What are Illegal Stimulants?
Stimulants are a class of drugs that result in increased activity in the body’s central nervous system, including the brain and the spinal cord. They increase the levels of catecholamines—a group of brain chemicals that includes dopamine. These chemicals are used in the brain processes to signal reward and motivation. By increasing catecholamine levels, stimulants can temporarily increase a person’s energy level and alertness.
It is sometimes referred to as “uppers,” these drugs are frequently abused because of their euphoric and performance-enhancing effects. Typically, those who abuse stimulants undergo enhanced focus and heightened energy levels. Stimulants may also cause other changes in the body. The effects vary according to the specific drug, the amount of the drug, and how the drug is taken. For instance, stimulants that are snorted or injected have more immediate effects than drugs that are swallowed.
There are both legal and illegal stimulants, and both categories are commonly abused. Some of the most commonly abused stimulants include cocaine, methamphetamines, and prescription stimulants, like Ritalin, Adderall, and Concerta. Illegal stimulants refer to highly addictive and illegal substances such as cocaine, meth, ecstasy, crack, and amphetamines. Amphetamines and cocaine were originally used medicinally. In fact, cocaine was once called the “wonder drug.” But their addictive properties have made both unsafe for use.
Learn more about illegal stimulants addiction risks
Examples of Illegal Stimulants
The illegal stimulants most commonly used include:
- Cocaine is a powerfully addictive illegal stimulant made from the South American coca plant’s leaves and normally comes in a powder form. Street names for Cocaine include coke, blow, bump, and snow. Cocaine is most commonly injected or snorted, and can also be smoked or administered to the skin. Cocaine addiction treatment may be required for proflone abuse of this illegal stimulat.
- Crack is the more potent and pure form of Cocaine, which typically comes in crystals or solid blocks. These illegal stimulants are typically smoked (also known as freebasing), allowing it to reach the brain more quickly and result in a short-lived – yet intense – high. It is also increasingly commonly injected. Crack addiction treatment may be required for proflone abuse of this illegal stimulat.
- Meth is an intensely dangerous illegal stimulant that can cause users to become instantly addicted. The short-term effects of Meth include euphoria and alertness. However, long-term use of Meth can lead to problems such as violent behavior, severe dental problems (meth mouth), psychosis, and severe paranoia.
- MDMA, or “ecstasy,” comes in the form of a pill. In addition to affecting dopamine levels in the brain, MDMA affects the nerve cells in the brain that use the chemical serotonin to communicate with other nerve cells. Like other illegal stimulants, the effects of MDMA can include increased energy and feelings of well-being.
When commonly used stimulants go bad
It is important to remember that prescription stimulants become illegal when taken in a way or in a dose other than prescribed. In addition, not all legal stimulants are suitable for the body. Cigarettes, alcohol, and energy drinks are just a few examples.
The nicotine in cigarettes immediately stimulates the adrenal glands to release the hormone epinephrine (adrenaline). Nicotine is addictive, and cigarette smoking can lead to lung cancer, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema. In addition, it increases the risk of heart disease, leading to stroke or heart attack . According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) , in 2019, cigarette smoking remains the leading cause of preventable disease, disability, and death in the United States, accounting for more than 480,000 deaths every year, or about 1 in 5 deaths.
Energy drinks and shots are unique. The caffeine concentration is comparatively higher in energy drinks than other caffeinated beverages, such as sodas, which are subject to a limit imposed by the FDA . Caffeine is a core ingredient in energy drinks and is rapidly and completely absorbed by the body.
Energy drinks should not be mixed with alcohol. Binge drinking of energy drinks combined with alcohol (Vodka Red Bull Mixed Drink) is a very common practice, resulting in the “toxic wide-awake drunk” who, despite being impaired by the alcohol, is wired from the energy drink and has a false sense of confidence in their abilities lead to risk-taking and dangerous behavior. Combination of caffeine from energy drinks and alcohol from Vodka increases the risk of stroke and heart attack.
