Teen Stimulant Abuse Treatment

Teens are often prescribed stimulant drugs to treat the symptoms associated with ADD, ADHD, respiratory conditions, narcolepsy, and occasionally depression. While they are effective in regulating a teen’s mood and improving concentration and focus, some find that recreational use makes them feel alert and happy.

What Does Teen Stimulant Abuse Look Like?

  • Stimulants alter the way brain cells communicate. These help some teens cope with mental health and medical conditions and are often combined with therapy. Recreational abuse often involves taking the wrong dosages, which can lead to addiction.
  • Stimulant drugs are not only addictive, but can have negative physical consequences on the body that cause harm. This includes serious and impactful damage to the heart, cardiovascular system, and brain. Stimulant drug abuse is incredibly
  • Teens abusing stimulant drugs may lose weight and have trouble sleeping. They will also act differently as they try to lie and cover up their problems.

Signs of Teen Stimulant Abuse

Teen Stimulant Abuse Treatment | Paradigm San Francisco

Constant movement or activity

Teen Stimulant Abuse Treatment | Paradigm San Francisco

Decreased appetite

Teen Stimulant Abuse Treatment | Paradigm San Francisco

Pupil dilation

Teen Stimulant Abuse Treatment | Paradigm San Francisco

Anxiety or irrational fear

Teen Stimulant Abuse Treatment | Paradigm San Francisco

Heart issues (palpitations)

Teen Stimulant Abuse Treatment | Paradigm San Francisco

Kidney or liver damage

Different Types of Stimulants

Dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine®), amphetamines (Adderall®), methylphenidate (Ritalin® or Concerta®), and methamphetamines (Desoxyn® in prescription or in illegal forms) are all considered stimulants and are all (except for the illicit versions) prescribed on a relatively regular basis. Illegal drugs, like cocaine, are still very easy to find throughout the country as well.

Amphetamines – This class of drugs includes treatments like Adderall. They’re usually given to teens struggling with ADHD because they, despite being stimulants, can actually calm hyperactivity. Taken incorrectly, they can still stimulate, which is why they are commonly abused by teens who want to study or focus.

Methamphetamine – Formally known as double methylated phenylethylamine, this type of stimulant can be toxic, is powerful enough to cause brain damage, and can easily lead to death if too much is taken.

Cocaine – Cocaine actually does have some medicinal uses, especially in topical form. As an illegal drug, it is usually found in a powder.

Diet Pills – Most diet pills aren’t regulated, especially those imported from other countries. These, and illegally obtained formulations, can reduce a teen’s appetite. They are highly addictive and taking large quantities can result in overdose.

Ritalin – This is a milder stimulant than Adderall and can also be used to treat ADHD. It may also be prescribed to those struggling with narcolepsy.

Caffeine – While caffeine addictions are not as common as with other drugs, they more commonly occur when a teen is using caffeine supplements than when they are drinking coffee or eating foods in which it occurs naturally.

MDMA– Ecstasy, otherwise known as molly, is a popular party drug that some people believe to be harmless. MDMA, like the majority of other illegal substances, is often mixed with other drugs or is mixed with alcohol. This can make the psychological side-effects unpredictable and lead to overdose deaths.

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Teen Stimulant Abuse Treatment | Paradigm San Francisco

What Causes Teen Stimulant Abuse?

Teenagers for some reason think stimulants are a great way to perk up and keep the brain alert, but research suggests this is not necessarily true. There is nothing wrong with wanting to do as well as one possibly can, taking on more responsibility, doing well in school, and staying focused without feeling tired, but not at the expense of your health. Other teens simply try drugs because they’re readily available at parties and they desperately want to fit in. Some other factors that cause teens to abuse stimulants include:

Stress and the Competitive Teen – Teens see their peers using drugs to do better and think they need to do the same to maintain a competitive edge. The reality is teens are taught they need to do well, but they sometimes take the concept of doing anything to succeed a little too far. Using stimulants doesn’t usually mean a teen will get better grades, though they will keep the awake.

Pain and Depression – It’s common for teens to experiment with self-medication when they are upset, depressed, or dealing with fears. Trauma, problems at home, or issues with friends are all triggers for stress. Sometimes they’ll try to use drugs to soothe physical pain, too.

Sports Performance – Teens have been led to believe that amphetamines are a great way to improve sports performance, looking to do better during games or in practices. Using stimulants for sports is risky business, though. A teen can not only be banned from sports for using drugs or doping, but they are also taking a huge health risk.


of teens admit to abusing Adderall or Ritalin at least once


of teens and a third of parents believe stimulants improve performance


of teens do not understand the negative side-effects of stimulants

How Can I Help My Teen with Stimulant Abuse?

