Can Amphetamine Abuse Cause Schizophrenia

black and white image of woman struggling with schizophrenia

Amphetamine abuse is a serious problem in the United States. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, over five million Americans are abusing prescription amphetamines alone. (1) That does not take into account the millions more Americans who are abusing black market amphetamine compounds like crystal meth and counterfeit and smuggled prescription stimulants. The opioid epidemic has become more complex as pharmacies and doctors tighten the rules for controlled substances and track prescriptions with state databases. Many people addicted to prescription meds they can no longer get are turning to street drugs. The decline in the availability of prescription opioids has led to an increase in heroin use and consequently Fentanyl overdoses. Some believe the same may be happening among some people who were dependent on prescription amphetamines, particularly those more prone to abuse like Ritalin and Adderall.

It’s no secret that amphetamine abuse takes a serious toll on human health. The physical effects alone can be devastating.

Side effects may include:

  • Chest pain
  • Heart failure
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Emaciation and malnutrition
  • Coma
  • Death

As a powerful central nervous system stimulant, all forms of amphetamines when abused can lead to serious psychiatric symptoms and lasting brain damage. The idea that amphetamine abuse can directly cause schizophrenia has been around for a while and is based largely on misunderstandings. While amphetamine abuse cannot directly cause schizophrenia, it absolutely can create amphetamine-induced psychosis, which can have similar symptoms to paranoid schizophrenia and other forms. (2) It is also true that amphetamine abuse is notorious for exasperating existing mental illness. Depression, anxiety, eating disorders and many other psychological conditions are made markedly more severe by amphetamine abuse. A person with a biological predisposition to psychotic states or schizophrenia can easily be pushed over the edge into acute symptoms requiring hospitalization or worse. Even individuals who have never exhibited or been diagnosed with any psychiatric condition before can experience these intense symptoms as a result of amphetamine abuse.

The way in which amphetamines function in the brain is not fully understood yet. We do know that they directly affect dopamine’s function in the brain and this is part of why they are sometimes prescribed for people with Attention Deficit Disorder. The problem is the mechanism of action can also create euphoria and dependence. The abuse potential of amphetamines has been known for almost as long as they have been on the market. The first synthesized amphetamine was Benzedrine, and it wasn’t long before soldiers during World War 2 discovered how addictive it could be.

In conclusion, remember that just because amphetamine is prescribed, that does not make it safe to abuse. Abuse of any conventional amphetamine can produce all of the side effects listed above and more. You should also be aware that if you have any sort of predisposition towards mental illness and particularly psychotic episodes, you are at even more risk of serious consequences from amphetamine abuse. If you know you’re addicted or someone you care about is, pick up the phone and call us or at least jump on a chat. There are people who can help you end the suffering and let you begin a new chapter of your life free of drugs and alcohol.




Synthetic Cathinones Addiction

Synthetic Cathinones Addiction | Harmony Recovery Center

Synthetic cathinones (also more commonly known as bath salts) are man-made stimulants structurally related to cathinone. Cathinones are compounds found in the khat plant native to East Africa and Saudi Arabia.

What Are Synthetic Cathinones?

Traditionally, khat leaves are chewed and induce a mildly stimulating effect. However, synthetic cathinones are often much more potent than their natural form, and in most instances, much more hazardous. Synthetic cathinones are often sold in foil or plastic packages marked as “not for human consumption.” They may be labeled or marked as bath salts, jewelry cleaner, plant food, or any number of products. 

While synthetic cathinones are most often referred to as “bath salts,” the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has stressed that such a reference is in name only. They should never be compared to legitimate bathing products, such as Epsom salts, which do not induce mind-altering effects. 

Moreover, synthetic cathinones have no real use for bathing and are solely used for recreational drug use, as a less expensive substitute for other stimulant drugs, such as cocaine and meth. These drugs can often be found online, behind the counter in convenience stores, gas stations, truck stops, and tobacco or “head” shops.

Synthetic cathinones are typically sold in 200-500 mg packages under brand names such as Bloom, Vanilla Sky, Red Dove, Snow Day, and many more.

Manufacturers label these products as “not for human consumption” in an attempt to evade federal laws which would otherwise impede production. Synthetic cathinones range from a white-brown crystalline powder and can come in the form of a tablet or capsule. They are typically ingested orally, but can also be crushed and smoked, snorted, or injected.

The NIDA reports that one of the active ingredients in bath salts MDPV is at least ten times more potent than cocaine. Along with mephedrone, it is commonly found in the blood and urine of patients admitted to the emergency department after having consumed bath salts. 

Abuse And Effects

Due to its stimulant-like effects, synthetic cathinones may be abused by individuals across all demographics, looking for a new high. Use of these drugs occurs despite substantial dangers and unpredictable, adverse outcomes.

The use of bath salts was at its worst around 2011, and due to high rates of abuse and adverse consequences, Congress responded by passing the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act of 2012. Currently, only MDPV and mephedrone are permanently outlawed chemicals. Although this law is helpful, manufacturers continue to substitute chemicals that are comparable, unregulated, and uncontrolled.

Many people who abuse bath salts choose to do so because they can still be easily purchased through a number of avenues. Also, synthetic cathinones are generally much stronger than many the stimulant drugs they are intended to mimic, such as cocaine.

Despite extremely hazardous effects, new laws, and warnings from federal agencies such as NIDA and the Drug Enforcement Administration, abuse of bath salts has endured since 2011. As noted, makers of these drugs circumvent legal ramifications by slightly altering their chemical composition. They then continue to market synthetic cathinones as any number of different products, all of which are labeled as “not for human consumption.”

Synthetic Cathinones Addiction | Harmony Recovery Center

Again, cathinones are stimulants designed to simulate the effects of other drugs such as cocaine and meth. Moreso than even these substances, however, synthetic cathinones have extremely unpredictable and bizarre effects on users. In many cases, the use of these substances results in violent, erratic, and even psychotic behaviors.

