Stimulant addiction

Are you or a loved one struggling with stimulant addiction? Have you begun to neglect relationships, underperform at work or school or started to experience uncontrollable cravings? Stimulant addiction can be an incredibly harmful condition but Linwood House is here to help. We can guide you on the journey to sobriety and make stimulant abuse and addiction a distant memory.

Stimulants addiction - tub representing stimulants

What are stimulants?

Stimulants are drugs that cause feelings of euphoria and alertness. They include everyday, legal products such as caffeine and nicotine, prescription medications such as Adderall and Ritalin and illicit drugs such as methamphetamine and cocaine.

Stimulants work by increasing levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the central nervous system, which can increase energy and cause a number of other effects depending on the type of stimulant you take.

Can you become addicted to stimulants?

It is possible to become addicted to most stimulant drugs. With continued stimulant use, your brain adapts and no longer produces normal amounts of dopamine because it is used to receiving dopamine from the stimulant. When you then stop taking the stimulant, you experience withdrawal symptoms as your brain thinks it needs the substance to function normally.

Stimulant addiction often develops gradually and is defined as losing control of your stimulant use and compulsively taking it. The substance becomes your main priority so that you ignore any negative consequences to your physical and mental health and general life and well-being.

What are the effects of stimulant abuse and addiction?

Different stimulants have varying effects but common short-term effects include:

  • Euphoria
  • Increased concentration
  • Talkativeness
  • Increased energy
  • Decreased appetite
  • Problems sleeping
  • Nervousness
  • Increased blood pressure and heart rate
  • Increased aggression
  • Impulsive behaviour

Stimulants addiction - problems sleeping

Long-term effects of stimulant abuse include:

  • Increased risk of stimulant addiction
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Stroke
  • Overdose
  • Other long-term health complications

Risk factors for stimulant addiction

Several factors contribute to how likely you are to develop a stimulant addiction. This can make it difficult to determine why one person has developed an addiction while another has not. Factors that increase your risk of developing a stimulant addiction include:

  • A family history of substance abuse – Part of the risk of stimulant addiction is due to genetics and part is due to how substance abuse may be normalised in your environment
  • Peer pressure and bullying at school – This can lead to you starting to use stimulants early which puts you at a greater risk of developing a stimulant addiction later in life
  • Childhood neglect and other forms of childhood abuse
  • Mental health problems such as depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder
  • Previous substance abuse problems – if you have had or still have issues with a different class of substances, you are more likely to develop an addiction to another class, such as stimulants
  • Easy access to stimulants
  • A stressful life in which you use stimulants to mentally and emotionally escape from

How is stimulant addiction diagnosed?

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) identifies eleven criteria for addiction which apply to stimulant addiction:

  • Trying to cut down or stop using stimulants but failing to do so
  • Experiencing stimulant cravings
  • Increased tolerance where you need to take more stimulants than before to get the same effect
  • Using more stimulants than intended or for a longer period of time
  • Withdrawal symptoms when you do not use stimulants
  • Spending more time seeking and taking stimulants than recovering
  • Neglecting responsibilities in order to take stimulants or because you are preoccupied with them
  • Continuing to use stimulants despite negative consequences for your relationships
  • Continuing to use stimulants despite negative consequences to your physical and mental health
  • No longer taking part in activities and events that were important to you
  • Risk-taking behaviour (including when you have taken stimulants or are trying to obtain them)

According to the DSM-5, the number of symptoms you have indicates the severity of the condition. Having six or more of these criteria indicates that you have a severe substance use disorder that signals addiction.

What does recovery from stimulant addiction involve?

Overcoming stimulant addiction requires a holistic approach which involves two main stages:

Stimulant detox: This is the process of withdrawing from stimulants and allowing your body and brain to heal, breaking physical dependency.

Stimulant rehab: This stage involves participating in different types of therapy, support groups and treatment sessions to address the causes of your stimulant addiction so you can overcome them systematically.

Linwood House provides both of these stages and aftercare to help you overcome stimulant addiction once and for all.

Signs of stimulant addiction in a loved one

It can be difficult to spot the signs of stimulant addiction because people suffering from it tend to try to hide their symptoms. If you are worried that a loved one needs help, here are some common stimulant addiction sights to look out for:

Stimulants addiction - social withdrawal

  • Secretiveness
  • Social withdrawal
  • Stimulant packages around their home
  • Losing interest in things they used to enjoy
  • Losing control over their stimulant use
  • Impulsiveness, such as driving under the influence
  • Neglecting self-care and appearance
  • Going to multiple doctors for stimulant prescriptions

These may be signs of other conditions so it is important to speak to your loved one about your concerns to ascertain if they are really addicted to stimulants.

How to get help for stimulant addiction

If you need help overcoming stimulant addiction, Linwood House is here to help at Linwood. Get in contact with us today and we will discuss how we can guide you on the path to recovery and a life free from stimulant addiction.

Frequently asked questions

Are over-the-counter stimulants dangerous?
Any stimulants can be dangerous if taken in great quantities or when mixed with other substances, such as alcohol. That is why you should only take stimulants according to their instructions.
Can stress lead to stimulant addiction?
Yes, many people turn to stimulant use as a result of school or work-related stress. This is a dangerous coping mechanism and can quickly lead to stimulant addiction which can ultimately make the stress worse.
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