Stimulants to keep you awake, focused, skinny and "happy". Why do people abuse them?

Stimulants are drugs that keep people awake and focused and high.

Doctors frequently prescribe amphetamine or amphetamine-like prescription drugs. They are used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obesity, and sleep disorders. People also abuse stimulants for a variety of reasons, including to get high. Drug abuse involving these psychoactive drugs can lead to addiction and other serious mental health issues.

Stimulant drugs and dopamine.

Dopamine is a chemical in the central nervous system that is a part of the brain’s reward system. When a person takes stimulant medications, there is a release of dopamine. Dopamine release is part of the altered feedback-loop that leads to substance abuse and addiction. If you get addicted to drugs, you feel the need to keep going back for more to experience the short-term effects of euphoria. Your brain will produce thoughts that justify your drug use and plans to get and use more drugs. Stimulants, such as cocaine and amphetamines, act on this part of the brain and are highly addictive. Quitting these drugs can lead to significant withdrawal symptoms.

Doctors prescribe Adderall for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

You may be familiar with Adderall. It is made up of a combination of amphetamines. Adderall is most often used to treat ADHD. Doctors prescribe it to young children diagnosed with attention-deficit. Adderall is also prescribed for adults to treat adult ADHD. There are long-acting and short-acting forms of the drug. Unfortunately, it also has a reputation for being a useful study aid. Students in high school and college take unprescribed Adderall to do all-nighters to study for exams. There are health risks to overusing and misusing stimulants, including increased heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, and other adverse effects.  Many people who abuse stimulants, such as ADHD medications, will become addicted.

Ritalin and Concerta are drugs that are similar to Adderall.

Ritalin and Concerta are brand-name drugs with the ingredient, methylphenidate. Ritalin is the immediate-release form, and Concerta is the extended-release form. Doctors prescribe methylphenidate for ADHD and narcolepsy, just like Adderall. There is even the Daytrana patch which contains methylphenidate. This drug is an amphetamine-like stimulant. Some doctors may feel more comfortable prescribing it because it is not an amphetamine. Methylphenidate is a highly controlled drug with a high potential for abuse. It is abused as a study aid and for weight loss. People who abuse methylphenidate get high from the drug and can quickly become addicted. Methylphenidate use is also associated with dangerous side effects similar to other CNS stimulants.

Vyvanse: another amphetamine “alternative.”

Vyvanse, or lisdexamfetamine, is a long-acting, extended-release stimulant that is prescribed for attention-deficit/hyperactivity and also binge eating disorder. While not precisely an “amphetamine,” lisdexamfetamine is converted by the human body into dextroamphetamine. Hence, Vyvanse has the same risk for drug abuse and side effects as its immediate-release close relative, Dexedrine.

Dexedrine: The go-pill.

Dexedrine, or dextroamphetamine, has been around for a long time. Dextroamphetamine has been used and abused long before amphetamines were controlled and restricted by the government. In addition to medical uses, Dexedrine has been used by the military as a “go-pill”. The drug is given to soldiers to increase their wakefulness and alertness. Unfortunately, the use of dextroamphetamine can lead to substance use disorders, specifically stimulant use disorder. There have been incidents involving the military, resulting in wrongful deaths that were blamed on these go-pills. Dexedrine has also been prescribed to children in the form of a bubblegum-flavored liquid, ProCentra.

Methamphetamine vs. amphetamine.

Methamphetamines are more potent CNS stimulants compared to amphetamines, due to the ability of a methamphetamine drug to cross the blood-brain barrier more easily. There are stimulant medications that use methamphetamine as the primary ingredient. Desoxyn is one such brand. Meth is more often associated with street use and manufacture in clandestine labs. Many common cold medications, such as Sudafed, are now restricted because they can be used to make meth in kitchen labs.

Amphetamine-type stimulant drugs are used for weight loss.

Adipex-P, or phentermine, is a weight loss drug that is related to the amphetamine stimulant drugs. It also has similar side effects, including an increase in heart rate and blood pressure. Phentermine does not have as high of abuse potential as amphetamine or methamphetamine. 

There are other prescription stimulants to be aware of.

Amphetamine is a contraction of the chemical name, alpha-methylphenethylamine. In addition to some of the brand names listed here, there are also drugs such as Dyanavel, Evekeo, QuilliChew, and Quillivant. There are also a variety of street names. Generally, stimulants are known on the streets as “speed.”

The stimulant sex connection. 

Amphetamines and other stimulant drugs have long been used as aphrodisiacs to enhance sexual experiences. Unfortunately, this can lead to an addiction experience where the drug user associates stimulant drugs with sex. Stimulant and sex issues can complicate long-term recovery and may require extensive therapy

Healthy living and long-term treatment are essential components of addiction recovery.

Recovering drug users need to learn to have healthy eating habits and healthy relationships. They must overcome the belief that they need to take prescription stimulants or street drugs to manage their lives. Improving methal health with effective therapy can make a big difference in preventing a stimulant relapse in the future. Additionally, patients with a history of stimulant abuse should request that doctors only prescribe non-stimulants.

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