Treatment for stimulants

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What is stimulant use disorder?

Stimulants include a range of substances that act on the brain and body to increase alertness, energy, and at times a heightened sense of euphoria. They include prescription medications such as amphetamine-dextroamphetamine (Adderall) and methylphenidate (Ritalin) as well illicit compounds such as cocaine and methamphetamine.

A stimulant use disorder is a chronic brain disease, or addiction, that develops in some people who use stimulants that results in the persistent use of these substances despite harmful consequences caused by their use.

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2.5 million

people in the U.S. reported using methamphetamine in 2021.

4.8 million

people in the U.S. reported using cocaine in 2021.

Over 30%

of all drug overdose deaths in 2021 involved a stimulant.

It is estimated that 4.5 million people were affected by a stimulant use disorder in 2021 (methamphetamine, cocaine, prescription stimulants). (NSDUH)

Frequently asked questions

What are the reasons for addiction?

Stimulants act on the brain to increase a chemical called dopamine. This increase contributes to therapeutic effects for prescription stimulants, such as improved attention, though may also increase the risk for developing a stimulant addiction in those at risk by activating the reward pathway. 

Despite all stimulants increasing dopamine levels in the brain, some affect the brain more than others and increase the risk for developing an addiction. Methamphetamine in particular, has been shown to last longer and increase dopamine to much higher levels than other stimulants leading to higher risk of toxic effects and development of an addiction. 

What symptoms accompany stimulant use disorder?

Stimulant use disorder is diagnosed by a healthcare provider based on the presence of symptoms listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). The symptoms that make up the diagnosis may include problems developing in the following areas: 

- Difficulty controlling the use of stimulants 

- Cravings, or strong urges, for stimulants 

- Stimulants impacting ability to complete important responsibilities 

- Getting into potentially dangerous situations because of stimulants 

- Tolerance to stimulants (needing a higher amount for the same effect) 

- Development of withdrawal symptoms if stopping 

Symptoms may vary from person to person and a qualified medical professional can assist in diagnosing and discussing treatment options to address symptoms. 

What are the medical issues with stimulant use disorder?

Misuse of prescription stimulants or use of illicit stimulants (e.g. methamphetamine, cocaine) can lead to the following health effects: 

- Anxiety and mood swings 

- Increased risk of cardiovascular issues such as high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, heart attack, and stroke 

- Weight loss and malnutrition 

- Insomnia 

- Risk of developing psychosis 

- Seizures 

- Dental issues 

Treatment options

There are currently no FDA-approved medications for the treatment of stimulant use disorder, though ongoing research has identified several medication options that may support the reduction of stimulant use and reduce relapse rates.

Specific behavioral and psychosocial interventions are effective for the treatment of stimulant use disorder and may be combined with medication treatment for some individuals.

Making an appointment to speak with an addiction specialist to discuss your individual situation can help determine what treatment options are appropriate for you.

How Frontier Recovery works

Empowering you on a path to healthy living


Comprehensive assessment to understand your goals


Personalized medical treatment plan based on shared decision-making


Coaching sessions to develop new skills and support change


Digital tracking to assess progress toward your goals


Regular follow-up to assess treatment response & support long-term success
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