Stimulants raise alertness, wakefulness, and energy levels. They also raise blood pressure and heart rate. Strong stimulants like cocaine and methamphetamine produce a powerful sense of wellbeing and euphoria which can be very addicting. Over time, stimulant abuse can cause physical and psychological dependence. Many people turn to stimulants as a way to improve their performance. Unfortunately, instead of improving their life, it can create more problems.
Types of Stimulants
Stimulants tend to have similar effects. However, illicit stimulants are more dangerous and have more long-term effects than prescription stimulants.
- Prescription amphetamines: Adderall, Ritalin, Phentramine
- Cocaine and crack
- MDMA: ecstasy, molly
Physical Long-Term Effects of Stimulants
Some of the most concerning long-term effects of stimulants are related to the cardiovascular system. Stimulants raise your blood pressure and heart rate. Long-term use puts you at a higher risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and irregular heartbeat.
Other long-term effects of stimulants are related to appetite suppression and increased metabolism. Stimulant abuse can cause extreme weight loss, muscle deterioration, and gastrointestinal problems. These effects can be caused by the stimulants themselves or lack of a healthy diet when using stimulants. Vitamin deficiencies are also common with long-term stimulant use.
Long-Term Effects of Stimulants on the Brain
There are several long-term effects of stimulants on the brain. Stimulants are not physically addicting in the same way that drugs like opioids. Instead, they cause changes in the brain that make it difficult to function without the drug. Stimulants act on the dopaminergic system in the brain. This is essentially the brain’s reward system. It’s designed to encourage healthy behaviors that aid survival, like eating, physical activity, and relationships.
Stimulants highjack this system, releasing large amounts of dopamine. This gives the user a euphoric high. This leads to drug addiction. Over time, stimulants cause long-term changes to the structure and function of the brain.
Long-term effects of stimulants on the brain include:
- Dopamine depletion
- Damage to neuron receptors
- Less gray matter, particularly in women
- Changes to the area of the brain responsible for emotion and behavior
Mental and Psychological Effects of Long-Term Stimulant Use
There are a wide range of mental and psychological effects of long-term stimulant use. Many of these arise from the changes that occur in the brain due to stimulant use. Dopamine depletion causes slower motor function and decreased memory recall.
Depression, anxiety, and fatigue are common for those who have used stimulants long-term. They may also experience aggression, irritability, and lowered impulse control. Some individuals experience schizophrenia-like symptoms, including paranoia or hallucinations while using stimulants or upon stopping stimulant use.
Route of Administration
The route of administration also plays a role in the long-term effects of stimulants. In simple terms, quicker onset and stronger effects are linked to greater risk. Generally, taking stimulants orally carries lower risks than other routes of administration.
Methamphetamine and prescription stimulants are less likely to cause toxic effects to the cardiovascular system when taken orally. This method also has a lower risk of drug addiction.
Prescription stimulants, meth, and cocaine are often snorted. Meth and crack cocaine are often smoked. These methods of administration allow the drug to enter the bloodstream faster and in a greater concentration.
The long-term effects of stimulants are often most severe when the drugs are injected. The drug immediately enters the bloodstream in a high concentration. This gives instant effects, and the user needs a smaller amount of the drug.
Serenity Light Recovery Treatment Programs
Treatment programs for stimulant drug addiction require an understanding of the short and long-term effects of stimulants. At Serenity Light Recovery in Angleton, Texas, we have treatment programs designed for stimulant addiction. Our programs include behavioral therapy, individual therapy, and addiction education. Contact us today at 855.658.6109. Our addiction treatment team will help you choose the treatment that’s right for you.