Stimulants affect the central nervous system by increasing the levels of dopamine or reward signals sent to the brain. As a result, people taking stimulants will feel a sense of euphoria, alertness, and energy. Stimulants, such as Adderall and Ritalin, are used medicinally to treat ADHD, narcolepsy, and depression.
Similar to other narcotics, stimulants can become addictive when people become physically dependent on them. Withdrawal occurs when someone who is dependent on the drug suddenly stops using it and begins to feel the symptoms of depression and restlessness.
Stimulant withdrawal is not lethal, but stimulants, such as amphetamines and cocaine, can cause severe depression and suicidal thoughts during detox and treatment. Find more information about prominent stimulant drugs including:
- Adderall: Adderall is a prescription medication used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. A blend of amphetamine compounds, Adderall is a potent stimulant that provides users with increased energy and focus. Many heavy users of the drug experience Adderall withdrawal if they abruptly stop, leading to uncomfortable symptoms, such as insomnia and anxiety. Read more about Adderall withdrawal.
- Ritalin (methylphenidate, Concerta): Ritalin is a prescription medication used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. The drug is a stimulant that affects the central nervous system, providing users with increased focus and energy. Ritalin is widely prescribed and abused. People who have become addicted to Ritalin can experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms if they abruptly stop. Read more about Ritalin withdrawal.
These illegal drugs are also classified as stimulants:
- Cocaine (Coke, Blow): Commonly known as a party drug, cocaine is a stimulant that is often combined with alcohol. Most users snort cocaine, but it can also be injected and smoked as crack. The euphoric effects of cocaine fade quickly, causing many users to binge on the drug. Cocaine can be highly addictive and lead to serious psychological withdrawal symptoms. Read more about cocaine withdrawal.
- Crack (Rocks, Base): Crack is a form of cocaine that is smoked to produce an intense but short high. Users and dealers cook powder cocaine to form a solid “rock”-like form. It is highly addictive, far more so than powder cocaine. Its withdrawal symptoms are similar to cocaine, but often more intense. Use of crack has subsided since peaking in the 1980s, but crack is still one of the leading substances that bring people into drug treatment. Read more about crack withdrawal.
- Meth (Crystal, Ice, Chalk): A potent stimulant, meth gives users increased energy and pleasure, but it is highly addictive, and prolonged use can have devastating effects on the body. Withdrawal from meth is more psychological than physical, causing many users who wish to stop to returning to the drug within days. It can be snorted, smoked, injected, and consumed in a liquid form. After spiking in popularity about a decade ago, meth use is on the decline. However, meth addiction remains a serious issue in certain regions of the US, namely the Southwest. Read more about meth withdrawal.