Be Reassuring  – A lot of teens start abusing stimulants because they think they need help to balance school work and relationships. It’s more important for a teen to learn that it’s OK to fail and try again. Assure them that they don’t need to ruin their lives to pass a class or get a good grade.

Straight A students put themselves under a lot of pressure, the type that makes it difficult to maintain control when school is over --- the kind that doesn’t translate into  any sort of real success. Realize that while degrees aren’t important, the grades we get on every test along the way are not always the end of the world. You can succeed with average grades in school as long as you are driven, punctual, intellectual, and reliable. You can’t successfully be any of those things if you are using drugs.

Talk About the Risks – Make sure your teen understands that the risks always outweigh the benefits when it comes to drug use. Amphetamines are more likely to send your life spinning out of control than they are to help you do better in life. If your teen doesn’t believe you, they may have already transitioned from abuse to addiction. Show your teen that they can do better in life without drugs, or the subsequent criminal records that tend to come with them.

Be a Partner in Recovery – While not all teens become addicted to the drugs they try, those who do have a rough road ahead. Be an active participant in your teen’s treatment by working with them, their doctors, and their therapists during treatment and once they return home. Talk about what it means to stay sober, help them build stronger relationships, and be there for them as they begin to focus on the future.

What Types of Teen Stimulant Abuse Treatment Are Available?

Intervention is paramount when it comes to combating teen stimulant abuse. They will need medical attention to combat withdrawal symptoms and the physical side effects of addiction. They’ll also need therapy to deal with the reasons they began using to start with.

Withdrawal Help

Using stimulants regularly can lead to a tolerance and, subsequently, addiction. Both change the way the brain processes signals after using a drug. Stopping after prolonged drug use can cause withdrawal symptoms, some very severe and dangerous. Teens may experience headaches, periods of unconsciousness, and nausea. Our doctors and trained medical staff work hard to help teens detox in a safe environment.

Talk Therapy

Therapy is critical as it gives teens the tools they need to understand the circumstances surrounding their drug abuse. They’ll gain clearer insight as to why they need to stop using and what they need to do to achieve their goals. There are several forms of talk therapy, ranging from one-on-one to small group atmospheres. Your teen’s care team will help determine which are best.

Continued Recovery

Recovery from drug addiction is an ongoing process. Your teen will need to return home to a structured and supportive atmosphere. Encourage your teen to explore new hobbies, meet new people, or participate in a sport. Their entire existence should not revolve around school or grades. Your teen will likely continue with professional therapy as well.

Teen Stimulant Abuse Treatment at Paradigm San Francisco

The treatment programs at Paradigm San Francisco are tailored specifically for teens from all walks of life, whether they’re struggling with a substance abuse issue or another mental health challenge. Your teen very likely thought drugs were a solution to a problem. Our trained staff will work with your teen to identify those problems and help them to heal in a safe, welcoming, and nurturing atmosphere. The stimulant abuse treatment program at Paradigm San Francisco guides teens towards a drug-free life.


A Secure Environment

Teens are more prone to drug use when they are available to them. Our treatment centers remove teens from atmospheres where they can obtain their vices. This makes it easier for teens to focus on recovery, free of temptation.


Identifying the Root of the Problem

Drug abuse is obviously not a great coping mechanism, but teens don’t always realize that at first. We’ll work with your teen to identify and find solutions for their issues. We’ll figure out if your teen has an underlying health condition or if their experimentation, and subsequent addiction, was caused by an environmental factor.

“ Paradigm dug really deep at getting to the root of my sons addiction issues. They also involved us in the process and worked through a lot of family issues. The staff and councilors were top notch and I felt that my son was in a safe spot even with some of the deep emotional issues he was going through. We continue to go to learn from the councilors and other families even after our sons treatment. It has been a very good experience. “

– Dave Z.

Frequently Asked Questions About Teen Stimulant Abuse

What if I’m addicted to stimulants, but need them to treat a co-occurring disorder?

While there is a slight possibility, the stimulant dosage prescribed to teens who use them for ADHD is usually too low to cause a teen to become addicted. Some teens are, however, more susceptible to addiction than others. In most cases, teens who become addicted are abusing their prescriptions by taking more than the required dose.

In cases where stimulants can’t be used, you and your doctor may explore alternative ADHD treatments. Antidepressant drugs do not carry the same risk of addiction and may be helpful in treating your symptoms.

Aren’t prescription drugs safe compared to street drugs?

Drugs you get from a doctor are monitored by the FDA and you know exactly what ingredients are in them. Drugs you get off the street can be combined with other harmful drugs. That said, prescription drugs are given at specific dosages to treat certain symptoms. They can be just as dangerous, especially if not taken as prescribed.

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