America’s opioid crisis has grabbed the headlines over the last several years in relation to the country’s relationships with drugs and overall addiction issues. Pill mills, overprescribing practices, Perdue Pharma, and the horrific impact of overdoses on families and communities take precedence in media stories across the United States. And for good reason. However, as the media, professionals and our communities continue to discuss and worry about the dangers of opioids, including legal prescription opioids as well as heroin and synthetic substances such as fentanyl, it is time we acknowledge that America doesn’t just have an ongoing opioid crisis on its hands, but rather a widespread addiction epidemic. A recent report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention demonstrates that addiction and dependency issues as well as overdose deaths from cocaine and psychostimulants (such as methamphetamine, also known as Crystal Meth, MDMA, Ritalin and Adderall, and even caffeine have been rising and creating a “stimulant crisis” alongside the opioid epidemic.
Stimulants are substances that are often referred to as “uppers” and include drugs like cocaine, amphetamines, methamphetamines (Crystal Meth), Ritalin, Adderall, caffeine, diet pills, nicotine, MDMA (Ecstasy), and Dexedrine, amongst others. Stimulants temporarily increase alertness and energy, decrease tiredness, and many stimulants are legally prescribed medications. The use of legal stimulants is regularly accepted in our current culture, as the many people don’t blink an eye at someone’s daily use of caffeine, nicotine, or someone prescribed medication for a diagnosable issue that requires Adderall or Ritalin. However, there is also a growing understanding of the adverse effects of stimulants and the rise of problematic or substance misuse of stimulants.
Abuse or misuse of stimulants may range from a college student taking too many Ritalin or Adderall, to a student not prescribed the medication but using it to study, to someone consuming large doses of stimulants or increasing a pattern of use to binge use or regular, everyday use in order to function. Using too many stimulants in a short period of time can cause delirium, psychosis, and physical exhaustion that often results in the need for medical attention.
There are both short-term and long-term effects of using, misusing or abusing stimulants. Some of the short-term effects of stimulants include to desired effects by users that include increased alertness and energy, as well as intense feelings of happiness and a suppressed appetite, but short-term effects also include the “crash” that occurs immediately after the effects of the drug wears off, which can increase feelings of anxiety, depression, and extreme fatigue. This can also cause the user to want to use the drugs again or increase cravings in the brain for the drug. Additionally, short-term effects of stimulants can include increased heart rate, heightened blood pressure, extremely high body temperature, muscle shakes or muscle tremors, and extreme agitation.
Some of the long-term physical effects of stimulant use, misuse or addiction can include some of the following: extreme weight loss, reduced sexual functioning, chronic fatigue and exhaustion, headaches, breathing and upper respiratory issues, gastrointestinal problems, muscle deterioration, cerebral hemorrhaging, strokes, and/or seizures. Some of the long-term psychological effects of stimulant use or misuse can include ongoing hallucinations, delusions, persistent anxiety, ongoing changes in attitude including regular agitation, paranoia, and depression. Additional long-term effects of stimulant addiction can include raised tolerance, physical dependence, withdrawal symptoms, and ongoing psychological symptoms.
As the opioid crisis continues and America’s stimulant issues rise rapidly nationwide, the study released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention included some additional and important information regarding the mixed use of synthetic opioids and psychostimulants. Overall, there has been an increase in overdose deaths involving both classes of drugs in recent years. Specifically, according to the report, between 2015 and 2017, overdose death rates that involved both classes of drugs have risen annually by 143%.
If you or someone you know needs help for addiction or co-occurring disorder issues, please give us a call. Maryland Addiction Recovery Center offers the most comprehensive dual diagnosis addiction treatment in the Mid-Atlantic area. If we aren’t the best fit for you or your loved one, we will take the necessary time to work with you to find a treatment center or provider that better fits your needs. Please give us a call at (410) 773-0500 or email our team at [email protected]. For more information on all of our drug addiction, alcohol addiction and co-occurring disorder services and recovery resources, please visit our web site at www.marylandaddictionrecovery.com.