Effects of synthetic cathinones may include the following:

  • Increased sociability
  • Talkativeness
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Severe paranoia

  • Visual hallucinations
  • Tactile hallucinations
  • Increased libido
  • Delirium
  • Aggression and violence

  • Extreme agitation
  • Increased heart rate
  • Chest pain
  • Seizures
  • Elevated blood pressure

Reports have revealed that some of the worst outcomes are related to snorting or injecting synthetic cathinones, and in some cases, death has subsequently occurred.

There have also been many reports of people who have exhibited psychosis and attempted or committed suicide or homicide following the consumption of excessive amounts of synthetic cathinones. Many reports have noted bizarre and harmful behavior from those who have become intoxicated by synthetic cathinones.

Federal laws have banned the manufacture, sale, and use of bath salts of all forms. However, those who seek to use it may be still able to find these drugs in gas stations, head shops, and the like.

Are Synthetic Cathinones Addictive?

They are considered to have a high potential for abuse and addiction. However, there is scant research investigating whether or not they exhibit the same type of addictive qualities as other illicit drugs such as heroin, meth, or cocaine.

Despite a lack of evidence of their potential for addiction, many have reported suffering from some level of withdrawal and drug cravings when they try to quit using synthetic cathinones.

Synthetic cathinones may produce withdrawal symptoms that include the following:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Tremors

  • Insomnia
  • Paranoia

There is not enough evidence to determine a distinct timeline of withdrawal associated with synthetic cathinones. It should be noted that there are no reports of the symptoms of withdrawal being life-threatening. That said, there can be a wide variety of toxic ingredients in bath salts. Therefore, there can be no guarantee that detox from these substances will not become dangerous. 

Also, synthetic cathinones are sometimes mixed together with other substances that may be addictive and dangerous. For example, sources have reported that Molly (MDMA) capsules may contain synthetic cathinones.

Synthetic Cathinones Addiction | Harmony Recovery Center

Getting Help 

Recovery can be effectively accomplished through psychotherapy and counseling in an intensive addiction treatment program. Most people who abuse synthetic cathinones are also poly-substance abusers, meaning that they abuse or are addicted to more than one substance.

To recover from an addiction to synthetic cathinones or any substance, individuals must address the underlying causes of substance abuse through intensive behavioral therapy and counseling. One of the main benefits of a treatment program is to adjust one’s life and behaviors and alter them to be more conducive to a healthy and productive lifestyle. This lifestyle must be one that does not include drug or alcohol abuse of any kind.

Moreover, the purpose of addiction treatment is not merely to be free from the abuse of a drug or substance. It is also to learn coping skills and how to live a healthier and more fulfilling life without engaging in destructive behaviors to handle stress.

Harmony Recovery Center works to customize recovery plans for each individual. We understand that everyone is unique, and the road to recovery is simply not going to be the same for everyone.

Are you or a loved one addicted to synthetic cathinones or other substances and motivated to make a change toward recovery? If so, please contact us today to speak with one of our caring addiction counselors. We can help you reclaim your life and sustain long-term wellness and recovery!

⟹ READ THIS NEXT: What Is the Flakka Drug?

Adderall Crash

Adderall Crash | Harmony Recovery Center

Adderall Crash: Coming Down From a Stimulant – Adderall is a prescription medication that includes a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. It is primarily used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy.

Adderall is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant classified as a Schedule II substance by the Drug Enforcement Administration. Schedule II drugs have some medical purposes but are also considered to have a high potential for abuse and dependence.

The effects of this stimulant will begin to subside after six or more hours after intake, resulting in a crash or come down. A person will then start to experience what, in many ways, is basically the opposite of the drug’s desired effects. They may encounter anger, rage, irritability, depression, anxiety, sleeplessness, and fatigue.

Adderall crash is not the same as Adderall withdrawal. Nonetheless, symptoms related to either condition can become present several hours after the last dose has been ingested.

Abuse of Adderall

While there are numerous medical uses for stimulant drugs, they are also abused by many people. According to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an estimated 18.6 million Americans aged 12 and older used prescription stimulants in the past year.

These included both those who were given prescriptions by physicians and those who obtained them through other avenues. Of those more than 18 million users, around 5.8 million reported misusing prescription stimulants in the past year.

Misuse or abuse includes using the drug in higher amounts, more frequently, or for longer than instructed by a doctor. It also includes using it in other ways in which it was not intended, such as crushing the powder and snorting it. Finally, using Adderall without a prescription is also considered to be abuse.

Abuse of Adderall and other stimulants is especially prevalent among young adults. In fact, it is estimated that more than 2.5 million Americans aged 18-25 misused prescription stimulants in the past year, reflecting about 7.4% of that specific age group.

Who Abuses Adderall?

People may misuse prescription stimulants in numerous ways. Some people consume them orally, some dissolve the powder in water after crushing tablets and then injecting it, and others smoke or snort the powder.

One of the primary reasons a person may misuse stimulants is because they erroneously believe that it will boost their cognitive abilities. Students may abuse them to help them study, cram for tests, work on projects, or otherwise try to improve their academic performance.

Other reasons may include to increase one’s energy and/or to lose weight. People who work very long shifts, such as truck drivers, have also been known to abuse stimulants like Adderall.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA, 2006-2007), students in college full-time between ages 18-22 were more than twice as likely to have abused Adderall in the past year as those of the same age who did not attend college full-time.

Also, those who misused Adderall tended to engage in other forms of substance abuse. For example, these full-time students were five times more likely to have misused prescription opioids and eight times more likely to have abused prescription sedatives or cocaine. They were also three times as likely to have used marijuana in the past year, and nearly 90% had binged on alcohol.

Dangers of Adderall

Coming Down From An Adderall Crash | Recovery By The Sea

There are many risks associated both with proper prescription stimulant use and abuse. Common side effects of Adderall include the following:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Sleeping difficulties
  • Headache

  • Dry mouth
  • Abdominal pain
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Agitation

Severe side effects of Adderall may include:

  • Aggression
  • Psychosis

  • Heart attack and stroke
  • High blood pressure

  • Seizure
  • Death

Misusing Adderall is particularly dangerous for several reasons. When a person receives an Adderall prescription, the prescriber should carefully monitor the person for any adverse effects. However, if the person obtains Adderall illicitly, they are using it without vital medical supervision.

