What are the Health Consequences of Stimulant Abuse?

Stimulants, like amphetamine and methamphetamine, are often used for their energizing effects. Students, in particular, often abuse stimulants as study aid, but there are growing rates of stimulant abuse among the general population. No amount of stimulant use is safe—there is always some risk when taking the drug. When an individual begins abusing the drugs, the health consequences can be devastating.
The health problems associated with stimulant abuse are dependent on may factors, including the individual’s size, weight, health, and the frequency and amount that they are using. Even when taking stimulants as prescribed by a doctor, there are potential health risks. According to the National Institute of Health, “The acute administration of amphetamine produces a wide range of dose-dependent behavioral changes, including increased arousal or wakefulness, anorexia, hyperactivity, perseverative movements, and, in particular, a state of pleasurable affect, elation, and euphoria, which can lead to the abuse of the drug.” The euphoria produced by stimulants make it likely that one will begin abusing the drug, and the possibility of chronic abuse increases dramatically if the individual has a predisposition to developing the disease of addiction. Low to moderate doses can cause a variety of dangerous symptoms, including, but not limited to, chest pain, stomach cramps, paranoia, hallucinations, irritability, irregular heartbeat, and increased heart rate and blood pressure. Higher doses can cause tremors, breathing problems, loss of coordination, dangerously high heart rate and blood pressure, seizure, stroke, or coma. When the stimulating effects of the drug begin to wear off, a range of symptoms may occur and last for several days, including exhaustion, anxiety, depression, and lethargy. Stimulants are highly addictive and overdose is possible, especially if one is injecting the drug. When addiction develops and a person begins to use the drug chronically and over an extended period of time, they may face devastating long-term consequences. Stimulant addiction overtime can cause chronic sleeping problems, dental problems, increased risk of heart attack, heart failure, and stroke, cognitive problems, kidney failure, and increased susceptibility to illness. The NIH explains that many of the adverse health effects of stimulant use are “time-limited” and resolve rapidly after discontinuation of the drug. It is possible to escape the potentially devastating health consequences of stimulant abuse by embracing a life of entire abstinence from drugs and alcohol.

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