Prescription Stimulant Addiction- Dangers, the Risks, and Recovery

Springboard Recovery provides effective treatment for substance use & mental health disorders.

Prescription stimulants are medicines used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy which are episodes of deep sleep. Prescription stimulants are medicines that increase alertness, attention, and energy.
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Some common prescription stimulants are:

  • dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine®) (amphetamines)
  • dextroamphetamine/amphetamine combination product (Adderall®)
  • methylphenidate (Ritalin®, Concerta®).
  • Suprenza
  • Procentra
  • Vyvanse
  • Biphetamine
  • Metadate
  • Quillivant
  • Benzedrine
  • Diet aids (Fastin, Preludin, Bontril, didrex, ionamin, meridia

Prescription stimulants come in the form of a tablet, capsule or liquid. When people use this medication as prescribed it does not present a problem. However, many people began to abuse prescription stimulants by:

  • Taking the prescribed medication in other ways other than prescribed.
  • Taking someone else’s medication.
  • Taking the medication to get high.

Some other ways to take these medications and misuse them are to take them in the form that they are, crush them, take the powder and inject them into a vein, snort them, and/or smoke them.

Stimulants are a class of drugs that enhance brain activity. Historically, stimulants were used to treat asthma, obesity, neurological disorders, and a number of other disorders, until it was discovered that people easily became addicted to stimulant drugs. It is dangerous to take these drugs other than how they are prescribed. Stimulants increase the amount of natural chemical messengers called norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain. This chemical increase leads to increased blood pressure, heart rate, constricts blood vessels, increases blood glucose, and increases breathing which can also lead to the following:

  • rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • delirium
  • panic
  • psychosis
  • paranoia
  • heart failure

Street Names for Prescription Stimulants

  • Bennies
  • Black beauties
  • Hearts
  • Crosses
  • LA turnaround
  • Speed
  • Truck drivers
  • Uppers
  • JIF
  • Kibbles and Bits
  • MPH
  • Pineapple
  • R-ball
  • Skippy
  • The smart drug
  • Vitamin R
  • Coke
  • Crank
  • Crystal
  • Snow
  • Flake
  • Ice
  • Pellets
  • Cat

What are the Side Effects of Prescription Stimulants?

Some physical side effects of taking large doses of prescription stimulants are the following:

  • Dizziness
  • Tremors
  • Headaches
  • Flushed skin
  • Chest pain with palpitations
  • Excessive sweating
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal cramping

Some psychological side effects of taking large doses of prescription medication are the following:

  • Produces a sense of exhilaration
  • Enhances self-esteem
  • Improves mental and physical abilities
  • Increases activity
  • Reduces appetite
  • Helps to keep people awake for an extended period
  • Getting high

If people use these drugs for long periods of time in large doses, they expose themselves to serious and dangerous side effects such as the following:

  • Brain damage and mental illness
  • Memory problems
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Sudden death
  • Organ failure
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Malnutrition
  • Problems with relationships within family and friends
  • Being arrested and in trouble with the law due to illegal use of prescription medication
  • Difficulties in finances due to spending so much money to continue the addiction
  • Aches and pains throughout the body
  • Premature death
  • Cancer

It is difficult for people to want to admit that they have an addiction to prescription stimulants. When they finally do come to terms with their addiction, they will need support and help from family to get help from medical professionals. They should not attempt to quit on their own. It is dangerous to try to quit without the support and help of medical doctors and a treatment team for drug addictions.

What is the Difference Between Prescription Stimulant Abuse and Addiction?

The term “abuse” and “addiction” are often used interchangeably. However, these terms are different. Substance abuse is a milder form of harmful substance use that may not turn into an addiction. Addiction is when the user becomes psychologically and physically dependent on the drug and must have it. They feel they cannot go without it. Their body will start going through withdrawal symptoms when they do not have it.

When people first start to misuse a prescription stimulant it is called substance abuse. If they choose to continue to use it in larger doses and more often, they become addicted to it because they feel they cannot go without it. Their bodies become dependent on it. When a person moves from abusing a substance to addiction, they will need support and help to get free from the addiction.

Your health insurance plan may cover your recovery at SpringBoard. Verifying your insurance is quick and easy!

How Do People Know That They are Addicted to Prescription Stimulants?

Prescription stimulants cause considerable changes in the body and mind.  People who experience anxiety, depression, shaking, headaches, nightmares, cold sweats, and similar symptoms when trying to quit using them, are addicted. Here are some other indicators that a person is addicted to prescription stimulants:

  • Being in trouble with the law because of drug use.
  • Moving from doctor to doctor or lying about your symptoms so you can get more drugs.
  • Using other people’s prescription drugs.
  • Experiencing health problems because of drug use.
  • Lying to your family or yourself about your drug use.
  • Spending all or most of your time high.
  • Planning your day around the next time you can get high using prescription stimulants.
  • Treating other people badly when you are high.
  • Not being able to recall what happened or what you did while you were high.
  • Putting others in danger while you are high.
  • Driving, or operating heavy machinery, supervising children while you are high.
  • The most important thing to you is being high.
  • “Needing” the drug so you can feel normal.
  • Not being able to enjoy life when you are not high.

