According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, or SAMHSA, nearly 1.5 million people in the United States were addicted to stimulants in 2014. Specifically, roughly 913,000 people aged 12 and older were addicted to cocaine and 476,000 people were addicted to other stimulants not including methamphetamines.
What are stimulants?
Stimulants are drugs that increase energy and alertness. Some stimulants are illegal, whereas others are sold in coffee shops across the nation. Still other stimulants are used to treat medical conditions such as ADHD.
Examples of stimulants include:
Stimulants act on the brain by enhancing the effect of neurotransmitters including norepinephrine and dopamine. Because these neurotransmitters are responsible for sensations of euphoria and alertness, stimulants tend to make people feel happy and productive.
Stimulants not only influence the brain – they also alter the functions of other internal organs including the heart and lungs. When individuals use stimulants, they often experience elevated blood pressure, heart rate and respiration.
Unfortunately, stimulants can be addictive. Abusing stimulants may result in long-term health issues including cardiovascular problems, seizures and psychosis.
What are the signs of a stimulant overdose?
Like most drugs, it is possible to overdose on stimulants.
Signs of an overdose may include:
- Heart palpitations
- Cardiac arrest
Since several of these symptoms can be fatal, signs of a stimulant overdose should be taken seriously. If you’re afraid that you’ve taken too many stimulants, contact your doctor right away.
I’m addicted to stimulants – What should I do?
Over 1 million Americans are living with stimulant dependence. Thankfully, it’s possible to recover from an addiction to stimulants through proper therapy, medication management and behavioral wellness skills.
The first step in recovering from an addiction to stimulants is to stop taking the drug. Unfortunately – much like other drugs of abuse – quitting stimulants cold turkey can result in painful withdrawal symptoms. While the withdrawal symptoms are rarely dangerous, they can be severe and may keep a person from successfully quitting.
Stimulant withdrawal symptoms include:
- Low mood
- Slowed speech
- Inability to feel pleasure
- Weight loss
- Sleep problems
- Impaired memory
One way to combat stimulant withdrawal symptoms is by receiving medically supervised detox. Medical professionals can use specific medications and interventions to reduce the intensity of these symptoms and increase comfort levels during these first steps of recovery.
After detox, individuals with stimulant dependence may benefit from entering a stimulant treatment program, where they can receive evidence-based therapy to target their cravings. Behavioral therapy, contingency management and cognitive behavioral therapy are all effective treatments for stimulant addiction. Support groups may also serve as a stimulant addiction treatment.
For more information about finding help for someone with an addiction to stimulants or related amphetamine dependence treatment at Sovereign Health, please contact our 24/7 helpline.