Causes & Symptoms of Stimulants Addiction

Since 1957, Azure Acres Treatment Center has given hope to individuals struggling with stimulant addiction and its lasting effects. Azure Acres provides residents high-quality alcohol and drug abuse treatment near Santa Rosa, California.

Understanding Stimulant Addiction

Learn about stimulant addiction

Stimulants are a group of substances that include cocaine, amphetamines, and methamphetamines (“meth”). According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), stimulants are a Schedule II grouping of drugs, meaning that they have high potential to be abused.

Stimulants such as prescription amphetamines can be extremely helpful in increasing the quality of one’s life when he or she is struggling with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). These medications, such as Adderall and Ritalin, work to increase an individual’s abilities to hold his or her attention and remain focused on the things he or she needs to accomplish. When individuals without ADHD abuse stimulants, they also experience a boost in alertness, energy, attention, and more. Other stimulants, such as cocaine and methamphetamines, produce similar effects, however, they also provide a user with feelings of improved self-confidence and extreme euphoria. Stimulants are known to curb one’s appetite, which is appealing to those who want to lose weight.

When individuals abuse stimulants of any kind to a point where they are no longer able to function appropriately, it is likely that a stimulant use disorder has developed. As soon as a stimulants addiction becomes present, it can be very hard to defeat without the help of trained professionals.


Stimulant addiction statistics

Sadly, stimulant abuse impacts numerous people throughout the county. It is believed that methamphetamine abuse runs rampant through 1.2 million Americans, and the Office of National Drug Control Policy reports that cocaine abuse impacts nearly 3.6 million individuals. Thirteen million people are said to be abusing amphetamines.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for stimulant addiction

Some of the possible causes for the development of stimulant use disorder and addiction can include:

Environmental: An individual’s environment can impact his or her chances of abusing one of these substances. For cocaine specifically, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) states that prenatal exposure to cocaine or exposure to it during childhood can increase the risk of an individual abusing it at some point as well. Also, witnessing community violence or seeing peers abusing this and other drugs can also make an impact on whether or not an individual will also abuse stimulants at some point in his or her life.

Risk Factors:

  • Abusing other types of substances
  • Being impulsive or possessing other similar personality traits
  • Having a diagnosis of childhood conduct disorder
  • Suffering from other mental health conditions, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or antisocial personality disorder
  • Being exposed to violence during childhood
  • Growing up in an unstable home environment

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of stimulant addiction

When individuals are struggling with stimulant abuse, the signs and symptoms that they might display will vary based on a bevy of different factors. Some of these factors can include the type of stimulant that is being abused, the length of time that it has been abused for, and the frequency in which it is being abused. Some of these symptoms can include:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Engaging in dangerous activities in order to obtain one’s stimulant of choice
  • Repetitive movements
  • No longer participating in activities that were enjoyed
  • Changes in social interactions
  • No longer fulfilling obligations at work or home
  • Hypervigilance

Physical symptoms:

  • Noticeable weight loss
  • Muscle weakness
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Nausea
  • Lowered or elevated blood pressure
  • Dilated pupils
  • Perspiration or chills
  • Chest pain
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Experiencing intense cravings for stimulants
  • Impaired judgment
  • Confusion

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Brief periods of euphoria
  • Psychological distress
  • Anxiety
  • Lack of emotional reactivity
  • Anger


Effects of stimulant addiction

When stimulants are being abused, an individual becomes more likely to go through a variety of different negative consequences. The effects that will develop will vary based on the stimulant that is being abused, how it is being consumed, and the period of time that is has been abused for. The frequency of the abuse will also be a factor.

Abusing stimulants intravenously can put users at risk for going through the following:

  • Contracting hepatitis or HIV/AIDS
  • Becoming infected with tuberculosis
  • Puncture marks
  • Lung infections

Abusing stimulants through intranasal use can be highly risky in that it has the potential to lead to the following:

  • Sinusitis
  • Punctured nasal septum
  • Nasal bleeding
  • Nasal irritation

Abusing stimulants by inhaling them can cause individuals to become susceptible to the following:

  • Respiratory distress
  • Pneumonitis
  • Coughing
  • Bronchitis

Abusing stimulants in any way, shape, or form can lead to the effects below:

  • Academic failure
  • Job loss
  • Chest pains
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Significant weight loss
  • Deteriorated relationships
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Malnutrition

Co-Occurring Disorders

Stimulant addiction and co-occurring disorders

When a stimulant use disorder has developed, an individual also faces a strong likelihood of suffering from other mental health conditions at the same time. In addition, these individuals are more likely to abuse other substances along with stimulants to help curb some of the painful effects that can come from their use.

Below are some of the few disorders that individuals who have stimulant use disorder can face:

  • Antisocial personality disorder
  • Gambling disorder
  • Alcohol use disorder
  • Other substance use disorders
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Schizophrenia
  • Bipolar disorder

Withdrawal & Overdose

Effects of stimulant withdrawal and overdose

Effects of stimulant withdrawal: When an individual who is abusing stimulants attempts to stop his or her use, he or she will likely go through a period of withdrawal, which can be terribly uncomfortable and oftentimes painful. Some of the effects connected to withdrawal are known to include:

  • Psychomotor retardation
  • Impaired ability to perform occupationally
  • Increase in appetite
  • Dysphoric mood
  • Disturbed social interactions
  • Other types of functional impairment
  • Psychomotor agitation
  • Vivid, unpleasant dreams
  • Fatigue

Effects of stimulant overdose: Sadly, the risk for overdosing on stimulants is a very real issue for those who abuse them. An overdose happens when an individual consumes more of a substance than his or her body can metabolize. As they keep increasing their dosage to obtain desired effects, individuals keep increasing their chances of overdosing. If an overdose occurs, medical help should be obtained immediately. Some of the following signs and symptoms of a stimulant overdose can include:

  • Heart palpitations
  • Hypertension
  • Flushing of the skin
  • Excessive sweating
  • Irregular breathing
  • Cramping
  • Feelings of panic
  • Seizures
  • Stroke
  • Vomiting
  • Chest pain
  • Cardiac arrest

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I have been in and out of treatment for years and could not remain sober for more than a couple years sometimes no more than 60 days. I attended groups and one on one therapy with my counselor there and this time something magical happened for me there. Azure Acres saved my life -- check this place out if you are looking for treatment!

– Former Patient