Stimulant Use Disorder

Crack / Cocaine, Amphetamines and Methamphetamines

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The most commonly used stimulants are crack/cocaine, amphetamines, and methamphetamines.  In general, stimulants provide a sense of increased alertness and attention, in addition to elevated blood pressure, heart rate, and respirations. As with opioids, a short period of stimulant use (such as cocaine) is followed by the development of dependence on the drug. This dependence can destroy the life of the person using the drugs along with their family and friends lives. Rebuilding your life with IAC Associates begins with a full assessment by a team of doctors, therapists, and social workers working with you to devise a plan for your durable recovery at home in the greater Memphis or Jackson TN area. Patients can remain at home and work while incorporating treatment into their daily lives.      

Years ago, amphetamines were prescribed to soldiers in combat to increase their energy and attention during long-term periods of stress and danger. But today most commonly, amphetamines are prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children and have a positive effect on their behavior.  While abuse of amphetamines is not common for the prescribed patient, there can be some abuses by friends and family members with access to the medication. 

Usually, the stimulatory agents we deal with in addiction are crack/cocaine and methamphetamines (crystal meth or meth).  While crack/cocaine is the most frequently used illegal drug, the greater Memphis and Jackson TN areas have an ample supply of crystal meth or meth. Both are powerful stimulants with rapid onset (within minutes) and an effect which lasts from 15 min to an hour. The effects include hyper-alertness, sense of well-being, elevated energy, increased sensation of confidence and, in some cases, sexuality.

Since these drugs are illegal and highly addictive, any use of these drugs is considered dangerous and can be disastrous to your physical, mental, and emotional health. Once addicted to stimulants, it creates a physical dependence on the drug, creating compulsive seeking and craving when the drug is available, and agonies of withdrawal when it is not. Science has recently learned much more about the chronic disease of addiction, which changes the person’s brain chemistry in a way that he/she cannot understand or control. 


Just like diabetes, heart disease, and other progressive, chronic conditions, addiction must be diagnosed and treated with both a short term and long-term treatment plan. Your IAC specialist will work with you to identify the treatment that best suits your needs, and initiate that therapy as quickly as possible.  Most of our patients have taken multiple agents such as opioids with methamphetamine, crack/cocaine, benzodiazepines and alcohol. We treat all of our patients with the idea that multiple substances may be involved.

Our treatment embraces the whole individual.  We understand that emotional and social problems often converge at a time when difficulties due to addiction have reached an unbearable level.  Your team of medical professionals, therapists, and social workers are seasoned experts in the field of addiction medicine and will help you devise a plan for your durable recovery. 

  • Your physicians will work with you on your physical health, withdrawal symptoms, medication assisted treatment, and manage your overall plan of care.  
  • Your therapist will work with you on behavioral treatments which may include motivational enhancement therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and contingency management, as well as family-based treatments. 
  • Your social worker will help you identify social issues that interfere with your desire to change your life. These issues will be explored and a plan made to address each of them.  We especially focus on housing, workforce preparedness/job placement, family and legal issues, transportation, and benefits eligibility in the greater Memphis and Jackson TN areas.
  • Your social worker will help identify and carefully select with you the appropriate peer support groups, 12-step programs, online chat rooms, and/or other approaches to help sustain a path to a durable recovery. 

Risk if Left Untreated

Unlike opioids and alcohol, cocaine withdrawal syndrome is not dangerous to the patient (i.e., does not lead to compromise of vital signs and/or death).  But the withdrawal period is very stressful.  Cocaine induces psychological dependence, so withdrawal is associated with emotional-motivational effects.  These changes observed with cocaine withdrawal can include:

  • Paranoia, depression, anxiety, mood swings
  • Itching including the sensation of “bugs crawling on the skin”
  • Vivid and unpleasant dreams
  • Sleep disturbance, agitation

Cocaine can cause severe constriction of blood vessels leading to a pronounced, sometimes dangerous, elevation of blood pressure.  Complications might include malfunction of the heart including disturbances of rhythm, stroke, rupture of the wall of the aorta (the large artery carrying blood from the heart to the rest of the body), and seizures.  Symptoms that might be more familiar include agitation, hallucination, and/or extreme anxiety.  In contrast to opioids (where overdose is associated with pinpoint pupils), there is pupillary dilation with cocaine.

Risks of Meth or Crystal Meth

The discussion above is also applicable to methamphetamine (“meth” or “crystal meth”).  It is important to note that there is well-documented neurotoxicity to methamphetamine that does not occur with amphetamine. This can lead to neurodegeneration (nerve cells dying) and dementia in some cases.  Users of methamphetamine experience a “high” which is often greater/more intense than that achieved with cocaine or other drugs.  That is likely because the level of neurotransmitters (messenger molecules which stimulate neurons or nerve cells) is higher with methamphetamine use.  This also gives rise to the greater toxicity.  As with cocaine, there is no specific treatment, and behavioral approaches are utilized.

Call our substance abuse treatment specialists at 901-746-9438. We serve patients seeking outpatient recovery in the greater Memphis TN and Jackson TN areas including Bartlett, Cordova, Lakeland, Oakland, Eads, Arlington, Raleigh, Germantown, Collierville, Millington, Munford, Atoka, Jackson, Covington, Brownsville, Somerville, Bolivar, Selmer, Henderson, Lexington, Huntingdon, McKenzie, Medina, Trenton, Humboldt, Milan, Martin, Dyersburg, Newbern, Ripley, Camden, Paris, Union City, Southaven MS, Olive Branch MS, Hernando, MS, Corinth, MS, West Memphis AR, Marion AR and all surrounding areas.


Please note that the information mentioned above (and elsewhere on this website) is meant to provide general education, and is not intended, and should not be used, to make treatment decision for any particular person. All therapeutic decisions should be made only after consultation with the care team at IAC or other capable providers, that will take into account the patient’s specific circumstances.  Healthcare decisions made without such consultation can be harmful or even fatal.  Any use of information on this site constitutes your agreement to the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.