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Stimulants induce alertness, elevated mood, wakefulness, increased speech and motor activity and decrease appetite. Their therapeutic use is limited, but their mood-elevating effects make some of them potent drugs of abuse. The major stimulant drugs are amphetamines and related compoundsmethylxanthines methylated purinescocaine, and nicotine.


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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.


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. Most prescription stimulants come in tablet, capsule, or liquid form, which a person takes by mouth. Misuse of a prescription stimulant means:.

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.

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Some can also snort or smoke the powder. 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.

What are stimulants?

People who use prescription stimulants report feeling a "rush" euphoria along with the following:. At high doses, prescription stimulants can lead to a dangerously high body temperature, an irregular heartbeat, heart failure, and seizures. 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. Some people may be concerned about later substance misuse in children and teens who've been prescribed stimulant drugs to treat ADHD.

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Studies so far have not shown a difference in later substance use in young people with ADHD treated with prescription stimulants compared with those who didn't receive such treatment. This suggests that treatment with ADHD medication does not positively or negatively affect a person's risk of developing problem use.

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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 on our Intentional vs. Unintentional Overdose Deaths web. 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.

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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.

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In addition, an overdose can result in convulsions, coma, and fatal poisoning. Because prescription stimulant overdose often le to a heart attack or seizure, the most important step to take is to call so a person who has overdosed can receive immediate medical attention. First responders and emergency room doctors try to treat the overdose with the intent of restoring blood flow to the heart and stopping the seizure with care or with medications if necessary.

Stimulant drugs

Yes, misuse of prescription stimulants can lead to a substance use disorder SUDwhich takes the form of addiction in severe cases. An SUD develops when continued use of the drug causes issues, such as health problems and failure to meet responsibilities at work, school, or home. Concerns about use should be discussed with a health care provider. If a person develops an SUD and stops use of the prescription stimulant, he or she can experience withdrawal. Withdrawal symptoms can include:. Behavioral therapies, including cognitive-behavioral therapy and contingency management motivational incentivescan be effective in helping to treat people with prescription stimulant Stimulant drug definition.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps modify the patient's drug-use expectations and behaviors, and it can effectively manage triggers and stress. Contingency management provides vouchers or small cash rewards for positive behaviors such as staying drug-free. This publication is available for your use and may be reproduced in its entirety without permission from NIDA. Department of Health and Human Services.

United states drug enforcement administration

National Institutes of Health. Drug Topics.

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More Drug Topics. About NIDA. Prescription Stimulants DrugFacts. What are prescription stimulants?

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Risk of Later Substance Use Some people may be concerned about later substance misuse in children and teens who've been prescribed stimulant drugs to treat ADHD. When misusing a prescription stimulant, a person can swallow, snort, smoke, or inject the drug.

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Prescription stimulants increase alertness, attention, and energy. Their misuse, including overdose, can also lead to psychosis, anger, paranoia, heart, nerve, and stomach problems.

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These issues could lead to a heart attack or seizures. Prescription stimulant misuse can lead to a substance use disorder, which takes the form of addiction in severe cases, even when used as prescribed by a doctor.


Withdrawal symptoms include fatigue, depression, and sleep problems. Behavioral therapies can be effective in helping people stop prescription stimulant misuse, including cognitive-behavioral therapy and contingency management. June

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CNS effects include alertness with increased vigilance, a sense of well-being, and euphoria.


A stimulant is a drug which speeds up the central nervous system to increase neural activity in the brain.


There are several drugs used as stimulants.


Stimulants are a class of drugs that speed up messages travelling between the brain and body.