Stimulants | Drug Free Kids Canada
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Stimulants

11/29/2012

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Stimulants are a broad category of substances that act to increase the level of activity of the central nervous system. Stimulants increase alertness, attention, and energy, as well as elevate blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration.

 

The category includes commonly used substances such as caffeine and nicotine, over-the-counter decongestants, (e.g., pseudoephedrines like Sudafed TM), illegal drugs (e.g., cocaine, methamphetamine), and prescription medications.

The most common use of prescription stimulants is to treat individuals diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Prescription stimulants are also prescribed by doctors to treat conditions such as asthma, respiratory problems, obesity, and the treatment of narcolepsy and other sleep disorders.

Examples of Stimulants

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Amphetamines and dextroamphetamine  –  are stimulant drugs whose effects are similar to cocaine.
Methamphetamine is a highly addictive stimulant drug that is part of a larger family of amphetamines.
Methylphenidate is a central nervous system stimulant. It has effects similar to, but stronger than, caffeine and less potent than amphetamines.

Street or Slang Terms for Stimulants
Ritz, rippers, dexies, and bennies are commonly used terms to refer to stimulants.

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Stimulant Abuse by teens

This class of drug is often abused for its ability to produce euphoric effects or to counteract sluggish feelings induced by tranquilizers or alcohol.
In the hands of teens, stimulants are taken to stay awake, increase alertness and concentration, boost energy, and get high. If they are prescribed drugs for ADHD, teens can save up their pills during the week and share them with friends at weekend parties. Teens and university students also report saving and selling their own ADHD drugs around exam time. Sometimes teens go beyond swallowing these pills, they also crush and snort them, or mix pills with alcohol.

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Signs and Symptoms of Stimulant Abuse

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Do you suspect your teen is abusing stimulants? If so, there are a number of symptoms and side effects to look for:

    • Physical side effects – include dilated pupils; decreased appetite; loss of coordination; collapse; increased heart and respiratory rates; elevated blood pressure;dizziness; tremors; headache; flushed skin; chest pain with palpitations; excessive sweating; vomiting; and abdominal cramps.
    • Psychological side effects  – include feelings of restlessness, anxiety, and delusions;hostility and aggression; and panic, suicidal, or homicidal tendencies. Paranoia, often accompanied by auditory and visual hallucinations, may also occur.

If you have observed any of the symptoms or side effects listed above, be mindful of the possibility of withdrawal or overdoses, as well.

Withdrawal from Stimulants
Withdrawal symptoms associated with discontinuing stimulant use may include depression, disturbance of sleep patterns, fatigue, and apathy.
Potentially dangerous Drug and Alcohol Interactions with Stimulants
Stimulant abuse often goes along with the use of other substances like alcohol, other prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs, and the use of illegal substances like marijuana.

Did you know?

Alcohol: Teens who use alcohol and stimulants together are likely to drink more before feeling the effects of alcohol because of the stimulant effects; The result? When the stimulant effects wear off, the alcohol kicks in.

Prescription drugs:  Stimulants should only be used in combination with other medications under a physician’s careful supervision.

Over-the-counter drugs:  There are dangers associated with mixing stimulants and over the counter drugs that contain decongestants. Blood pressure can become dangerously high or lead to irregular heart rhythms.

Signs of Stimulant overdose
The symptoms of a sublethal stimulant overdose may include dizziness, tremor, irritability, confusion, hostility, hallucinations, panic, headache, skin flushing, chest pain, palpitations, cardiac arrhythmias, hypertension, vomiting, cramps, and excessive sweating.
Overdose or death is preceded by high fever, convulsions, and heart failure.
Since death in these cases is partially due to strain on the heart, physical exercise increases the risks of stimulant use.

If you see your teen or anyone else in this state, call 911 immediately.

DFK offers links to resources in your region to help you and your family find the right kind of help for sedative or depressant dependency or addiction.