Shoreline Sober Living, San Diego, CA
How stimulants affect the nervous system

Stimulants are a type of drug that can push the human nervous system to extraordinary limits, from dancing through the entire night to sex that lasts for days on end, meeting a deadline at work without losing focus for hours on end, all while feel entirely invincible. From the outset, it is easy to see the appeal we humans have when it comes to abusing stimulants, but this all sounds far too good to be true, like most things. There are severe and life-threatening mental and physical health implications.

Stimulants are medically best known for attaching themselves temporarily to the nervous system’s receptors, rapidly increasing your body’s nervous system and brain; this will feel euphoric for the individual while in the moment. Scientists at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have come to the results that an annual average of 5 million Americans misuse prescription stimulants at least once within their lifetimes.

What does the nervous system control

The nervous system ultimately controls everything we do, from simple tasks such as walking, thinking, breathing, and feeling.

The nervous system is designed by the spinal cord, brain, and nerves within the human body. The nerves’ function is to carry important messages to and from the body so the brain can interpret what the body needs and take the required action.

What are stimulants?

Stimulants can be both prescribed and “street drugs,” cocaine has quickly become the added substance that helps enhance the illegal version of stimulants. Other illicit substances that have been recorded being added to stimulants can include:

  • Ecstasy
  • Methamphetamine
  • MDMA

These drugs are known to significantly increase energy levels, alertness, mood enhancers, and attention span; however, several life-threatening symptoms can occur when drugs get mixed among stimulants.

How does the nervous system react to stimulants?

Stimulants work by exciting the central nervous system; the chemicals within the drug will rapidly increase the ‘feel-good’ chemical within the brain, otherwise known as dopamine. A significant increase of these levels will disrupt regular communication between the nervous system and the cells resulting in the user experiencing a strong sense of euphoria alongside a list of un-noticeable adverse effects, which can include but are not limited to:

  • Irregular heart rate/beats
  • Impotence
  • Chronic insomnia
  • Depression
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Heart failure

Other and significantly noticeable effects can include:

  • Paranoia
  • Aggression
  • Seizures
  • Psychosis

The effects can be severely amplified if users mix the stimulants with alcohol, other illegal substances, or prescripted medication. Due to the euphoric feeling the drugs will have on the user, many people often underestimate the severity of the addiction and physical toll these drugs have on a person’s body and mental state.

All stimulants, whether prescribed by a medical professional or illegally consumed, can quickly become habit-forming, leading to a severe and powerful addiction due to the drug’s effect on the function of the nervous system. Severe consequences can include:

Severely diminishes the nervous system’s decision-making ability

Chronic stimulant use can significantly reduce grey matter within the prefrontal cortex (PFC). The ultimate job of the prefrontal cortex is to help regulate planning, problem-solving, decision-making, and self-control.

If the prefrontal cortex has abnormally low levels of grey matter, the brain becomes less able to plan correctly, make the appropriate decision, and solve even the simplest of problems.

Cause a brain imbalance

The chemicals within stimulants heavily rely on chemical messengers within the brain called neurotransmitters to jump-start the nervous system. The increase of extra chemicals racing around the body from the stimulants will quickly create a heavy imbalance of neurotransmitters.

It has been recorded that stimulants, especially when mixed with illegal substances, will over-activate the norepinephrine and dopamine chemicals. The dopamine chemical plays a vital role in how we feel and experience different types of pleasure; too much dopamine, however, can cause :

  • Insomnia
  • Delusions
  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety
  • Mania

The norepinephrine chemical is a stress hormone designed to provide energy to the body and increase the individual’s heart rate. Norepinephrine affects blood vessels, blood pressure and heart rate, blood sugar, and breathing. If the chemical is several overactive physical and mental effects can begin to occur; this can include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Jitterness
  • Organ stress
  • Anxiety
  • Excessive sweating
  • Irregular heartbeat

Significantly increase impulsive behaviors

When an individual is abusing stimulants, the medical prefrontal cortex will incorrectly interpret the dopamine transmission results that are currently racing around the entire body.

The primary function of the medial prefrontal cortex is to set and achieve various goals. A regular amount of dopamine levels will ensure the individual’s brain is focused on one goal instead of becoming overwhelmed. However, the dopamine levels for an individual who chronically abuses will be severely interfered with, resulting in the body incorrectly interpreting transmission, encouraging the individual to focus on consuming a higher and more frequent dosage instead of thinking rationally.

Help restore a loved one’s life

Stimulants, like many other highly addictive drugs, can become significantly dangerous for any individual. If you believe either yourself or a loved one may have an issue with stimulants, get in contact with Shoreline Sober Living today. The best way to overcome addiction is to understand what your body and mind may go through. Learning to live without alcohol will never be easy, especially within the first couple of weeks; however, the outcome will always be worth it.

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