What are stimulants?
Stimulants are drugs that excite or speed up the central nervous system (CNS). They are generally used for their ability to increase alertness and endurance, to keep people awake for a long period of time, to decrease appetite, and to produce feelings of well-being and euphoria (1). Stimulants can produce physical and psychological dependence. The most commonly used drugs in this class are caffeine, nicotine, cocaine and amphetamines.
Why do people take stimulants?
Stimulants are used for their euphoric effects and/or to counteract the depressant effects of tranquilizers or alcohol. They have only limited medical application. In Canada, for example, they are used in the treatment of narcolepsy, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Parkinson’s Disease, and have had some very limited use in the treatment of obesity (2).
Type of stimulants
- Amphetamines & Related Compounds
- Amphetamine sulfate >> Benzedrine, Biphetamine, Obetrol
- Dextroamphetamine sulfate >> Dexedrine, Eskatrol
- Methamphetamine >> Crystal Meth, Desoxyn, Methedrine, Pervitin, Philopo, Speed, Yaba (methamphetamine and caffeine)
- Dextromethamphetamine >> Ice
- MDMA >> 3,4-methylenedioxy-n-methylamphetamine >> Ecstacy (See also hallucinogens)
- Related compounds
- Fenetylline >> Captagon
- Methylphenidate >> Biphentin, Conceta, Ritalin
- Para-Methoxy-Amphetamine >> 4-MA, PMA (Sometimes sold as Ecstasy - see also hallucinogens)
- Pemoline >> Cylert
- Cocaine *
- Crack Cocaine*
- Methylxanthines (methylated purines)
- Caffeine >> Coffee, Tea, Cola beverages, Maté
- Theobromine >> Cocoa
- Theophylline >> Tea
- Tobacco >> Cigarettes, Cigars, Pipe Tobacco
- Chewing Tobacco
- Other Stimulants
- Betal Nuts >> arecoline
- Cathinone >> Khat plant
- Methcathinone >> Cat
- Ephedra plant, ma huang, marwarth
- Ibogaine (see also hallucinogens) >> Found in the roots of Tabernanthe iboga
- 3-Trifluoromethylphenylpiperazine Monohydrochloride >> TFMPP
- Benzylpiperazine >> BZP
- Antihistamines & Decongestants
- Dextromethorphan >> DXM - often sold as MDMA (see also hallucinogens)
- Appetite Suppressants & Anorexiants
- Benzphetamine >> Didrex
- Diethylpropion >> Tenuate
- Phenmetrazine >> Preludin
- Phentermine >> Ionamil
* Both cocaine and crack share many of the same properties as stimulants and are therefore listed above with other stimulants. Cocaine is however classified under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) (United States) as a narcotic, so you can get more information there too.
Stimulants are also known as
Aimies, Bennies, Black beauties, Diet pills, Meth, Smokes, Speed, more ...
How are stimulants taken?
Stimulants can be taken orally in pill form, inhaled nasally, smoked, or injected.
What are the possible effects of stimulant use?
- Agitation, excessive activity, talkativeness, overconfidence, euphoria
- Irritability, argumentativeness or nervousness
- Enhanced concentration, suppressed tiredness
- A feeling of restlessness, anxiety
- Excessive perspiration
- Increased blood pressure and/or respiratory rates, reduced body temperature
- Heart palpitations, rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Dilated pupils, irritation of eyes and nose, blurred vision, delusions
- Decreased appetite, weight loss, nausea
- Cramps, diarrhea
- Loss of coordination, tremors in the hands, dizziness, collapse
Chronic / long term use may cause
- Increased aggressiveness, panic attacks, seizures
- Bronchitis, nausea, vomiting
- Cancer of the throat and/or lungs
- Long periods without sleeping or eating
- Increased heart rate, chest pain, cardio vascular diseases
- Toxic delirium, tremors, terminal seizures
- Psychotic features, hallucinations
- Hypertension, irregular breathing
- Stroke, death
What are the risks associated with pregnancy and stimulants use?
- Detached placenta
- Fetal death
- Fetal urogenital malformation
- Learning disabilities
- Low birth weight
- Neuro behavioral deficiencies
- Premature birth
- SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)
- Spontaneous abortion
Symptoms of stimulant overdose
- Increase in body temperature
- Possible death
- After a 2-3 day binge
- Dysphoric (feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety, depression)
- Somnolent (sleepy, drowsy) for 24 to 48 hours.
- After chronic, high dose use
- Difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
- Intense dreaming
- Increased appetite/cravings
- Long periods of sleep
- Formication (cocaine bugs), Psychosis
- Heart attack
- Death The symptoms subside over 2 to 4 days of drug abstinence
1. Health Canada “Stimulants” (P.15) from ” Straight Facts About Drugs” (2000) Publication # H39-65/2000e. http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hecs-sesc/cds/pdf/straight_facts.pdf [03 June 2003]
2. Ibid. (p.15).
Fox, Norm., Pharm. D. “ADS 4 Physiology and Pharmacology of Chemical Dependency : CNS Stimulants” (Chapter 7) 13 February 2003. Butte College Alcohol and Drugs Studies Program http://www.butte.cc.ca.us/instruction/socbehsci/ads/cns.htm [03 May 2003]
Hazen, David M. “Stimulants : Abuse and Recovery” Inner comm (Dec 1997) http://www.cyberis.net/~innercom/TxDocs/stimulants.html [03 May 2003]
Scientific Section (Laboratory), Policy Development and Analysis Branch, Division for Operations and Analysis ” Synthetic CNS Stimulants ” Terminology and Information on Drugs (1998) United Nations, Office onDrugs and Crime. http://www.unodc.org/unodc/report_1998-10-01_1_page020.html [ 06 June 2003]
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information (NCADI). “NCADI: Drugs of Abuse”. Inventory # RP0926. NCADI: SAMHSA’s The National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information - PREVLINE http://www.health.org/govpubs/rpo926/ [01 March 2003]
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. “DEA Briefs & Backgrounds : Drugs & Drug Abuse, Drug Descriptions, Stimulants.” http://www.dea.gov/concern/stimulants.html [10 March 2003]
Withdrawal Management Association of Ontario. “What is Withdrawal Management?” http://sano.camh.net/wmao/whatis.htm [01 March 2003]