What are stimulants? • Stimulants (also called psychostimulants) are psychoactive drugs which induce temporary improvements in either mental or physical function or both. They basically excite the CNS (central nervous system).
Stimulants (cont.) • Due to their effects typically having an "up" quality to them, stimulants are also occasionally referred to as "uppers". Depressants or "downers", which decrease mental and/or physical function, are in stark contrast to stimulants and are considered to be their functional opposites. Stimulants are widely used throughout the world as prescription medicines and as illicit substances of recreational use or abuse.
Side Effects of Stimulants • Stimulants produce a variety of different kinds of effects by enhancing the activity of the central and peripheral nervous systems. Common effects, which vary depending on the substance in question, may include enhanced alertness, awareness, wakefulness, endurance, productivity, and motivation, increased arousal, locomotion, heart rate, and blood pressure, and the perception of a diminished requirement for food and sleep. • Many stimulants are also capable of improving mood and relieving anxiety, and some can even induce feelings of euphoria. It should be noted, however, that many of these drugs are also capable of causing anxiety and heart failure, even the ones that may paradoxically reduce it to a degree at the same time. Stimulants exert their effects through a number of different pharmacological mechanisms, the most prominent of which include facilitation of norepinephrineand/or dopamine activity , adenosinreceptor antagonism, and nicotinic acetylcholine receptor agonism.
Common uses for Stimulants • Stimulants are used both individually and clinically for therapeutic purposes in the treatment of a number of indications, including the following: • To counteract lethargy and fatigue throughout the day while at work or while doing other activities. • To reduce sleepiness and to keep the person awake when necessary, as well as to treat narcolepsy. • To decrease appetite and promote weight loss, as well as to treat obesity. • To improve concentration and focus while at work or school, especially for those with attention disorders such as ADHD. • Occasionally, they are also used to treat clinical depression.
Caffeine • Caffeine is a mild stimulant compound that is found naturally in coffee, tea, and to a lesser degree, in cocoa or chocolate. It is included in many soft drinks, particularly energy drinks. Caffeine is the world's most widely used psychoactive drug and by far the most common stimulant. The vast majority of people in the United States consume caffeine on a daily basis. Few jurisdictions restrict its sale and use. Caffeine is also included in some medications, usually for the purpose of enhancing the effect of the primary ingredient, or reducing one of its side effects (especially drowsiness). Pure caffeine tablets are also widely available.
Nicotine • Nicotine is the active chemical constituent in tobacco, which is available in many forms, including cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, and smoking cessation aids such as nicotine patchesand nicotine gum. Nicotine is used widely throughout the world for its stimulating effects.
Amphetamines • Amphetamines belong to a group of drugs called "psychostimulants". Amphetamines stimulate the central nervous system and speed up the messages going to and from the brain to the body. • Most amphetamines are produced in backyard laboratories and sold illegally. People who buy amphetamines illegally are often buying these drugs mixed with other substances that can have unpleasant or harmful effects. • People use amphetamines for different reasons. Some use the drugs to get "high" and dance all night. Others use the drugs to help stay awake for long periods of time, to improve performance in sport or at work, or to boost their self-confidence. Amphetamines can reduce tiredness and increase endurance. • For medical purposes, amphetamines are prescribed to treat narcolepsy (where a person has an uncontrollable urge to sleep) and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). • Common amphetamines: crystal meth (ice), ecstasy…….
Short Term Effects of Amphetamines • Soon after taking amphetamines, the following effects may be experienced: • Speeding up of bodily functionsAmphetamines speed up the body’s activity. Heart rate, breathing and blood pressure increase. A dry mouth, increased sweating, enlargement of the eye’s pupils and headaches may occur. • More energy and alertnessUsers may feel energetic and full of confidence, with a heightened sense of well being. Other effects include feeling wide awake and alert, becoming talkative, restless and excited, and having difficulty sleeping. Panic attacks may also be experienced. • Reduced appetite • IrritabilitySome users become anxious, irritable, hostile and aggressive. Sometimes people feel a sense of power and superiority over others.
Long Term effects of Amphetamines • Regular use of amphetamines may result in chronic sleeping problems, anxiety and tension, high blood pressure and a rapid and irregular heartbeat. In order to combat these drug-related effects, people who use amphetamines may also use alcohol, benzodiazepines, other sedatives/hypnotics, cannabis and opiates. • Other possible long-term effects include: • MalnutritionAmphetamines reduce appetite, resulting in people being less likely to eat properly. • PsychosisFrequent heavy use can cause "amphetamine psychosis". Symptoms may include paranoia as well as delusions, hallucinations and bizarre behavior. These symptoms usually disappear a few days after the person stops using amphetamines. • Reduced resistance to infectionsRegular amphetamine users often don’t eat or sleep properly and are generally run down, so their resistance to infections is reduced. • ViolencePeople who use amphetamines regularly or in high quantities may suddenly become violent for no apparent reason. • Brain damageThere is some evidence that amphetamine use may damage brain cells. This damage can result in reduced memory function and possibly other impairments in thinking.
Cocaine • Cocaine is a stimulant but is not normally prescribed therapeutically for its stimulant properties, although it sees clinical use as a local anesthetic, particularly in ophthalmology. Most cocaine use is recreational and its abuse potential is high, and so its sale and possession are strictly controlled in most jurisdictions. Other tropane derivative drugs related to cocaine are also known such as troparil and lometopane but have not been widely sold or used recreationally.