Also, a person who is misusing Adderall may be taking much higher doses than prescribed, and therefore increasing the risk of dangerous effects. High doses of stimulants can cause heartbeat abnormalities, heart failure, dangerously high body temperature, seizures, and overdose.

Abusing prescription stimulants can cause extreme anger, paranoia, and psychosis. Furthermore, a person who has obtained Adderall from an illicit source may unknowingly be ingesting a different drug or Adderall laced with another substance. Thus, they may be at an increased risk for unpredictable, dangerous effects.

Adderall Overdose Symptoms

Possible signs and symptoms of an overdose of a prescription stimulant include the following:

  • Rapid breathing
  • Fever
  • Overactivity
  • Restlessness
  • Shaking
  • Seizures

  • Panic
  • Confusion
  • Aggressiveness
  • Hallucinations
  • Muscle weakness or pain
  • Irregular heartbeat

  • Heart attack
  • Poor blood circulation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Coma and death

If you suspect that you or someone you know may have overdosed on Adderall or another stimulant, please call 911 immediately.

Experiencing the Adderall Crash

Coming Down From An Adderall Crash | Recovery By The Sea

The abuse of stimulants can lead to the development of a substance use disorder. Using stimulants for a prolonged period, even when using them as directed, can lead to the development of tolerance. As tolerance builds, the person will need to use more of a drug to achieve the desired effect.

A person may also develop dependence, which is a condition in which their body depends on the drug to function normally. If a dependent person abruptly stops taking prescription stimulants, they will encounter withdrawal symptoms, such as the following:

  • Depression
  • Insomnia

  • Fatigue and tiredness
  • Lack of motivation

Withdrawal Medications

Certain medications may be helpful when a person is withdrawing from Adderall. Importantly, however, these should only be used only under the supervision of a medical provider or addiction specialist. These medications can be administered in either an inpatient or outpatient setting and may include the following:

Modafinil – a mild stimulant that can reduce the fatigue that may be encountered during withdrawal.

Propranolol – a beta-blocker that can relieve anxiety associated with withdrawal.

Bupropion – a norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitor (NDRI) that can reduce unpleasant mood symptoms that may occur during withdrawal.

For most people with a stimulant use disorder, discontinuing drug use, and going through detox is not enough to promote lasting recovery. Anyone with a substance use disorder should, therefore, seek professional treatment.

Getting Treatment for Adderall Addiction

Treatment can help with the development of coping techniques and relapse prevention plans. For example, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can teach a person how to alter unhealthy thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. This therapy can help individuals addicted to stimulants better manage stress and triggers and change their expectations about drug use and related behaviors.

It is essential to remember that the Adderall crash a person may encounter after discontinuing use is temporary. However, even after withdrawal symptoms subside, a person may still have cravings, especially when they encounter triggers. For this reason and others, it is imperative to enroll in a treatment program that helps people develop coping skills and prepares them for long-lasting recovery.

Harmony Treatment and Wellness offers comprehensive, evidence-based treatment programs in both partial hospitalization and outpatient formats. We know how challenging it can be for people to get clean on their own, and we believe that those who suffer from addiction deserve the very best treatment available.

If you or someone you love is struggling with the abuse of Adderall, other drugs, or alcohol, contact us today! Find out how we help people free themselves from the chains of addiction and foster healthier, more fulfilling lives!

What Are the Effects of the Khat Drug?

What Are the Effects of the Khat Drug? | Harmony Recovery Center

Khat (also referred to as “qat” or “cot”) is a flowering plant native to the Arabian Peninsula and the Horn of Africa. Chewing the leaves for their stimulating properties has been a traditional practice among people living in that area for centuries.

In the U.S., khat and its alkaloids, cathinone and cathine, are controlled substances under Schedule I and IV, respectively, by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Using the Khat Drug

The most commonly found form of khat is dried leaves, which can be chewed, smoked, mixed into food, or brewed as a tea. Although khat’s potential for inducing stimulating effects is highest when it’s fresh, the leaves are often ground into a powder for exportation into the United States.

This alteration of form may temper the typically intense high that fresh leaves can produce, so dried versions may not be as addictive as their unaltered counterparts. Still, this drug does have some potential for abuse and addiction, and chronic use may result in short- and long-term side effects.

Of note, the principal populations globally who abuse khat are the Yemeni, Somali, and Ethiopian populations. However, the drug has recently become more popular among Americans in the U.S. because it was legal for some time. It is also easy to obtain online, despite its current illegality. Khat remains available because it’s not a widely-abused drug and synthesized versions, known as “bath salts,” are considered to be much more dangerous.

Khat Drug Effects

Desired Effects of Khat

  • Increased energy
  • Mental acuity
  • Physical stimulation

  • Mild euphoria
  • Altered sensory perception
  • Increased confidence

  • Reduced inhibitions
  • Excitability
  • Increased talkativeness

Side Effects of Khat

  • Aggression
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Manic behaviors

  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Increased heart rate

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Extreme weight loss
  • Dental problems
  • Pulmonary issues

What Are the Effects of the Khat Drug? | Harmony Recovery Center

Cardiovascular Effects

Because khat is a stimulant, it can damage the heart and vascular system. Small amounts of khat might induce feelings similar to drinking an excessive amount of coffee, as well as open up blood vessels in the brain to allow more oxygen to pass through. This effect then causes the heart to pump more rapidly. Higher doses of khat, however, can result in dramatically accelerated and irregular heart rate, increased blood pressure, heart attack, or stroke.

Gastrointestinal Problems

Khat can adversely affect the stomach and intestines, causing abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, and prolonged loss of appetite that results in significant weight loss. A person struggling with khat abuse can also experience decreased urinary output.

Dental Problems

One of the most common methods of consuming khat is to chew the leaves. This form of use can cause oral and dental problems, such as brown staining or discoloration of the teeth and gums. More severely, chewing khat may also result in cavities, gum disease, cracks in the teeth related to structural damage, and oral cancer.

