As the opioid crisis gains national attention, stimulant use and dependence has been rising as well. Documentaries like Take Your Pills are shedding light on the rising rates of stimulant use. Methamphetamines are among one of the fastest-growing markets for prescription usage.
Like opiate pain medication, amphetamine and its derivatives have FDA-approved medical uses that put these powerful stimulants in the hands of adults, teens and even young children despite their potentially addictive nature. Commonly prescribed for ADHD, weight loss, and sometimes for pain, the over prescribing of Ritalin (methylphenidate), Adderall (amphetamine), and Desoxyn (methamphetamine) resulted in the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 after a decade of rising overdose deaths.
High-quality amphetamines and other stimulants such as cocaine can cause feelings of euphoria, confidence and well-being, as well as increased energy levels and increased ability to focus on tasks. Because of this, Adderall and Ritalin are especially common among college students, who use stimulants while studying.
Using amphetamines and other stimulants for long periods of time can lead to pysical and neurological problems. Effects on mental health include paranoia, hallucinations, and psychotic breaks, while physical symptoms can include convulsions, teeth grinding, and phantom itching. Long-term dependence on stimulants can weaken the immune system, decreasing the body’s ability to fight infection.
Long term stimulant use can cause drug dependency. Unlike opiates with methadone and naloxone, there is not yet a medical treatment for amphetamine addiction or overdose, meaning it is important for users to seek treatment as soon as dependency occurs.
According to a Harvard report, methamphetamine, cocaine and other stimulant addictions are typically treated with a behavioral therapy such as CBT or DBT, or contingency-management programs, which provide tangible incentives for drug-abstinence.
Stimulant dependence is similar to other substance abuses. Due to the euphoric side effects of stimulants, it may be difficult for users to identify their use as excessive. Furthermore, the withdrawal from continued stimulant use can cause significant discomfort. When stimulants have been prescribed for a known physical ailment, patients must be careful to use only the prescribed amount and discontinue use after the ailment has healed.
If you or a loved one has been using stimulants on a daily basis and is at risk of misuse, it is important to identify the issue and seek the advice of a professional. Treatment is the first step to getting rid of a dependency and is crucial for sustained recovery. Treatment options vary from individual to individual. The advice of a trained staff who specialize in substance abuse can offer valuable insight in how to pave the path to recovery.