Stimulants are a class of drugs that can be both illegal or one of the commonly prescribed substances acting on the central nervous system to increase alertness, attention and energy with positive effects on mood and arousal. Excessive and non-medical use of stimulant drugs can be dangerous, and even deadly. Some of the most well-known stimulants include:
Cocaine – Cocaine is an illegal drug made from the coca plant that’s often snorted or smoked.
Amphetamines – Amphetamines are prescription stimulants such as Adderall, Dexedrine, Ritalin and Concerta, which are used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Methamphetamine (meth) – Meth, which is derived from amphetamines, speeds up the body’s system and appears as a pill or powder.
Khat – Khat is made from the leaves and twigs, evergreen shrub. Active ingredients are cathine and cathinone.
MDMA – MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy or Molly, which has stimulant and hallucinogenic properties.
When used correctly under a health care provider’s direction, prescription pain medicines are helpful. However, misusing prescription opioids can lead to physical dependence, tolerance building, addiction, and potentially fatal overdoses.
Understanding Drug Use and Addiction
The initial decision to take drugs is voluntary for most people but can lead to changes that challenge an addicted person’s self-control and interfere with their ability to resist intense urges to take drugs.
There are a variety of ways to help reduce exposure to stimulants and prevent Stimulant Use Disorder, such as:
Before taking opioid medication for acute or chronic pain:
- Identify educational resources that can enhance your understanding of stimulants.
- Understand the harms associated with the misuse of stimulants.
- Speak to public health educators and public health professionals about the dangers of stimulants.
- Discuss with your doctor treatment options, including ones that do not involve prescribed stimulants.
- Tell your doctor about your medical history and if you or anyone in your family has a history of substance misuse or addiction to drugs or alcohol.
- Discuss all of the risks and benefits of taking prescription stimulants.
As a patient, it’s your right to understand everything about a medication that is prescribed for you. Ask your doctor to explain why a stimulant medication has been selected for you, how it works, what side effects you should expect, and what dangers they present. Set a follow-up appointment with your doctor to reevaluate your medical condition and, if you have been taking stimulants for more than the anticipated time, speak with your physician on the best way to cope with possible withdrawal symptoms when you stop. Also, never take stimulants in higher amounts or more often than prescribed.