Sunday, December 13, 2009

Long-Term Effects of Stimulant Abuse

As with many other drugs of abuse, repeated stimulant abuse can cause addiction. That means that someone repeatedly seeks out and uses the drug despite its harmful effects. Repeated drug use changes the brain in ways that contribute to the drug craving and continued drug seeking and use that characterizes addiction. Other effects of long-term stimulant abuse can include paranoia, aggressiveness, extreme anorexia, thinking problems, visual and auditory hallucinations, delusions, and severe dental problems.

Repeated use of cocaine can lead to tolerance of its euphoric effects, causing the user to take higher doses or to use the drug more frequently (e.g., binge use) to get the same effects. Such use can lead to bizarre, erratic behavior. Some cocaine users experience panic attacks or episodes of full-blown paranoid psychosis, in which the individual loses touch with reality and hears sounds that aren’t there (auditory hallucinations). Different ways of using cocaine can produce different adverse effects. For example, regularly snorting cocaine can lead to hoarseness, loss of the sense of smell, nosebleeds, and a chronically runny nose. Cocaine taken orally can cause reduced blood flow, leading to bowel problems.

Repeated use of methamphetamine can cause violent behavior, mood disturbances, and psychosis, which can include paranoia, auditory hallucinations, and delusions (e.g., the sensation of insects creeping on the skin, called “formication”). The paranoia can result in homicidal and suicidal thoughts. Methamphetamine can increase a person’s sex drive and is linked to risky sexual behaviors and the transmission of infectious diseases, such as HIV. However, research also indicates that long-term methamphetamine use may be associated with decreased sexual function, at least in men.

Cleabrook Treatment Centers know the long-term consequences of drug abuse and have developed many programs that ultimately may save lives. Since 1972, the renowned Clearbrook Treatment Centers have been providing effective treatment programs for adults and adolescents who suffer from alcoholism and/or chemical dependency. Clearbrook’s rehabilitation program is based upon the belief that alcoholism and chemical dependency is a primary disease and that the suffering addict and his or her family members deserve immediate help.

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