Stimulant Addiction

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Stimulants exert their effects by impacting the CNS (central nervous system) to enhance alertness and cognitive functioning. These substances can include both prescription medications used to treat ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and illicit drugs like cocaine, an extremely addictive stimulant.

CNS stimulants work by increasing levels of neurotransmitters – chemical messengers – like dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. This elevation leads to improved concentration and decreased fatigue, especially beneficial for those with ADHD. Nevertheless, stimulants also carry the potential for significant negative effects and the risk of addiction. Stimulant abuse increases the likelihood of adverse outcomes.

Are Stimulants Addictive?

It is possible to become addicted to stimulant drugs due to their impact on the reward system of the brain and the release of neurotransmitters like dopamine, stimulants can create a sense of euphoria and heightened energy. This pleasurable experience can lead to repeated use, which may eventually develop into addiction.

Stimulant addiction is characterized by a strong compulsion to use these substances, even in the face of negative consequences. As tolerance develops, individuals may need larger doses to achieve the desired effects, increasing the risk of dependency and addiction. Withdrawal symptoms may also present when attempting to quit or reduce stimulant use, making it challenging to break the cycle of addiction.

Long-term stimulant use and addiction can have serious consequences for physical and mental health, affecting all aspects of life.  Developing an awareness of the most common signs of stimulant abuse may allow you to prevent addiction developing in the form of stimulant use disorder.

Signs of Stimulant Addiction

image representing signs of stimulant abuse

DSM-5-TR (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, revised), outlines criteria for diagnosing stimulant use disorder, the clinical descriptor for stimulant addiction. Here are the DSM stimulant abuse symptoms:

  1. Using larger amounts of stimulants or using them over a longer period than initially intended.
  2. Repeated failed attempts to moderate or discontinue stimulant use.
  3. Spending a significant amount of time obtaining stimulants, using them, or recovering from their effects.
  4. Intense cravings or a strong desire to use stimulants.
  5. Failing to fulfill major personal and professional obligations due to stimulant use.
  6. Continued stimulant use despite causing or exacerbating social or interpersonal problems.
  7. Giving up important activities because of the use of stimulants.
  8. Using stimulants in situations where it is physically hazardous to do so – while driving, for instance.
  9. Continued stimulant use despite knowing that it is causing or worsening a physical or psychological problem.
  10. Needing more stimulants to deliver the initial effects.
  11. Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when stimulant use is reduced or stopped. These side effects of stimulants cessation can include fatigue, depression, increased appetite, and disturbances in sleep.

These signs and symptoms are used by healthcare professionals to assess whether an individual meets the criteria for stimulant use disorder and may require intervention or treatment for their addiction. If you or someone you know is exhibiting these signs, seek professional help to address the potential addiction and its associated health consequences.


What is a sign that someone might be abusing stimulants?

Signs of stimulant abuse include increased agitation, insomnia, erratic behavior, heightened energy levels, and neglect of responsibilities.

How do stimulants affect the body?

Stimulants affect the body by boosting dopamine levels leading to increased alertness, blood pressure, and heart rate. Stimulants may also trigger anxiety, appetite loss, and potentially cardiovascular complications.

Stimulant Addiction Treatment

Treatment for stimulant addiction typically involves a combination of behavioral therapies, counseling, support groups, and sometimes medication. Here are some common approaches to treating stimulant addiction:

CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy)

Behavioral therapies like CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) are often used to help individuals identify triggers for their drug use, develop coping strategies, and learn skills to manage cravings and avoid relapse.

MET (motivational enhancement therapy)

Motivational enhancement therapy is designed to enhance an individual’s motivation to change their addictive behavior. It focuses on building intrinsic motivation and commitment to treatment.

CM (contingency management)

This approach provides rewards for staying drug-free, reinforcing positive behaviors, and discouraging drug use. It can be particularly helpful in motivating individuals to remain abstinent.

Family therapy

Involving family members in therapy can help improve communication, address family dynamics that may contribute to addiction, and provide a supportive environment for recovery.

Holistic therapies

Activities like exercise, mindfulness, yoga, and art therapy can contribute to a well-rounded recovery plan by addressing physical, emotional, and mental well-being.

Support groups

Support groups like NA (Narcotics Anonymous) or SMART Recovery provide a sense of community and understanding among individuals in recovery. They offer a platform for sharing experiences, receiving encouragement, and learning from others who have faced similar challenges.

MAT (medication-assisted treatment)

While there are currently no FDA-approved medications specifically for stimulant addiction, research is ongoing to identify effective pharmacological interventions. Some medications used for other substance use disorders may also be explored for stimulant addiction treatment.

Long-term follow-up

Recovery from stimulant addiction is an ongoing process. Long-term follow-up and aftercare support are crucial to help individuals maintain their sobriety and manage any potential relapse triggers.

The most effective treatment plans are tailored to the individual’s unique needs and circumstances. Seeking help from a qualified addiction specialist or treatment center can provide personalized guidance and support on the journey to recovery from stimulant addiction.

A woman sits looking out at a sunset to represent stimulant addiction treatment in Cincinnati, Ohio.

