Stimulant Addiction & Abuse

What Are Stimulants?

Stimulants are drugs that can make people more alert and increase energy levels. These substances temporarily lead to increased activity in the brain, which can produce a feeling of euphoria. Some of the short-term effects of stimulants include increases in breathing, blood pressure, and heart rate. When taken in high doses, these drugs can cause dangerous effects, including heart failure.

Prescription stimulants are drugs that are used for treating symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. Some of these drugs are known for being habit-forming, especially when taken for a long period of time. Illicit stimulants refer to drugs that are illegal, such as cocaine and crystal meth.

Both prescription and illicit stimulants can lead to a stimulant addiction and an increased risk of potentially deadly overdoses. Learning more about stimulant abuse is an important part of understanding the need for recovery treatment. Riverside Recovery of Tampa’s stimulant treatment options can provide an effective way to recover from this type of addiction.

Prescription Stimulants

A few different kinds of stimulants are prescribed for ADHD, narcolepsy, or other conditions, such as bronchial asthma. Common prescription stimulants include the following:
  • Amphetamines
  • Methylphenidates
  • Dextroamphetamine
These stimulants produce similar effects and have similar mechanisms, although there are some differences between them.

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Amphetamines & Methylphenidate

Amphetamines and methylphenidates affect the central nervous system, resulting in higher energy levels and increased alertness. They both increase certain chemicals in the brain, known as neurotransmitters, in order to boost brain activity. Methylphenidates typically begin affecting the brain sooner, although their results tend to wear off faster. They work by increasing dopamine amounts in the brain.

Amphetamines, which include dextroamphetamines, generally take longer to start working, but their effects last for a longer time. These stimulants work by increasing the amounts of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. Amphetamines and methylphenidates are made in short-acting and long-acting forms. Short-acting forms produce quicker results, while long-acting forms have a slower release in the bloodstream.

Common Amphetamines Include:


Adderall is a short-acting stimulant containing both dextroamphetamine and another active form of amphetamine (l-amphetamine) that is commonly used for treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Common side effects of Adderall include dry mouth, anxiety, stomach pain, weight loss, and a loss of strength.

Adzenys XR

Adzenys XR is a long-acting stimulant containing amphetamine that is used for treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Common side effects that can occur include appetite loss, dry mouth, stomach ache, weight loss, and voice changes.


Dexedrine is a short-acting or long-acting stimulant containing dextroamphetamine that is used for treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Some of the side effects associated with this stimulant include indigestion, weight loss, constipation, changes in taste, dry mouth, and skin rash.


Ritalin is a short-acting or long-acting stimulant containing methylphenidate that is used for treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and attention deficit disorder (ADD). Side effects that can occur with Ritalin include irritability, vomiting, stomach pain, and appetite loss.


Concerta is a long-acting stimulant containing methylphenidate that is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Concerta is known to be habit-forming and can cause several side effects, such as appetite loss, stomach pain, irritability, and vomiting.


Desoxyn is a short-acting stimulant containing methamphetamine that is used for treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This habit-forming drug can cause a wide range of side effects, such as dry mouth, constipation, weight loss, skin rash, and indigestion.


Ephedrine is a stimulant that is used for treating symptoms of bronchial asthma, such as shortness of breath and wheezing. This stimulant can cause a few side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, and restlessness.

Illicit Stimulants

Several illicit stimulants can result in an addiction, such as cocaine, crack cocaine, ecstasy, and methamphetamine, more commonly known as meth. These drugs all have the potential to lead to fatal overdoses or deadly health complications, such as heart attacks, especially if they are abused frequently or taken in high amounts. Meth is among the most dangerous types of illicit stimulants, due to it being highly habit-forming in a short amount of time.

Signs & Symptoms of Stimulant Abuse

Stimulant abuse can affect people in different ways, such as physically and behaviorally. Some common physical symptoms of stimulant abuse include:

  • Appetite changes
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Sweating
  • Higher blood pressure
  • Twitching
  • Hair loss

Behavioral symptoms that may occur include the following:

  • Risky or impulsive activities
  • Aggression or angry behavior
  • High amounts of energy or motivation
  • Nervousness or anxiety
  • Deceitful behavior such as stealing or lying

Stimulant abuse can also affect people’s mental well-being and cognitive abilities. Cognitive signs of stimulant addiction can include racing thoughts, delusions, paranoia, poor judgment and confusion. Symptoms of stimulant abuse that affect mental well-being include depression, mood swings, and anxiety. Keep in mind that signs and symptoms of stimulant abuse can vary widely depending on certain factors, such as how long the stimulant abuse has been going on.

Get Help at Riverside Recovery for Stimulant Abuse

Stimulant treatment focuses on building effective ways to overcome addiction mainly through therapy. Behavioral therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, can help people struggling with a stimulant addiction learn to recognize and change harmful thoughts and behaviors and develop skills for healthy living. Individual therapy, group therapy, or both are commonly used for treating this type of addiction.

If you or someone you love is dealing with an addiction to prescription or illicit stimulants, help is available at Riverside Recovery. Contact our admissions team for more information regarding our treatment program and available options to overcome stimulant addiction.


Take The First Step

Our experienced, compassionate admissions staff at Riverside Recovery of Tampa will guide you through every step of the admissions process. Many of them have gone through recovery themselves or are experienced in the mental health and substance abuse field. From your initial contact with our center, to your intake assessment, the admissions staff will bring you through our doors and on your way to recovery.