There are both short- and long-term dangers associated with cocaine and methamphetamine use, ranging from overdose to organ failure. Knowing the signs and symptoms can help you identify misuse and avoid long-term health problems.
Doctors sometimes prescribe stimulants for medical conditions such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder 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. Scroll down for helpful safety guidelines if you or someone you know is prescribed a stimulant.
Short-term signs & symptoms of stimulant use
Short-term signs & symptoms of cocaineCocaine symptoms last about 30 minutes when taken in smaller doses. Signs of use include:
Greater ability to focus
Long periods of wakefulness
Loss of appetite
More reactive or excitable
Runny nose, sniffling, or white powder on nostrils
Short-term signs & symptoms of methamphetaminesMethamphetamines are a powerful stimulant, even in small doses, which can cause a variety of cardiovascular problems. Effects of the drug can last six to 12 hours. Signs of use include:
More wakefulness and physical activity
Rapid and/or irregular heartbeat
Higher blood pressure and body temperature
Long-term signs & symptoms of stimulant use
Long-term effects of cocaine useLarger amounts of cocaine and long-term use can be quite dangerous. Side effects depend on frequency and amount used over time and may include:
Irritability, mood swings, or depression
High blood pressure
Sweating or chills
Missing or being late to work
Long-term effects of methamphetamine useLong-term methamphetamine use can lead to negative consequences like addiction and significant changes in the brain. Side effects include:
Impaired judgment and riskier behavior
Increased risk of HIV and hepatitis B and C through shared needles or syringes
Cognitive difficulty, confusion, and memory loss
Extreme weight loss
Severe tooth decay or “meth mouth”
Intense itching and skin sores
Anxiety and emotional difficulty
Paranoia and hallucinations
Safety guidelinesSafety guidelines if you are prescribed stimulants
Do not take more medication than prescribed. Anyone who takes more than what was prescribed or more than the body can safely handle risks an overdose—with illegal drugs or a prescribed medication.
Be honest with your doctor. Your doctor should know about any alcohol or medications you are consuming. They should also know when you started to use them, and how much you take.
Learn about other treatment options. Ask your doctor about other potentially less-addictive options.
Don’t share medications with anyone. Sharing drugs can be dangerous. Something in another person’s drug, or their dosage, might cause a reaction in you. And, you don’t know if someone else might have a negative reaction to your medications.
Take your stimulants as prescribed. You don’t need to “finish off” your stimulant prescription the way you do with medications like antibiotics. Talk to your doctor about how long to take prescription medications. Some treatment plans call for daily use, others only on school or employment days. Take as directed.
Turn in your old drugs. Once you’ve stopped taking a prescription stimulant, remove it from your home. But, don’t just throw it away—there is a safer way.