What is the Definition of Stimulant?
A stimulant is a drug which increases energy and alertness, blood pressure, breathing, and heart rate. Medicinally, stimulants have been used to treat a variety of ailments, including obesity and asthma. However, stimulants can be very addictive, and have a strong potential for dependence. For this reason, physicians are now more hesitant to prescribe them, and the most common reasons being ADHD and narcolepsy.
Stimulants are associated with the chemical messengers (neurotransmitters) norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain. Norephinephrine is responsible for motivating the body into action. It is lowest during sleep, and highest during moments of stress, while initiating the fight-or-flight response. Dopamine is created during reward response and inhibits norephinephrine. This can create a sense of euphoria.
Other Stimulant Uses
- Reduce lethargy and fatigue
- Reduce sleepiness/increase alertness
- Treatment for resistant depression or bipolar disorder
- To counteract effects of sedatives
Definition of Stimulant – Legal/Prescription
There are a variety of stimulants available for use by prescription. Among the most popular are drugs used to treat ADHD and hyperactivity. While it would seem that stimulants would be the last thing prescribed for this disorder, when administered correctly, they have an opposite effect (inducing calm and focus) than from other people. These drugs include amphetamine and methylphenidate (such as Ritalin and Concerta) and mixed amphetamine salts (Adderall).
Additionally, caffeine is a stimulant, and the most widely used in the world. It can be found in coffee, tea, soda, energy drinks, and dietary supplements.
Coffee is a very popular form of caffeine, and unless otherwise specified, is typical higher in caffeine that most other drinks (although some energy drinks are in the running). The beans that produce coffee are actually berry seeds from the coffea plant.
Definition of Stimulant – Illegal/Illicit
The most common illegal stimulants are methamphetamine, cocaine, and MDMA (Ecstasy).
Methamphetamine is a very powerful stimulant that is now mostly used recreationally. It is synthesized in labs, often derived from cough medicines containing pseudoephedrine.
Cocaine is synthesized from the coca plant, which much like the coffee bean, has been utilized by indigenous populations for thousands of years as a mild stimulant. It is ingested by chewing leaves or brewing them in a tea.
MDMA is a synthesized drug known as as a substituted amphetamine, which is a class of compounds based on the chemical structure of amphetamine. It is commonly used by teens and young people in group environments such as clubs, parties, and concerts.
Definition of Stimulant – Abuse and Withdrawal
Abuse of stimulants can cause unpleasant physical and mental side effects, including those listed above. Mental side effects may also include irritability, anger, paranoia, and even psychosis. Chronic users may experience long-term effects such as damage of major organs (i.e. liver and kidneys), weight loss/malnutrition, and the development of seizure disorders.
Withdrawal symptoms may include depression, anxiety, fatigue, and insomnia.
If you or someone you know is an addict, please seek help immediately.