Addiction to stimulants has far-reaching effects on the individual and their family. It brings shame to the self and people with whom you interact. At Just One Recovery, we understand the stereotypes and prejudice attached to addiction. We offer compassionate rehabilitation services to help people struggling with stimulant addiction get a second chance at life.
What is Stimulant Addiction?
Stimulants are medications or drugs that target the central nervous system and increases alertness, wakefulness, and cognitive ability. They include prescription medicines, caffeine, nicotine, crack, methamphetamine, and cocaine. Prescription stimulants are used in the treatment of ADHD and narcolepsy.
Stimulant addiction is a complex condition characterized by the compulsive use of stimulants, even when they have negative effects on the body. It is more than the physical act of taking the stimulant. It is a psychological condition where the brain is wired to operate at optimal conditions when the stimulant is consumed.
Stimulants work by increasing the production of dopamine, the hormone responsible for feeling good. With continued and uncontrolled use of stimulants, the brain is incapable of producing enough dopamine on its own. It, therefore, triggers cravings for the stimulant. Each time you give in to your cravings, the brain further develops dependence and tolerance, requiring you to increase the quantity of stimulants.
If you are dealing with stimulant addiction, it is important to understand how the brain functions and understand that the process of breaking the addiction will take time and effort. However, the results and productive life you will lead are worth the effort.
A person dealing with stimulant addiction knows they have a problem. They know they are dependent on the drugs, even if they may deny the facts. It pays to understand the signs and symptoms of stimulant addiction, so you are in a better place to help them get the right rehabilitative care.
Symptoms of Stimulant Addiction
More than 540,000 people aged above 12 years had a stimulant use disorder in 2016. One of these statistics could be your child, spouse, parent, or friend. Identifying the symptoms and signs of misuse and addiction is the first step towards dealing with the addiction. Some of the symptoms of stimulant abuse and addiction include:
- You lie or steal to obtain or take the stimulants
- You cannot stop or control your usage of the stimulant
- The person is unable to complete tasks they usually completed
- Poor social relations
- You need more stimulants to achieve the same effects
Commonly Abused Stimulants
You can be addicted to either prescription or illegal stimulants, depending on which you are exposed to. The most common ones include:
Cocaine is an illicit and highly addictive drug. It comes as a white powder and is consumed by snorting, injecting, and smoking. Most cocaine users prefer injecting a dissolved solution for a much faster effect. Once cocaine reaches the bloodstream and the brain, it causes an increased sense of excitement, confidence, dilated pupils, a runny nose, restlessness, and boundless energy. Partygoers commonly abuse the drug, as they need much energy for their activities. Crack is a variant form of cocaine usually found in crystal form.
Meth is an illegal recreational drug found either as a powder or in crystal form. It is used in similar ways as cocaine through injecting or smoking, but it is more addictive. The use of meth can lead to very high body temperatures, severe itching, dry mouth, broken teeth, and issues with cognitive functions. Meth usually stays in the body for a longer period, usually a half-life of 12 hours. It can be longer depending on how often you take the drug and the quantities you take.
Meth and cocaine are illegal in the US. Addictions to the two drugs can lead to fatal results, especially due to the increased chances of overdosing. The effects of the drugs vary depending on what the person uses. In most cases, meth users require drugs many times during the day, while cocaine users depend on it at specific times. The usage can be attributed to the addictive nature of meth. The two drugs have similar short term and long-term consequences and can be fatal in cases of overdose. Some of these effects include:
- Damage to the reproductive organs
- Damage of the lungs
- Damage to the heart muscles leading to seizures, heart failure or heart attacks
- Bad oral hygiene (for meth users)
- Brain damage
When you notice your loved one is abusing cocaine or meth, it is important to get them the right assistance as soon as possible to prevent them from damaging their health and ruining their lives and relationships.
The most commonly abused prescription stimulants include Adderall, Concerta, Ritalin, Dexedrine, Desoxyn, and Ephedrine. These stimulants are prescribed to people dealing with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder), depression, ADD, and Narcolepsy (excessive sleep).
