The Long-Term Effects of Stimulants

Types of Stimulants

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 well-being 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.

Stimulants include:

  • Prescription amphetamines: Adderall, Ritalin, Phentramine
  • Methamphetamine
  • Cocaine and crack
  • MDMA: ecstasy, molly
What is MDMA

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 hijack 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

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 (281) 431-6700. Our addiction treatment team will help you choose the treatment that’s right for you.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Long-Term Effects of Stimulants

Stimulants are a class of drugs that increase alertness, attention, and energy. They stimulate the central nervous system, leading to heightened activity of certain neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine.

Yes, many stimulants have a high potential for addiction and dependence, especially when used recreationally or in high doses. Prolonged use can lead to tolerance, where higher doses are needed to achieve the desired effects, and people experience withdrawal symptoms upon cessation.

Risks and potential long-term effects of stimulants include addiction, cardiovascular issues (such as increased heart rate, high blood pressure, and risk of heart attack or stroke), insomnia, anxiety, paranoia, and potential long-term damage to the brain.

Adderall abuse refers to the non-medical use of Adderall, a prescription medication commonly prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. Abuse of Adderall typically involves taking the medication in higher doses or in ways other than prescribed—such as crushing and snorting it or injecting it intravenously—to achieve euphoria, increased energy, improved focus, or weight loss. This misuse can lead to serious health consequences, including addiction, cardiovascular problems, psychiatric disorders, and potential overdose.

Stimulants like amphetamines are commonly prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. They help improve focus, attention, and impulse control in individuals with ADHD, and they can help control excessive daytime sleepiness in narcolepsy.

The first step in treating stimulant addiction typically involves a comprehensive assessment and evaluation by a healthcare professional or addiction specialist to determine the severity of the addiction and any underlying factors contributing to it. This assessment helps to develop an individualized treatment plan tailored to the person’s needs. It may include drug detox, therapy (such as cognitive behavioral therapy), support groups, medication-assisted treatment, and lifestyle changes to address the addiction and promote recovery.

Yes, many stimulants are controlled substances and are illegal to possess or use without a prescription. Regulations vary by country and jurisdiction, so it’s essential to be aware of local laws regarding stimulant use and possession.