Pulmonary Effects

Smoking khat has been associated with an increased risk of developing lung conditions, such as pneumonia, pulmonary embolism, emphysema, and lung cancer.

Long-Term Effects

The long-term, excessive use of khat can lead to what is known as khat-induced psychosis. Although this mental health condition is rare, one study of a random sampling of nearly 4,900 households in Somalia found that mental illness and khat use co-occurred in 8.4% of males age 12 and older. Whether the mental condition or the khat abuse came first was unclear, the two appeared to be closely correlated.

Long-term khat abuse has also been linked to liver damage and failure, also known as khat-induced hepatitis. Some reports have shown that khat-induced liver damage can also lead to cirrhosis—and therefore, may be life-threatening.

Chewing khat in East Africa has been found to lead an increased risk of oral cancer. Ingesting the drug by other means may contribute to the development of liver cancer, lung cancer, stomach cancer, and other cancers. Unfortunately, the link between using khat and a higher risk of cancer is not well-understood.

What Substances Can Interact With Khat?

Khat is relatively new to the U.S., and its interactions with medication or recreational drugs have not been well-researched. However, because of khat’s ability to affect the vascular system, people who take medicines for heart disease or blood clotting issues should avoid the use of khat.

Also, those on medication for lung or liver problems should use the utmost caution. Khat use can make these co-existing health conditions worse and is likely to reduce the effectiveness of prescription drugs used to treat these conditions. People who use other stimulants, including amphetamines, cocaine, or meth, can experience amplified side effects if they are also using khat.

Khat Overdose

It is possible to experience an overdose on khat, although the exact cause is not well understood among experts at this time. Typically, overdose symptoms may occur in those who have struggled for a prolonged period with khat addiction because they develop a tolerance to the drug. Over time, this condition often compels them to use it in higher doses and more frequently.

Symptoms of khat toxicity include the following:

  • Delusions
  • Aggression

  • Loss of appetite
  • Breathing difficulties

  • High blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate

As noted, the chronic abuse of khat can also contribute to liver damage and heart problems, especially myocardial infarctions. People who are predisposed to psychiatric conditions such as psychosis or schizophrenia are more likely to induce or exaggerate these mental health problems if they also use khat.

Comedown Effects

What Are the Effects of the Khat Drug? | Harmony Recovery Center

As the body breaks down khat and eliminates it from the system, the stimulating effects will begin to wear off. This state is also known as the comedown period, and this effect could lead to a cycle of binging to avoid negative feelings associated with withdrawal.

Symptoms of khat comedown include:

  • Depression
  • Lethargy

  • Nightmares
  • Tremors

These symptoms are comparable to those associated with a comedown from other stimulants, such as cocaine or meth. However, khat users report that they do not encounter comedown effects as intense as those of these other drugs. Moreover, khat might be less likely to compel a binging pattern of use than, say, cocaine or amphetamines.

A Word on Bath Salts

Synthetic cathinones are stimulants that are chemically related to cathinone, which is the key psychoactive ingredient in the khat plant. Human-made versions of this substance, however, can be much more potent than the plant itself and also very dangerous.

Synthetic cathinone products are often labeled as “bath salts” and should not be confused with benign household products like Epsom salt. Moreover, synthetic cathinones usually take the form of a white or brown crystalline powder and are sold in small foil or plastic packages marked as “not for human consumption.”

Getting Treatment for Drug Abuse and Addiction

For people who have become dependent on khat, it is vital to overcome this addiction before permanent physical complications or psychological trauma occurs. A comprehensive rehab program can offer the therapeutic support and treatment needed to address problems related to substance abuse and addiction.

Although the abuse of khat is not common in the U.S., it does occur. Those who use khat may be more likely to abuse other substances, including other stimulants or alcohol.

Harmony Recovery Center offers multi-faceted, integrated programs designed to address substance abuse and co-occurring mental conditions. We customize our programs to each individual’s needs and goals, which ensure that our clients receive the most effective treatment possible.

Are you struggling with drug abuse? Is someone you love addicted to khat or other substances? If so, contact us today and discover how we help people break free from addiction for life!

⟹ READ THIS NEXT: What Is the Flakka Drug?

What Are Nootropics?

What Are Nootropics? | Harmony Recovery Center

What Are Nootropics? – Nootropics are sometimes referred to as “Limitless” pills. They are nicknamed after the movie Limitless (2011), in which a character takes a pill that dramatically increases his intelligence, motivation, and general cognitive ability. While the film is over-the-top fiction, there are substances that do appear to exert effects on a person’s cognition.

Certain drugs and supplements may have a positive impact on motivation, focus, memory, and cognition. The following is a list of several different nootropic substances, their effectiveness, and their potential for abuse or addiction.

What Are Some Common Nootropics?

Nootropics are a broad category of substances reported to have a positive effect on cognitive functioning. They are also sometimes referred to as cognitive enhancers, and “smart” or “study” drugs. The nootropic category includes substances such as caffeine, amphetamines, and a variety of others.


Central nervous system (CNS) stimulants are among the most accessible nootropic substances. Stimulants work in the body to excite the CNS by interacting with feel-good neurochemicals such as dopamine. These chemicals are associated with feelings of reward and motivation. When they are released, people feel more alert, energized and motivated.

Stimulants are often used in both prescription and illicit drugs due to their powerful effects. Those who abuse stimulants often do so by obtaining them from family and friends. Others get them from dealers or buy them on the Internet.


This class includes drugs such as Adderall often used to treat ADHD, narcolepsy, and obesity. These drugs have been studied for potential cognitive enhancement in those who do and those who do not have ADHD.

A 2015 study revealed that low doses of amphetamines were able to boost cognitive functions such as memory, impulse inhibition, and attention. A 2014 review suggested that amphetamines also helped non-ADHD youth remember more information.

Amphetamines are known to cause dependence and addiction when they are abused. They can also cause a variety of health problems, especially in those who use them for non-medical purposes.

