The abuse of stimulant-type prescription drugs is pervasive in many developed and developing countries around the world. Oddly, stimulants as a class of abused drugs have most of their roots in prescription medications that were at first distributed widely, and then, as the dangerous side effects began to be known, were brought under stringent control or banned outright.
Stimulant prescription drugs are drugs that increase wakefulness, energy, and alertness, elevate blood pressure and suppress appetite. Drugs of this class began to be developed in the 1880s, with methamphetamine joining the ranks after the turn of the last century.
Prescription Stimulants Opened the Door for the Illicit Market
During World War II, amphetamines were used by the Americans, Germans, and Japanese to keep troops awake, happy and motivated. In fact, in Japan after the war, huge stockpiles of prescription methamphetamine, trademarked Philopon, were released to the general public. In 1951, its addictiveness and harm were observed and it was banned by the Japanese government. Finally, their potential for abuse and addiction was recognized by many countries, and the medical use of these drugs began to decrease. However, this decrease simply opened the door for those willing to learn how to manufacture these drugs in illicit labs. These criminal elements began to keep the market supplied with unmonitored, unregulated stimulant drugs.
The spread of stimulant-type drugs across the U.S. and in developing countries was assisted by the fact that one drug from this class is rather simple to manufacture. Methamphetamine can be made in a garage, a home or even a car, with most of the ingredients and materials being easy to acquire.
The abuse of some types of stimulant prescription drugs often follows cultural patterns. For example, methamphetamine abuse is often associated with gay communities or counter-culture lifestyles. ADHD drugs Adderall (the prescription name for amphetamine), the methylphenidate class that includes Ritalin, Concerta, and Daytrana, or prescription methamphetamine are frequently abused by college students, particularly around final exam time.
Stimulant Abuse Varies by Region but May be Highest in Southeast Asia
It’s very often young people who abuse prescription stimulants, particularly in Southeast Asia where the rate of use may exceed cannabis. Methamphetamine is the primary drug abused in this area, but amphetamines are the greater concern in Europe. Girls may abuse street methamphetamine or go to their doctor and get a prescription for pharmaceutical methamphetamine, trade named Desoxyn, to control their weight.
Ritalin and Adderall are mainly problems in North America and Australia. Any student who has a prescription for Ritalin or Adderall simply needs to crush the tablets and snort them, or dissolve them and inject them to achieve a high. There is a brisk market on college campuses, with those students who have a prescription for the drug able to find plenty of students who are willing to pay to get a couple of tablets from them.
It’s quite possible to become addicted to or dependent on these drugs. Withdrawal from prescription stimulants brings on fatigue, depression, and disturbance of sleep. A person taking stimulants over a period of time may experience hostility and paranoia, especially those abusing street methamphetamine.
According to World Drug Report, Stimulants Abuse is on the Rise
In the UN’s recent World Drug Report, it was estimated that the number of people abusing amphetamine-type stimulants may soon exceed the number of people abusing opiates or cocaine combined. The ease of manufacture and the fact that many of these drugs can be created close to the consumers (and thus be less prone to seizure during transport) aids this growth.
The UN also estimated that worldwide, between 13.7 million and 53 million people abused amphetamine-type substances at least once in the preceding year, with both prescription stimulants and illicit ones contributing to these numbers. In the U.S., an estimated 21.2 million Americans have abused a prescription stimulant nonmedically at least once.
Treatment Options for Addiction to Stimulants Are Limited
When an addict looks for a treatment facility for opiate addiction, there are plenty of drug programs that offer methadone or Suboxone medication to prevent the onset of agonizing withdrawal symptoms. Although pharmaceutical companies are investing in research to come up with a treatment, the fact remains that a person entering drug rehab wishing to withdraw from stimulants will not have the same kind of pharmaceutical crutch as an OxyContin addict.
But in fact, those addicts to prescription stimulants can find drug-free assistance in recovering from their addiction at Narconon drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers. With the use of nutrition, physical assists and gentle reorientation exercises, those addicted to stimulants can finally and gradually release the grip of these stimulants and learn to see life in a whole new light.