Stimulants are a class of drugs that increase the brain’s production of dopamine, the chemical that creates the experience of pleasure. People who take stimulants often feel more confident, euphoric, and energetic in the short term.
Stimulants are sometimes prescribed for medical conditions such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Narcolepsy. People who have severe depression may be prescribed a stimulant as part of their treatment. Stimulants can be used safely for these conditions when taken as prescribed and working closely with a doctor. See our safety tips.
Stimulant use is illicit when it is not prescribed by a doctor or when not taken as directed by a doctor. Cocaine and methamphetamine are the most commonly used illicit stimulants.
These and other street drugs usually are snorted, swallowed, smoked, or injected. Prescription stimulants come in tablets or capsules that are taken orally. These can be crushed or broken open, then snorted or smoked as well.
With repeated use of stimulants, the brain stops producing its own dopamine. As a result, users can experience lasting exhaustion, apathy, and depression. Often, users will attempt to counteract these withdrawal symptoms by taking more stimulants just to feel normal. This cycle can lead to addiction.
Knowing the facts, signs, and treatment options for stimulant addiction can help protect you and the people you care about.