Methylphenidate (Ritalin)

Methylphenidate is another prescription drug often used to treat ADHD. It has been found to improve cognitive functioning and may also increase a person’s ability to complete ordinary tasks. Methylphenidate is moderately addictive and has a relatively high capacity for psychological dependence.


Eugeroics is a class of drugs that includes prescription medication such as modafinil and adrafinil. These drugs are used to treat sleep disorders like narcolepsy. It has been shown to increase alertness, reasoning, and problem-solving skills.

While these are not considered to be true stimulants, they do have stimulant-like effects. And like stimulants, it has the potential for abuse and addiction, although this potential is generally lower.

Caffeine and Nicotine

What Are Nootropics? | Harmony Recovery Center

Caffeine from tea, coffee, soda, or supplements can increase alertness, wakefulness, focus, and attention. Both caffeine and nicotine are some of the most frequently used recreational drugs in the U.S. and among the most common stimulants worldwide.

Despite the adverse health impact, nicotine has been found to have an effect on cognitive functioning. Unfortunately, nicotine, both from cigarettes and vape pens, is extremely addictive, and smoking has proven to cause severe health problems, such as emphysema, lung cancer, and heart disease.


Racetams are a poorly understood category of drugs, especially with regard to their effects on the brain. They may have some affinity to attach to receptors in the CNS, but they are also said to work on specific neurotransmitters in the brain. Some racetams appear to have a significant effect on cognition, and include the following:


Piracetam is sold in the U.K. as a treatment for muscle twitching, but it’s not approved in the U.S. as a medication. It’s marketed as a nootropic, but investigations into the drug’s potential cognitive benefits have not been conclusive. At most, piracetam appears to have a mild effect.


Oxiracetam is a mild stimulant that is marketed as a nootropic drug. Research suggests that it is safe to use, but it has yet to be approved for any medical purposes in the United States.


Phenylpiracetam, an analog of piracetam, was developed in 1983 by researching in the Soviet Union. They designed this drug with the express purpose of helping cosmonauts manage extended periods of stress. Animal research has also suggested that the medication may be useful for improving memory, as well as treating anxiety, depression, and amnesia.


Aniracetam is sold as a prescription drug in Europe, but it is currently unregulated in the U.S. It is used in alternative medicine to improve memory, concentration, and mental alertness. It is also sometimes used for the treatment of ADHD, anxiety, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, and other conditions.

Dietary Supplements and Other Chemicals

Dietary supplements are often are legal, over-the-counter herbs or pills that may do nothing or seem to have some mild effects. Common supplements include ginseng, ginkgo, and sage.

Many other unrelated chemicals have been researched for their potential cognitive effects. In some cases, chemicals can be combined in formulas called nootropic “stacks” that are touted to amplify benefits.

Some users even mix and match various chemicals in self-experimentation. This activity can be dangerous, however, and it’s generally not a good idea to combine chemicals if it is uncertain how they will react together.

Study Drugs

What Are Nootropics? | Harmony Recovery Center

Many students abuse prescription drugs for reasons that aren’t related to medical or recreational use. Instead, they are using specific drugs to help them study and possibly increase their academic performance.

ADHD drugs, such as Adderall and Ritalin, are designed to increase focus and attention. Even people who don’t have attention problems, however, can experience some sought-after effects. These may include an increase in focus, alertness, and the ability to recall more information.

Students sometimes use these drugs for all-night cramming sessions before an exam. They often report positive results, including improved test scores and grades.

Unfortunately, stimulant abuse can result in negative effects and undesirable outcomes related to health and long-term academic performance. Stimulants can cause insomnia, which can impair overall cognitive functioning. Also, sleep deprivation can result in problems such as weight loss and depression.

Like methamphetamine, ultra high doses of prescription amphetamines have sometimes been known to induce psychotic symptoms comparable to schizophrenia. Stimulant-induced psychosis is a severe psychological problem that often requires medical assistance. Using prescription drugs in this way is considered abuse and may be more likely to lead to dependence and addiction.

Getting Help For Nootropics Addiction or Abuse

If you or a loved one is struggling with a substance use disorder that’s related to nootropic substances, other drugs, or alcohol, help is available! Addiction is a potentially life-long disease that often requires comprehensive treatment to overcome.

Harmony Recovery Center specializes in the treatment of addiction and co-occurring mental illnesses such as depression. We offer integrated programs in both partial hospitalization and outpatient formats. Programs include clinically-proven services found to be beneficial for the process of recovery. These include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Music and art therapy
  • Individual/family counseling
  • Trauma recovery

  • Individual and group therapy
  • Education workshops
  • Health and wellness education

Clients at Harmony Recovery Center often have many of these therapies incorporated into their treatment plans to address their many different mental and emotional requirements.

You don’t have to suffer any longer! Contact us today and discover how we help people free themselves from the shackles of addiction for life!

READ THIS NEXT: What Does Meth Look Like?

What Is the Flakka Drug?

What Is the Flakka Drug? | Harmony Recovery Center

The flakka drug (alpha-PVP) is a synthetic cathinone similar to the street drug bath salts, only stronger. Using this highly addictive drug can cause disorientation, severe hallucinations, and psychotic behavior that can result in injury or death.

In 2012, the Drug Enforcement Administration DEA) banned two chemicals used to make synthetic bath salts. In response, illicit drug makers tweaked their formula, and the resulting product was a new synthetic stimulant commonly known as “flakka.”

Synthetic cathinones are derived from the khat plant, native to Africa and the Arabian peninsula. This designer drug is chemically similar to 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), the active ingredient in bath salts. Like other illegal stimulants, the use of alpha-PVP can be extremely dangerous and even life-threatening.

Between 2013-2015, flakka use grew to epidemic proportions in low-income neighborhoods in South Florida. People high on cathinone began acting erratically—exhibiting strange behaviors and becoming uncontrollable. These effects have resulted in a number of emergency room visits, overdoses, and deaths.

While the use of alpha-PVP in Florida has mostly disappeared, the dangerous drug continues to devastate the lives of people in other areas of the U.S. A recent study published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence found that nearly 1% of high school seniors reported using flakka. The study was the first to estimate the prevalence of flakka use among adolescents in the United States.

