The Facts about Stimulants
by John Taylor
What are stimulants?
Stimulants used to be prescribed for many health issues like asthma and respiratory illnesses, obesity, neurological disorders and other problems. "But as their potential for abuse and addiction became apparent, the medical use of stimulants began to wane" (National Institute on Drug Abuse, Nov., 2014). Now many physicians prescribe stimulants for fewer conditions and in many cases only when other forms of treatment have not worked. For other stimulants, caffeine is "by far the most heavily used stimulant" and nicotine is "one of the most addictive substances known" (Nolen-Hoeksema, S., 2014). Stimulants have a high rate of abuse, the users often go on binges and sometimes practically collapse from extended use.
Symptoms and Risk
Some symptoms of abuse include:
- Increased body temperature
- Increased blood pressure
- Dry mouth
- Faster breathing
- Dialated pupils
- Increased energy and alertness
- Decreased fatigue
- Decreased appetite
- Cardiovascular system failure
- Irregular heartbeat
- Reduction of social inhibitions
- Altered sexual behavior
- Blurred vision
- Chest pain
- Unrealistic ideas of personal ability & power
- Skin disorders
- Amphetamine-caused psychosis (Narconon, 2015)
"Substance use (abuse and/or dependence) disorder includes impaired control, the continued use of substances despite negative social, occupational and health consequences, risky use, as well as evidence of tolerance or withdrawal" (Nolen-Hoeksema, S., 2014). These behaviors and signs need to be present for one year or more for a diagnosis of substance abuse disorder. Let's break these down.
- Impaired control is using larger amounts of the stimulant over a longer period of time, cravings to use the stimulant, having an ongoing desire to cut down or quit, and a lot of time is spent getting, using and recovering from the stimulants.
- Social impairment is when the ongoing use of the stimulants causes problems meeting home, work or school responsibilities. Social, work-related, or leisure activities are forgotten or cut back because of use, and the person keeps using the stimulant even after these difficulties are made worse from the effects from using the stimulant.
- Risky use is when stimulants used in potentially dangerous situations like driving or using machinery, and he or she keeps using the stimulants even after you are aware of the problems that using it is causing.
- Pharmacological criteria means that the person builds a tolerance and needs to use more and more to get the same effects they once had, and also without the substance the person may start to have withdrawals and so they use the stimulant or something similar.
Myths about Stimulant Use and Abuse
What to do if you need help
When finding a therapist there are 5 things you want to look for. First, you want to ensure that they have the proper credentials. This means that the therapist should have the education, specializing in drug abuse, as well as have licensing as a psychologist and a drug counselor. Next, find someone with more than 10 years of experience. Ask the questions "how many clients have you seen? How many faced similar challenges to mine? What has your success rate been?" (Chanetsa, B., Jan. 7, 2015). This is your life and a good, licensed therapist will not use you to test out his latest techniques. They will use what they know has worked. Next, find out if they have had a history of addiction. While this may or may not be important to you, it is important to find out how long they have been sober and how they got clean. The therapist should also have a detailed action plan for step-by-step goals, treatment plans and how they will help you be successful. Finally, you must feel safe and trust them completely. If you feel hesitant at all, it won't work. You need to be honest with them and they need to give you the help that you need.
You can also call 24/7
St. George Detox Hospital 1-844--84-DETOX
With proper help you can live a healthy full life again!
Narconon. 2015. Signs and Symptoms of Amphetamine abuse. Retrieved from
National Institute on Drug Abuse. November 2014. Prescription drug abuse. Retrieved from
Nolen-Hoeksema, S. 2014. Abnormal psychology (6th ed). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill
St. George Detox Hospital. n.d. Common myths about stimulant abuse. Retrieved from