Stimulant drugs are useful for certain medical conditions. Unfortunately, some people use them as an artificial way to keep up a hectic lifestyle.
That’s a dangerous choice because misuse of stimulant drugs like Ritalin can lead to addiction as well as risky behavior such as seeking out illicit drugs like cocaine or methamphetamine.
Although most people can use prescription stimulant drugs safely, those who misuse them often require treatment for stimulant use disorder.
If you feel like stimulants are taking hold of your life, we can help you discover a treatment plan that works. Here are some situations that suggest you could benefit from treatment:
Feeling overwhelmed by cravings for stimulants
Taking more of the drug to get the same effect
You just can’t seem to cut down or quit using
Stimulant use is interfering with other activities that are important to you
Stimulants aren’t the cure for a busy day
At Eappen Clinic, we know that treatment isn’t easy, but the rewards will make the journey worthwhile. We will be with you every step of the way as you make progress toward a better life without stimulants.
What is stimulant use disorder?
Stimulant use disorder is the use of illicit stimulants (like cocaine or methamphetamine) or the misuse of prescription stimulant drugs (Adderall, Ritalin), despite harmful consequences to your health and life.
While using stimulants might improve your attention and energy at first, using them regularly will often lead to dangerous health problems, such as faster heart rate, elevated blood pressure, and in some cases anxiety or paranoia.
As with other substance use disorders, there are several criteria used to determine if you have stimulant use disorder and how severe it is.
- Cravings to use stimulants
- A lot of time spent obtaining the drug or recovering from its effects
- Continuing to use despite the problems it’s causing in your life
If you use cocaine or methamphetamine, you may experience painful withdrawal symptoms when you don’t have access to the drug. These can include headaches, trouble sleeping and mood swings. Chronic use of stimulants can cause major damage to your heart, lungs and brain. Using methamphetamine over a long period of time can result in tooth decay, aging skin and hallucinations.
Unfortunately, stimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamine have surged into our society and may contain deadly additives such as fentanyl. That’s why illicit stimulant use is far more dangerous than ever before.
Research shows deaths from a cocaine overdose doubled between 2011 and 2016, and deaths from cocaine or methamphetamine overdoses have surpassed deaths from heroin or prescription opioids.
Who gets stimulant use disorder?
Stimulant use disorder is becoming more common in the U.S. Recent data show that around 1 million individuals meet the criteria for cocaine use disorder. Stimulant use disorder affects all genders and age groups. Men are more likely than women to use illegal stimulants, but women are at just as high a risk of developing a stimulant use disorder.
Stimulant use disorders are more common among people with other behavioral health problems, including depression and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Also, because alcohol and stimulants share some effects in the body, people who use alcohol are more susceptible to a stimulant use disorder.
Some people who use opioids may alternate between opioids and stimulants to try to offset the unpleasant effects of each drug. As such, chronic opioid use can also increase your risk for misusing stimulants.
How is stimulant use disorder treated?
Right now, there are no approved medications for stimulant use disorder in the U.S. But we have several promising non-medication treatments that can help you get your life back on track.
Behavioral therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy can help reduce your cravings for stimulants. You will gain a better understanding of the situations in your life that led you to use, and you will learn new tools for avoiding or reducing the impact of those situations.
Studies also have found that offering patients small incentives for making progress in treatment works particularly well for individuals with stimulant use disorder. So we might work with you on taking this approach, which researchers call “contingency management.”
You might also benefit from participating in a support group for stimulant users that is similar to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) for people with alcohol use disorder.
Even though there is no approved medication treatment for stimulant use disorder, some medications have shown promise. Long-acting amphetamines and topiramates are among the drugs that may help some patients.
For most people with stimulant use disorder, it’s likely that a combination of treatment strategies will work best. Therapy and medication for other medical conditions may also help you better address your stimulant use.
How long will my treatment for stimulant use disorder last?
Many of the studies of behavioral therapy for stimulant use disorder have found good results for treatment that lasts anywhere from three to six months. The risk of relapse is high for this illness, so it’s likely you’ll need some significant time in treatment to become resilient against these powerful drugs.
But everyone’s case is different, so it’s not possible to pinpoint one length of time in treatment as ideal.
If you have other behavioral health problems such as depression, you may be more likely to need more time in treatment than someone without these challenges.
You may also need more time in treatment if you have a setback in your recovery. But we will never consider a return to stimulant use as a personal failure. If this happens, we will use it as an opportunity to learn and to adjust your treatment plan if needed.
Substance use disorders are chronic illnesses that must be managed over a lifetime. They are no different from diabetes, asthma or any other chronic condition.
Should I get treatment for my stimulant use disorder?
If you use prescribed stimulants according to your doctor’s instructions, you certainly do not need treatment. But if you misuse prescribed stimulants—maybe to keep up with work or school—or resort to illicit street drugs, treatment will likely be your best path to a better life.
And because cocaine and methamphetamine are more potent and more dangerous today than ever before, treatment is especially important if these are your drugs of choice.
At Eappen Clinic, we’re here to help. We can help you understand what you’re going through and build the skills you need to break free from these harmful substances. Your first appointment with us is a detailed evaluation. At the end of your evaluation, you’ll know the next steps.
Let’s work together so you can feel well again