Bingeing occurs when someone indulges in an activity to excess in a short period. Many people use the term to refer to watching a lot of TV shows or a lot of movies in a day or perhaps a weekend.
In fact, plenty of people talk openly about it, saying something like, “I binge-watched the whole series of Walking Dead in one week. It was awesome!” This type of bingeing isn’t necessarily unhealthy, but some bingeing behaviors are unhealthy, such as using a lot of alcohol or drugs in a short time.
In fact, bingeing on alcohol and drugs can be extremely dangerous and lead to addiction, overdose, life-threatening health problems, or death.
Today, we’re going to discuss the use of stimulants (Adderall, Ritalin, meth, cocaine,etc.) and what would classify as a stimulant binge. We’ll also go over what actions to take in the event of a stimulant binge and what short-term and long-term effects it can have on the brain and body.
What Are Stimulants and How Are They Abused?
Stimulants are medications or drugs that tend to increase one’s focus and energy. Various prescription stimulant drugs affect the central nervous system (CNS) to increase alertness and cognitive function. They’re usually prescribed for patients with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. Some of the most widely known prescribed stimulants are Adderall and Ritalin.
Prescription stimulants are often used (and abused) by college students and athletes to increase performance ability. They want to be better and do better. The pressure to be the best tends to be stronger in college than it was in high school.
Those who aren’t prepared or easily swayed can find themselves trying stimulants to stay on top.
Students who aim to excel academically may take stimulants to stay awake longer so that they can study more and get better grades. Likewise, some athletes will use stimulants to improve their workouts and give themselves a better chance of winning at competitions.
There are also illegal stimulants on the market, with meth and cocaine being the most popular. Unlike prescription drugs that come in a time-release format, these drugs produce an intense high that is shorter but instant.
What Classifies as a Stimulant Binge?
Just like TV or alcohol binges, a stimulant binge is when a user takes a lot of stimulants in a short time. It looks different from an alcohol binge because while a drinker can drink multiple alcoholic beverages in a matter of minutes or hours, a stimulant binge may take place over a few days. In many cases, by the time someone realizes that there’s something wrong, the individual is already two to three days into the binge and at risk for overdose, addiction, or worse.
Stimulants, even the ones with time-release tablets, have a short half-life.
This means that if you take a stimulant, the effect that you feel will wear off in a short time. People who abuse stimulants like the extra energy and alertness they get from it. However, that energy boost or mental focus doesn’t last very long. As a result, they’ll continue to take multiple and increasingly high doses, sometimes mixing stimulants to make the effects last as long as possible.
Health Effects of a Stimulant Binge
Bingeing on stimulants of any kind, for any reason, can have serious psychological and physical consequences. The stimulants increase the heart rate to dangerous levels and cause the person to become irritable, argumentative, and paranoid. The crash and withdrawal afterward can bring the person very low emotionally, causing depression and possibly suicidal thoughts.
The following are symptoms of someone in the midst of a stimulant binge:
- Forgets about responsibilities
- Decreased appetite
- Extreme weight loss
- Itchy skin
- Faster heart rate
- Elevated blood pressure
Sometimes a person on a stimulant binge will go so long with it that they’ll plateau or “tweak.” Their speech or behavior becomes erratic or incoherent. They no longer feel the effects of the drugs, which may lead them to take, even more, putting them at serious risk for overdose.
Abusing and bingeing on stimulants can have many effects on the brain and the body, some for the short-term and some for the long term.
Prescription stimulants help to increase dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. The short-term impact on the brain and body can seem positive at first, especially for those who have a legitimate prescription for a stimulant.
As long as you take the prescribed dose at the right time, the short-term effects tend to be harmless. However, increasing the dose without guidance from a doctor can eventually lead to something more dangerous.
Some short-term stimulant effects are:
- Improved concentration
- Increased alertness
- Improved focus
- Memory retention
There aren’t many short-term effects on the body with stimulants. However, with prolonged usage, the above effects tend to morph, increasing the risk for withdrawal symptoms in between doses. These withdrawal symptoms can affect you mentally, emotionally, and physically. If withdrawal symptoms begin to develop, you should see your doctor immediately to find a way to reduce or get off the stimulant safely.
Long-term use of prescribed or illegal stimulants for bingers can have a serious impact on the brain and body. Some of these effects can stick around with you long after you stop taking the drugs.
Some long-term stimulant effects on the brain are:
- Physiological and behavioral disorders
- Mental Illness
- Toxic psychosis
- Picking at the skin
Long term effects on the body:
- Cardiovascular issues
- Dangerously high body temperatures
Depending on the stimulant, other long-term effects can become present over time. Specifically, long-term cocaine users may lose their sense of smell, experience nosebleeds, have problems with swallowing, and develop hoarseness in their voice. These are all results of snorting the drug.
Additionally, amphetamine users may experience issues with ulcers, mood disturbances, delusions, paranoia, and hallucinations.
Bingeing on Stimulants? What Can You do?
If you or a loved one is bingeing on stimulants, it’s essential to reach out for help from your physician or an addiction specialist. Time is of the essence for those who binge on stimulants. One major binge could be deadly, so don’t wait around in reaching out for help. If you’re on a stimulant binge right now, seek help immediately from a medical professional for an evaluation. It’s nothing to play around with.
If you’re thinking about bingeing on stimulants, don’t do it. There’s a very real risk of overdosing, which can cause death. It’s far too risky.
If you’ve been using stimulants for a long time, you may need more in-depth help to deal with any lingering psychological issues and find ways to cope without the drugs.
Residential treatment centers are an effective treatment method, helping you get free from feeling like you need stimulants. Whether you’re just playing around with them or you’re addicted, seeking the help of addiction specialists can benefit you greatly.