The term “stimulants” covers many different drugs, all of which are able to increase physical activity for the user. Also known as psychostimulants, these substances are known to provide pleasure and invigoration.
They are considered the opposite of “downers”—drugs that relax the mind and induce sleep by decreasing mental function. Because of their uplifting effects, these drugs are often called “uppers”.
Stimulants are still widely used all over the world and are commonly prescribed medicines. They are even available without prescription, depending on the drug. Unfortunately, they are also used recreationally, leading to addiction and tolerance.
If used properly, stimulants may help fight obesity, sleep disorders, impulse control problems, mood swings, and asthma, among others.
Caffeine is the most popular stimulant in the world. Its effects are mild, but it speeds up the mind and body. Used responsibly, stimulants have important benefits that can help treat certain medical conditions. Unfortunately, some people still abuse stimulants for their euphoric effects.
Years ago, stimulants were being used to treat asthma, obesity, and neurological disorders. But because of their high risk of addiction and dependence, their popularity began to subside.
Nowadays, stimulants are only prescribed for health conditions such as ADHD, narcolepsy, and depression, particularly for patients who have not responded well to other treatment methods.
Why are Stimulants Abused?
Stimulants provide energy and euphoria. Anyone who loves drinking coffee could tell you how easily it could jumpstart their mornings. They work by enhancing the activity of the central and peripheral nervous system. This leads to heightened awareness, wakefulness, endurance, productivity, and motivation. Even libido is known to be increased with the help of stimulants.
However, other stimulants can cause drug tolerance and dependence if continuously abused. Once dependence has developed, the user may experience various withdrawal symptoms upon attempting to quit.
Stimulants may also cause people to experience a “crash” wherein they feel depressed and confused—or generally just miserable, until they can use stimulants again.
Signs and Symptoms of Addiction?
Drug addiction often begins with experimental and recreational use of certain substances. If you are worried that someone you love is falling victim to addiction, there are a few signs you can look out for. It is important to note that some drugs have a higher chance of causing dependence compared to others. Try to find out what drug the person is abusing—this is the first step you can take towards helping them recover.
If a person displays increased alertness or excessive confidence, this may be an indication of recent stimulant use—although it may just be coffee, in this case. But if the person is displaying behavioral changes such as sudden aggression, it might be something more serious.
A person who has recently taken stimulants may speak rapidly or ramble on and on about unimportant things. More tellingly, they might experience delusions or hallucinations.
Other physical signs include vomiting, sudden drop in weight, insomnia, and paranoia.
A person may already be addicted to the drug is they are trying to make sure they have a constant supply of the drug. Perhaps they are trying to obtain multiple prescriptions by consulting different doctors. Over time, they will start needing more of the drug just to get the same effects.
Stimulants are effective when used properly and responsibly. Unfortunately, recreational use of any drug often involves taking in much larger doses of any substance. This leads to many serious health risks and conditions.
For starters, higher doses of stimulants may reverse its usual effects: it makes the person feel more tired and/or unable to concentrate on tasks. In the worst cases, stimulants have been shown to cause paranoia, psychosis, and suicidal ideation. They may become more violent. This makes them a threat to those around them—even to the people who are only trying to help.
If your doctor prescribes stimulants, be sure to follow their instructions carefully. Improper use can cause adverse effects on your body. Do not take higher doses than is recommended. Also, do not take the medicine for longer than is prescribed.
What Treatments are available?
Addiction to any illicit substance is a difficult situation for both the user and the people around them. Interpersonal relationships tend to suffer during these scenarios. Work and education are often affected, and family ties may be damaged.
Proceed with caution when approaching someone about their stimulant abuse. Do not react too hastily to the situation as it may only push the user away from you. You need to be in a position where you are still able to provide help. Prepare yourself by researching about the best treatment facilities and methods. Figure out the best way to approach the user without being confrontational.
Treatment for stimulant addiction will begin with a medical examination. The best treatment method will be determined by physicians and psychiatrists, based on the patient’s health condition and drug history. The dosage being taken and the method of use will also be taken into consideration.
Medical treatment and detoxification will soon follow. The various withdrawal symptoms will be addressed while they gradually lower the patient’s intake of the substance. Their vital signs will be monitored. A safe and supportive environment will be created for them as well.
Rehabilitation programs may be inpatient, residential or outpatient. It depends on the person’s condition and preference, which one will be most suitable for them. Cognitive behavioral therapy may be employed no matter which venue is chosen.
Withdrawal- What’s It Like?
Abruptly ending your connection with stimulants may cause serious harm to the body. The withdrawal symptoms are unpleasant and even unforgiving. It causes physical and mental exhaustion, and even depressive symptoms.
They will crave the drug frequently, and they will feel weak during this period. But with medical assistance and professional care, they should be able to get over this obstacle and recover.
Support them throughout this journey, and they will be able to quickly get back to living a sober life. Once they do recover, encourage them to stay sober and find better ways to stay happy and motivated—without the help of stimulants.