Treatment For Prescription Stimulant Abuse

Manish Mishra, MBBS

Medically Reviewed By: Manish Mishra, MBBS

on May 2, 2024

Adderall is perhaps the most well-known prescription stimulant, and the misuse of it or similar drugs among college students and other young people is a particular concern. At Ohio Recovery Center, we provide everything you need to find lasting recovery from prescription stimulant addiction.

Although prescription stimulant drugs are considered safe when used as prescribed by a doctor, they are often used by people without a prescription or used in ways other than as prescribed.

This misuse can lead to serious health risks including the development of a substance use disorder, a condition that makes use of the drug uncontrollable, often affecting every aspect of a person’s life.

At ORC, our compassionate care team can help you take back control of your life from addiction through evidence-based treatment and a holistic approach.

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Inpatient Treatment At ORC

Our peaceful, forested, 55-acre campus in northwest Ohio provides an ideal setting for recovering from addiction, with 24/7 support and care provided by medical and clinical professionals.

Shortly after arriving, you will receive a full evaluation to determine your specific treatment needs, such as dual diagnosis care, medical detox, case management services, therapy, and more.

Detox care is provided in a separate facility on campus, but for most of your time here, you’ll be staying in a gender-specific cottage, with bedrooms, bathrooms, a kitchen, and living spaces.

Daily treatment services will include group therapy sessions, support group meetings, opportunities for one-on-one therapy, and more.

Three home-cooked meals are served each day, and you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy social activities like movie and game nights and wellness activities such as yoga, hiking the trails on campus, or working out in our gym.

Robust aftercare planning is provided as you near completion of your treatment plan, ensuring that you have all the support you need to maintain recovery when you leave us. 

To learn more about our comprehensive inpatient rehab programs for stimulant addiction, call us today.

Learn About Prescription Stimulants

Prescription stimulants are primarily used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. Some doctors also use them off-label for obesity, as weight loss is a common side effect. 

There are several types of prescription stimulants, most of which are made with some form of amphetamine. Methylphenidate is also a common stimulant that works similarly.

Types of prescription stimulants include:

These drugs are formulated differently, and a doctor will carefully consider a patient’s specific needs when determining which one will work best and then monitor the effects to ensure the desired outcome is achieved. 

However, many people misuse prescription stimulants for the temporary energy boost they provide and become addicted to them. 

Prescription Stimulant Abuse

People may misuse prescription stimulants in an effort to boost concentration and energy. Adderall, Ritalin, and similar stimulants are often referred to as “study drugs” by college and high school students for this reason. 

People who misuse stimulants may keep taking on more responsibilities, due to perceived additional energy, but this can quickly lead to exhaustion and depression.

Long-term stimulant drug abuse can lead to other serious physical and mental health problems, such as heart failure or psychosis.

With the powerful opioid fentanyl often cut into fake prescription pills, people who buy prescription drugs on the black market also face an increased risk of overdose.

Effects Of Stimulants

Stimulant drugs increase, or stimulate, the activity of the central nervous system. They inhibit receptors in the brain to allow a spike in dopamine and norepinephrine—brain chemicals that make you feel good and give you energy.

Dopamine’s involvement in the reward pathway in the brain means that when you get a dopamine rush from prescription stimulant use, a desire for the activity that caused the rush begins to form, reinforced each time you take the drug.

Like dopamine, norepinephrine is also a hormone and neurotransmitter, and it also plays a role in rewarding stimulant use.

In people with ADHD, stimulants help the brain focus, making it harder to be distracted by outside stimulation.

If you don’t have ADHD but take a prescription stimulant, you may feel euphoric and energized. These short-term effects may lead to repeated misuse, which can develop into an addiction.

Prescription Stimulant Side Effects

Prescription stimulants have common side effects, even if you use the drugs as directed by a doctor. Serious side effects are more likely to occur at high doses and with prescription drug abuse.