As such, the continued presence of flakka in the market may continue to wreak havoc on the physical and psychological health of users. People who find themselves addicted to the stimulant should seek professional treatment as soon as possible.

Is the Flakka Drug Addictive?

Flakka is indeed considered to be a highly addictive substance. Investigators at The Scripps Research Institute found that the potency and addictiveness of alpha-PVP are similar to those of its chemical cousin, bath salts.

The repeated use of flakka use can produce cravings and result in compulsive drug-seeking behavior in users despite the incurrence of health, social, financial, and legal consequences. When used in excessive doses, alpha-PVP can result in overdose.

The DEA classifies the flakka drug as a Schedule I substance, making it illegal in the United States. Schedule I drugs are considered to have no acceptable medical purpose and a high potential for abuse and addiction.

What Does the Flakka Drug Look Like?

Flakka resembles white or pinkish gravel, salt, sand, or powder. It is said to be rather foul-smelling and can be smoked in a joint or e-cigarette, injected into a vein, or compressed into capsules and consumed orally.

Flakka Drug Effects

What Is the Flakka Drug? | Harmony Recovery Center

Alpha-PVP induces a rush of dopamine in the brain, resulting in an intense high comparable to cocaine and methamphetamine. Flakka use elevates energy, alertness, and mood, but it can also lead to agitated delirium and, in extreme cases, psychiatric hospitalization.

The effects of flakka can include the following:

  • Excessive sweating
  • Disorientation
  • Extreme agitation

  • Paranoia
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations

  • Panic attacks
  • Slurred speech
  • Elevated body temperature

These effects onset within 5-15 minutes after use and can last up to five hours, a timeline that is similar to that of bath salts.

Flakka has sometimes been referred to as the “zombie drug.” People who are high on alpha-PVP may suffer from an altered mental state that is hallmarked by psychosis. The synthetic substance can also produce extraordinary physical strength. In some instances, several police officers have been required to restrain someone high on flakka.

This stimulant can also cause psychological problems in those with no history of a mental health disorder. A study published in the journal Case Reports in Psychiatry (2016) indicated that a teenage girl with no past psychiatric disorders experienced psychotic episodes after using flakka.

Flakka has been mixed with other drugs as well. Many street dealers sell meth or cocaine laced with flakka. Combining flakka with other drugs, especially stimulants, can compound the effects of all substances and rapidly lead to overdose or death.

Treatment for Flakka Intoxication and Addiction

If a person exhibits erratic, bizarre, or harmful behaviors following the use of flakka, call 911 immediately. Do not engage or try to control the individual because he or she may become extremely violent. The person may need to be treated at a psychiatric hospital.

Here, benzodiazepines may be used to reduce agitation and calm the person, and antipsychotics, such as olanzapine, might help relieve the symptoms of drug-induced psychosis. No medications, however, have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat alpha-PVP abuse.

Getting Professional Help

People who abuse flakka are urged to seek professional treatment as soon as possible. Harmony Recovery Center offers evidence-based therapies that can help clients identify the underlying causes of their substance abuse problems. Therapies such as behavioral therapy and counseling can teach patients how to deal with triggers and cravings and prevent relapse long-term.

If you or someone you love is abusing flakka, other drugs, or alcohol, please contact us immediately to discuss treatment options. Find out how we help people free themselves from addiction for the rest of their lives!

Adderall Addiction and Abuse

Adderall Addiction and Abuse | Harmony Recovery NC

Adderall Addiction and Abuse – Adderall is a prescription stimulant that produces effects similar to methamphetamine. It is the most commonly prescribed amphetamine, indicated for the treatment of ADHD and narcolepsy.

As a stimulant, Adderall works by boosting levels of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine in the central nervous system. Norepinephrine plays a vital role in general arousal, selective attention, and stress reactions in challenging environments.

Dopamine is the body’s “feel good” chemical, and produces feelings of reward. Although dopamine is a naturally-occurring and essential chemical, drugs such as Adderall flood the brain with very high levels of it, compelling many users to continue consuming the drug.

Adderall Addiction

The brain of an addicted person has become reliant on Adderall to stimulate alertness, wakefulness, and productivity. Without Adderall, addicted people often feel fatigued and experience mental fog. These are symptoms of Adderall withdrawal, and also a hallmark sign of physiological dependence.

While not every person who uses Adderall will develop an addiction, people habitually using Adderall without a prescription are at a high risk of developing an addiction. Over time, those who regularly use Adderall often develop a tolerance to the drug and become dependent, thus unable to function normally without it.

Common signs of Adderall addiction include the following:

  • Needing increasing doses to experience the drug’s effects
  • Attempting to cut down on use or quit but failing to do so
  • Using the drug despite awareness of the harmful consequences it’s causing
  • Not being able to finish studying, work, or a project without Adderall
  • Spending a considerable amount of time and money in the pursuit of obtaining, using, and recovering from drug use
  • Being unable to feel awake or alert without the drug
  • Neglecting other important activities and responsibilities in favor of using Adderall
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not using Adderall

The withdrawal symptoms caused by a dependency on Adderall makes it challenging for users to stop using on their own, and can seem intolerable for some. Seeking the help of an addiction treatment center, however, increases the chances of a successful recovery.

Adderall Dependence vs. Adderall Addiction

Adderall dependence is a natural and predictable physiological response to the drug. A person develops a chemical dependence due to the interaction of the body’s chemicals, but not necessarily a psychological dependence where they are misusing the medication to get high. They may require some professional assistance to get off the medication due to how Adderall affects the brain, but they are not obsessing over or having intense cravings for it.

Adderall addiction refers to an individuals physical and psychological reliance on Adderall that coalesces with a particular set of behaviors. These people are often unable to cope when they stop taking Adderall and will do just about anything to obtain more of the drug. Moreover, attainment and use of the drug becomes the chief priority of the person.

If they have a prescription, they often run out of doses early due to using more than prescribed. This leaves them in withdrawal from the Adderall, which, in turn, results in them going to any length necessary to obtain more of it. Having obsessive thoughts about Adderall and intense cravings are also indicative of addictive behavior.