When people are experiencing these signs, it is important that they come to terms with their need for help. They are placing themselves and others in danger as they continue in their addiction to prescription stimulants. They may need an intervention by family and friends to help them come to the point that they will seek medical help.

Short Term Effects of Prescription Stimulants

People who use prescription stimulants disclose that they feel a “rush” (euphoria) along with the following short term effects:

  • Increased blood pressure and heart rate
  • Increased breathing
  • Decreased blood flow
  • Increased blood sugar
  • Opened up breathing passages

Long Term Effects

Stimulant drugs can be harmful to many organs in the body, and they can have a negative long-term effect on the brain. It is important to realize that when people abuse these drugs they are risking their lives for short-term pleasures and an escape from reality. The question people need to ask is, “Is it worth the risk?”

The following are the long-term psychological effects:

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Persistent anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Depression

The following are the long term physical effects:

  • Tremendous weight loss
  • Decreased sexual functioning
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Muscle deterioration
  • Chronic exhaustion
  • Damage to heart
  • Issues with breathing
  • Chronic headaches
  • Cerebral hemorrhage
  • Stroke
  • Seizure

The Prescription Stimulant Epidemic in the United States

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported in April of 2018 that about 5 million adults have misused prescription stimulants and .4 million are suffering from prescription stimulant disorders.  More than half (56.3%) stated that cognitive enhancement was the reason that they started misusing prescription stimulants. About 4% reported they misused prescription stimulants for weight loss. This motivation was most common for women.  Although prescription stimulants provide increased alertness and focus, research has shown very little improvement in cognitive abilities and the little improvement is inconsistent.

It is important to understand the motivation for misuse of prescription stimulants among adults in the United States. If we understand the motivation then we can be more effective in clinical practice and in preventing addiction and/or misuse from occurring. Adults suffering from depression and suicide ideation were more at risk of developing an addiction or misuse of prescription stimulants. The short-term effects of taking people away from their realities are the reason that people with depression and suicidal thoughts are more likely to misuse stimulants or become addicted to them.

Recovering from Prescription Stimulant Addiction

It is necessary to seek medical support and help when people make the decision that they desire to live a life free from prescription stimulant addiction. Prescription stimulants should not be stopped without the support of medical doctors because of the risk of relapsing. When people decide to stop using stimulants, they will experience withdrawal symptoms that are dangerous and uncomfortable.

There are various treatment options that can help people recover from prescription stimulant addiction. The aim is to treat both the physical and psychological addiction, and this is done through detox and rehab.

Detoxing off of Prescription Stimulants

The first step to recovery is to enter a detox program in which patients will receive around the clock supervision and support as they begin their journey to recovery. People will need support as they begin to come off these drugs. They will experience the following withdrawal symptoms as they choose to stop using:

  • Fatigue
  • Sleep problems
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Intense dreams

These withdrawal symptoms mean that the user has become physically and psychologically dependent on the drug in order to complete normal everyday routines. As they go through the process of detoxing off of prescription stimulants, medication can be given to help alleviate some of the uncomfortable side effects of withdrawal. People in a medically monitored detox program will be given a thorough exam to determine overall health. They will also be provided with a nutritious meal plan and supplements to help with recovery. They will begin to feel better as they receive proper nutrition. As people successfully complete the detox program which provides them with the necessary support and supervision, they will be given medical clearance to start the next step of their recovery which is to enter a rehab program. They will receive psychological support and help to maintain sobriety.

Our outpatient drug treatment program allows you to keep work and family commitments while focusing on your sobriety.

Types of Drug Rehab Centers and Treatment Options

People receive counseling by a trained therapist during drug rehab. It is imperative to treat the underlying psychological cause of the prescription stimulant addiction. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, about 50% of people who enter into substance abuse treatment have a co-occurring disorder. This means that they have a mental illness occurring along with the addiction which could be the underlying cause of their substance abuse problem.

Co-occurring disorders must be treated along with their addiction so that recovery is possible. If both conditions are not treated, then they are at greater risk of relapsing and they may have to start their journey to recovery over. Dual diagnosis treatment is highly recommended for anyone with a mental health illness and addiction.

These are the types of rehab treatment that will be recommended depending on the individual needs of the person:

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At SpringBoard Recovery, we have provided quality care to many people who wrestled because of their prescription stimulant addiction. We know how fierce this struggle can be, and our program provides for the individual and unique needs of each person. Personalized treatment for our patients is always our mission because we know that everyone has different goals and needs during recovery.

Patients who choose to come to us with prescription stimulant addictions are typically first referred to a detox program we know and trust. There, they will receive MAT, therapy, and support as they start the recovery process. Once detox is over, they will receive medical clearance to return to our facility to continue in the next step of their treatment.

SpringBoard Recovery offers excellent services to our patients. They will receive group and individual therapy sessions to help break the psychological dependence on drugs. The group sessions also help our patients to have peer accountability. Our qualified staff will customize their treatment according to what their patients need most to be successful in their mission to live a life of full recovery from addiction. We also offer sober living services for those who are traveling for rehab, or for people who may need this type of support.

Here at SpringBoard Recovery, there is help for everyone. Please contact us today to find out how we can help you find the help and support you need to fully recover from your addiction.