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How Do Stimulants Affect the Brain?

Stimulants are a class of drug used to increase attention, alertness, and energy level. When abused, stimulants can induce a feeling of euphoria by enhancing the effects of brain chemicals such as norepinephrine and dopamine. Stimulants carry a high abuse potential and can lead to addiction, physical dependency, and a host of dangerous health consequences.

Stimulants work by enhancing the activity of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. Dopamine is responsible for feelings of pleasure and euphoria. Norepinephrine affects blood pressure, heart rate, blood sugar, and breathing. Short-term effects of stimulants include increasing heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, and blood sugar, while decreasing blood flow. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Repeated misuse of prescription stimulants, even within a short period, can cause psychosis, anger, or paranoia. If the drug is injected, it is important to note that sharing drug injection equipment and having impaired judgment from drug misuse can increase the risk of contracting infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis.”

Taking stimulants in high doses and lead to overdose. According to the NIDA, “Repeated misuse of some stimulants (sometimes within a short period) can lead to feelings of hostility or paranoia, or even psychosis. Further, taking high doses of a stimulant may result in dangerously high body temperature and an irregular heartbeat. There is also the potential for cardiovascular failure or seizures.” These symptoms can be fatal and require immediate medical attention.

There is also the potential for stimulants to cause addiction and physical dependence.  According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, “As chronic abuse progresses, users prefer the stimulant over enjoyable activities and eventually may prefer it over food and sex. At that point, the individual will usually continue her use even when faced with continuing adverse consequences–the hallmark of substance dependence. Abrupt discontinuation of the psychoactive substance following chronic use generally results in discomfort, dysphoria, and behaviors consistent with craving. The user is now motivated to use a substance in order to avoid discomfort and dysphoria. This shift from substance use as positive reinforcement to negative reinforcement is, perhaps, one of the foremost characteristics of late-stage addiction.” The dependence created by chronic stimulant use causes major physical and mental health complications. Withdrawal symptoms of stimulant dependence include fatigue, depression, and insomnia.

Your life can become one of health and happiness in sobriety. You can make the decision to seek help now and embark upon the rewarding journey of recovery from addiction. Resilient House, located in beautiful Shreveport, Louisiana, brings togethers behavioral health and addictions specialists with spiritual guides and holistic experts to address every mental, physical, and spiritual aspects of addiction. For information about treatment options, please call today: (833) 242-6431