The drugs are usually prescribed for different conditions, including:
- Adderall, Dexedrine, Ritalin, and Concerta for ADHD
- Desoxyn for ADHD and obesity
- Ephedrine for suppressing appetite and for dilating the bronchi in asthmatic people
Risk Factors for Stimulant Addiction
There is a thin line between proper use, misuse, and addiction to stimulants. People exposed to certain risk factors are likely to develop stimulant addiction. Misuse occurs when:
- You take stimulants for reasons other than treating ADHD or narcolepsy
- Taking someone else’s prescription stimulants
- Taking the wrong dosage or in a way that has not been prescribed
Several factors increase the likelihood of stimulant addiction, including:
- Access to drugs: people with increased access to drugs are more likely to abuse them. Teens report stealing drugs from their parents’ cabinets while college students will buy them in an attempt to increase their cognitive abilities and memory. Exposure to environments where stimulants are abused increases the chances of becoming using them as well.
- Peer pressure
The greatest risk of stimulant addiction is associated with overdosing. For prescription medication, they have a dosage indicated. When you are addicted, you tend to ignore the recommended dosage and will often exceed. Most people find themselves overdosing out of boredom, addiction, or tolerance.
An overdose of stimulants such as cocaine and meth can have life-threatening effects. Some of the signs that someone has an overdose of stimulants are:
- Excessive sweating
- Muscle tremors
- Tightness or pain in the chest
- Mental confusion
- Irregular heartbeat
- Unusually high body temperature
- Extremely irregular heartbeats
- Cardiac arrest
The risks of taking an overdose increases with the increase in tolerance your body develops. Therefore, if you or a loved one is dependent on stimulants, seeking rehabilitative care sooner is advisable.
Treatment Options for Stimulant Addiction
When you learn that your loved one or you are addicted to stimulants, you may be tempted to pass it off as a phase you will overcome. As a parent, you may dismiss the idea of your child or even spouse, being an addict.
These reactions are normal, but your response to them is important. No one chooses to be under the control of drugs. It is a situation that gets out of hand from experiments or medicating gone bad. Drug abuse is a habit, and like all bad habits, it requires retraining and reconditioning to break free from the habit, and replace the habit with productive ones.
Being proactive about the problem will prevent it from escalating into a life-threatening situation. Treatment for stimulant addiction takes various forms, including individual and group therapy. The common treatment options at Just One Recovery include:
Detoxification involves getting rid of the drugs from the body. It is the first step towards recovering from stimulant addiction. During the process, the person will go through withdrawal.
The detoxification process works by reducing the amount of stimulants in your body gradually until you are entirely free of the stimulant. The detoxification involves retraining the brain to take over producing dopamine on its own. It takes place slowly and over several weeks, depending on the severity of the addiction.
Since the brain was accustomed to the stimulants, detoxification leads to withdrawal symptoms such as fatigue, irritability, depression, paranoia, disinterest, cravings, poor memory, sleep problems, hallucinations, body aches, and dehydration. When done in an inpatient facility, the doctor will closely monitor you and offer assistance to keep you from relapsing or fatalities.
Detoxification removes the stimulant from your body, but you need additional help to form new habits to help you remain sober for longer. It is advisable to carry out detoxification in an inpatient facility due to the risks associated with withdrawal symptoms of sudden drug deprivation, especially for severe addiction. Being in a rehabilitation facility will give you the accountability you need to recover, as well as the opportunity to interact with people with similar challenges. Once the detoxification is complete, you will proceed to other treatment options.
Individual therapy is a form of counseling where you will interact with a therapist on a one-on-one basis. The therapist will guide you through exploring your emotions, feelings, belief systems, and past experiences. During your sessions with the therapist, you will learn of ways you can deal with sudden life stresses, environmental and social triggers that can lead to relapse even after successful detoxification.
Individual therapy is usually developed based on individual needs and circumstances. Everyone has various issues and circumstances, which have to be treated differently for successful rehabilitation.
Group therapy includes people with similar challenges who come together under the guidance of a therapist. Group therapies are generally more successful than individual therapy in providing a challenge and sharing experiences with other people struggling with addiction.
It is always best to combine the benefits of both individual and group therapy in preparing the patient for living a life free from drug abuse.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on changing attitudes and thoughts that contribute to stimulant addiction. It allows you to connect your thoughts, feelings, and actions, to increase awareness of the impact of these thoughts, feelings, and actions.
