Drug Use and Dysfunctional Sleep

By Rebecca Maltby

Sleep is an important part of daily functioning. The lack of sleep can cause individuals to be irritable, lack concentration, and make it difficult to make decisions. Poor decisions can lead to problems with friends, family or even lead to legal difficulties. Sleep can be impacted not only by stimulant drugs such as methamphetamines and cocaine but can also be impacted by alcohol, a psychostimulant, which can cause an increase in an alert state before bringing about a crashing depression.  Other symptoms of long term stimulant use and lack of sleep over time can be hallucinations, seeing or hearing things which are not there, or having delusional processes such as paranoid thoughts that others are after the individual.

During sleep, an individual’s brain will take items from short term memory, items remembered for more than 30 seconds, and put it into long term memory. Stimulant drugs can stop this process by not allowing the individual to experience a normal sleep cycle.  If this continues an individual may have gaps in memory that can be frustrating to not only the individual but also others in their lives due to missing out on appointments or daily functions.

When an individual sleeps, the immune system is able to take nutrients and oxygen to heal the body. Stimulants do not allow an individual to sleep due to the adrenaline that is produced in the body, which increases the body’s functions such as the increase in heart rate, breathing and brain activity. Individuals who use stimulant drugs may notice injuries heal at a slower rate or they may not heal at all.

Lack of sleep over a long period of time can cause not only exhaustion but also can lead to death. The body has to produce more glucose to continue at the same energy level or functioning. When the body can no longer keep up the production, it can shut down, which over time, can lead to death.  

Individuals who are struggling with sleep issues related to stimulant drug use need to seek out treatment options if they are struggling to function in day to day life. Valeo offers social detox services which can be obtained by calling 785-234-3448 to see if an individual meets the criteria. Social detox can be contacted 24/7 and is an initial step to withdrawing from stimulants. Valeo also offers both inpatient and outpatient drug and alcohol services. Individuals can contact 785-233-1730 extension 6380 to set up services by calling Paula Adame or Janelle Fincham.  Other options which can be accessed in the community to help an individual stop using stimulants include 12 step programs or spirituality based support groups at local churches.


Valeo Behavioral Health Care   



Crisis Services

400 SW Oakley

Topeka, KS  66606

24 Hour Crisis Line           



National Suicide Prevention Life Line



Shawnee County Suicide Prevention Coalition



Family Service and Guidance Center  (18 and under)

325 SW Frazier            

Topeka, KS  66606

24 Hour Crisis Number



Healing after Loss to Suicide Group  (HeALS)

Sandy Reams – Group Facilitator




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