What are Stimulant Drugs?

Stimulant drugs are substances that increase the body’s activity. Ultimately, stimulants stimulate the body and mind. They cause people to become extremely alert and attentive. Stimulants also result in increased energy levels. Sometimes, people call stimulants “uppers” because of the effects of these drugs. When a person uses a stimulant, the drug speeds up mental and physical processes. Unfortunately, many people develop addictions to these drugs.

Stimulants work by increasing the level of neurotransmitters called dopamine and norepinephrine. Neurotransmitters are chemicals which the body naturally produces. These chemicals are like “messengers” as they are responsible for communicating throughout the nerves.

Different Types of Stimulants

There are various kinds of stimulant drugs. Some of them are illicit while others are prescription drugs. Some of the common categories and types of stimulants include:

  • Crack
  • Cocaine
  • Methamphetamine
  • Amphetamines

About Legal Stimulant Drugs

Doctors often prescribe legal stimulants to those who have attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. This medical condition usually goes by the name of ADHD and it affects the way people think and behave.

Often, those who have ADHD have trouble focusing. Individuals who have this particular disorder may sometimes be:

  • Inattentive
  • Impulsive
  • Impatient
  • Hyperactivity
  • Easily distracted
  • Forgetful
  • Restless
  • Unintentionally disruptive

Some prescription stimulant drugs help to treat narcolepsy, as well. In either case, stimulants offer patients a “rush”, increasing their alertness. This often helps people to focus and concentrate better. Of course, this is beneficial for those who have ADHD or struggle with inattentiveness regularly.

There are numerous prescriptions that are classified as stimulants. Some of them include the following: Dexedrine, Adderall, Adderall XR, Ritalin, and Concerta. 

However, although prescription stimulants seem/are helpful, using them could prove to be problematic. Some individuals who use these medications regularly may start to depend on them. After using stimulants for a while, many people develop addictions. This can happen in cases that involve either intentional or unintentional stimulant misuse.

Stimulant Addiction: Why Does it Happen?

Many people do not realize that it’s truly possible for people to become addicted to legal substances. How can a drug that helps people actually cause a problem like an addiction? Unfortunately, although prescription stimulants can help people to manage certain symptoms, they can also cause unpleasant symptoms. 

Stimulants can cause people to experience euphoria and increased energy levels. They affect the level of dopamine and cause the body to make more of this chemical than it naturally does. As a result, individuals often experience pleasurable effects when they use stimulants. 

Since stimulant drugs affect dopamine production this way, the body actually gets used to this. In other words, the brain starts to depend on stimulants to speed up dopamine production. It will actually stop making this chemical naturally because it will grow used to letting the stimulant drug do it.

This dependence eventually leads to a physical dependence. Without stimulant use, a person may begin to experience a lack of energy. He or she may feel completely abnormal without stimulant use. This happens as a result of the way drugs affect the brain’s natural processes.

In order to feel “normal”, those who are dependent on stimulants may use more of these drugs. Using the substances they depend on will cause withdrawal symptoms to cease. But, this will likely also cause unforeseen and unpleasant issues. For example, physical, emotional, and mental health problems may occur as a result of excessive stimulant use. 

About Cocaine: Use, Effects, and Withdrawal Symptoms

Cocaine is a stimulant drug that is derived from the coca plant. This plant is found in South America. But the drug has impacted the lives of many people right here in North America. Unfortunately, dealers often sell this extremely powerful and addictive drug on the streets.

This drug often appears as a fine, white, powdery substance. People sometimes call cocaine by other nicknames, including “coke”, “snow”, and “blow”. Usually, those who use cocaine do so by snorting it. In other cases, people may use cocaine by mixing it with liquid and/or other drugs (i.e. heroin). Once the mixture is complete, individuals inject it into their bloodstreams using a needle.

Crack cocaine is also a substance that many people use. Individuals make this drug by boiling cocaine powder and baking powder. (While it’s boiling, there is often a “cracking” noise, which is where the drug’s name comes from.) Once the mixture cools, it can be cut into rock-like pieces. People use this substance by smoking or snorting it. 

Both cocaine and crack cocaine are powerful substances. These drugs can be highly addictive and using them could lead to serious and even deadly effects. 

