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What Are Psychostimulants?

Psychostimulants, most commonly referred to as stimulants for short, are a class of drugs which induce short-lived improvements in its users mental or physical functions. Stimulant drugs are also deemed as “uppers” due to their ability to induce effects causing temporary increase in alertness, energy, motivation, and locomotion. Stimulants are primarily prescribed as medications for ADHD such as Ritalin and Adderall. Stimulant drugs can also be illicit substances such as meth and cocaine. When prescribed and used correctly, stimulant drugs can be relatively safe and effective. However, dependence and abuse are common among those consuming prescription stimulants and illicit stimulants. Prescription stimulant drugs are usually found in the form of a pill or tablet, however when abused they’re typically crushed up and snorted. Stimulants are commonly abused by high school and college students as a means of “academic performance enhancement.” However, studies suggest stimulant drugs do not increase one’s learning ability or thinking ability in those who do not have ADHD.

Effects of Stimulant Drugs

Over time, the effects of using the effects of psychostimulant use begin to cause negative consequences to one’s overall well-being, especially damaging their physical and psychological health. A significant amount of the effects can cause irreversible damage. Some of the more common short-term effects of stimulant drug abuse includes but are not limited to:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature
  • Dilated pupils
  • Disturbances in sleeping patterns
  • Nausea
  • Bizarre, and sometimes violent behavior
  • Hallucinations
  • Hyperexcitability
  • Irritability
  • Panic and psychosis
  • Convulsions and seizures
  • Death

The long-term effects of stimulant drugs can induce the following effects and more:

  • Permanent damage to blood vessels
  • High blood pressure
  • Irreversible brain damage
  • Malnutrition and weight loss
  • Intense psychological dependence
  • Psychosis
  • Depression
  • Brain damage leading to stroke and/or epilepsy

Withdrawal from Psychostimulants

Individuals who abuse psychostimulants typically experience an onset of withdrawal symptoms when use of the drug has been reduced or completely stopped. The onset and duration of withdrawal symptoms vary among users and is contingent upon their frequency and longevity of use. Withdrawal from psychostimulants generally lasts about four weeks, and some can last for months. The following are common withdrawal symptoms associated with psychostimulants

  • Dysphoria
  • Depression
  • Poor concentration
  • Agitation
  • Insomnia
  • Intense cravings
  • Anxiety
  • Anhedonia
  • Exhaustion
  • Impaired motor skills
  • Increased appetite
  • Fatigue
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Recognizing the Need for Psychostimulant Addiction Treatment

Individuals who are addicted to psychostimulants or abuse the drug tend to show a series of signs and symptoms which indicates the presence of a drug use problem. The signs and symptoms shown can vary across users, however most users show common signs. If you’re lead to believe that you or a loved one may be suffering from a psychostimulant use problem such as abuse or addiction, observe for the following signs:

  • Inability to control use of psychostimulants
  • Using psychostimulants to feel “normal, or as a means to alleviate stress
  • Changes in physical appearance
  • Poor appetite caused by drug use
  • Manic behavior
  • Finding drug paraphernalia on the person or among their personal belongings
  • Frequently under the influence of psychostimulant drugs
  • continued use of psychostimulants in spite of negative consequences
  • Lying, cheating and/or stealing as a means to obtain more drugs
  • Displaying homicidal or suicidal tendencies

If you or your loved one are experiencing any of the signs or symptoms listed above, there’s a high possibility that there’s a drug use problem. To be safe and sure, seek the attention of a medical professional.

Treatment for Psychostimulant Addiction

Treatment for addiction to stimulant drugs requires a combination of effective approaches. At the time, there are no current medications which are specifically used for treating psychostimulant addiction. Psychotherapeutic approaches which implement the use of behavioral therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy have been found to be the most effective in treating psychostimulant addictions. Recovery support groups are also essential for individuals recovering from psychostimulant abuse or addiction. There is currently research underway to develop and test medications which may be effective in treating psychostimulant use problems.

If you or a loved one are in need of comprehensive and effective treatment for psychostimulant addiction or abuse, Harbor Village is here to help! We will provide you with a life-changing individualized treatment plan which will help guide your recovery journey! Contact us today!

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