Stimulants are a type of drug which increases energy and alertness. The feeling of increased functioning is highly seductive, and this is why so many individuals become addicted. There are a number of popular illegal substances whcih fall into this category including crack and methamphetamine. These drugs can not only lead to addiction but are also responsible for many health and social problems as well. There are legal stimulants, such as caffeine and nicotine that can be damaging to people’s health.
There are a number of substances that fall under the category of stimulant such as:
* Amphetamine (speed)
* Crack Cocaine
* Yaba (found in predominately in Southeast Asia)
* Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (also known as MDMA, Ecstasy, E or X)
The exact effects that stimulants have on the body differ depending on the drug in question. All work by making changes to the central or peripheral nervous system.
* Cocaine, methamphetamine, yaba, amphetamine, and Crack Cocaine work by increasing the levels of dopamine. This neurotransmitter stimulates the brain and creates the high associated with this type of drug.
* Methylenedioxymethamphetamine increases the availability of dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine in the brain. These feel-good neurotransmitters create the pleasurable experience that people describe while using this stimulant.
* The stimulant effect of nicotine is due to the way the drug encourages adrenalin and norepinephrine production.
* Caffeine works by interfering with the ability of adenosine to bind with receptors in the brain. Adenosine is an inhibitory neurotransmitter. This means that it tells the body to slow down. Caffeine stops this slowing-down mechanism to function as it should. By doing this it temporarily removes feelings of sleepiness.
The effects of stimulants can be mild to intense depending on the drug in question. The most common symptoms include:
* Increased sense of well-being
* High energy levels
* Increased confidence
* Improved concentration
* Loss of inhibitions
* Increased level of alertness
* Reduced need for sleep
Stimulants have many medicinal uses. They are not prescribed as much as they once were because doctors are more aware of the possibility of addiction. Stimulants can still be prescribed for:
* Morbid obesity
* Chronic lethargy
* Attention deficit disorder
Stimulants like cocaine and methamphetamine are highly addictive. People do not need to take these substances many times before they become dependent. Some individuals will become addicted to crack after just one experience with it. The high levels of well-being and confidence associated with these drugs encourage repeated use. The comedown afterwards is hard to deal with. People become addicted to the highs and continue to use the drug to avoid the lows. Crack cocaine can be a particularly destructive drug because the euphoria of the drug only lasts a few minutes. The addict will then either need to take more or suffer the lows of the comedown.
Nicotine addiction is responsible for a lot of human suffering. The long-term health consequences of using this drug are well-known, but for many people the addiction feels too strong to break. Caffeine addiction is viewed as a less serious form of stimulant abuse, but this too can be damaging to people’s health and sense of well-being.
All types of stimulant addiction can lead to serious consequences. The stronger stimulants (cocaine, MDMA, Methamphetamine, and amphetamine) can cause:
* Increased tolerance
* Heart failure
* Chronic insomnia
* Weight loss
* Nutritional deficiencies
* Respiratory damage
* Family problems
* Work problems
* Damage to body organs
Those individuals who are addicted to strong stimulants can exhibit a number of symptoms such as:
* Mood swings
* Loss of interest in activities they previously enjoyed
* Secretive behavior
* Manic behavior
* Many days off sick from work or school
* Lack of interest in personal appearance
* Poor hygiene standards
* They become easily irritated
* Periods of talkativeness where they might not be making sense
* Lying and other unethical behavior
* Loss of interest in sex
* Irrational behavior
* Obvious weight loss
* Money problems
* Restlessness and agitation
The most important element of any addiction treatment is the willingness of the addict to give up their abuse. If this willingness is not there then there is little that can be done to help. The physical withdrawals of giving up stimulants can be mild, but the psychological effects can be harder to deal with. There may be many times during early recovery when the individual feels that life without stimulants is too flat. If such people are not strong enough when such thoughts appear it leaves them at risk of relapse. This is why those individuals who are committed to some type of recovery program tend to do better.
There are many options for those people who are trying to escape the clutches of nicotine or caffeine addiction. The withdrawal symptoms from these substances can be unpleasant, but the worst is over in a couple of weeks. Those individuals who are quitting these drugs can also benefit from some type of support; especially at the beginning.
The withdrawal symptoms from stimulants can include:
* Urges to use the drug again
* Physical symptoms such as headaches or body pains
* Anxiety and a feeling of impending doom
* Lack of energy
* Suicidal thoughts