Adderall Abuse

Adderall Addiction and Abuse | Harmony Recovery NC

People abuse Adderall because it induces feelings of confidence, euphoria, increased alertness, and a suppressed appetite. These effects make Adderall an ideal choice for anyone seeking a boost in physical or mental performance.

Using Adderall without a prescription, or in a way not prescribed by a physician, is considered abuse. This includes crushing and snorting Adderall pills or taking excessively large doses to experience a more intense effect.

Adderall is abused for many purposes, including the following:

  • Studying
  • Athletic performance
  • Weight loss
  • Recreation
  • To stay awake for long periods

Although people tend to associate the abuse of Adderall with young people such as college students, many older people also abuse the drug.

Who Abuses Adderall?


Athletes may abuse Adderall to counteract fatigue and improve performance during practice and in competitions. In 2012, Adderall was involved in a record-breaking year of suspensions in the National Football League related to drug use.

Students and Professionals

Adderall’s ability to increase focus and help people stay awake for longer than normal makes it highly appealing. Students and working professionals often abuse Adderall to surmount ever-increasing demands and deadlines at school and work.

People with Anorexia/Eating Disorders

People suffering from anorexia or other eating disorders may abuse Adderall because it can be a very effective appetite suppressant. If someone struggling with an eating disorder develops an addiction to Adderall, they will often require a medical approach that treats both issues concurrently.

Adderall Overdose
Adderall abuse can result in severe health-related problems for any of these risk groups, including a life-threatening overdose. Signs of an Adderall overdose may include the following:

  • Chest pain
  • Rapid breathing
  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Uncontrollable shaking
  • Fainting
  • Fever

Getting Treatment

The longer a person has been abusing Adderall, the more powerful an addiction can become. Withdrawal symptoms that onset shortly after quitting can make it challenging for users to quit on their own.

Fortunately, an addiction to Adderall is very treatable, and there are many options available for addressing this addiction, such as behavioral therapy and outpatient rehab. If you need help overcoming an addiction to Adderall, please contact Harmony Recovery today!

What is Concerta Addiction?

What is Concerta | Harmony Recovery Center

What is Concerta Addiction? – Concerta (methylphenidate) is a prescription stimulant in the same drug class as Ritalin and Adderall. Concerta is primarily used for the treatment of Attention-Hyperactivity Deficit Disorder (ADHD). The chemical makeup of Concerta is very similar to both cocaine and amphetamine, making it highly addictive.

People who use the drug for non-medical purposes (without a prescription) and those who misuse their prescribed medication are at a heightened risk for developing an addiction to Concerta.

A person with a dependence on Concerta will experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms upon discontinuation of the drug, such as fatigue and depression.

Other signs of Concerta addiction include:

  • Tolerance – needing increasingly higher doses to experience the drug’s desired effects
  • Feeling strong urges/cravings to use Concerta
  • Finding new means to obtain the drug (whether legal or not) in order to misuse it
  • Continuing to abuse Concerta despite its adverse physical, emotional, legal, social, or financial consequences

What is Concerta Addiction? | Harmony Recovery Center

Those grappling with a Concerta addiction are advised not to discontinue using the drug without supervision from a health care provider who can devise a tapering program.

A doctor can also help users manage withdrawal symptoms while he or she continues to administer the drug in increasingly smaller doses.

When abused by older adolescents and adults – especially if it’s crushed/ removed from capsules then snorted or injected – effects of the drug may resemble other more addictive forms of amphetamine, including methamphetamine, and may cause additional damage both physically and emotionally.

What is Concerta?

Concerta pills are cylindrical and are formulated in 18 mg, 27 mg, 36 mg, and 54 mg dosages. They are either red, gray, yellow or white, depending on the strength.

Other brand names of methylphenidate include:

  • Aptensio XR
  • Metadate CD
  • Metadate ER
  • Ritalin
  • Ritalin LA
  • Ritalin SR

Concerta is a Schedule II stimulant that elevates dopamine levels in the brain, increasing focus in those with ADHD, and also produces additional therapeutic effects.

Concerta Effects and Abuse

Obtaining and using Concerta without a prescription is considered drug abuse. For those with a prescription, misuse or abuse consists of increasing the dose and/or frequency without a doctor’s recommendation. Some people misuse Concerta by crushing and snorting large doses of it for a more intense high. Less commonly, the drug is administered by injection.

Concerta is often prescribed to treat ADHD and, on occasion, narcolepsy. These treatments work because of the drug’s impact on chemicals in the central nervous system that contributes to hyperactivity and impulse control. Although many people use Concerta as directed to treat these conditions, others abuse the drug for its recreational effects.

People may abuse Concerta for the following reasons:

To Enhance Academic or Work Performance

Because Concerta increases focus and concentration as well as alertness and energy levels, college students commonly abuse it as a study aid. Others who work very long hours, such as truck drivers or nurses, may also abuse stimulants such as Concerta to help them stay awake and alert.

Weight Loss

Stimulants are also appetite suppressants, so some people abuse Concerta to lose weight or prevent weight gain.

To Get High

Because Concerta affects the brain’s reward system, the drug can produce a high when it’s used by someone who does not have ADHD. The increase in dopamine levels that Concerta produces is also strongly associated with pleasurable feelings.

Taking an excessive amount of Concerta can result in an overdose, which can be life-threatening. A Concerta overdose can impact the individual both physically and psychologically.

Physical Concerta overdose symptoms include:

  • Vomiting
  • Twitching and Convulsions
  • Headache
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Heart arrhythmia
  • Dry mouth

Psychological symptoms of Concerta overdose include:

  • Mania
  • Aggression
  • Compulsive behaviors
  • Hallucinations and Delusions
  • Paranoia
  • Disorientation
  • Psychosis

Drug and Alcohol Combinations

What is Concerta Addiction? | Harmony Recovery Center

Concerta is also sometimes used in conjunction with other drugs or alcohol, which can have dangerous and life-threatening consequences.