 Get Treatment for Stimulant Addiction

Engage with drug addiction treatment at Ohio Recovery Centers to begin your recovery from stimulant use disorder.

We specialize in delivering stimulant addiction treatment in an outpatient setting. If you require a more immersive experience, our IOP (intensive outpatient program) allows you to remain anchored to your everyday commitments while attending therapy sessions at our Cincinnati rehab.

All Ohio Recovery Centers treatment programs blend medications, behavioral therapies, and holistic interventions to help you address all aspects of stimulant addiction.

Call admissions at 877-679-2132 and begin your long-term recovery from stimulant addiction.

Table of Contents

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Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been working in the addiction industry for half a decade and has been writing about addiction and substance abuse treatment during that time. He has experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.
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Christopher Glover CDCA

My name is Christopher Glover, and I am from Cincinnati, Ohio. I am currently in school and working to grow in competence to better support our community. As a recovering individual I know the struggles that you or a loved one can go through and that there is help for anything you may be struggling with.

The hardest part is asking for help and we are here as a team to best support you and your decision to start your journey towards a better future. Connect with Chris on LinkedIn

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Amanda Kuchenberg PRS CDCA

I recently joined Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers as a Clinical Case Manager. I am originally from Wisconsin but settled in the Cincinnati area in my early 20s.  My career started in the fashion industry but quickly changed as I searched to find my drive and passion through helping others who struggle with addiction. 

As someone who is also in recovery, I wanted to provide hope, share lived experience, and support others on their journey.  I currently have my Peer Recovery Support Supervision Certification along with my CDCA and plan to continue my education with University of Cincinnati so I can continue to aid in the battle against substance addiction. Connect with Amanda on LinkedIn.

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Patrick McCamley LCDC III

 Patrick McCamley (Clinical Therapist) is a Cincinnati native who has worked in substance use disorder/co-occurring mental health disorder treatment since 2019. Patrick received his bachelors degree in psychology from University of Cincinnati in 2021 and received his LCDC III (Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor) license from the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board in 2022. Patrick has worked in Clinical Operations, Clinical Case Management, and Clinical Therapy throughout his career.

Patrick has tremendous empathy and compassion for the recovery community, being in recovery himself since 2018. Patrick is uniquely qualified to be helpful because of the specific combination of his academic background and his own experience in recovery.

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Bill Zimmerman CDCA

Bill Zimmerman is a Greater Cincinnati Area native who has worked in substance use disorder/co-occurring mental health disorder treatment since 2018. Bill received his (Chemical Dependency Counselor Assistant) license from the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board in 2020.

Bill has worked in Clinical Operations in both support and supervision, and Program facilitating and 12 step recovery support during his career. Bill has a passion for the recovery community, having been in recovery himself since 1982. Connect with Bill on LinkedIn

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Taylor Lilley CDCA, PRS

Growing up in Louisiana with addiction running rampant on both sides of my family. A life away from drugs and alcohol seemed impossible for someone like me. I remember what it was like sitting across from someone thinking there is no way they could ever understand what I was going through.

Sharing my experience offers a credibility and a certain type of trust with clients that only someone who has walked down this road can illustrate. To immerse myself further into the field of addiction, I am currently studying at Cincinnati State for Human and Social Services.  I hope I never forget where I came from, if I can do it, so can you!

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Thomas Hunter LSW

Hello my name is Thomas Hunter. I was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. I am a licensed social worker.In my scope of practice I have worked in the areas of mental health and recovery for thirty years. The clients I have worked with in my career have ranged in age from seven to seventy.

I strive each day to serve my purpose of helping those in need and I believe I do so by utilizing all of my experiences to accomplish my goal of supporting those who desire to establish their sobriety and maintain it in their recovery. Connect with Thomas on LinkedIn.

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Mary D.Porter,LICDC

 My name is Mary D. Porter. I received my Masters of Social Work in 2008 from The University of Cincinnati. I received My Licensed Independent Chemical Dependency Counselor Licensure in 2001. I retired from The Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center on April 14, 2014. Currently, I am the Associate Clinical Director for The Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers in Cincinnati.. Due to the fourth wave of the Opioid Epidemic in 2019,  I decided to enter back into the workforce to assist the addicted population.

The overdoses were astounding and I wanted to help.  I consider myself  to be an advocate for the addicted population. My compassion, resilience, empathy, wisdom, knowledge, experience and  love I have for this forgotten population goes beyond words. I consider what I do for the addicted population as a calling versus a “career,” because I too was once an “addict and alcoholic.” Today I am 45.5 years alcohol and substance free.

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Ben Lemmon LCDC III

Hello, my name is Ben Lemmon, and I’m the Vice President and Clinical Director at Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers. I’ve been working in the addiction and mental health field since 2013 and decided to enter the field after overcoming my own challenges with addiction.

When I first meet a client, I always explain to them that the reason we are meeting is because they are not capable of obtaining or maintaining sobriety, and my goal is to create a person that can maintain sobriety. I believe a person’s personality is made up of their thoughts, feelings and actions and my job is to help clients identify the thoughts, feelings and actions that have them disconnected from recovery and provide them with the tools to live a healthy and happy life. Connect with Ben on LinkedIn