Stimulants

Stimulants (cocaine, amphetamine, methamphetamine, methylphenidate)

What they are:

  • Cocaine - usually inhaled as a white powder, dissolved for injection, or heated and inhaled as crack
  • Amphetamine - appears in several forms, including Adderall
  • Methamphetamine - appears in form of powder, pill, or large smokable chunks
  • Methylphenidate - Ritalin

What they do:

  • Create an energetic, alert feeling
  • Create a feeling of euphoria or good well-being
  • Delay sleep
  • Decrease appetite
  • Increase heart rate and blood pressure
  • Dilate the bronchioles of the lungs

The risks:

  • Highly addictive. The drive to continue use of cocaine or amphetamine is higher than most other addictive drugs because of the low incidence of unpleasant side effects during use.
  • Psychiatric effects such as hostility, paranoia, belligerence, or psychosis with repeated high-dose use
  • "Crashing" after use (experience of exhaustion, depression, and increased appetite), which may lead to emotional instability and strong cravings for continued use
  • High doses can result in seizure, stroke, breathing failure, sudden cardiac death, or overdose. This can happen after any usage, whether it is the first time or the hundredth. Stimulants can kill at doses taken recreationally (not all overdoses result from accidentally or intentionally high doses). 
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Damage to nasal septum from snorting

Effects of combining stimulants with other drugs:

  • Cocaine and opiates (heroin or painkillers): The arousal caused by cocaine is counteracted by the sedation of the opiate. This can mask the cocaine high, leading to a desire for an increased cocaine dose and therefore increased risk of overdose.
  • Cocaine and alcohol:
    • Heart rate is increased 3-5x more than when cocaine is taken alone, which increases risk of cardiac arrest. 
    • The liver combines alcohol and cocaine to form cocaethylene, which intensifies the effect of cocaine and increases chances of sudden death
  • Other stimulants and alcohol: Stimulants can mask the depressive effects of alchol, so the body's natural warnings to stop or slow drinking are inhibited. This can lead to increased drinking and alcohol poisoning. 

Frequently Asked Questions

If I take Adderall or Ritalin without a prescription and it helps me study, what's the problem?There are a few potential problems with this habit. First, relying on a pill rather than developing stronger work habits and stress-management skills can inhibit personal growth. Second, popping a pill to study isn't actually associated with getting higher grades. Third, stimulants are addictive. Fourth, it is illegal for you to take someone else's prescription and for them to give or sell it to you. And finally, these drugs can have serious consequences for people with heart conditions, many of which are undetected. If you are struggling with your work habits and it is causing stress, consider making an appointment at Weingarten Learning Resources Center to learn to learn more effective study habits.