You might say that stimulants are everywhere. There are millions of Americans, for example, who take a stimulant each morning before work by having their regular dose of caffeine. Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant and can increase alertness and levels of energy.
For those who have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), stimulants, such as amphetamines, activate the brain in areas that facilitate attention and focus. Symptoms of ADHD require alertness because they often include difficulty with paying attention, difficulty with organization, excessive talking, fidgeting, along with hyperactivity and impulsivity. These symptoms can impair a child’s functioning in school, and for this reason, those children with ADHD are often easily recognized because of the behavioral and academic issues that surface as a result of their symptoms. It’s common for ADHD children, teens, and adults to receive a prescription for stimulants, such as Adderall and Concerta.
Abuse of Prescription Drugs
Yet, when teens use drugs in ways other than the way they’ve been prescribed, it is considered abuse. And the most common prescription stimulant drugs include Concerta and Adderall, frequently used for ADHD. When drugs are used according to their prescription, they are considered safe. When they aren’t, they can pose significant risk concerns. The side effects for non-prescription use of stimulants include sleep problems, decreased appetite, delayed growth, headaches, and moodiness.
Going Down a Dark Path
An extreme form of a stimulant is cocaine. It’s a powerful drug that causes euphoria, elation, and a feeling that is hard to beat with any other drug. In fact, cocaine is one of the most addictive drugs out there because of the unequaled high that it produces.
The intoxication of ingesting cocaine includes feeling very alert, excited, powerful, and happy. Some users of cocaine describe its euphoria as equivalent to orgasm. However, the euphoria of being high on cocaine can also bring feelings of suspicion and paranoia. In fact, after a while the high might produce anxious feelings, compulsive and repetitive behaviors, and seeing flashes of light or hallucinations.
Cocaine has significant effects on the brain and it is particularly addictive, more so than any other amphetamine. It releases chemicals in the brain that lead to higher blood pressure, a faster heartbeat, dilation of the pupils, chills, and muscular palpitations. With high doses, cocaine can cause a cardiac arrest, heart attack, stroke, or seizure. Cocaine is a controlled substance, and although it’s illegal, it continues to be used recreationally.
Consequences of Abuse
Another highly addictive form of stimulant is Methamphetamine, also known as Meth. It is a very toxic substance that can cause severe damage to the brain and central nervous system. Meth can be smoked, snorted, injected, or ingested orally. The high that meth produces includes excited speech, decreased appetite, increased physical activity, and elevated levels of energy. Consequences of meth use include memory loss, aggression, violence, psychotic behavior, and agitation. Meth can also cause irreversible damage to blood vessels in the brain which can lead to strokes. These are only some of the severe health consequences associated with this drug.
The treatment for those who are addicted stimulants will need to undergo clinical, supervised detoxification in order to manage the withdrawal symptoms. Research has shown that the best combination of treatment for these addictions include medication, such as methadone, to manage the withdrawal symptoms, as well as therapy to address the behavioral and psychological issues that contributed to the addiction in the first place.
Stimulants can be a difficult addiction from which to find sobriety, especially when use of the drug starts in adolescence. The danger of stimulant use in adolescence is that it predisposes a them to teen stimulant abuse and addiction later on. For this reason, the risks of continued use are far too great.
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