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Stimulant Addiction Treatment

The stimulants class of drugs includes legal prescription medications, such as many ADHD medications, including Adderall and Ritalin, and illegal drugs, such as cocaine, ecstasy, khat, and methamphetamine.1

Stimulants increase the activity of several neurotransmitters, including norepinephrine and dopamine. This accounts for their influence over a range of physiological processes. Stimulant-related increases in dopamine activity are further thought to underlie the rewarding or reinforcing properties of potentially addictive drugs like cocaine, methylphenidate, and amphetamines.1

People misuse stimulants for several reasons, such as to experience euphoria, improve mental performance, or increase energy.2 But stimulant misuse can lead to a range of health effects, including cardiovascular problems and the development of a stimulant use disorder.2 According to the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSUH), 9.2 million people aged 12 or older misused stimulants in the past year, and 4.1 million people had a past-year stimulant use disorder.3

If you or a loved one are struggling with stimulant misuse or addiction, learning about treatment can help you make an informed decision about your health. This page covers stimulant addiction treatment, including:

  • Detox.
  • Inpatient and outpatient rehab.
  • Continuing care.
  • Finding a treatment program.

Stimulant Addiction Treatment Programs

Stimulant addiction treatment can take place in different settings, including inpatient and outpatient rehab.4 The right treatment depends on several factors, such as:4

  • The severity of a patient’s addiction.
  • What substances the patient used, how much, and for how long.
  • Whether a patient uses other substances.
  • Whether a patient has a co-occurring disorder (e.g., anxiety, depression).
  • The patient’s medical history.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), effective treatment is individualized and considers a patient’s substance use as well as any medical, psychological, social, vocational, and legal problems they have.5  

Recovery looks different for everyone, but patients can expect a combination of:6

  • Behavioral counseling and therapy.
  • Evaluation and treatment for co-occurring disorders (e.g., anxiety, depression).
  • Long-term continuing care focused on relapse prevention.

Detoxification

While not always necessary, detox is often the first step in the recovery process. Detox can help patients stay as comfortable and safe as possible during the withdrawal period.7

Stimulant withdrawal is but can include several uncomfortable symptoms such as anxiety, depression, irritability, paranoia, and intense drug cravings.7 Although withdrawal symptoms are not typically life-threatening, stimulant withdrawal can lead to cardiovascular and psychiatric complications in some people that may require monitoring and treatment.7 Stimulant withdrawal can also cause dysphoria, a state of dissatisfaction, and low mood, and may be severe for some people, which can lead to suicidal behavior and ideation.7

During detox, professional staff provides 24-hour care, monitoring, and support. They can address complications and help patients become medically stable, which can facilitate the transition to ongoing treatment (e.g., inpatient or outpatient rehab).7

Detox can be an important first step of the recovery process, however, it is not a substitute for more comprehensive treatment. Completing a treatment program in an inpatient or outpatient rehab can help patients address the underlying issues that contribute to stimulant addiction and help them make behavioral changes necessary for recovery.5 Detox can help make entering ongoing treatment a smoother and easier transition.5

Inpatient Rehab for Stimulant Addiction

With inpatient rehab, patients live onsite at a facility for the duration of treatment and receive 24/7 care, monitoring, and support from professional staff.4 The length of inpatient treatment varies depending on a patient’s needs but can last 30 days to a few months or longer in some instances.4, 6

Inpatient rehab removes patients from their living environment, which may help them to avoid unwanted influences or triggers for drug use and can help them focus on recovery. Inpatient stimulant addiction treatment may benefit patients who:4

There are currently no FDA-approved medications to treat stimulant addiction.8 Treatment may focus on behavioral therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which can help patients learn how to identify and modify their thoughts and behaviors. Patients may also participate in individual and group counseling and support groups.6

Outpatient Rehab for Stimulant Addiction

Outpatient rehab differs from inpatient treatment in that patients live off-site, such as at home or in a sober living facility, and travel to an outpatient facility on a set schedule.4 Outpatient treatment can vary in duration and intensity.4 For example, a standard outpatient program may only provide drug education once a week, while a partial hospitalization program (PHP) or intensive outpatient program (IOP) may meet multiple times a week for several hours at a time.4

Outpatient programs generally last from 2 months to a year or more. Outpatient stimulant addiction treatment may benefit patients who:4

  • Have completed a more intensive program and are “stepping down” to less intense treatment.
  • Have less severe addictions.
  • Have access to reliable transportation.
  • Have a stable and supportive home environment.

As with inpatient rehab, behavioral therapies generally serve as the primary treatment modalities. Patients may also participate in individual and group counseling and different support groups.4

Continuing Care for Stimulant Addiction Recovery

Following a formal treatment program, many patients participate in some form of aftercare, also known as continuing care or follow-up care.4 Continuing care is both a process of post-treatment monitoring/case management and a type of treatment that provides support following formal treatment.9 It can also help patients return to treatment if they relapse.4

Patients may participate in different forms of aftercare, such as:4, 9

  • Individual or group counseling.
  • Mutual support groups, such as 12-step groups like Narcotics Anonymous (NA), or non-12-step groups like SMART Recovery.
  • Sober living homes, which are substance-free residences designed to support recovery as patients transition to day-to-day life.
  • Alumni programs, which are offered by rehabs.
  • Regular check-ins with a case manager, doctor, or rehab program.

Finding a Stimulant Addiction Treatment Program

If you or a loved one are interested in starting the path to recovery, you can find stimulant addiction treatment in different ways, such as:

  • Scheduling an appointment with your doctor to discuss your needs and get referrals.
  • Searching our rehabs directory for rehabs across the country. You can narrow your search by filtering by insurance, location, and type of care.
  • Contacting your insurance provider to check your insurance coverage and inquire about treatment providers.

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is a leading provider of evidence-based addiction treatment with AAC addiction treatment centers throughout the U.S. Contact one of our caring admissions navigators at to learn more about stimulant addiction treatment programs.

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