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Most commonly prescribed to treat ADHD and narcolepsy, stimulants encompass several groups of drugs that temporarily increase mental and physical functions, including caffeine and dextroamphetamine. Referred to as “uppers,” these drugs increase alertness, energy and attention, and when taken as prescribed by those with a diagnosed condition, can give users a better quality of life. Both pharmaceuticals such as amphetamines, and street drugs like cocaine fall into the stimulant category.

Even short-term use of stimulants has the potential to lead to addiction and abuse. Once the effects of these drugs start to wear off, users report feelings of exhaustion and depression almost immediately because of the lack of dopamine remaining in their system. It’s these “down” feelings that lead users to crave more of the drug to replace their lost energy and to return to a feeling of normalcy. Today, other treatment methods are frequently used in place of stimulants because of the rise in their abuse.


Because their chemical makeup and resulting outcomes are so similar, the name amphetamines also refers to dextroamphetamines and methamphetamines. Once prescribed by doctors as a “cure all” with benefits ranging from asthma treatment to depression relief, these drugs are now in the midst of a controversy over whether their benefits outweigh the dangerous side effects that go along with extended use. Amphetamines, as with a majority of the drugs classified as stimulants, lead to an increased heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature, as well as decrease appetite and sleep. When taken in high doses, as is often the case with those individuals who take it recreationally, amphetamines can cause rapid muscle breakdown, psychosis and cardiovascular complications.


Cocaine, much like the rest of the drugs classified as stimulants, causes users to experience the same dangerous side effects as those listed for amphetamines. Most commonly sold in the United States in the form of a crystalline powder, cocaine originates from coca leaves native to certain countries in South America. Highly addictive and with the potential to cause life-threatening heart complications, cocaine also causes users to develop a tolerance to its effects. Regular users experience withdrawal symptoms including depression, fatigue, tremors and an inability to feel pleasure when use is suddenly stopped.

Stimulants are increasingly being abused by users who incorrectly believe that they are relatively safe when compared to other substances. Because drugs like amphetamines are prescribed for valid medical conditions, their availability makes them a high risk for addiction. Users are often unaware that even just one use has the potential to lead to major health problems.

If you or someone you know has lost control when it comes to the use of stimulants, call TIME Recovery Center at 561.317.4010 today to schedule a meeting with one of our experienced professionals.