Guide to Stimulants

Stimulants are medications that are usually prescribed to treat ADHD, or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and are a class of drugs that elevate mood and increase energy and alertness. They give a temporary illusion of enhanced power and well-being, but as the drug’s effects wear off the enhanced mood fades and is replaced by depression-like symptoms.

What do stimulants look like?

Stimulants are a class of drugs that include everything from amphetamines, methamphetamines, cocaine, crack cocaine, methylphenidate (e.g.; Ritalin or Adderall), MDMA (e.g.; Ecstasy), diet pills and nicotine. Stimulants can come in pill form, powder or crystals.

How are stimulants used?

Some stimulants are used by crushing tablets and snorting them, dissolving tablets in water and injecting the mixture, or heating crystals and inhaling the smoke. Stimulants that are injected or smoked are absorbed into the bloodstream more quickly and create an immediate “rush” that intensifies the drug’s effects.

Effects of stimulants

Physical effects include:
* Decreased appetite
* Increased wakefulness
* Increased focus and attention
* Increased blood pressure and heart rate
* Increased body temperature

Psychological effects include:
* Euphoria
* Anxiety
* Feeling more talkative
* Panic attacks
* Irritability

Long-term effects include:
* Erratic feelings of hostility, paranoia and sometimes violent behavior
* Withdrawal symptoms such as fatigue, depression and disturbed sleep patterns
* Psychotic effects, such as paranoid delusions and hallucinations

Consequences of stimulants

High doses of stimulants can lead to cardiovascular complications such as irregular heartbeats, heart attacks, seizures and stroke. All of these consequences can occur in people with healthy hearts.

Stimulant facts and statistics

According to a 2003 study by NSDUH:

* 20.8 million Americans aged 12 or older used prescription-type stimulants non-medically at least once in their life.
* At least 378,000 Americans were dependent on or abused stimulants.
* The top five stimulants most frequently abused, in order, are: methamphetamines, prescription diet pills, Ritalin, Dexedrine, and Dextroamphetamine (commonly found in over-the-counter cough medicines).


This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for medical advice. We understand that everyone’s situation is unique, and this content is to provide an overall understanding of substance use disorders. These disorders are very complex, and this post does not take into account the unique circumstances for every individual. For specific questions about your health needs or that of a loved one, seek the help of a healthcare professional.