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The Diminishing Return of Using Stimulants

3 weeks, 3 days ago

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Posted on Nov 15, 2021, 5 a.m.

When you hear the word stimulant, what comes to mind? Maybe you think of steroids and other popular performance-enhancing drugs that have recently caused a stir in the sports industry. Not so fast. We’re talking about something much closer to home. Stimulant abuse affects people who might not look anything like athletes, and they include many drugs that can be taken without a needle in the locker room

What are Stimulants? Some Familiar Names

Stimulants or “CNS (central nervous system) stimulants” are normally prescribed to treat sleep disorders, ADHD, or obesity. Types of stimulants include amphetamines or a combination of other drugs, such as methamphetamines or dextroamphetamine. But don’t let those long names fool you- chances are, you’ve heard of them all. They are some of the most widely abused drugs on the market. 

When someone mentions stimulants, they might be describing Illegal drugs like ecstasy or crystal meth- but again, not so fast. Stimulants also include completely legal drugs such as Adderall and Ritalin. These simply require a doctor’s prescription. Of all prescription-based stimulants, Adderall is probably the most popular in its widespread use, with some estimates that 30 percent of prescriptions are repurposed for illegal use. 

Why Are Stimulants so Popular?

From the 1930s to the late 1960s, amphetamines were a popular drug with a wide range of use. In the military, amphetamines were weaponized in World War II as a way to help soldiers clear up congestion, resist combat fatigue, and even prepare Japanese Kamikazee pilots to carry out their suicide missions. Outside the military, people were prescribed methamphetamine inhalers or multivitamins with very little regulation. By the time people started taking notice of the negative effects of amphetamine addiction, it was too late. Its potential and popularity were already realized.

Even though the kind of stimulants back in the 1900s are not nearly as accessible anymore, history tends to repeat itself. Today, amphetamine use, especially Adderall, has become so widespread that it’s gained an unofficial title, “the study drug.” This is because so many people use Adderall to help meet assignment deadlines by increasing their alertness and suppressing appetites. The demographics of stimulant use disorder are highest in males ages 18-29, right in the range of college and early career professionals. The drug works by speeding up the central nervous system, resulting in a euphoric high of alertness and energy. In a society that values production and accomplishment, it’s easy to see why this drug is so popular. Simply put, stimulants are used by people who want to get stuff done. So why are they so dangerous?

When Overstimulation Becomes Deadly

It’s a good thing that amphetamine use is more and more regulated. But when regulations take place, dangerous workarounds start happening as well. One of the reasons Adderall is so dangerous is because there are so many people who use it without a prescription. This means that they have to buy it from somewhere else. It also means that there is no way to know exactly what the pill or powder is. 

When Adderall is sold illegally, it might be cut with other drugs, including PCP or fentanyl. This makes for a dangerous and even lethal combination. Needless to say, the symptoms you hope to treat from street Adderall could get much worse because you don’t know what you are putting in your body. 

But what happens when someone becomes overstimulated? One of the big issues includes the effect on the user’s sleep cycle. For both Adderall and methamphetamine, high usage causes the body’s neurotransmitter levels to become interrupted and depleted. The result includes drowsiness and lethargy, and some users will eventually crash after several days of insomnia. But because of the high levels of the drug in their body, they experience a very low quality of sleep. 

This cycle of restlessness often leads to hallucinations and paranoia. These symptoms bring an added danger to operating vehicles or machinery- even after the immediate effects of the drug wear off. Emotional issues such as depression and suicidal thoughts can occur due to changes in the brain. 

Not everyone is like the extreme examples of soldiers hoping to experience almost superhuman abilities from amphetamines, but everyone expects that amphetamines will push their bodies to new heights. But just like other drugs, using stimulants will only result in severe side effects, overstimulation, and a strong likelihood of addiction. And if these are to real results of using stimulants, then the risk far outweighs the benefits.

This article was written by Kevin Morris from the Delphi Behavioral Health Group, a dedicated family of facilities committed to offering individualized treatment for all levels of addiction working to treat it at its core to provide those suffering with the tools to start a journey of long-lasting recovery. 

As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before making any changes to your wellness routine.

Content may be edited for style and length.

Materials provided by:

Mayoclinic (2020, December, 4). Performance-Enhancing Drugs: Know the Risk. Retrieved https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/performance-enhancing-drugs/art-20046134

National Center for Biotechnology Information (2021, August, 25). Amphetamines. Retrieved https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK548941/

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (n.d.). Amphetamines. Retrieved https://www.dea.gov/factsheets/amphetamines

Delphi Health Group. (n.d.). Comparing Meth and Adderall: What’s the Difference? Retrieved https://delphihealthgroup.com/methamphetamine/and-adderall/

Smithsonian Magazine (2017, October, 27). A Speedy History of America’s Addiction to Amphetamine. Retrieved https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/speedy-history-americas-addiction-amphetamine-180966989/

National Institute on Drug Abuse (2019, October). What is Methamphetamine? Retrieved https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/methamphetamine/what-methamphetamine

Delphi Health Group. (n.d.). Demographics of Drug Abuse: Rates in Men vs Women. Retrieved https://delphihealthgroup.com/treatment-guide/men-women-drug-abuse/

Delphi Health Group. (n.d.). Is Adderall Cut With Other Drugs? How to Know. Retrieved https://delphihealthgroup.com/drug-cutting/adderall/

Delphi Health Group. (n.d.). Does Adderall Negatively Impact Sleep Quality? Retrieved https://delphihealthgroup.com/drugs-and-sleep/adderall/

Delphi Health Group. (n.d.). How Does Meth Usage Affect Sleep? (Quality, Dosage & More). Retrieved https://delphihealthgroup.com/drugs-and-sleep/meth/



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