Stimulants are among the most addictive of prescription drugs.
Stimulants are any drugs that stimulate the central nervous system in a way that creates a variety of reactions. Many stimulants are known as amphetamines.
Short-term effects of amphetamine use include:
- Increased heart rate
- Increased blood pressure
- Reduced appetite
- Dilation of the pupils
- Feelings of happiness and power
- Reduced fatigue
Long-term use of amphetamines can result in:
- Insomnia, restlessness
- “Paranoid psychosis”
- Violent and aggressive behavior
- Weight loss
Due to their effects of wakefulness and reduced fatigue these drugs are frequently prescribed to students, hospital workers, truckers and shift workers.
These drugs are also prescribed to young children diagnosed with ADHD who fail to fit into the restrictions of a school environment. Stimulants are also used in weight loss treatment programs and to treat sleep problems.
Stimulants work by affecting the central nervous system, increasing brain activity and increasing blood pressure. Health risks include dangerously high body temperature, heart problems, psychosis and seizures.
Stimulants produce euphoric effects similar to those described with cocaine use. The individual experiences a “rush” or “high” for a limited period of time followed by longer periods of anxiety, depression and exhaustion.
Amphetamines can make a person feel energetic, give an individual a sense of well-being, and make the person feel more confident. This feeling can last for up to 12 hours, and some people continue to use to avoid coming down from the drug.
The euphoric effects that have made the drug popular and so frequently prescribed also make the drug highly addictive. It’s the strong need to avoid the lows that accompany stimulant use that lead individuals to addiction.
Some Frequently Prescribed Stimulants
Tolerance and Dependence
Prolonged use of stimulants creates addiction. People who use amphetamines on a regular basis can develop dependence and at the same time a tolerance to them. Tolerance can happen quickly. This means it takes larger and larger amounts of amphetamines to get the same effect.
People who have become dependent on amphetamines find that using the drug becomes far more important than any other activity in their lives. They develop a craving and find it very difficult to stop.
A person addicted to amphetamines can have psychotic episodes while using.
Addiction develops because stimulants excite the central nervous system, which becomes addicted to the excitement.
A person dependent on stimulants may display the following symptoms:
- • decreased appetite and weight loss
- • disregard for consequences of negative behaviors
- • feelings of isolation
- • feelings of well-being
- • hallucinations
- • irritability
- • mood swings
- • trouble with the law
- • paranoia
- • ravenous appetite
- • recurrent failure to complete responsibilities at work, school, or home
- • trouble sleeping
- • use of stimulants which endanger a person, such as while driving
A person who had become dependent on amphetamines will more than likely suffer withdrawal symptoms when they try to quit.
Withdrawal symptoms may last for days with occasional use and weeks or months with chronic use, with severity dependent on the length of time and the amount of amphetamine used.
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Some Withdrawal Symptoms Experienced Include:
Cravings for Amphetamines
Limited Ability to Experience Pleasure
Aches and Pains
Hunger, Increased Appetites
Disturbed and Restless Sleep
(This is just a part of the FDA warning – a full list of side effects, signs of overdose and FDA warnings at
Stimulants such as Ritalin can cause increases and decreases in blood pressure, heart attacks and psychotic episodes.
Stimulants can increase blood pressure, heart rate, body temperature, and decrease sleep and appetite, which can lead to malnutrition and its consequences. Repeated use of stimulants can lead to feelings of hostility and paranoia. At high doses, they can lead to serious cardiovascular complications, including stroke.
Stimulants are powerful and dangerous drugs. Never stop taking a stimulant drug without doing so under supervision of a professional.