Prescription Stimulants

Stimulants

Stimulants (also often referred to as psychostimulants or colloquially as uppers) is an overarching term that covers many drugs including those that increase activity of the central nervous system and the body,drugs that are pleasurable and invigorating, or drugs that have sympathomimetic effects. Stimulants are widely used throughout the world as prescription medicines as well as without a prescription (either legally or illicitly) as performance-enhancing or recreational drugs. The most frequently prescribed stimulants as of 2013 were lisdexamfetamine, methylphenidate, and amphetamine.It is estimated that the percentage of the population that has abused amphetamine

What are prescription stimulants?

Prescription stimulants are medicines generally used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy uncontrollable episodes of deep sleep. They increase alertness, attention, and energy.

What are common prescription stimulants?
dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine®)
dextroamphetamine/amphetamine combination product (Adderall®)
methylphenidate (Ritalin®, Concerta®).
Popular slang terms for prescription stimulants include Speed, Uppers, and Vitamin R.
How do people use and misuse prescription stimulants?

Most prescription stimulants come in tablet, capsule, or liquid form, which a person takes by mouth. Misuse of a prescription stimulant means:
taking medicine in a way or dose other than prescribed
taking someone else’s medicine
taking medicine only for the effect it causes—to get high

When misusing a prescription stimulant, people can swallow the medicine in its normal form. Alternatively, they can crush tablets or open the capsules, dissolve the powder in water, and inject the liquid into a vein. Some can also snort or smoke the powder.

Do Prescription Stimulants Make You Smarter?

Some people take prescription stimulants to try to improve mental performance. Teens and college students sometimes misuse them to try to get better grades, and older adults misuse them to try to improve their memory. Taking prescription stimulants for reasons other than treating ADHD or narcolepsy could lead to harmful health effects, such as addiction, heart problems, or psychosis.

How do prescription stimulants affect the brain and body?

Prescription stimulants increase the activity of the brain chemicals dopamine and norepinephrine. Dopamine is involved in the reinforcement of rewarding behaviors. Norepinephrine affects blood vessels, blood pressure and heart rate, blood sugar, and breathing.
Short-Term Effects

People who use prescription stimulants report feeling a “rush” (euphoria) along with the following:

increased blood pressure and heart rate
increased breathing
decreased blood flow
increased blood sugar
opened-up breathing passages

At high doses, prescription stimulants can lead to a dangerously high body temperature, an irregular heartbeat, heart failure, and seizures.
What are the other health effects of prescription stimulants?

Repeated misuse of prescription stimulants, even within a short period, can cause psychosis, anger, or paranoia. If the drug is injected, it is important to note that sharing drug injection equipment and having impaired judgment from drug misuse can increase the risk of contracting infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis.

Can a person overdose on prescription stimulants?

Yes, a person can overdose on prescription stimulants. An overdose occurs when the person uses enough of the drug to produce a life-threatening reaction or death (read more on our Intentional vs. Unintentional Overdose Deaths webpage).

When people overdose on a prescription stimulant, they most commonly experience several different symptoms, including restlessness, tremors, overactive reflexes, rapid breathing, confusion, aggression, hallucinations, panic states, abnormally increased fever, muscle pains and weakness.

They also may have heart problems, including an irregular heartbeat leading to a heart attack, nerve problems that can lead to a seizure, abnormally high or low blood pressure, and circulation failure. Stomach issues may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps. In addition, an overdose can result in convulsions, coma, and fatal poisoning.

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