The Short-Term and Long-Term Effects of Cocaine Use and Abuse

When a person uses cocaine, he or she will likely experience the short-term effects of this substance. Some of these effects can seem pleasurable. But, others are not so desirable.

The short-term effects of cocaine use often include:

  • Nausea
  • Anxiety
  • Panic
  • Happiness
  • Euphoria
  • Irritability
  • Paranoia
  • Talkativeness
  • Dilated pupils
  • Restlessness
  • Muscle twitches
  • Sense of alertness
  • Increase in energy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fast heart rate
  • Lack of sleepiness
  • High body temperature
  • High blood pressure
  • Hypersensitivity (to sound and so forth)

If a person uses a large dose of cocaine, he or she may experience a more intense high. But, the effects will be short-lived. Sometimes, using large amounts of cocaine can cause people to become violent and erratic.

Cocaine use may also cause sudden death in some individuals. Its effects have also led to seizures and cardiac arrest. 

Long-term effects of cocaine use often include:

  • Asthma
  • Nosebleeds
  • Loss of smell
  • Chest pain
  • Excessive cough
  • Malnourishment
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Respiratory problems
  • Extreme weight loss

Continued cocaine use can put people at risk for various problems. Many individuals are at risk of developing infections such as HIV or hepatitis C due to contaminated needles. Also, chronic cocaine use can cause inflammation of the heart muscle.

Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms

When a person stops using cocaine or the effects of the drug wear off, he or she may experience:

  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Nightmares
  • Restlessness
  • Increased appetite
  • Increased anxiety
  • Overall sense of displeasure

Sometimes, people who are going through cocaine withdrawal struggle with suicidal thoughts. Withdrawal can also cause individuals to become irritable and agitated. Those who are in withdrawal should get treatment for cocaine addiction right away. If they do not, it’s likely that they will resort to cocaine use. The cycle will only continue as long as no one intervenes. This can lead to both life-changing and life-threatening results.

About Meth: Use, Effects, and Withdrawal Symptoms

Methamphetamine is a stimulant drug that comes in the form of powder or a pill. There are prescription drugs that people use to help treat ADHD and obesity. However, methamphetamine is highly addictive; people often sell and buy it illegally. 

People who abuse this drug often do so by snorting it or smoking it. Some may inject it using a needle. Often, individuals usee crystal methamphetamine, which is a form of meth that looks similar to glass or shiny rock-like pieces. Common nicknames for this substance are “meth”, “ice”, “crystal”, and “speed”.

The Effects of Meth Use and Abuse

Upon using methamphetamine, many people experience both pleasurable and difficult short-term effects. Some of these effects include the following:

  • Euphoria
  • Wakefulness
  • Attentiveness
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Loss of appetite
  • High blood pressure
  • High body temperature
  • Increased breathing rate
  • Increased physical activity

Some of the long-term effects of meth use include:

  • Anxiety
  • Moodiness
  • Loss of memory
  • Cognitive problems
  • Excessive itchiness
  • Trouble focusing (distractibility)
  • Changes in brain structure
  • Development of addiction
  • Dental problems (“meth mouth”)

In many cases, people who abuse meth for a long period of time experience behavioral changes. Some individuals become extremely violent as a result of meth abuse and dependence. Also, those who abuse meth may become aggressive. Many become paranoid, believing that they cannot trust anyone else. Methamphetamine abuse can also cause people to experience hallucinations and other signs of psychosis.

Meth Withdrawal Symptoms

An individual who has become dependent on or addicted to methamphetamine may struggle to stop using this drug. Since meth is such a potent and powerful substance, people experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop using it. Some common meth withdrawal symptoms are:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Tremor
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Dehydration
  • Hallucinations
  • Cravings for meth
  • Profuse sweating
  • Increase in appetite
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Lack of energy and motivation

Generally, during the first 24-48 hours of meth withdrawal, individuals have low energy levels. Those who are going through this phase of withdrawal will also experience nausea and stomach cramps. Throughout the following days (even up to a couple of weeks), the symptoms may worsen. Depression, anxiety, muscle aches, and other physical and emotional symptoms often occur.

Since withdrawal can be so difficult, it’s important for individuals to seek help through professional treatment for meth addiction. Unfortunately, withdrawal symptoms are often so severe that they cause people to relapse. But, with guidance and therapy, those who are working to recover from substance abuse can gain total freedom. 

