What are Stimulants?

As the name suggests, stimulants increase alertness, attention, and energy, as well as elevate blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration. Stimulants historically were used to treat asthma and other respiratory problems, obesity, neurological disorders, and a variety of other ailments. But as their potential for abuse and addiction became apparent, the medical use of stimulants began to wane. Now, stimulants are prescribed to treat only a few health conditions, including ADHD, narcolepsy, and occasionally depression—in those who have not responded to other treatments.

​Stimulants, such as dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine and Adderall) and methylphenidate (Ritalin and Concerta), act in the brain similarly to a family of key brain neurotransmitters called monoamines, which include norepinephrine and dopamine. Stimulants enhance the effects of these chemicals in the brain. The associated increase in dopamine can induce a feeling of euphoria when stimulants are taken nonmedically. Stimulants also increase blood pressure and heart rate, constrict blood vessels, increase blood glucose, and open up breathing passages.

​​As with other drugs of abuse, it is possible for individuals to become dependent upon or addicted to stimulants. Withdrawal symptoms associated with discontinuing stimulant use include fatigue, depression, and disturbance of sleep patterns. Repeated abuse of some stimulants (sometimes within a short period) can lead to feelings of hostility or paranoia, even psychosis. Further, taking high doses of a stimulant may result in dangerously high body temperature and an irregular heartbeat. There is also the potential for cardiovascular failure or seizures.

Types of Stimulants

Stimulants can be found in forms that are both legal and illegal. Below are a list of commonly abused stimulants:

  • Adderall
  • Ritalin
  • Amphetamine
  • Methamphetamine
  • Vyvance
  • Concerta
  • Metadate
  • Focalin
  • Dexedrine
  • Zenzedi
  • Desoxyn
  • Cocaine
  • Crack
  • Diet Pills
  • Caffeine

Stimulant Signs/Symptoms

Common signs of stimulant abuse include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Restlessness
  • Hyperactivity
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Sweating
  • Irritability
  • Quick onset of anger
  • No sleep
  • Picking at Skin
  • Loss of control of body movement​
  • Twitching

If any of these signs look familiar to you, get in touch with us now for help breaking a stimulant addiction.​