Alcohol is a widely available and highly addictive substance. It is one of the most popular psychoactive substances, with most American adults consuming alcohol regularly. Is alcohol a stimulant? Stimulants excite your nervous system and may boost your energy, while depressants slow down your nervous system and relax you. Some substances like alcohol have both stimulant and depressant effects.
Alcohol can reduce the quality of sleep a person gets, similar to what stimulant does. Alcohol can reduce the quality of sleep a person gets, similar to what stimulant does. Due to the effect, the side effects of both substances can be increased rather than canceling each other out. The use of alcohol can also enhance the concentration of drugs in the system of the person, which makes it more likely they will overdose.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, alcohol-induced health problems, such as liver disease, led to more more than 95,000 deaths annually, making alcohol the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States. The first is tobacco, and the second is poor diet and physical inactivity.
Examples of Legal Prescription Stimulants
The most commonly prescribed Stimulants are Methylphenidates, Amphetamines, and Dextroamphetamines. Prescription Stimulants are used to treat narcolepsy, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and sometimes obesity. These medications increase alertness, attention, energy, and concentration.
Although there is a molecular distinction between Methylphenidates (such as Ritalin) and Amphetamines (such as Adderall), effects of abusing these Stimulants are essentially the same. Patients are prescribed either Methylphenidates or Amphetamines depending on the potency and duration needed. Some of the most well-known prescription Stimulants include:
Adderall is a prescription medication that contains two drugs (amphetamine and dextroamphetamine). It belongs to a class of medications called central nervous system (CNS) stimulants. It is primarily used in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy (sleep disorder). Adderall addiction treamtment may be required due to abuse of this prescribed stimulat.
Dexedrine is a brand name for Dextroamphetamine, a potent Central Nervous System (CNS) Stimulant. Dexedrine is used for the treatment of narcolepsy (sleep disorder) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Dexedrine promotes focus and calm in individuals with ADHD and energy and wakefulness in those with sleep disorders. Dexedrine is a controlled substance and is classified as a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substances Act. This means it has a recognized medical use but also a high chance of abuse and addiction.
Ritalin is the brand name of Methylphenidate. It is used as part of a treatment program to control symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD; more difficulty focusing, controlling actions, and remaining quiet or still than other people who are the same age) in adults and children. It is also used to treat narcolepsy (a sleep disorder that causes excessive daytime sleepiness and sudden attacks of sleep). It acts in a manner similar to Amphetamines; however, it is milder than Amphetamine-based drugs.
Concerta (Methylphenidate) is a prescription Stimulant in the same class as Ritalin. Because of its similarity to Ritalin, there is a comparable potential for Concerta addiction and abuse. The chemical composition of Concerta is similar to other Stimulants like Cocaine and Amphetamine, and the drug is similarly addictive.
As a stimulant medication, Desoxyn increases the activity of a group of neurotransmitters in the brain called monoamines, including dopamine. Generally, the medication is provided at a very low dose and safely adjusted for the individual. However, when too much is taken or the drug is taken without a medical need, increased dopamine activity can lead to a feeling of euphoria, or a “high,” and addiction becomes more likely
Ephedrine is most commonly used as an appetite Suppressant and Bronchodilator for those with asthma, but has effects similar to other Stimulants. Ephedrine is also used for temporary relief of shortness of breath, chest tightness, and wheezing due to bronchial asthma. It is also used to prevent low blood pressure and treat obesity.
Short-Term Health Effects of Stimulants
Even the short-term usage of prescription or illegal stimulants can have harmful effects on your health. Many users undergo a loss of appetite, elevated blood pressure and body temperature, increased heart rate, interrupted sleep patterns, hallucinations, panic, and irritability.
Taking high dosages of prescription or illegal stimulants can result in seizures, convulsions, and possibly even death.
