Stimulants, commonly known as “uppers,” are drugs that lead to an increase in the central nervous system (CNS) activity, energy and alertness level. Creating a sense of well-being and euphoria, stimulants can be found in over-the-counter drugs, prescription medications, illegal substances and herbal extracts. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), in 2015, an estimated 1.7 million people aged 12 or older, or 0.6 percent of this population, were current misusers of stimulants.
Some of the common types of stimulants include:
Stimulants act on the brain by enhancing the effect of neurotransmitters including norepinephrine and dopamine. Because these neurotransmitters are responsible for sensations of euphoria and alertness, stimulants tend to make people feel happy and productive.
Stimulants not only influence the brain – they also alter the functions of other internal organs including the heart and lungs. When individuals use stimulants, they often experience elevated blood pressure, heart rate and respiration. Unfortunately, stimulants can be addictive. Abusing stimulants may result in long-term health issues including cardiovascular problems, seizures and psychosis.
Like most drugs, it is possible to overdose on stimulants. Some of the common signs of an overdose include:
- Heart palpitations
- Cardiac arrest
Since several of these symptoms can be fatal, signs of a stimulant overdose should be taken seriously. If one is afraid that he/she has taken too many stimulants, he/she should contact his/her doctor right away without any delay.