Stimulants are made to speed up signaling within the brain. Users describe a “rush” when the drugs take hold, and they feel both invincible and powerful.
These drugs don’t stay in the body long, so it’s not unusual for people to take doses one right after the other to keep the high going.
Common stimulant drugs include:
The majority of these drugs help people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). But people abuse them in the mistaken belief that the substances will make them smarter, improve their stamina, or both.
NIDA says more than 4 percent of American adults abuse stimulants. Of those people, about half said they used the drug because they wanted to be smarter. There is no evidence that these medications can make that happen.
Stimulants don’t just speed up the brain. The drugs can also speed up the heart, and that can lead to:
- Tissue damage. Your heart might have several tiny tears from each binge you went on.
- Stroke. Stimulants can lead to an irregular heartbeat, which can allow clots to form. If those clots make it into delicate blood vessels, strokes can begin.
- Heart attack. Stimulant users can develop an irregular, unpredictable heartbeat.
NIDA says heavy stimulant users can develop withdrawal symptoms, such as depression, insomnia, and fatigue. While no medication can wipe all of these problems away, supportive therapy may make them easier to endure.