Causes & Effects of Stimulant Addiction

Understanding Stimulant Addiction

Learn About Stimulant Addiction and Abuse

When consumed, stimulants cause those who ingest them to experience heightened focus, increased energy, and an uptick in their mood. Legal stimulants, such as Adderall and Ritalin, can greatly help individuals who are suffering from the symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) find alleviation from their strife. Caffeine, another common type of stimulant, can increase alertness if consumed at the start of one’s day. Conversely, illicit stimulants, such as cocaine and methamphetamine, cause those who use them to experience a high that can induce similar effects, though the potential for addiction is exceedingly dangerous.

When taken on an ongoing basis, the abuse of these types of substances can make a person vulnerable to a variety of negative outcomes. Furthermore, if an individual finds that he or she is unable to stop using these drugs without the help of others, it could mean that that person has become chemically dependent upon them and requires professional treatment in order to break free from a stimulant addiction. When this is the case, it is important for an individual consider effective care so that the abuse of stimulants can be put to rest and a healthier, more satisfying life can be realized.


Stimulant Addiction Statistics

Research shows that many individuals abuse and become addicted to stimulants. Within the United States, cocaine is said to be the second most abused illicit substance. In fact, through research, it was found that this substance was abused by an estimated two million people in the past month alone. With regards to legal substances, like those used to treat ADHD, nearly three million individuals report misusing these substances each year.

Lastly, as many as fifteen million individuals in the United States have admitted to abusing methamphetamine and other types of amphetamines within the last month. These staggering numbers, unfortunately, cause the number of stimulant-related emergency room visits to increase year-to-year and are evidence of a strong need for effective treatment.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and Risk Factors for Stimulant Addiction

In order to understand the reasons why an individual may turn to the abuse of stimulants, one must consider research that was done on the subject. The following causes and risk factors for stimulant abuse are among the findings that are supported by both mental health and addiction experts:

Genetic: A substantial amount of research supports the notion that substance abuse, addiction, and chemical dependency are heritable concern. Meaning, if a person has a first-degree relative who struggled with a substance abuse problem, that individual is more likely to also struggle with the same sort of challenge. Additionally, certain clusters of genes, which are also inherited, are said to increase a person’s chances of abuse of substances, such as stimulants.

Environmental: Experts believe that a person’s surroundings and past experiences can certainly increase a person vulnerability for developing a problem with stimulants. For example, if an individual is exposed to the abuse of substances, such as stimulants, he or she is more likely to resort to engaging in similar behaviors. Additionally, if a person is exposed to ongoing stress, resides in an impoverished area, or associates with those who abuse substances, an individual has a higher likelihood of partaking in the abuse of stimulants as well.

Risk Factors:

  • Gender (males are more likely to engage in the abuse of stimulants)
  • Family history of substance abuse, addiction, or chemical dependency
  • Family history of mental health conditions
  • Personal history of past substance abuse
  • Having underdeveloped coping skills
  • Personal history of mental illness, namely ADHD
  • Being able to easily acquire stimulants

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms of Stimulant Addiction

Given the fact that there are several different types of stimulants, the signs and symptoms of stimulant abuse can vary. If you care concerned that a loved one is battling this type of substance abuse problem, it could be beneficial to take note of the following indicators:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Using stimulants in situations in which use could be hazardous
  • Continuing to abuse stimulants despite negative repercussions
  • Displaying increased energy
  • Teeth-grinding
  • Prior unsuccessful attempts to discontinue or decrease one’s use of stimulants
  • Rapid speech
  • Aggressive behaviors
  • Lying
  • Stealing
  • Taking other people’s ADHD medications

Physical symptoms:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Excessive sweating
  • Tolerance for increased amounts of a stimulant
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Weight loss
  • Insomnia
  • Withdrawal in the absence of a stimulant
  • Dry mouth
  • Rapid breathing

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Poor impulse control
  • Lack of good decision-making
  • Cravings for more stimulants
  • Heightened focus
  • Increased concentration

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Anxiety
  • Dramatic mood swings
  • Anger
  • Irritability
  • Paranoia


Effects of Stimulant Addiction

The effects of stimulant abuse can be detrimental to both a person’s physical health and the livelihood of an individual in general. The following effects are among those that are known to occur if a person remains addicted to stimulants and does not seek professional help:

  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Financial problems
  • Suicidal ideation
  • High blood pressure
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Liver damage
  • Kidney damage
  • Legal problems
  • Job loss
  • Chronis unemployment
  • Family discord
  • Social isolation
  • Disorientation
  • Depression

Dual Diagnosis

Stimulant Addiction and Dual Diagnosis

People who become addicted to stimulants may also suffer from certain mental health conditions at the same time. The presence of addiction and another disorder is commonly referred to as dual diagnosis. Stimulant abuse and addiction have been associated with the following conditions:

  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depressive disorders
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Anxiety disorders

Understanding dual diagnosis can be important to your recovery efforts. If you need, but don’t receive, effective dual diagnosis care, you may struggle to maintain recovery from stimulant addiction. Getting professional help at a center that offers dual diagnosis programming can prepare you for long-term success.

Withdrawal and Overdose

Effects of Stimulant Withdrawal and Overdose

Effects of stimulant withdrawal: The longer an individual abuses a stimulant, the more likely it will be that his or her body will develop a tolerance and, potentially, a dependence upon his or her stimulant of choice. When this occurs, that person may then experience a process of withdrawal if he or she is unable to abuse or tries to stop abusing a stimulant or stimulants. The following effects are a few examples of what may transpire during stimulant withdrawal:

  • Irritability
  • Nightmares
  • Hallucinations
  • Insomnia
  • Hypersomnia
  • Strong cravings
  • Generalized aches and pain
  • Anxiety
  • Delusions
  • Depression
  • Paranoia
  • Exhaustion

Effects of stimulant overdose: If a person overuses one or more stimulants, that individual’s body is likely to respond in an adverse manner. Should a person display any of the following effects, he or she may be experiencing an overdose, which warrants immediate medical attention:

  • Psychosis
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Tremors
  • Increased body temperature
  • High blood pressure
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Stroke
  • Irregular breathing
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