Long-Term Health Effects of Stimulants
With extended prescription or illegal stimulant use, your tolerance to the drug builds up. When this occurs, your body requires higher dosages in order to experience the same “high” it once felt. It’s a dangerous cycle that leads to addiction faster than users realize.
Long-term health effects of using prescription or illegal stimulants can range from irregular heart rate, increased blood pressure,, and nutritional deficiencies to asthma, chronic insomnia, impotence, seizures, heart failure, and more.
Risk factors for stimulant Abuse and Addiction
The most common risk factors for prescription or illegal stimulant abuse and addiction are:
Gender. Men are more likely than women to use almost all illegal drugs. However, women have the same risk as men to develop a substance use disorder.
Mental disorders. Individuals with depression, ADHD, and other mental disorders are more likely to abuse drugs, including illigal stimulants.
Alcohol use. Alcohol shares a common metabolite that extends the “high” of stimulant use.
Illegal Stimulants Abuse and Addiction
Both prescription and illegal stimulants increase the amount of specific neurotransmitters in the brain, including dopamine, which leads to boosted alertness and feelings of euphoria. Simultaneously, it elevates a user’s heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing. Heavy use of illegal stimulants can cause heart failure, irregular heartbeat, and seizures, and, in some cases, death.
A person abusing both prescription and illegal stimulants, coming down from the high, may experience anxiety, restlessness, and insomnia. Methamphetamines and cocaine are highly addictive, and withdrawal symptoms include strong cravings for the drug, insomnia, mood swings, hallucinations, and headaches.
Effects of chronic illegal stimulant use may include anxiety, paranoia, confusion, and decreased sexual function, as well as potential damage to the cardiovascular (heart), respiratory (lungs), and central nervous systems (brain and spinal cord). Chronic methamphetamine use has additional physical and mental side effects such as aggression, hallucinations, tooth decay, sores, weight loss, and aging skin.
As with some other illegal drugs, stimulant use can increase a person’s risk of suicide.
Treatment for Illegal Stimulants Abuse and Addiction
Behavioral therapy is the most effective treatment for illegal stimulants abuse and addiction. One such method is Cognitive behavioral therapy, which helps identify and modify damaging thinking and behavior and can also help people overcome their addiction. Another method, contingency management, gives patients tangible rewards for positive behaviors, aiding their stop using stimulants.
For early or less severe stimulant abuse disorder, motivational interviews can be effective: This helps turn mixed feelings about quitting into motivation to quit and help clients fight the urge to use illegal stimulants.
While illegal stimulants withdrawal is not typically medically dangerous, as with alcohol or heroin withdrawal, the resulting depression may be quite severe, especially in amphetamine withdrawal. Individuals going through treatment should be monitored for suicidal signs. Recovering users with other mental disorders are especially at risk.
There are no approved medications to treat stimulant dependence. Treatment is a process that requires long-term attentiveness. For all substance use disorders, detoxification by itself, without follow-up care, is incomplete.
Find the Right Treatment Plan at We Level NJ
If you or your loved one is looking help due to illegal simulants addiction, a detox program can be highly beneficial. Look for a professional detox facility that provides a medically assisted withdrawal protocol that will help drug abusers to avoid some of the harsher withdrawal symptoms.
Please, do not try to detox on your own at home. The detox process can be painful and difficult without medical assistance. However, getting through the detox process is crucial for continued treatment. We Level Up NJ provide proper care with round-the-clock medical staff to assist your recovery. So, reclaim your life, call us to speak with one of our treatment specialists. Our counselors know what you are going through and will answer any of your questions.
 NIDA – https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/cigarettes-other-tobacco-products
 CDC – https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/adult_data/cig_smoking/index.htm
 NIH – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33211984/#:~:text=Alcohol%20mixed%20with%20energy%20drinks%20significantly%20reduced%20the,CI%2C%201.28-9.67%29%20compared%20with%20the%20control%20group.%20Conclusion%3A
 NIAAA – https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/alcohol-facts-and-statistics