Stimulant drug abuse is on the rise. Those that take stimulants for medicinal reasons and take them as directed are not considered to be addicted. Those that develop a tolerance and then take more than prescribed cross over into the realm of addiction.
Stimulant Use Disorder Defined
The DSM-5 (Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th Edition) defines the stimulant use disorder as the “continued use of amphetamine-type substances, cocaine, or other stimulants leading to clinically significant impairment or distress from mild to severe.” These substances include meth, cocaine, and amphetamines, but not caffeine and nicotine. These can be prescribed medications such as pain killers, ADHD medications, and others and/or illicit drugs, such as crystal meth, cocaine, bath salts, and other street drugs.
Stimulants are taken in many ways. They can be ingested as a drink, taken in pill form, chewed, smoked, snorted, or injected. Synthetic stimulants are being made to keep from being detected by law enforcement. These synthetic alternatives can be even more dangerous than the original substances because of the unknown chemicals added to them, and such is the case with bath salts.
Symptoms in the Diagnosis of Stimulant Use Disorder
The DSM-5 says that in order to be diagnosed with stimulant use disorder a patient must have at least two of the symptoms for a minimum of 12 months. The severity of the addiction is based on how many of the symptoms the person has, from a mild to a moderate to a severe diagnosis.
- Taking more of the drug than needed or taking it more often than intended
- Wanting to stop or cut back on the amount or frequency and unable to stop
- Cravings (both intense or that distract the use from day to day activities)
- Spending a lot amount of time thinking about getting the drug or using the drug
- Continued use when it is causing problems with home, school, or work
- Continued use when it is harming relationships with those close to the person
- Not wanting to attend activities that once used to be important and/or enjoyable to the person
- Using the drug in a dangerous way, such as snorting or injecting what was once taken in pill form
- Developed tolerance that causes a need for a higher dosage to get the same results
- Withdrawal symptoms when missing a dosage or trying to cut the dosage back
Effects of Stimulant Use
If you think that a loved one may be using stimulants, there are a few things to pay attention to.
- They often experience a decrease in appetite, which can cause a rapid weight loss.
- They may have an increase in energy levels, which will increase their physical activity.
- They feel like they are more alert of their surroundings or more focused on their tasks.
- They will have a high body temperature.
- Many will experience an irregular heartbeat and high blood pressure.
If you or a loved one are having these symptoms, it is time to have an honest talk with your doctor. There are effective alternatives to most stimulant prescriptions that are not addictive and even non-medicinal. A professional diagnosis with a legitimate doctor can help you get free from a stimulant use disorder.