Side effects of prescription stimulants include:

  • high blood pressure
  • high body temperature that causes sweating
  • irregular heartbeat
  • rapid speech
  • wakefulness
  • irritability
  • aggression
  • dry mouth
  • weight loss
  • diarrhea
  • constipation 

Many people who misuse stimulants start because the drugs make it easier for them to focus. However, stimulant use over time can have the opposite effect, causing difficulty concentrating and restlessness, and may also lead to addiction.

People who misuse prescription stimulants in an effort to lose weight face similar risks.

Signs Of Prescription Stimulant Addiction

Knowing the signs of prescription stimulant addiction can help you save a life, whether it’s your own or a loved one’s.

Someone with a prescription stimulant addiction may:

  • suddenly seem to have more energy than before
  • have difficulty sleeping
  • display nervousness
  • be restless
  • take on excessive obligations
  • be exhausted
  • have unmarked pill bottles
  • have pill bottles with someone else’s name on them
  • have multiple stimulant prescriptions from different doctors
  • lose interest in their hobbies
  • lose control over their drug use
  • borrow or steal money for drugs
  • spend their time with people who do drugs
  • have withdrawal symptoms if they stop taking stimulants

Any of these signs can be a red flag on its own, but the more signs you see, the more likely it is that the person needs help. 

Can You Overdose On Prescription Stimulants?

Yes, you can overdose on prescription stimulants. In fact, the rate of overdoses involving stimulants has been on the rise in America.

Overdose symptoms will be an intensified effect of stimulation, as the drugs speed up your central nervous system. You’re likely to experience rapid breathing and a fast heart rate.

Other symptoms of a prescription stimulant overdose include:

  • tremors
  • overactive reflexes
  • aggression
  • confusion
  • panic
  • muscle pain
  • weakness
  • high fever
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • stomach cramps
  • high or low blood pressure

Overdosing on a prescription stimulant can be fatal. Irregular heartbeat and heart attack are not uncommon with a stimulant overdose. Seizures, coma, and death are also possible.

If you believe someone is experiencing a drug overdose, call 911 immediately.

Prescription Stimulant Misuse Among College Students

Among young adults ages 18 to 25, 12.8 percent reported prescription stimulant use in 2019, with nearly half reporting misuse of these drugs. College students were more likely than their non-college-attending peers to misuse prescription stimulants.

Early in 2022, two Ohio State University students died after taking Adderall they didn’t know was laced with fentanyl, a potent opioid linked to the majority of drug overdose deaths today. This highlights the serious risk associated with buying or using prescription drugs that weren’t sold through a licensed pharmacy.

College students also have high rates of alcohol use, and mixing Adderall with alcohol can be particularly dangerous.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mixing alcohol, a depressant, with a stimulant like Adderall does not cancel out the drugs’ effects, rather makes the effects unpredictable and possibly harder to detect, making it easier to overdose.

Street Drugs & Adulterants

Prescription drugs sold on the street may contain a wide range of harmful additives, including baby powder, laundry detergent, methamphetamine, cocaine, or fentanyl. These stretch a dealer’s supply without changing the taste or appearance of the drug. A small amount of fentanyl can be deadly, and many people overdose without knowing fentanyl was present in the drugs they took.

Seek Treatment At Ohio Recovery Center

If you or a loved one are addicted to prescription stimulants, contact us today.

  1. CBS News — Ohio State University warns of fake Adderall pills after two students died in one week
  2. Heads Up: Real News About Drugs and Your Body — Prescription Stimulants
  3. Heads Up: Real News About Drugs and Your Body — Prescription Stimulants National Institute on Drug Abuse — Prescription Stimulants DrugFacts
  4. National Library of Medicine: DailyMed — Label: Adderall…
  5. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration — Tips for Teens: Prescription Stimulants
  6. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration – Prescription Stimulant Misuse and Prevention Among Youth and Young Adults

Written by Ohio Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Ohio Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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