Stimulants are a group of drugs that include both prescription stimulants as well as other drugs that are illicit stimulants. The National Institute on Drug Abuse classifies both types of drugs as a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substances Act because they have a high potential for drug abuse. Despite being addictive, many people take stimulants to treat certain medical conditions such as obesity and ADHD.
Prescription stimulants are a group of psychoactive drugs used to treat obesity, prevent low blood pressure, narcolepsy, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). These prescription stimulant drugs increase energy, increase alertness, improve focus, attention, and concentration by making changes in the brain chemicals of the central nervous system.
Common prescription stimulants include:
- Ritalin (methylphenidate)
- Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine)
- Adderall (dextroamphetamine-amphetamine)
Prescription stimulants can be taken in many different forms that include as a liquid form (orally), snorted, or injected (intravenous use). Prescription stimulant drug use can create feelings of increased respiratory function, blood pressure, and euphoria.
Types of Stimulants
Typically used to treat ADHD, Adderall (amphetamines) helps to improve concentration, cognitive function, and focus. As a central nervous system stimulant, it can also have the very same effects on people without ADHD.
Ritalin (methylphenidate) is like Adderall as they are both medications that are used for treatment of certain conditions like ADHD. Both drugs help control levels of two chemicals in your brain, norepinephrine, and dopamine, and they affect how well you concentrate.
Caffeine is among one of the most used over the counter stimulants used by many adults. The most common ways to find caffeine is in coffee, cocoa, chocolate, soft drinks, tea, and candy.
While caffeine has several positive effects such as mental alertness, increasing energy but heavy caffeine use can cause symptoms such as insomnia or anxiety.
Along with prescription stimulants there are also other stimulants that are a psychoactive drug that include illegal drugs such as meth, crystal meth, cocaine, and crack.
Methamphetamine, also known as meth, is extremely addictive and destroys tissues in the brain, which can lead to brain damage.
Cocaine is an illegal psychoactive drug made from the leaves of the coca tree. The most common form of ingestion for powdered cocaine is snorting the drug.
Crack is like the drug cocaine as the primary ingredient in cocaine is a hydrochloride salt in its powdered form, while crack cocaine is derived from powdered cocaine by combining it with water and another substance, usually baking soda (sodium bicarbonate).
Stimulants to Treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
The prescription stimulant Adderall (amphetamines) can be used to treat ADHD. Because of the effects of this prescription stimulant, Adderall has been known to be used by young adults and college students who are not prescribed the drug and use it to stay focused.
Stimulant ADHD medications have been known to be “study drugs” and help keep young people awake for long periods so that they can study for school exams. The drug is relatively easy for people to get, and it is believed that it allows them to focus for long periods of time without losing interest or falling asleep.
Despite being used for this reason, there can also be some serious side effects for those that use Adderall, specifically when it is used without a prescription from a doctor. Some of the more dangerous side effects can include:
- Mood change like depression
- Increased blood pressure
- Changes in heart rate
- Heart-related problems
Effects of Stimulants
Both prescription stimulants and illicit stimulants will cause symptoms and side effects to occur upon using the drug. The most common stimulant effects include:
- Decreased appetite
- Irregular heartbeat
- Increased concentration
- Affects blood vessels
- Difficulty sleeping
- Increased blood pressure and pulse
Stimulants produce an overabundance of the pleasure-inducing chemical, dopamine. After continued stimulant misuse, the brain will no longer produce the normal amount of dopamine, that it is used to receiving upon using the drug.
When the individual stops taking the medication, they experience withdrawal symptoms. Because of these often-desired effects, taking stimulants can result in addiction and other adverse effects.
How stimulants affect you will depend on a variety of variables. Some people will experience mild symptoms when they take the drug while others feel more intense effects of the drug. Here are some of the factors that play a role in how the drug will affect people:
Stimulants affect everyone differently, based on:
- Weight, size, and overall health of the person taking it
- If this is the first time the person takes the drug, or they are “used to” it
- How much and what dose of the drug was taken
- The strength of the drug (the drug changes based on the batch you get).
- Whether the person takes it in combination with other drugs
Dangers of Stimulants
Like most drugs, there are potential dangers that can arise upon taking it. These dangers are important to remember so that you can avoid any negative repercussions when taking stimulants. At higher doses, prescription stimulants can lead to negative effects such as an irregular heartbeat, dangerously high body temperature, seizures, heart attack, and heart failure.
National Institutes on Health states that prescription stimulant misuse can often lead to a substance use disorder, resulting in continued abuse, which in severe cases takes the form of addiction, despite being used as prescribed by a doctor.
The most dangerous form of prescription stimulants and illegal stimulants is when the drug is taken in combination with alcohol or other drugs, specifically other stimulants including ecstasy or crystal methamphetamine (‘ice’). Taking many stimulants at one time or taking stimulants along with alcohol can increase the chance for overdose due to the overwhelming strain the drugs will have on the body.
Stimulant Drug Abuse
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, long-term use of the drugs, prescription stimulants, even as prescribed by a doctor, can cause a person to develop a tolerance, which means that he or she needs high doses of the drug to get the desired effects.
Stimulant addiction is common when people begin to use the drug or medications for purposes other than what is medically necessary for them. When stimulant drugs are used appropriately, at low doses, and for a short period they are far less likely to result in stimulant addiction or substance abuse.
Signs of Stimulant Abuse
Most prescription stimulants come in the form of a capsule, liquid form by mouth or a tablet. Misuse of a prescription stimulant is usually displayed when someone does the following:
- Taking medicine in a way or dose other than prescribed
- Taking someone else’s medicine
- Taking medicine only for the effect it causes—to get high
If you or someone you love is struggling with abuse to prescription stimulants, please contact the staff at La Hacienda Treatment Center for information on our addiction treatment programs.
Treatment at La Hacienda Treatment Center
La Hacienda Treatment Center is a premier drug and alcohol addiction treatment center that is in the beautiful hills of Hunt, Tx. Our treatment programs are top of the line in the addiction community, and our medical staff are highly trained to treat all types of addiction.
Some of the types of treatment therapy that we provide includes cognitive behavioral therapy, family counseling and human services, and other spiritual practices. Our medical team who consists of four full-time double board-certified MDs, three of which are internal and addiction medicine doctors, and two rotating licensed psychiatrists. All our staff are extremely qualified to provide medical advice to all our clients.
If you would like more information on our addiction treatment programs, please contact our team. Our addiction staff can answer all questions you have regarding our treatment methods and modes of addressing addiction in our clients.
Recovery is Possible