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Stimulants are more commonly abused than many people know. Because they are often discussed as an “acceptable” means to an end (such as getting more work done or cramming for an exam) stimulants have become more popular than ever. However, what many people don’t discuss are the harms that can come from stimulant use –  especially long-term stimulant use. 

Understanding Stimulant Use and Stimulant Addiction

Stimulants can range from seemingly harmless and readily available substances (like energy drinks and caffeine pills) to prescription stimulants (like Adderall and Ritalin) to illicit substances (like cocaine and methamphetamines). While many people minimize over-the-counter stimulants like caffeine pills, it is important to remember that the misuse of these substances can still be very dangerous. For instance, the long-term use of these types of stimulants may increase the risk of abusing more dangerous prescription stimulants, like Adderall, and even illicit substances, like cocaine, throughout life.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Over 5 million Americans reported current cocaine use in 2020, which is almost 2% of the population.” Additionally, “Approximately 5 million Americans misused prescription stimulants in 2020, which is approximately 1.8% of the U.S. population aged 12 years and older.” Furthermore, “Nearly 33,000 Americans died from an overdose involving psychostimulants with abuse potential in 2021, which was a 37% increase from the previous year.” These statistics make recognizing the signs and symptoms of stimulant use and stimulant addiction all the more important.

The Signs and Symptoms of Stimulant Use and Addiction

While they may vary from person to person and type of stimulant, there are many overlapping signs and symptoms of stimulant use and addiction. The following are some (but not all) of those signs:

  • Exhibiting deceptive behaviors like stealing and lying
  • Trying to get multiple stimulant prescriptions from different doctors (also known as “doctor shopping”)
  • Becoming increasingly agitated and aggravated when under the influence of stimulants (or when not using)
  • Showing excessive impulsive behaviors
  • Trying to get stimulants online without a prescription
  • Having an excessive amount of energy
  • Exhibiting changes in appetite, particularly not eating enough
  • Appearing “twitchy” and jittery
  • Excessive sweating
  • Appearing more anxious and stressed out than normal

Many of these effects will detrimentally exacerbate over time. Likewise, many additional symptoms also represent the long-term effects of stimulant use.

Long-Term Effects Stimulants 

There are many long-term side effects of stimulant addiction. These side effects can be detrimental to day-to-day life and in extreme cases, even be life-threatening.

The following are just a few of the long-term effects of stimulant addiction:

  • Prolonged physical problems, such as negative gastrointestinal and heart issues
  • The potential for stimulant-induced psychosis
  • A greater likelihood of acquiring co-occurring addictions and mental illnesses
  • Long-term cognitive issues like distorted thinking and memory loss
  • The break-up and fracturing of relationships
  • Issues with work or school, including expulsion and termination
  • Having long-term financial issues
  • The potential for seizures
  • Having feelings of self-harm or suicidal ideations
  • A greater risk of overdose and overdose fatalities

Due to the seriousness of these side effects, it is important to get professional help as soon as possible. This can prevent some of these symptoms from progressing to a more serious, potentially life-threatening problem.

How Stimulant Use and Stimulant Addiction Are Best Treated

Stimulant addiction is often treated with psychotherapy like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), as well as participation with recovery communities like those that practice the Twelve Steps. However, before treatment can take place, most people with stimulant addiction will need to undergo a professional detox process.

Detoxing from a stimulant addiction can be very intense. This is why it should always be done in a professional setting with licensed medical professionals and addiction specialists. Doing so can ensure that an individual is mentally and medically stable during withdrawal, putting them in the best position to transfer to the next stage of treatment.

Many people recovering from stimulant addiction choose to do so in a residential recovery setting. This can ensure that there is care 24/7 to help avoid relapse. However, there are other options, such as a partial hospitalization program (PHP) and intensive outpatient programs (IOPs). These are great options for people who need to tend to personal responsibilities while in treatment.

The Phoenix Difference With The Phoenix Recovery Center

Here at The Phoenix Recovery Center, we believe in long-term success over short-term “fixes.” This is why we focus on each client’s individual needs while creating comprehensive recovery plans solely for them.

Saint Francis of Assisi famously said, “Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” This is what recovery is all about; taking the first step to soon discover that we are walking toward a happy destiny that we once thought was impossible.

There are many long-term side effects of stimulant use, such as the potential for heart problems, delusions, and/or hallucinations, and an increased potential for acquiring a co-occurring mental illness. This is why spotting some of the earlier warning signs of stimulant use can be so beneficial. It can mean the difference between short-term side effects and long-term consequences. If you feel like you or a loved one are struggling with issues of addiction, mental illness, or co-occurring disorders, we can help get you on the right road to long-term recovery right away. For more information on stimulant addiction and how it is best treated, please reach out to The Phoenix Recovery Center today at (801) 438-3185.

The Phoenix Recovery Center
489 W. South Jordan Pkwy
Suite 400
South Jordan, UT