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Medically Reviewed By: Diana Vo, LMFT

June 6, 2024

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The signs of stimulant abuse are quite easy to see. Stimulants are drugs that can make you feel more awake and energetic. Some stimulants are illegal, like cocaine and methamphetamine. Others, like Adderall, are used by doctors to help people with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).

However, misusing stimulants can be very harmful. It can lead to addiction, overdose, withdrawal, and even death. Read on to learn more about the signs of stimulant abuse and how to find effective treatment.

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What Are the Signs of Stimulant Abuse?

There are many signs of abusing stimulants, and they can differ from person to person. Look out for the following:

  • Changes in behavior: The person might act differently, like being more excited, talkative, or irritable than usual.
  • Problems with sleep: They might have problems sleeping or stay awake for long periods without feeling tired.
  • Weight loss: The person may lose weight quickly without trying because stimulants can reduce appetite.
  • Poor school or work performance: Grades might drop or they may need help keeping up with work or other responsibilities.
  • Money issues: They might ask for money often or have unexplained financial problems.
  • Physical signs: Look for things like dilated pupils (large pupils), shaking hands, sweating a lot, or having a fast heartbeat.
  • Secretive behavior: They might become very secretive about where they’re going and what they’re doing.
  • Neglecting appearance: The person might stop caring about their appearance or personal hygiene.

If you notice these signs in someone, speak with them about your concerns and help them get treatment.

woman with hand in hair depicting signs and symptoms of stimulant abuse

Symptoms of Stimulant Abuse

Here are some symptoms of stimulant abuse as outlined in DSM-5-TR:

  • Using more than intended: Taking larger amounts of the drug or using it for a longer time than planned.
  • Trying to cut down but can’t: Wanting to stop or cut down on using the drug but not being able to.
  • Spending a lot of time on the drug: Spending a lot of time getting the drug, using it, or recovering from its effects.
  • Craving: Having a strong desire or urge to use the drug.
  • Problems at school, work, or home: Not being able to do well at school, work, or home because of drug use.
  • Continuing to use despite problems: Continuing to use the drug even when it causes problems with family, friends, or work.
  • Giving up activities: Giving up important activities or hobbies because of drug use.
  • Using in dangerous situations: Using the drug in situations where it is physically hazardous, such as before driving.
  • Knowing it’s harmful but continuing: Knowing that using the drug is causing physical or mental problems but continuing to use it anyway.
  • Tolerance: Needing to use more of the drug to get the same effect as before.
  • Withdrawal: Feeling sick or having other bad symptoms when not using the drug.

If you notice these signs and symptoms of stimulant abuse, talk to a loved one, doctor, or counselor to get help.

Treatment for Stimulant Abuse

Treating stimulant abuse involves several steps to help a person stop using drugs like cocaine, meth, or Adderall. Here’s how treatment usually works:

  • Medical detox: The first step is to remove the drug from the person’s body safely. This is done under medical supervision to manage withdrawal symptoms, which can include fatigue, depression, and anxiety.
  • Behavioral therapies: Counseling is a big part of treatment. Therapists use different methods like CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) to help the person understand their addiction and learn new ways to cope without drugs.
  • Support groups: Joining support groups like NA (Narcotics Anonymous) can provide encouragement and advice from others who have gone through similar experiences. These groups offer a sense of community and ongoing support.
  • Medications: While there are no specific medications to treat stimulant addiction, doctors might prescribe medications to help with withdrawal symptoms or any co-occurring mental health issues like depression or anxiety.
  • Healthy lifestyle: Encouraging a healthy lifestyle is important. This includes regular exercise, eating a balanced diet, and sleeping well. These habits can help improve overall well-being and reduce cravings.
  • Aftercare: Ongoing support after the initial treatment process helps prevent relapse. This can include continued therapy, support group meetings, and regular check-ins with a healthcare provider.
image depicting signs of abusing stimulants

Get Treatment for Stimulant Abuse at Renaissance Recovery

Do you need help dealing with stimulant abuse? If so, reach out to Renaissance Recovery. We have welcoming beachside rehabs in California and Florida where you can start sober living with expert guidance.

We can refer you to medical detox centers if you need help with stimulant detox. After about a week, you can move into ongoing outpatient therapy at Renaissance. Expect to access personal treatments that may include:

Get effective treatment for stimulant abuse by calling 866.330.9449.



At Renaissance Recovery our goal is to provide evidence-based treatment to as many individuals as possible. Give us a call today to verify your insurance coverage or to learn more about paying for addiction treatment.

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Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.

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