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Stimulant Substance Abuse

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When Stimulant Abuse Becomes a Serious Addiction

Stimulants are a diverse group of drugs that put the body into a state of increased alertness and energy and raises the levels of physiological activity. Many individuals use stimulants to feel more productive, or to stay awake for longer periods of time. Stimulants can be injected, snorted, or taken orally. They have an extremely high potential for abuse. When abused, stimulants can lead to irritability, hostile and aggressive behavior, paranoia and psychosis.

Stimulants can cause an irregular heartbeat, heart failure and even seizures. Methamphetamine is one of the most harmful and widely abused illegal stimulants. Although some stimulants are illegal, others are prescribed for conditions such as ADHD, where they help boost productivity and focus. Those who begin abusing stimulants catapult themselves into a dark world of sleepless nights, paranoid behavior, acting out, and chasing a never-ending high. Stimulants corrupt the brain and neural pathways and prolonged use can lead to long-term damage of the brain that affect the levels of dopamine. Long-term amphetamine and methamphetamine abuse has also been found to greatly increase the risk for developing Parkinson’s disease.

The good news is that with an adequate length of stay in an individualized treatment program, progress can be made. Damage done can be reversed through many different forms of therapies and continued abstinence from stimulant drugs. If an individual is struggling with weight gain, poor focus, or decreased energy, using stimulant drugs may be tempting but stimulants have an incredibly substantial risk for addiction. If someone is abusing stimulants, it is advisable for them to immediately seek out help instead of continuing to use.

Stimulants FAQ’s

Stimulants speed the body up the body’s systems. This class of drugs includes prescription drugs as well as street drugs.

Stimulants are often diverted from legitimate channels or produced in makeshift laboratories for the illicit market.

Bennies, Black Beauties, Cat, Coke, Crank, Crystal, Flake, Ice, Pellets, R-Ball, Skippy, Snow, Speed, Uppers, Vitamin R, White Girl, Pick Me Ups, Windows, Glass, G, Tweak.

Stimulants can be swallowed, smoked, snorted and injected.

Stimulants produce a sense of exhilaration, enhance self-esteem, improve mental and physical performance, increase activity, reduce appetite and extend wakefulness for an extended period of time. Abuse of stimulants can sometimes be accompanied with auditory and visual hallucinations, paranoia, hostility, aggression, and panic.

Stimulants reverse the effects of fatigue on both mental and physical tasks. Taking too much can cause tremors, headaches, dizziness, flushed skin, chest pain with palpitations, excessive sweating, vomiting, and abdominal cramps.

High fever, convulsions, and cardiovascular collapse can be caused by an overdose. Physical exertion increases the hazards of stimulant use.

Some hallucinogenic drugs, like Ecstasy, have a stimulant component.

Depression, anxiety, drug craving, and extreme fatigue are symptoms of withdrawal, known as “the crash.”

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Sign, Symptoms, and Common Behaviors of Stimulant Abuse

The behavioral signs and symptoms for those who are abusing stimulants can be somewhat obvious and that itself helps to identify its abuse. Stimulant addiction can cause problems at school or work, neglected appearance, unusual behavior, and money issues rather quickly.

An individual who is abusing stimulants may be very talkative and have erratic movements. They may have dilated pupils, become easily irritated, and may seem confused. If an individual is abusing methamphetamines the symptoms listed above may be a bit more apparent than with other stimulants due to its strong potency.

Later, when an individual runs out of the stimulant they are using, they will almost certainly crash; many individuals who abuse stimulants will stay up for days without sleep and then experience a crash where they fall asleep for a significant amount of time.

Commonly Abused Stimulant Drugs


3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine (MDMA) is a synthetic drug that can drastically alter mood and perception of its users. The synthetic chemicals combine to make the user feel warm, comfortable, and experience loving feelings. MDMA is a drug that is most often abused at raves, which are all night dance parties; it comes in capsule or tablet form, but can also be crushed and snorted. MDMA affects the dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin levels of the brain.

Bath Salts

Bath salts are synthetic stimulant-like chemicals that come in crystal or powder form. For many years, bath-salts went under the legal radar until recent years. Laws have been enacted to combat the widespread use and abuse of these synthetic drugs. The chemicals are swallowed, inhaled or injected to achieve the desired stimulant-like effects. It seems that teenagers are more likely to abuse bath salts than any other demographic.


Cocaine is a strong stimulant that can be snorted, inhaled, smoked and injected. Cocaine has an extremely substantial risk of addiction dependence. It is derived from the coca plant that is native to South America through a rigorous isolation process. Cocaine is one of the most widely abused drugs in America and usually comes in powder form. The high attained from cocaine usually lasts around thirty minutes, to an hour, leaving the user chasing the next high soon afterward.

Crystal Meth (Methamphetamine)

Methamphetamine is a synthetic stimulant that is widely abused in America. Also going by the name of crystal meth, it is known for its potent effects and serious symptoms of use which range from paranoia, aggression and psychosis. Crystal meth comes in what looks like small shards of crystals that can be smoked, snorted and injected. Crystal meth is also known for the devastating effects it can have on the teeth, which is called “meth mouth.”

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Reliable Sources Matter to ABTRS

Stimulants Don’t Have to Control Your Life

Finding reliable information when seeking drug and alcohol treatment can be difficult. Not many people feel comfortable going to a doctor to discuss a pain pill addiction without feeling shame or blame for their struggles. That is why it is important for ABTRS to provide information that you can count on, free from shame, and worth your trust. We want to empower you with the knowledge to make good decisions that will better your life. We take pride in offering reputable sources that are impartial, not funded by organizations that could benefit from certain outcomes, and proven or tested to be effective. Know that the sources below are there to help you by educating you about rehab and all things treatment related.

Addressing Chemically Dependent Colleagues Volume 2/Issue 2 July 2011. Retrieved from https://www.ncsbn.org/Addressing_Chemically_Dependent.pdf

Mealer, M., Burnham, E. L., Goode, C. J., Rothbaum, B., & Moss, M. (2009). The prevalence and impact of post-traumatic stress disorder and burnout syndrome in nurses. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2919801/

The Opioid Crisis and the Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist: How Can We Help. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.aana.com/docs/default-source/aana-journal-web-documents-1/guest-editorial—the-opioid-crisis-and-the-certified-registered-nurse-anesthetist—how-can-we-help.pdf?sfvrsn=76ad4ab1_4

Toney-Butler TJ, Siela D. Recognizing Alcohol and Drug Impairment in the Workplace in Florida. (2018). Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK507774/

NIDA. (2018, June 6). Prescription Stimulants. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/prescription-stimulants on 2019, February 28

NIDA. (2018, June 6). Methamphetamine. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/methamphetamine on 2019, February 25

Howell, L. L., & Cunningham, K. A. (2015). Serotonin 5-HT2 receptor interactions with dopamine function: implications for therapeutics in cocaine use disorder. Pharmacological reviews, 67(1), 176-97.

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