Whether it's cocaine or a prescription medication, addiction to stimulant drugs can lead to serious health consequences. Illicit drugs in this category may include cocaine and amphetamines, but prescription medications that are often used to treat conditions like ADHD are also often abused.
The effects of stimulants
People may be drawn to use stimulants to feel an increase in energy, or to use cocaine to feel a rush. However, all of these these drugs, including the prescription medications, have harmful side effects when abused. Although they may create a temporary high, after it wears off, the person using the drug may feel depressed or exhausted. This is an effect of coming "down" after feeling "up," one of the reasons stimulants are also known as "uppers." One of the effects of coming down from the high is that the person will want to feel it again, and as a result may enter into the vicious cycle of addiction.
What happens in the brain when a person takes stimulants? These drugs increase the level of dopamine in the brain, helping to give the user that "up" feeling. With cocaine, dopamine is prevented from moving through its natural cycle in the brain, and builds up. Although this causes the user to feel high, once the feeling wears off, they will feel depressed. These drugs can actually change the reward system in the brain, making it more difficult to achieve the same high and resulting in having to take more of the drug to achieve the desired effect.
Consequences of stimulant abuse
When a person uses stimulants like cocaine or amphetamines over a long period of time, it can create physical side effects such as an irregular heartbeat or very high body temperatures. Mentally, the individual may begin experiencing feelings of paranoia. Other physical side effects are possible, depending on how the drug is taken. Those who abuse cocaine may feel an intense rush from doing the drug that varies depending on how powerful it is (the dosage and purity of the drug). However, it carries the side effects of increasing the risk of heart attack, stroke and respiratory failure. There are a range of possible long term effects, that can also include tooth decay, liver damage, malnutrition, and hallucinations.
There are various ways to take these drugs. Some may swallow or snort prescription pills. Cocaine can be snorted, ingested or injected, all methods that carry potentially serious consequences. Snorting cocaine or crushing and snorting pills like Adderall allows the drugs to more quickly enter the blood stream and take effect faster. However, this method comes with an extra risk of damage to the nasal passages that can lead to nosebleeds, a chronic runny nose and even a loss of sense of smell.
Cocaine is known to cause nausea and other gastrointestinal complications, and cocaine users may experience malnutrition as a result of a reduced appetite. Additionally, people may take prescription stimulant medications to help control weight, although this carries serious risks including increasing the chances of possible cardiac arrest.
An accurate and comprehensive diagnosis is a critical step in being to receive proper treatment for addiction. Founded by Dr. M.K. (Khal) El-Yousef, Fairwinds addiction treatment centers have been helping people recover from addiction since 1989. Our highly experienced and trained staff works with you or your loved one to develop and individual treatment plan using a combination of clinical treatment and therapeutic counseling. Using a dual diagnosis approach to treatment, we seek to identify addiction at the root cause, giving patients a chance at a lasting recovery. To learn more about our treatment programs, contact Fairwinds today.