WHAT ARE STIMULANTS?
Answer: Stimulants are a group of drugs that stimulate the central nervous system. These increase the activity in your brain. Stimulant drugs may be prescribed to treat a variety of disorders including ADHD, headaches, shift-work disorder, asthma, and depression. Even caffeine and nicotine are stimulants. Illegal stimulants are drugs like cocaine, crack, meth-amphetamines, and ecstasy.
ARE STIMULANTS SAFE?
Answer: If a stimulant is prescribed by a physician to treat a medical condition and used correctly, stimulants can be safe. However, when more than what is prescribed is used or it is used incorrectly, then stimulants can be dangerous. Many people are prescribed stimulant medications and use them responsibly and without experiencing significant adverse effects. In spite of this, prescription stimulants remain a frequently abused substance: over 900,000 Americans will use these medications for non-medical purposes on a monthly basis. (NAMI, 2013)
WHAT IS STIMULANT ABUSE?
Answer: Stimulant abuse is described as using a prescription stimulant drug in a way that is not intended for use or using an illegal stimulant for the feelings or excitement it brings (NIH, 2011). Some of the consequences of stimulant abuse, even short-term are:
- Dangerous increase in body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate
- Dental problems
- Paranoia or psychosis
WHAT CAUSES A PERSON TO BECOME ADDICTED TO STIMULANTS?
Answer: Stimulant abuse may occur for many reasons. Some people abuse stimulants to give them more energy to get things done. College students cramming for finals may abuse drugs like Ritalin or Pro-vigil in order to pull all-nighters before exams. Some adults abuse stimulants in order to help them feel more awake and alert. The reasons for stimulant abuse vary but the results are still the same. Addiction can happen to anyone.
HOW DO I KNOW IF SOMEONE I LOVE IS ABUSING STIMULANTS?
Answer: Symptoms of stimulant abuse are:
- mood changes
- increase in energy
- rapid speech
- rapid heart rate
- inability to concentrate
WHAT KIND OF HELP IS AVAILABLE FOR TREATMENT OF STIMULANT ABUSE?
Answer: There are many places to go in order to get help for substance abuse. Start with a visit to your family physician. They may already have a list of resources available. If you want to find help on your own, there are many websites and phone numbers available. Here is a list of resources available.
- The Information HelpLine is an information and referral service which can be reached by calling 1 (800) 950-NAMI (6264), Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.- 6 p.m., EST or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
- www.Helpguide.org can provide resources in your area for treatment, support groups, and links to articles on overcoming addiction
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA) National Drug and Alcohol Treatment Service at 1–800–662–HELP (4357). Drug treatment programs by State also may be found online at www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov.
HOW DO I APPROACH A LOVED ONE ABOUT SEEKING TREATMENT?
Answer: A common myth is that a person needs to admit they have a problem and want to seek treatment for it. In fact, many people in recovery are there because a family member or friend realized that their loved one has a problem and convinced them to seek treatment (Promises Treatment Center, 2012). Helping them may be the only chance they have at recovery. That does not mean it will be easy. First, do your homework. Learn about addiction and the causes. Second, do an intervention but don't go in without a plan. Have numbers to call or places to take them if they agree to go. Third, don't judge. Be there to listen and to let them know how their addiction has affected the loved ones around them. Fourth, do not make idle threats. Doing this only enables the user to continue abusing without taking your concerns seriously. Fifth, offer your support, love and encouragement.