About MDMA: Use, Effects, and Withdrawal Symptoms

Another stimulant drug is 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine. Usually, people call this substance “MDMA”. Many people call this drug “ecstasy”, though this term usually refers to the tablet form of the drug. Another common term associated with this drug is “molly”. It’s short for “molecular” and refers to the crystal form of MDMA. 

MDMA is a substance that acts as a hallucinogen and a stimulant. It’s a synthetic drug. This means that it is a man-made substance rather than one that is made with natural ingredients. 

This particular substance is a fairly common “party drug”. People often use it at social events, such as festivals, parties, and concerts. Normally, this stimulant causes people to feel more comfortable and excited in these settings.

The Effects of MDMA Use and Abuse

The effects of MDMA use depend on the size of an individual’s dose. But, generally speaking, individuals feel the short-term effects within a very short period of time after using MDMA. Within about 45 minutes, individuals may begin to feel:

  • Euphoria
  • Appetite loss
  • Hypersensitivity
  • An increase in energy
  • Increased level of confidence
  • A sense of well-being or relaxation
  • A heightened sense of extroversions

Some of the other possible effects of MDMA use might include the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Vomiting
  • Excessive sweating
  • Uncharacteristic behavior
  • Moodiness (irritability, agitation, aggression, etc.)
  • Symptoms of psychosis (hallucinations, paranoia, etc.)

This drug can also cause the body to have difficulty maintaining a healthy temperature. The body can become extremely warm because of the effects of MDMA. This can be very dangerous, especially when an individual is in a warm environment.

MDMA Withdrawal Symptoms

When a person stops using MDMA, he or she may:

  • Feel agitated
  • Crave the drug
  • Become anxious
  • Feel exhausted
  • Have difficulty sleeping
  • Suffer from depression
  • Struggle to focus or concentrate
  • Experience bodily aches and pains

These withdrawal symptoms could drive people to resort back to MDMA use. So, it’s important for individuals to receive professional help and counseling in order to avoid relapse. 

Prescription Stimulants and Their Effects

As we mentioned earlier, there are many legal, prescription stimulant drugs. Individuals may use drugs like Adderall or Vyvanse to treat attention-deficit disorder. These are not necessarily harmful drugs. But, because of their stimulant nature, they can be quite addictive. So, those who use prescription stimulants for a while may be at risk for developing dependence or addiction problems.

Do you need treatment for Adderall addiction, treatment for Vyvanse addiction, or treatment for any other stimulant addiction? We can help! Overcoming substance abuse can be challenging. But our professional and compassionate approach to addiction treatment may be exactly what you need in order to break free. 

Let Us Help You Here at Northbound Treatment Services

Substance abuse and addiction are very serious problems. Those who suffer from these issues should never feel alone. So, if you’ve been dealing with drug or alcohol abuse, know that there is help for you through professional treatment.

Need treatment for cocaine abuse, treatment for meth addiction, or help to overcome any other substance use problem? Please allow our team to offer you the hope and help you need at this time. At Northbound Treatment Services, our mission is to help our clients in any way possible. We want to encourage individuals to develop the skills they need in order to end addiction for good. 

Our team truly believes that recovery is possible for each of our clients. That’s why we work so diligently to provide the tools and resources people need throughout the recovery journey. We understand that there will be many challenges and obstacles along the way. So, we strive to walk with and guide our clients, every step of the way. From the moment you enroll in one of our addiction treatment programs, our team will be here to help you.

You don’t need to fight this stimulant addiction alone. Whether you’ve been depending on stimulants, alcohol, or another type of drug, there is hope. You deserve to live a life of freedom and peace. Allow us to make that a reality for you. Just contact us today by calling (866) 311-0003. Let us walk with you as you pursue a new and healthier version of yourself. Help is only a phone call away! 

References:

https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/adhd.html

https://www.medicinenet.com/stimulants_for_adhd/article.htm#what_are_the_side_effects_of_stimulants_used_for_treating_adhd

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/cocaine

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-cocaine

https://www.addictioncenter.com/drugs/meth/withdrawal-detox/

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/mdma-ecstasy-abuse/what-mdma

https://adf.org.au/drug-facts/mdma/

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/mdma-ecstasy-abuse/what-are-effects-mdma

http://www.drugpolicy.org/drug-facts/how-will-mdma-make-me-feel

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