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What Is a Stimulant?

A stimulant is a drug that speeds up the body’s activities. It increases heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Stimulants can also make people feel excited and energetic. There are both legal and illegal forms of stimulants. Some of the more common legal forms of stimulants are caffeine and nicotine. Illegal forms of stimulants include:

  • Cocaine
  • Methamphetamine (Crystal Meth)
  • Ecstasy (MDMA)
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)

When prescribed by a doctor, stimulants can help with medical conditions.

For example, they can be used as a temporary treatment for obesity. They are also prescribed to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy (a condition that makes people feel extremely sleepy). Stimulants increase alertness and concentration in these conditions; however, prolonged use of stimulants does not improve ADHD or narcolepsy symptoms.

Commonly abused stimulants

Even though some forms of stimulants are legal, they can still be abused. Legal stimulants that are commonly abused include:

  • Caffeine
  • Nicotine
  • Phentermine
  • Methamphetamine

Stimulant Use Disorder

Stimulant abuse is more common than you may think. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), an estimated 31 million people ages 12 and older used stimulants in 2015, a number that has continued to rise since. This number includes both legal and illegal forms of stimulants. The people who are most at risk of abusing stimulants are young adults. One study found that the rate of stimulant use disorder in 18- to 29-year-olds is higher than all other age groups when compared by drug, gender, and ethnicity/race. People who abuse these drugs tend to be male; however, there has been an increase in women using stimulants.

Using illegal stimulants like cocaine, meth, and MDMA can radically affect your long-term health.

Long term psychological effects include:

  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Delusions
  • Depression
  • Persistent anxiety

Long term physical effects include:

  • Stroke
  • Seizure
  • Muscle deterioration
  • Reduced sexual functioning
  • Cardiovascular damage
  • Breathing problems

Recognizing Stimulant Abuse

When someone is abusing stimulants, they often appear to be:

  • Agitated
  • Anxious
  • Irritable
  • Jittery or “on edge”

When going through stimulant withdrawal, you may experience:

  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep problems
  • Paranoia or hallucinations
  • Severe cravings for the drug

Diagnosing stimulant use disorder

Symptoms of stimulant abuse disorder include:

  • Failure to control usage and frequency of use
  • Intense cravings for stimulants
  • Increased use over time
  • Continued use despite negative consequences

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should seek help from a medical professional. To aid in making your diagnosis, your doctor will ask about your medical history and perform a physical exam. They may also order blood or urine tests to look for traces of stimulants in your system.

Stimulant Addiction Help

Inpatient rehab

Inpatient rehab, also known as residential treatment, is when a patient stays at a rehabilitative recovery center to receive treatment for stimulant addiction or other substance abuse disorders. NOLA Detox’s program is designed for 30-days, including the initial medical supervised period of detoxing. Services patients can expect to include help detoxing and multiple forms of therapy.


Therapy can help you get to the root of your addiction and discover healthy coping skills. Cognitive-behavioral therapy can help you change the thoughts and behaviors that contribute to your addiction, and family therapy can help you repair your relationships with loved ones.

Outpatient rehab

Outpatient rehab is when you attend therapy sessions, receive help detoxing, and undergo physical examinations at a facility but return home afterward. This is a good option if you can’t take time off from work or school to attend inpatient rehab.

Support groups

Support groups are a great way to connect with others who can relate and give you the support and encouragement needed to stay sober.

Stimulant Addiction Recovery

Abusing stimulants can harm your relationships and health. After you have detoxed and begin to assimilate back into your regular life and routine, it’s essential to have a recovery plan. Things that can help you recover from stimulant addiction include:

  • Joining a support group
  • Exploring what underlying issues led you to stimulant abuse
  • Keeping track of your triggers
  • Learning to experience emotions instead of avoiding them
  • Avoiding situations or people that may lead you to use



On average, it takes about 12 weeks to recover from stimulant addiction. However, the length of time will vary depending on individual needs.


Treatment costs for stimulant addiction can vary depending on the program.

NOLA Detox and Recovery Center’s goal is to remove financial barriers, so patients can get the help they need.

Full and partial treatment scholarships are available at NOLA Detox and Recovery Center. NOLA Detox also accepts most insurances and offers payment plans.


While coffee doesn’t cause the same cravings as other stimulants, it can become a habit that affects your sleep and energy levels.

Getting Started

The professionals at NOLA Detox and Recovery Center have the knowledge and experience to help you recover from your stimulant addiction. Contact us at (504) 446-1111, or visit our campus today to get started.

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