Analysing factors related to challenging behaviour

Does the client use stimulants?

Stimulants are psychoactive substances used by humans to feel better. The best known are tobacco (nicotine), coffee and tea (caffeine), alcohol, benzodiazepines and cannabis. There is also a large group of illegal drugs, such as opiates (morphine, heroin), cocaine, amphetamines and XTC.

In addition to the desired effect, there are always side-effects. Smoking, for example, results in an increased risk for all kinds of diseases and affects the metabolization of many drugs and therefore blood levels. Stimulants can be used recreationally but may also result in addiction.

An addiction is characterised by strong cravings or a desire for the substance, a reduced ability to manage use, increased tolerance to the substance and withdrawal symptoms upon cessation. An addiction is maintained by the use of the substance itself or because it acts directly on the brain. There can be physical and psychological dependency.

Psychological dependency means that people think they need a substance or think it is pleasant, and that they can no longer manage without it. Physical dependency means that the human body has become used to the substance and has adapted to it. In the absence of the substance, withdrawal symptoms develop such as fever, insomnia, vomiting, headache, or even delirium. Many stimulants result in immediate or long-term physical or mental problems.

A common example is dependency on caffeine. If someone drinks large amounts of coffee regularly, they become physically and psychologically dependent. If they stop drinking coffee, they suffer from unpleasant withdrawal symptoms such as fatigue, headache, irritability, gastrointestinal disorders and feelings of malaise. These complaints may also arise if people drink large amounts of coffee during the week and small amounts at weekends.