Concerta’s stimulant properties can cancel out the depressant effects of alcohol, so the user may not experience the effects of alcohol that he or she usually would. This increases the risk of alcohol poisoning as the user continues to drink more, which can lead to hospitalization, coma, or death.

Combining Concerta with alcohol can also increase the adverse side effects of the medication, such as nausea, headaches, and dizziness. It can also lead to anxiety and impaired concentration.

Treatment for Concerta Addiction

People who are struggling with an addiction to Concerta should seek substance abuse treatment immediately to avoid incurring additional negative consequences. Treatment usually begins with a medical detox and is closely followed by a transition to inpatient addiction treatment in a specialized facility, such as our center.

Our comprehensive, integrated approach includes behavioral therapy, individual and group counseling, and group support. Our services are delivered by caring, addiction-certified professional staff who provide clients with the skills they need to recover from drug addiction and sustain long-lasting wellness and sobriety.

We can help you reclaim your life! Please contact us as soon as possible to begin your journey!

Adderall Abuse and Addiction

Adderall Abuse | Harmony Recovery Center

Adderall Abuse and Addiction – Adderall (amphetamine) is a prescription central nervous system (CNS) stimulant medication indicated for the treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. Regular abuse of Adderall, such as taking higher than prescribed doses, puts you at high risk for developing an addiction. Those who regularly abuse Adderall develop a tolerance and become incapable of normal function when they cease drug use.

Adderall works by enhancing the effect of dopamine, a neurotransmitter, in the brain. Dopamine is responsible for feelings of reward, contentment, and happiness. Despite dopamine being a naturally-occurring chemical necessary for everyday function, at the massive levels delivered by Adderall abuse, it induces an intense, euphoric high, not unlike cocaine.

The brain of an individual addicted to Adderall requires the substance to maintain regular levels of alertness and motivate daily productivity. When Adderall is absent, Adderall addicts generally feel very tired and sluggish, experience mental fogginess, and find it nearly impossible to focus on tasks. Such symptoms are characteristic of an Adderall withdrawal, a reliable indicator of addiction.

Warning signs of Adderall addiction include the following:

  • Requiring progressively higher doses to achieve the drug’s desired effects
  • Persistent use of the drug despite recognizing that it is causing harm
  • Not being able to carry out plans or tasks to completion without being on Adderall
  • Spending too much money to acquire the drug
  • Feeling mentally and physically lazy or apathetic without being high

No one ever intentionally becomes addicted to Adderall. Instead, a dangerous Adderall addiction usually begins as a rather benign social recreation or as a supplement to bolster their productivity under extra work- or school-related stress. Indeed, many people are willing to feign ADHD to get an Adderall prescription for these very reasons.

This ‘addictive’ behavior is the first step toward a full-blown addiction when Adderall becomes prioritized over everything else—including being truthful to doctors, themselves, or anyone else. The worst Adderall withdrawal symptoms can feel nearly unbearable.

When you quit a drug, its absence leaves behind a bitter chemical void until the brain can readjust back to normal. Accordingly, clear and rational decision-making becomes ever more challenging, and tragically, this is when it is most prescient. At this time, it is wise to consider counseling, therapy, or enter a drug rehab program, thereby reinforcing your chances of a successful recovery.

Understanding Adderall

Adderall is a rather potent CNS stimulant of the phenethylamine drug class and is the most frequently prescribed amphetamine. In the United States, it is a schedule II controlled substance due to its significant addictive potential. In patients with narcolepsy, Adderall decreases fatigue and sleepiness, while in ADHD patients, it instead enhances concentration and impulse control.

Adderall typically comes in an oral tablet ranging from 5 to 30 mg. Against prescription, some people abuse Adderall by crushing and snorting the tablets to feel the effects faster. Some street names for Adderall include the following:

  • Speed
  • Addys
  • Uppers
  • Dexies
  • Study Buddies
  • Pep Pills
  • Smart Pills
  • Beans
  • Black Beauties

Adderall Abuse and Effects

Adderall Abuse | Harmony Recovery Center

Some people assume that Adderall is “safe” just because doctors prescribe it so regularly. Nonetheless, abuse of Adderall may result in long-term side effects and a nearly insurmountable addiction. Adderall “abuse” means to take it without a prescription or in a way not prescribed by your physician, including crushing and snorting pills or consuming excessive amounts to get high.

Individuals abuse Adderall because it induces feelings of euphoria, increased confidence, elevated concentration, and focus, as well as promotes wakefulness and suppresses appetite. Thus, Adderall can at first seem like a miracle drug that causes near-superhuman levels of mental and physical performance.

People abuse Adderall for many reasons, including the following:

  • To aid in weight loss
  • To support studying
  • To enhance athletic performance
  • To get high recreationally
  • To stay awake

Who Abuses Adderall?

Students and Working Professionals

Adderall enhances a user’s focus and allows them to stay awake and alert longer than usual. As such, a shocking number of students and working professionals abuse Adderall to face the escalating demands and constant stress of school and work.


Some athletes turn to Adderall as a PED (performance-enhancing drug) that counters physical and mental fatigue both in practice and competition. In 2012, the NFL broke its record for drug-related suspensions, many of which involved Adderall abuse.

People who Suffer From Eating Disorders

Because Adderall suppresses appetite so well, it has proven highly desirable for people living with eating disorders. In the case where someone with an eating disorder becomes addicted to Adderall, they often require a treatment plan that strategically targets both problems simultaneously.

Adderall Overdose

Because it is a potent CNS stimulant, consuming too much Adderall at once may cause severe adverse reactions or a potentially fatal overdose.

Adderall overdose warning signs include the following:

  • Fast breathing
  • Fever
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Uncontrollable shaking
  • Fainting

Treatment for Adderall Abuse

Adderall addiction can be treated using a comprehensive, evidence-based approach that includes psychotherapy, counseling, and group support. Our center offers both residential and intensive outpatient formats to help people recover from addiction and regain their lives.

From detox to aftercare, our professional medical and mental health professionals can provide you with the tools you need to obtain and maintain long-lasting recovery.