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Alicia Divico

Licensed Mental Health Counselor specializing in addiction therapy

What are stimulants
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A therapist friend of mine, in another state, shared this with me recently:

Friday I had to “admit” someone due to him being under the influence of meth and ecstacy. He hadn’t slept in 8 days and was instigating fights, one of which resulted in his shoulder being stomped by a guy in steel-toed boots who dislocated his shoulder. He was taken to the hospital and refused treatment. Returned (this is prison btw) and continued picking fights…

He begged me not to “admit’ him, promised he would go and lay down somewhere and when I told him I was going to based on his needs he threw his cup of coffee against my office wall and stormed out of my office saying “fuck y’all, you bitch!”

As much as he didn’t want to, it was for his own good and safety. He got some much needed rest, and detoxed.

I wrote a break-down of what happens when we use stimulants:

Anytime humans take stimulants (meth is one of THE most powerful stimulants- up there with crack), it can increase anxiety. If we have an increase in anxiety, we usually also have an increase in agitation or irritability. If we are too stimulated, that agitation can escalate into aggression and hostility.

It’s wild, because even too much caffeine in the morning can make people irritable before work. Or many of my client are prescribed Adderall, which is another stimulant, and can definitely increase anxiety and irritability. The other, perhaps lesser known stimulant that gets prescribed, is WellButrin or Bupropion. People don’t realize that a “side effect” of that drug can be rage and increased anxiety.

So then people ask, why prescribe these drugs? Well everyone’s body is different and some people calm down from stimulants and therefore have less anxiety. However, when we are talking about THE most powerful stimulants that exist, no one is “calming down”. In fact, the anxiety is so intense that it’s more like paranoia. Murders get plotted on this stuff guys. It’s scary.

The other factor likely contributing to this guy’s mood issue was his lack of sleep. ALL HUMANS have a HIGH potential to get (literally) psychotic without sleep. That’s a large contributor to post-partum psychosis- lack. of. sleep!

Our bodies tend to adjust to whatever we do to them, but that does not mean getting 4 hours of sleep is ever “good” for us. We need at least 8 hours of sleep a night; some people need more. During sleep our brains regenerate and replenish the neurochemicals. Without sleep none of that is happening, which in turn, leads to crappy or sometimes even dangerous moods.

FAQ: Understanding the Effects of Stimulants and Sleep Deprivation

How do stimulants like methamphetamine affect mental health and behavior?

Stimulants, particularly powerful ones like methamphetamine, can significantly increase anxiety, agitation, and irritability. This heightened state of stimulation can escalate to aggression and hostility, affecting mental health and behavior severely.

Can prescription stimulants also lead to increased anxiety and irritability?

Yes, prescription stimulants, such as Adderall or Wellbutrin (Bupropion), can also increase anxiety and irritability. While they may have a calming effect on some, the side effects can include rage and increased anxiety in others.

Why are stimulants prescribed if they can have negative effects?

Stimulants are prescribed because individual responses vary. Some people experience reduced anxiety and improved focus from stimulants. However, extreme caution is needed, especially with more potent stimulants, due to the risk of severe anxiety and paranoia.

What is the impact of sleep deprivation on mental health?

Sleep deprivation can have a profound impact on mental health, potentially leading to psychotic symptoms. Adequate sleep is crucial for brain regeneration and neurochemical replenishment. Chronic lack of sleep can result in mood disturbances and, in extreme cases, dangerous behaviors.

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