How Does Rehab Help Stop Stimulant Addiction?
Anyone who’s abused stimulants for any length of time well knows how these drugs all but drain a person’s energy and overall sense of self. Stimulants do exactly what the name implies, stimulate and speed up brain and body processes. Over time, these effects tend to snowball driving users to crave larger and larger doses of the drug.
Stimulants come in a range of drug types and potencies, some of which include:
- Prescription-based drugs
In spite of their “prescription” label, legal stimulants can be just as addictive as cocaine and methamphetamine. Once a person starts abusing any one of these drug types on a regular basis, stimulant addiction soon follows.
Someone considering stimulant addiction treatment has probably reached the point where his or her daily life has spun out of control. Persistent drug cravings, withdrawal effects and fragmented thinking have become more so the norm than the exception,
Stimulant addiction treatment programs specialize in addressing the physical and psychological distress brought on by stimulant abuse. Addiction treatment works to undo the damaging effects of stimulants while helping addicts regain control of their daily lives. This entails treating both the physical and psychological roots of addiction itself.
Stimulant Addiction Effects
Stimulant addictions all have one thing in common: brain damage. While most people know how harmful cocaine and methamphetamine can be, many may be unaware of the equally damaging effects prescription stimulant abuse can cause.
In effect, stimulants eat away at brain cell structures by over-stimulating cell secretion activities, according to the Illinois Attorney General,. Stimulants target the brain cells responsible for secreting dopamine and norepinephrine neurotransmitter chemicals. These chemicals play vital roles in regulating many of the body’s major system, some of which include:
- Heart rate
- Respiration rates
- Blood circulation
- Blood sugar levels
- Blood pressure levels
By the time addiction takes hold, stimulants have essentially taken over brain chemical functions and for the most part depleted needed neurotransmitter supplies. In this state, a person can only but keeping taking the drug since the brain has lost the ability to carry out normal functions on its own.
Breaking the Body’s Physical Dependency
Physical dependency typically marks the beginnings of a growing addiction problem. When left untreated, the body’s cravings for stimulants will grow progressively worse over time.
Stimulant addictions produce some of the most severe withdrawal effects compared to other forms of drug addiction. Withdrawal can be so intense as to cause life-threatening symptoms. Not surprisingly, many addicts keep using for the sole purpose of warding off withdrawal episodes.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, symptoms commonly experienced in withdrawal include:
- Profuse sweating
- Feelings of fatigue
- Scrambled thinking processes
- No appetite
- Rapid heart rates
- Rapid breathing rates
Stimulant addiction treatment begins at the detox stage. Treatment programs provide round-the-clock medical care to help ensure a person’s safety throughout the withdrawal period.
Treatment programs also administer medication treatments (both prescription-based and over-the-counter drugs) to help ease some of the discomfort experienced during detox. Without this level of medical attention, withdrawal effects can quickly weaken a person’s resolve making relapse inevitable.
Breaking the Mind’s Psychological Dependency
More than anything else, stimulant addictions most affect how a person thinks, feels and behaves. These changes result from the damage done to the brain’s reward system.
According to Columbia Health, the brain’s reward system depends on stable levels of dopamine chemicals to function normally. The degree of chemical imbalanced caused by stimulants eventually warps how this system works.
Once addicted, dopamine level surges become the driving force behind a person’s thinking, motivations and behaviors. Stimulant addiction treatment programs employ a wide range of interventions designed to undo the psychological dysfunction left behind by addiction.
Interventions most often used include:
- Behavior modification therapies
- Relapse prevention strategies
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
In effect, breaking the mind’s psychological dependency on stimulants entails a reconditioning process where addicts replace drug-seeking thought patterns and behaviors with constructive coping skills and a healthy mindset.
Building a Drug-Free Lifestyle
Building a drug-free lifestyle is essential to breaking addiction’s hold over a person’s life. Considering the mental and emotional turmoil those in recovery often experience, someone struggling with stimulant addiction will likely require a highly structured treatment environment.
For these reasons, many stimulant addiction treatment programs operate within residential living settings where recovering addicts live for the duration of the program. Residential treatment programs provide a stable living environment where residents participate in scheduled treatment sessions on a daily basis.
Treatment sessions entail working through different aspects of addiction using various treatment approaches. Treatment approaches may take the form of:
- Group therapy sessions
- Individual psychotherapy sessions
- Drug education counseling
Recovering from a stimulant addiction involves an ongoing process of working through the underlying issues that drive addiction-based tendencies. Social supports play a central role in this process.
Most stimulant addiction treatment programs employ the 12 Step support group model as a means for helping those in recovery learn how to communicate effectively as opposed to bottling mental and emotional conflicts up inside.
The 12 Step support group model also incorporates a personal development plan designed to help each person work through past and present issues while learning to develop positive plans for the future.
Ultimately, social supports and the principles learned from the 12 Step model become a running theme throughout the course of a person’s recovery process.
While detox and residential treatment programs do provide a solid foundation for ongoing abstinence, staying engaged in one’s recovery is essential to maintaining abstinence for any length of time. In order to provide for a person’s ongoing recovery needs, stimulant addiction treatment programs draw up aftercare plans once a person completes drug treatment programming.
As everyone’s situation differs, aftercare plans are based on each person’s ongoing treatment needs once the treatment program ends. Aftercare plan recommendation may include:
- Ongoing psychotherapy sessions
- Ongoing participation in behavior modification treatment
- Regular attendance at 12 Step support group meetings
Stimulant addictions carry high relapse rates so it’s essential for those in recovery to take aftercare plan recommendations seriously. Otherwise, a person can easily end up right back where he or she started, addicted to stimulants.