Let’s face it: most of us are using a stimulant on a daily basis.
Whether we get it in our morning coffee, our afternoon soda, or our evening cup of tea (or all three), many of us take in a significant amount of caffeine day in and day out.
When it comes to caffeine, most of us are just looking for a way to shake off the grogginess of the morning or to push through for a couple more hours late in the day. An extra jolt can be just what we need to be sharp.
But caffeine is far from the only stimulant. And for folks who use these drugs—like cocaine or methamphetamine—the goal is seldom simply to feel a bit more awake. Often, these individuals are chasing a feeling of euphoria and a lowering of inhibitions. And once they find what they think they are looking for in an illicit drug, they don’t want to let those good feelings go.
From that point, it is easy to see how a substance use disorder might develop. As it does so, the perceived benefits of taking stimulants will start to be replaced by some very real costs. Those costs are far from simply economic (though financial problems due to drug use are common). We are talking about significant costs in turns of your mental and physical health.
Let’s take a deeper dive into the problems caused by stimulants.
Cocaine Can Cause Chaos
Cocaine has a strange history in the United States. At one time, it was thought to be more helpful than harmful, which is probably why it ended up in the original formulation of Coca-Cola. From there, it gained cultural cachet as artists like Eric Clapton and the Grateful Dead sang popular songs that seemed to praise the drug. And then cocaine came to be associated with a certain kind of excess in the 1980s—especially among the well off and connected. It is almost enough to make you think the drug must not be that bad, all in all.
But that, of course, is far from the truth.
The euphoria and spike in energy that cocaine provides early on is quickly replaced by a dependence on the drug. A user is no longer hoping to get pleasure; they are hoping to avoid a range of negative withdrawal symptoms. But even before withdrawal issues are in play, cocaine can cause a lot of problems, including:
- Increased sensitivity to light, sound, and/or touch
- Damage to the heart, lungs, and/or bowel
- Increased levels of anger
Unfortunately, cocaine isn’t done doing damage when a person decides to stop using it. As we have noted, withdrawal can be very difficult. Withdrawal symptoms may include:
- Strong cravings for cocaine that can be extremely difficult to resist
- Increased symptoms of anxiety and/or depression
- Significant decline in mental processing speed, which may continue well after the withdrawal period
Meth Makes A Mess
If cocaine came to represent a kind of wealth and prestige, then meth, arguably, offers a less glamorous but more attainable vibe. After all, the ingredients for meth can be purchased fairly inexpensively at your local drugstore (in fact, the growing popularity of meth is the primary reason certain cold medicines are now kept behind the counter at the pharmacy). Like cocaine, meth provides a boost in energy—sometimes lasting up to eight hours—and feelings of euphoria.
But soon enough, the highs turn into something much less appealing. Meth users commonly experience two different kinds of issues—one caused by a lack of meth in the system and the other caused by a surplus of meth in the system.
- Comedowns: A comedown is comparable to a hangover from alcohol. Symptoms might include:
- Muscle pain
- Feelings of depression or hopelessness
- Tweaking: A meth user starts “tweaking” when they keep taking the drug to fend off the comedowns. Symptoms might include (but are not limited to):
- Constant wakefulness lasting up to 15 days
- The feeling that insects are on or under your skin, leading to overly vigorous scratching, which can lead, in turn, to serious infections
When a person gives up meth, withdrawal symptoms can be intense—and similar to those experienced by cocaine users—including:
- Strong cravings for meth that can be extremely difficult to resist
- Increased symptoms of depression that often include thoughts of suicide
We Hope We Have Stimulated You To Get Some Help
If you have been using stimulants like cocaine or meth, everything above may sound very familiar. And it might seem as though there is no solution to the problem you have made for yourself. You know you can’t keep taking the drug. And you also know that you can’t stop taking it. The consequences of either action probably seem equally dire—and the situation as a whole may seem hopeless.
At Wooded Glen Recovery Center, we understand. And even though things look pretty dark from where you are now, we can help you move out of that darkness and into the light of a life that no longer includes the use of stimulants.