Stimulants are drugs such as Amphetamines, Adderall, Cocaine, and Methamphetamines and they tend to be used because they can cause euphoria, focus, and increased alertness. They also increase anxiety cause irritability, depression, nervousness and can cause psychotic symptoms. Like cocaine use, these are not the primary reasons people come to us for treatment but we do tend to  work with a lot of folks who use these drugs especially in conjunction with other substances and alcohol.

More specifically, stimulants are defined as something that temporarily quickens some vital process or the functional activity of some organ or part (American Heritage Medical Dictionary @2007); stimulants are a class of drugs that enhance brain activity – they cause an increase in alertness, attention, and energy that is accompanied by elevated blood pressure and increased heart rate and respiration ( As stimulants enter the system, they increase the amount of norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain which may cause an increase in blood sugar and could prove to have a potential for heart attack and/or lethal seizures.

The drugs in this class are assigned a Schedule II drug by the Drug Enforcement Administration or (DEA for short) due to its addictive quality; however, when used as prescribed the risks of addiction is minimal.  Physicians are typically prescribing stimulants for the treatment of ADHD, narcolepsy, and obesity and are also referred to as “amphetamines” and “methamphetamine.” Amphetamines, Adderall and Ritalin are the most commonly abused prescription drugs on the market.  Dizoxyn, the only methamphetamine that will be discussed here is reserved as a last result when treating ADHD and morbidly obese individuals and used for a short duration only (

Amphetamines and Methamphetamines act on the body in similar fashion  After first pass metabolism, methamphetamines become amphetamines. The only difference between the two chemically, is the addition of a second “Methyl” group on Methamphetamines. This extra “methyl” group results in a much stronger and quicker effect on the brain (   When amphetamine and methamphetamines enter the body they are released into the brain resulting in an increase in the levels of the neurotransmitters, Dopamine and Norepinephrine (neurotransmitters that make us feel good). Once in the nerve terminal the drugs enter vesicles containing dopamine and norepinephrine which causes the releases of these neurotransmitters, thus increasing the “pleasure circuit” area of the brain. Without amphetamine and methamphetamine present the body’s enzymes would destroy excess dopamine and norepinephrine. Instead, the drugs block the enzymes from breaking down the neurotransmitters. The excess dopamine and norepinephrine are carried by transporter molecules from the neuron and into the synapse where the feelings of pleasure and euphoria are initiated.

Like all amphetamines, Adderall has the effect of increasing blood pressure and blood flow making the user alert and focused. It gives off the sense of well-being which is another part of the high that is attractive to so many drug abusers. (

Side effects of Stimulants will vary slightly depending on the specific drug. In general, short-term use may cause or increase anxiety, insomnia, dry mouth, depersonalization, feeling of euphoria, increased heartbeat, crying, dysphoria, decreased appetite, hyperventilation, irritability, depression, nervousness, paranoia, mood swings, restlessness, and shaking .(


Common Withdrawal Symptoms


Withdrawal symptoms will vary depending on the drug.  The most common are listed.

Mood swings
Intense Hunger
Mental Confusion


Common Abused Stimulants



Generic Name Brand/Trade Name Street Names
Dextroamphetamine Adderall Beans; Black beauties, Dexies, Pep pills; Speed; Uppers
Methylphenidate Ritalin; Concerta Kibbles and bits; kiddy cocaine; Diet Coke; R Pop; Uppers
Methamphetamine Hydrochloride Desoxyn Speed, Meth, Chalk, Ice, Crystal, Crank

The body responds to amphetamines, such as Adderall, Dexedrine, and Concerta also known as Ritalin, as respiratory and cerebral stimulants. Adderall and Ritalin are prescribed by doctors mostly for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). When abused, amphetamines enhance the euphoric effects.

Desozyn is one example of a Methamphetamine approved by the FDA. When other treatments have failed it may be prescribed for the treatment of ADHD and exogenous obesity. (; National Institute on Drug Abuse;