Stimulants: treatment approaches and organising services

by Professor Fabrizio Schifano and Dr Antonio Albanese


Last updated: May 2015


Stimulants are the most commonly used substances for recreational purposes worldwide.


Even occasional misuse may result in a number of detrimental effects, by increasing the risks of acute, chronic physical and mental health problems.


This module firstly summarises the biological mechanisms of action of stimulants and how their use can lead to chronic addiction and dependence. We then highlight how treatment approaches should mirror the clinical complexity of stimulant misuse, whilst incorporating psychiatric, medical and social management skills.


In structuring services for substance misuse, organisational strategies should take into account the specific needs of service users. Only a clear appreciation of the epidemiology of stimulant misuse and a better understanding of the new trends in drug scenarios will allow allocation of appropriate resources.


Although unfortunately therapeutic options with robust evidence of effectiveness are generally lacking, we will focus attention on those research findings that have the largest body of agreement between theory and treatment.


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Please note: This module was last updated in 2015. A revision is being worked on, but in the meantime please be aware when completing the module that some of the guidance may have changed.

If you like this module, you may also be interested in:


Stimulants: epidemiology and impact on mental health by Professor Fabrizio Schifano and Dr Antonio Albanese


Alcohol-related brain damage by Prof Kenneth Wilson, Dr Joy Bell and Dr Vanessa Craig


Helping the addicted doctor by Dr Elizabeth Hare and Dr Malcolm Bruce


Book from RCPsych Publications: Drug Misuse: Psychosocial Interventions - The NICE Guideline



BJPsych Advances: related articles for CPD Online



Related Advances articles


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For a closer examination of the epidemiology and impact on mental health of stimulant misuse, we cross-refer readers to a previous related module, Stimulants: epidemiology and impact on mental health.



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