10 Signs You are Addicted to Stimulants
Increased energy levels, renewed confidence and enhanced focus and concentration most characterize the “high” that comes with stimulant drug use. While pleasant for a short while, these effects take a turn for the worse with continued drug use.
According to Harvard Health Publications, an estimated two million Americans are addicted to stimulant drugs within any given year. Considering how fast-paced everyday life has become, it’s really no surprise so many people seek out ways to enhance their performance.
Stimulants speed up most every chemical process in the body. Over time, these effects damage the brain and body’s cell structures leaving users in a debilitated state, both physically and psychologically.
In effect, someone addicted to stimulants lives inside a cycle of drug abuse and withdrawal effects that never ends. For these reasons, spotting the signs of addiction early on can save a person much heartache and despair.
If you suspect you or someone you know may be addicted to stimulants, here are 10 signs to consider.
When used on an ongoing basis, stimulant effects on brain and body functions accumulate over time. Since stimulants naturally speed up the body’s chemical processes, a person will eventually reach a state of hyper-arousal where he or she is unable to remain still for any length of time.
Before long, someone addicted to stimulants will be running on fumes as the drug essentially “burn out” brain and body process. In spite of these effects, a person will remain fidgety, restless and irritable regardless of whether he or she is “high” or not.
2. Persistent Drug Cravings
As users continue to experience the “rush” and resulting enhanced performance potential stimulants provide, the mind starts to associate stimulant effects with the so-called positive results the drug produces. The stronger this association becomes the more intense a person’s drug cravings will be.
This process taps into the brain’s reward system, which regulates learning and motivation. Once addicted to stimulants, the brain’s reward system has come to define stimulants as an essential part of a person’s life. In turn, one’s motivation to use stimulants increases along the way.
3. Emotional Instability
When ingested, stimulants cause a rush of neurotransmitter chemicals to enter the brain. These chemicals then travel throughout the body’s central nervous system.
Changes in brain neurotransmitter levels can have drastic effects on a person’s emotional well-being. By the time a person becomes addicted to stimulants, chemical imbalances have taken root within the brain’s overall make-up.
Consequently, a person’s emotional stasis reflects the state of chaos present in the brain. Once addicted to stimulants, episodes of depression, euphoria and rage become more so the norm than the exception.
As stimulant effects continue to damage cell structures throughout the brain and body, a person starts to feel “burned out” from the strain these drugs place on the system. Since the central nervous system controls digestion processes, the body’s ability to metabolize foods and extract vital nutrients also suffers. In effect, someone addicted to stimulants is, for the most part burning the candle at both ends.
5. Loss of Control
Stimulants alter brain neurotransmitter levels through their interactions with individual brain cells. In effect, cell damage results from how stimulants over-stimulate cells to produce such high chemical levels.
According to the Semel Institute, as cells continue to undergo structural damage, they become less responsive to stimulant effects, which weaken the intensity of the “high” a person experiences. Someone addicted to stimulants will opt to increase the drug dosage to compensate for the drug’s weakened effects.
Cell responsiveness will continue to decline for as long as a person keeps using. In turn, being addicted to stimulants results in taking as much of the drug that’s needed to produce the desired effects. In the process, users lose control over their ability to limit their intake.
6. Disorganized Speech Patterns
Someone who’s been addicted to stimulants for a while may start to exhibit psychotic-like behaviors, one of which is disorganized speech patterns. At this point, widespread chemical imbalances have taken over the brain’s primary functions. These effects on the cognitive regions of the brain can cause long-term and sometimes permanent damage.
7. Flat Affect
The overall effect of stimulant abuse works to “short-circuit” the brain. As chemical levels skew further off balance, a person’s behavior becomes more erratic in terms of his or her emotional state. Someone exhibiting a flat affect shows no emotional response at all. In essence, he or she has entered into a catatonic-like state.
Under these conditions, people addicted to stimulants may stare off into space for unusually long periods of time. They also lose the ability to interact with others in terms of being able to hold a conversation.
8. Failed Attempts to Stop Using
Stimulant addiction not only breeds a physical dependency, but a psychological dependency as well. This means any attempts to stop using will be met with both physical and psychological withdrawal effects. Not surprisingly, people addicted to stimulants can go through multiple failed attempts to stop using before deciding to get needed drug treatment help.
9. Severe Depression
When abused on a repeated basis, the depression episodes experienced along the way grow more severe the longer a person keeps using. After a certain point, someone addicted to stimulants will enter into states of severe depression that can be overwhelming to the point where suicidal tendencies start to manifest.
At this point, stimulant effects have warped the brain’s cognitive functions and depleted vital chemical supplies. Someone experiencing episodes of severe depression can pose a considerable danger as the potential for acting on suicidal thought is high.
Signs of severe depression include:
- Feelings of guilt
- Feelings o shame
- Overwhelming sense of hopelessness
- Overwhelming sense of helplessness
10. Lifestyle Changes
People addicted to stimulants create a new lifestyle that centers around getting and using drugs. Lifestyle changes may take the form of:
- Isolating from friends and family
- Entering into new social groups (with other drug users)
- Careless spending habits
- Unusual risk taking
- Engaging in criminal activity (to procure drugs)
In the absence of needed treatment help, someone addicted to stimulants has little chance of recovering from the effects of these drugs.