What Are Stimulants?

Drugs that affect a person’s central nervous system, or CNS, are called stimulants or uppers. When taken, stimulants increase mental alertness and general energy, a bit like nootropic supplements. They may even fuel physical activity as well as overall motivation.

While many stimulants are legal, many are not. Illegal stimulants are powerful, incredibly addictive and potentially damaging, which means that you should avoid them.

No Medical Use Stimulants

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, or DEA, classifies drugs based upon their potential for abuse. With stimulants, the DEA classifies them as Schedule I through IV. Those that are illegal are categorized as Schedule I because they have no medical use in the United States. On the street, stimulants are known as:

  • Black Beauties
  • Coke
  • Uppers
  • Ice

Legal Stimulants

Physicians use stimulates to treat medical conditions like narcolepsy and moderate to severe Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD. The most commonly prescribe products are Nuvigil or Provigil. Some people also use these for recreational purposes because it gives them more energy and can make them feel euphoric.

When a physician prescribes stimulants for disorders like ADHD, they often manage short attention spans, hyperactivity, and impulsive behaviors.

Research shows that these drugs are 70 percent effective when adults use them and 80 percent effective for children. While any kind of drug can be abused, when stimulants are used to treat ADHD, they are not considered addictive. Doctors treat those who suffer from ADHD with Adderall, Dexedrine, and Ritalin.

Stimulant Overview

While this isn’t a complete list, common stimulates include:

  • Amphetamines
  • Ecstasy
  • Cocaine or crack
  • Meth
  • Caffeine
  • Ephedrine
  • Nicotine

Keep in mind that illegal stimulates include meth, ecstasy, and cocaine while prescription stimulants consist of caffeine, nicotine, and amphetamines. Ephedrine is an over-the-counter stimulant. You should also refer to our stimulant FAQ to further your understanding of this class of drugs.

  • Amphetamines

    Licensed healthcare providers prescribe amphetamines to treat certain medical conditions. In some cases, patients abuse them or sell them to someone else who abuses them. Doctors may prescribe amphetamines to treat obesity, sleep disorders or behavioral issues.

  • Ecstasy

    Commonly referred to as Molly, ecstasy is an illegal drug and one that’s dangerous. When people take it, they may hallucinate or feel highly stimulated.

  • Cocaine or Crack

    Cocaine is the powder version of this dangerous, illegal stimulant. To feel the full effects of the drug, people snort it or dissolve it in another liquid and inject it. When crack is being abused, it will be heated and smoked.

  • Meth

    Not only is meth dangerous to use, but it is also dangerous to make. This is an illegal drug made from over-the-counter medications. Those who use it dissolve the crystals and inject it.

  • Caffeine

    Yes, caffeine is a stimulant, and many people wouldn’t make it through the day without it. It comes in many forms including coffee, chocolate, and tea. Caffeine is a common soda and energy drink additive. The drug increases the flow of urine, and it relaxes muscles.

  • Ephedrine and Pseudoephedrine

    Ephedrine and pseudoephedrine are drugs used in over-the-counter allergy and cold medications. They relieve the symptoms of asthma along with sinus congestion.

  • Because these drugs are used to make other illegal drugs, the government enacts regulations against them. To obtain ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, you must show the pharmacist your photo identification and sign for it.

  • Nicotine

    Nicotine is highly addictive, and it is the one that causes people to become addicted to smoking. If you take nicotine, you’ll experience an increase in blood pressure and pulse.

How Stimulants Affect Your Body

When you smoke, inject or snort a stimulant, you will likely feel a flash or a rush of energy. This comes from your heart rate rising along with increased blood sugar. Stimulants can also cause you to experience:

  • Sweating
  • Dry mouth
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Hallucinations
  • Euphoria
  • Better concentration

The most dangerous side effect of using stimulants is the risk of becoming psychologically addicted to them. People commonly abuse them, and when an individual overdoses, it can cause life-threatening cardiovascular problems.

How Do You Quit?

When you use a stimulant, your body develops a tolerance, which means that you need more and more of it to experience the same results. This is one of the main reason people prefer, when possible, to use nootropics instead.

Addiction rehabilitation programs can help. The withdrawal symptoms of quitting include depression, fatigue, irritability and overall malaise. While properly used stimulants have health purposes, the illegal use of them usually results in dependence.