Struggling with stimulant misuse?
Recovering can be challenging, but you can do it, and we can help.


Originally developed with SMART Recovery, our Stimulant Choices program utilizes cognitive behavioral tools to help you track and address urges, moods and triggers, and to find and form habits that work for you. Easy exercises help you progress at your own pace to help these new habits stick.


You may experience stimulant detox. It takes time for your brain to recover once you’ve stopped stimulants, and the longer you’ve been using, the longer the detox period might be. We urge you to consult with your primary care provider about detox before taking steps by yourself.


Urges and cravings tend to be “triggered” rather than totally random. Triggers can be external (friends who use) or internal (feeling low or depressed). We help you identify these triggers, then guide you through exercises to build and stick to a plan to better deal with them in the future


Urges to use are natural when you stop using, and though they can be uncomfortable, they won’t physically harm you. Our Urges section of the Stimulants Choices program teaches skills that can help you work through and resist urges.

Stimulants are substances that speed up messages traveling between the brain and body. They can make you feel more energetic, confident, alert, and awake. They accelerate the body’s physical and mental processes, increasing dopamine in the brain and producing desirable effects in the short-term. The most common stimulants are nicotine (found in cigarettes), caffeine (found in coffee), cocaine, and amphetamines.

You may feel great in the short run, but long-term stimulant use can have severe consequences. Even something as seemingly harmless – and delicious – as caffeine can cause overstimulation in large doses, resulting in headaches, panic, anxiety, seizures, and aggression.

Different Types Of Stimulants

There are mainly three types of stimulants, or as they are sometimes called, “uppers”. Ones like caffeine and nicotine are commonly available; many people rely on coffee, tea, and cigarettes to improve concentration and stay alert.

Then there are prescription stimulants which are often used to treat conditions like narcolepsy and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Some of the most common prescription stimulants are Ritalin (methylphenidate), Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine), and Adderall (a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine). These drugs are usually taken orally.

Lastly, there are illicit stimulants like methamphetamines, cocaine, and ecstasy. These stimulant drugs either inhibit (like heroin) or stimulate (like cocaine) the central nervous system, or they cause hallucinogenic effects (like LSD) to such a degree that their use has been prohibited around the world. These drugs are usually injected, smoked, swallowed, or snorted.

What Is Stimulant Addiction, Dependence, and Tolerance?

Over time, stimulant drug abuse ends up disrupting the brain function by damaging the dopamine system. If someone has developed stimulant use disorder or substance use disorder regarding stimulants, they will eventually lose their ability to feel any pleasure unless they consume dangerously high amounts of the said stimulant.

Also, drugs like Adderall, Ritalin, and Concerta are frequently abused by students and employees in high-pressure jobs due to their energy-boosting and performance-enhancing effects. According to the National Survey on Drug Use & Health (NSDUH), over 6% of college students aged 18-22 take Adderall in a recreational way. The institute also found that there’s a correlation between Adderall misuse and binge drinking.

If you use stimulants regularly, you may develop tolerance to them. When it comes to substance use disorders, dependence can be physical, psychological, or both. Those dependent on stimulant ADHD medications or other type of drugs find that using that substance starts taking precedence in their life over other activities.

Studies show that amphetamine – commonly used to treat ADHD – can lead to amphetamine dependence for those who are prescribed to this drug. It is also estimated that many people who are taking these stimulants are not doing so because they need them for a health condition; they take them because they feel an urge to use them.

And developing tolerance means people need to take more and more of the said stimulant to get the same effect.

How Does a Stimulant Affect the Body?

Use of any drug or substance, or stimulant in this case, always carries some degree of risk. They also affect everyone differently, based on several factors like:

  • Your weight, size, and health.
  • The strength of the drug (in the case of illicit drugs, the strength varies from batch to batch).
  • The amount taken.
  • Whether other substances (like alcohol or another drug) are taken around the same time.
  • Whether you are used to taking it.

After you’ve taken the stimulant, you may feel increased motivation, productivity, alertness, and arousal. However, you may also experience short-term negative side effects such as nausea, cravings, weight loss, hyperactivity, and increased blood pressure and heart rate. And of course, long-term effects are even worse – auditory and visual hallucinations, delusions, addiction, problems thinking, psychosis, paranoia, and several other mental disorders.

Long-term stimulant or methamphetamine use disorder can end up damaging your central nervous system, disrupting your mental functioning, and impacting several other body functions.

If you think that you or a loved one have a problem with an over the counter, illicit, or even prescription stimulant, it’s crucial that you seek stimulant addiction treatment options. The first step towards that is by speaking to your doctor, especially if you are experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you try to quit on your own.