Traditionally prescribed to treat respiratory problems, neurological disorders, and a host of other illnesses, stimulants or “uppers,” refer to a group of drugs that speeds up the functioning of the body’s systems, increases alertness, physical activity or energy, elevates blood pressure and increases heart rate and respiration. Stimulants is available in the form of powder, rocks, pills and injectable liquids. They include prescription drugs like methylphenidate, amphetamines, diet aids as well as illicitly produced drugs like methcathinone, methamphetamine and cocaine.
Their mood-elevating effects often make them potent drugs of abuse. Popularly known by street names like “Coke,” “Crank,” “Snow,” “Uppers,” and “Ice,” smoking, snorting, or injecting these drugs can produce a rush or a flash. When not taken under the doctor’s prescription, stimulants are frequently taken to enhance self-esteem, extend wakefulness for extended periods, reduce appetite, and increase activity, among others. Repeated use of stimulants can also lead to paranoia and feelings of hostility. Their abuse is often associated with binge use patterns. An abrupt cessation of stimulants is known to produce drug cravings, depression, anxiety and extreme fatigue.
Stimulants: short-term effects
Stimulants work by increasing the release of chemicals called monoamines in the brain. These include dopamine, which produces euphoria, and norepinephrine, which heightens physiological responses. Stimulants affect the central and peripheral nervous systems, temporarily enhancing and speeding up the processes of the mind and body. Teens often abuse stimulant drugs to boost their performance at school.
Following are some of the short-term effects of stimulant abuse:
- Feelings of increased energy and attention
- Increased respiration
- Fast and/or irregular heart rate
- High blood pressure
- Vasoconstriction (narrowing of blood vessels)
- Panic attacks
- Sleep difficulties (for e.g., insomnia)
- Lack of appetite