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Is Stimulant Use Disorder a National Frenzy?

Last Updated on June 12, 2017 by Inspire Malibu

Coffee ShopIs it time for a coffee break yet? Thanks in part to a designer coffee house on every block, America is the now largest consumer of stimulants, both legal and illegal, in the world. Our relationship with these drugs is a complicated one, too.

Air Force pilots are prescribed stimulants to help them stay awake on extended flights, and stimulants are routinely prescribed to children for attention deficit and related disorders (ADHD). Let’s not forget that roughly 90 percent of Americans consume some type of caffeine every single day, affectionately referred to as “espressonites.”

When it comes to illegal stimulants, the numbers are equally remarkable. Cocaine is the second most abused illegal drug in the country, and according to the Foundation For a Drug-Free World, 13 million people over the age of 12 reported using methamphetamines in 2008 alone. And some estimates put the non-medical use of prescription stimulants as high 50 percent of college juniors and seniors.

What are Some of the Most Abused Stimulants?

  • Cocaine
  • Methamphetamine
  • MDMA, also known as Molly or Ecstasy
  • Dexedrine
  • Ritalin
  • Adderall
  • Ephedrine

Stimulants, sometimes referred to as psychostimulants, fall under the psychoactive drug classification. The chemicals in stimulants cause alertness, wakefulness, and feelings of being “up.” These drugs can be extremely addictive and dangerous, especially when mixed with alcohol or other drugs.

Stimulant Use Disorder appears in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA). The fifth edition the manual, released in May 2013, updated its language on stimulant use and addiction. Previously, stimulant use had been broken into two different categories: Stimulant Abuse and Stimulant Dependence. It is now known only as Stimulant Use Disorder.

What is the DSM-5 and How Does it Relate to Substance Abuse?

The DSM-5 defines as Stimulant Use Disorder as: “a problematic pattern of amphetamine-type substance, cocaine, or other stimulant use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress.” While caffeine and nicotine are both stimulants, they are NOT included in this classification.

What are the Symptoms of Stimulant Intoxication According to DSM-5?

DSM-5 Stimulant Use Disorder

  • Euphoria, an internal sense of well-being
  • Increased powers of thought, strength and accomplishment
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Runny nose
  • Delusional
  • Confused
  • Hallucinatory

Prolonged use of stimulants can create a tolerance in users. Those who have developed an addiction must take more and more of the drugs to achieve a “high.” The brain and body become physically dependent on these substances and withdrawal can be painful and unpleasant.

Here’s a list of symptoms the DSM-5 notes for stimulant withdrawal that can occur after a few hours or even a few days from last use:

  • Dysphoric mood
  • Fatigue
  • Vivid, unpleasant dreams
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Increased appetite
  • Difficulty with motor skills
  • The desire for more of the stimulant, or related drug, to ease withdrawal symptoms

Stimulants are so powerful that even people who have been prescribed the medication by their physician might find themselves unintentionally addicted. There are many effective non-12 step treatment options for stimulant use disorder. It is important, though, to seek treatment in a recovery facility that’s equipped to help patients transition from the difficult withdrawal period into a proactive recovery program.


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