Types of Stimulants

Stimulants are drugs that increase brain activity, leading to an increase in alertness, attention, and energy. They are used for euphoric effects or to counteract the "down" feeling of tranquilizers or alcohol. They may be sniffed, smoked, injected, taken orally, or inhaled, depending on which stimulant is used.

Examples of stimulants are:

  • Amphetamines
  • Cocaine
  • Methamphetamine (also called ice, speed, crystal, or crank)
  • Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (also called MDMA, Ecstasy, or Adam)
  • Phenmetrazine
  • Methylphenidate

Possible Short-term Effects

Stimulants can cause the following:

  • Increased talkativeness
  • Increased aggressiveness
  • Increased breathing rate
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dilated pupils
  • Visual and auditory hallucinations
  • Compulsive, repetitive actions
  • Insomnia
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Heart attack
  • Rapid and/or irregular heartbeat
  • Stroke
  • Death

High doses of stimulants can cause the following:

  • Fever and sweating, due to dangerously high body temperature
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Paleness
  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness
  • Rapid and/or irregular heartbeat
  • Tremors
  • Loss of coordination
  • Collapse
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Death

Possible Long-term Effects

Prolonged use of stimulants may lead to:

  • Physical dependence, which means that the body adapts to the drug, which leads to tolerance and withdrawal (physical symptoms occur when the drug is no longer taken)
  • Tolerance, which means that progressively greater amounts of the drug are necessary to create the desired effects
  • Violence, hostility, paranoia, and aggression
  • Malnutrition due to reduced appetite
  • Breakdown of the mucous membrane of the nose (from snorting cocaine)
  • Delusions of parasites or insects under the skin (with methamphetamine and cocaine)
  • Long-term damage to the brain cells (with methamphetamine and cocaine)

Symptoms of Overdose

An overdose of stimulants can cause the following effects:

  • Panic, agitation, confusion, and aggression
  • Seizures
  • Rapid and irregular heart rate
  • Increase in body temperature
  • Hallucinations
  • Fainting and possibly coma
  • Possible death due to failure of the heart and lungs

Withdrawal Symptoms

Stopping the use of an addictive drug can cause painful physical and psychological symptoms. This is called withdrawal. When stopping use of some stimulants, the following withdrawal symptoms may occur:

  • Apathy
  • Long periods of sleep
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Disorientation

Possible Signs of Misuse

  • Excessive activity, talkativeness, irritability, argumentativeness, or nervousness
  • Increased blood pressure or pulse rate, dilated pupils
  • Long periods without sleeping or eating
  • Euphoria

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