Addiction stems from environmental conditions and past experiences. These experiences and conditions affect the way we think and reason, and the way we address our problems. In cognitive behavioral therapy, you will identify the root causes (negative automatic thoughts) of your behavior and tendency towards the use of stimulants.
Negative automatic thoughts tend to create feelings of hopelessness, lack of purpose, and depression, which increases the chances of abusing drugs. Through CBT, your therapist will provide you with self-help tools and ways of dealing with your thoughts, understanding them, and making a conscious decision to be positive.
Where stimulant addiction stems from difficult experiences in the past, your therapist will help you get in touch with them, acknowledge your pain and the impact it has had, and develop a positive outlook to overcome these hurts.
In addition, you will learn techniques of dealing with triggers by learning to recognize, avoid, and cope with them. Triggers will be there once you leave the rehabilitation facilities. The triggers differ from one person to another. Through CBT, you recognize them or the circumstances that lead to stimulant use. Once you are aware of these triggers, you can be proactive about avoiding being in these circumstances or indulging in thoughts that lead you to use stimulants. Coping means that you can deal with the emotions or thoughts that prompt you into stimulant abuse.
The advantage of CBT is that you can practice the techniques you learn outside the rehabilitation center. You can make self-awareness a regular habit, which will reinforce your determination to keep off stimulant and drug abuse.
Contingency Management Therapy
CMT is an award-based approach for dealing with stimulant addiction. It rewards positive behavior during rehabilitation with tangible rewards. Such behavior includes abstaining from stimulant use and attending rehabilitation programs.
Contingency management therapy involves setting recovery milestones and giving awards when these milestones are achieved. When not achieved, the rewards are withheld.
Your faith and religious views can influence your choice to stop abusing stimulants. Depending on what your religion says about addiction and dependence on substances, you can draw your motivation from the teachings, and turn your life around. Many rehabilitation centers have a central religion whose teachings they derive from to help their patients.
Relapse Prevention Training
The goal of rehabilitation is to prevent the addict from going back to their old habits. While some accidents may happen, the individual is equipped with the skills to cope with the challenges and rise each time they fall. It may go beyond therapy, to having an accountability partner, to whom you are accountable for your actions, where drug abuse is concerned.
Residential and Out-patient treatment programs
Residential treatment programs provide a controlled environment in which you learn to control your emotions and reactions to situations that trigger stimulant abuse. In such facilities, you are removed from the triggers; therefore, you are more likely to recover from your addiction. However, there may be a risk of relapsing when you leave the facility and return to areas where triggers exist.
Outpatient rehabilitation requires the patient to visit the rehabilitation center on a predetermined basis for various forms of training. During the treatment, you are exposed to the triggers and are more likely to relapse, or heal better and learn to control your impulses due to the exposure.
In most cases, rehabilitation facilities combine the two. The residential program helps you through the first stages of the recovery. You have the time to interact with your thoughts and learn the emotions and experiences that lead you to use stimulants.
Once the first step is successful, you may be required to attend therapy sessions, or support group sessions to see how you are progressing, identify challenges you are facing with triggers and help you with the skills and resources to stay clean and sober.
Stimulant addiction can have negative effects on your relationship with parents, spouses, and children. Family therapy gives you a chance to express your feelings. You get to learn the effects of your addiction on your loved ones, and they learn any influences they may have had in you resorting to stimulant use. Family therapy reunites families broken by stimulant addiction and helps the reintegration of addicts into their family.
The success of any treatment option depends on whether the person struggling with addiction admits their problem and is ready to deal with it. However, as the family or friends of the person, you can intervene on their behalf if they cannot get help themselves. You can do this by seeking the help of an intervention professional who has the skills and expertise in dealing with addicts. After they are ready to get help, you will need to enroll them in a rehabilitation center.
Find a Orange County Drug Addiction Treatment Center Near Me
The journey towards a sober life begins with one call. Just One Recovery is your trusted companion in walking towards a sober life, free from stimulant addiction. We value the feelings, confidentiality, and struggles of our clients. We understand our human limitations and how quickly our lives can spiral out of control. We have helped others in Orange County and beyond recover from stimulant addiction, and we can help you too. Contact us today at 714-538-8085.