abuse drugs, after regular use, the ability to exercise self-control is compromised due to the effects stimulants have on the brain. The idea that addiction is a choice or moral failing has been dismissed by clinical research, yet still leads to stigma against people that suffer from addiction.
MAT + Psychotherapy
Clinical research shows that MAT combined with psychotherapy is an effective treatment for stimulant use disorder. Medication-assisted treatment and therapy can treat the disorder, and MAT can keep you in recovery.
Also, MAT and therapy have been proven to:
- Decrease stimulant abuse
- Increase one’s ability to keep and maintain a job
- Increase retention in treatment programs
- Improve birth outcomes for women with stimulant use disorder
Seek Stimulant Addiction Treatment Today
While stimulant addiction can have devastating effects on one’s life, the help of professional drug addiction counselors, psychotherapy, and medication-assisted treatments can help you or your loved one overcome addiction. The outlook is bright, and with ongoing care and support, those that struggle can remain sober and stay on the road to recovery.
If you want to get off of stimulants, reach out to a specialist clinic like MATClinics to have the best chances of success. Contact Us today.