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What Are the Effects of Stimulants?

Illegal drugs, like cocaine, contain stimulants that create a sense of euphoria in users.
The caffeine in soda acts as a stimulant to give the drinker a boost of energy.
Stimulants can increase endurance for intense physical training.
Cigarettes containing nicotine, a commonly used stimulant.
Coffee is a natural source of caffeine, a stimulant.
Ecstasy, a popular club drug, is classified as a stimulant.
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  • Written By: Diane Goettel
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 01 October 2014
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Stimulants, which are also sometimes called psycho-stimulants, are drugs that are meant to create a temporary improvement of a person’s mental or physical abilities. They are sometimes casually referred to as “uppers.” One of the hallmark effects of stimulants is increased alertness. These drugs are often defined in contrast to depressants, which have the opposite effects.

There are numerous types of medical, developmental, and mental conditions that can be treated with stimulants, such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, depression, schizophrenia, and narcolepsy. They can sometimes create a sense of well-being and euphoria, and because of this, they are key ingredients of some illegal drugs. Cocaine and methylenedioxymethamphetamine, which is more commonly referred to as ecstasy, both include stimulants.

One of the most common sources of these drugs are caffeinated beverages such as coffee, tea, and some sodas. Anyone who has ever had a strong cup of coffee in the morning and shortly thereafter had an acutely increased sense of wakefulness has already experienced the effects of stimulants. Another common source is nicotine, which is found in tobacco. Paradoxically, the effects can be both an increase and a decrease in anxiety. Most tobacco users find that the stimulants in nicotine reduce their anxiety levels.

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Stimulants work by increasing the activity in the central and the peripheral nervous system. In addition to alertness, they may also increase the user's physical endurance, sexual arousal, motivation to accomplish tasks, and ability to stay awake. Heart rate and blood pressure also rise.

These drugs can decrease the sense of hunger, so they are sometimes used by dieters to curb their appetites. They can also decrease a person's sense of fatigue, which is why people who are trying to stay awake despite sleepiness sometimes take certain pills or drink caffeinated beverages.

It is important to note that stimulants cannot stave off hunger and fatigue indefinitely, but only temporarily. Also, ingesting too many stimulants can have negative or harmful effects. It is important for people with cardiovascular conditions to be cautious when taking any drugs or consuming drinks that contain them. Individuals with these conditions should consult with a healthcare professional before using stimulants of any kind.

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Discuss this Article

anon268566
Post 12

What are some consequences of using stimulants?

anon252009
Post 9

I think stimulants are bad, but if it's caffeine, then I think it's fine.

anon144159
Post 5

definitely agree with the age-restriction on energy drinks. They're advertised for kids with their visual appeal and intense names like 'rockstar', 'monster' and 'red bull'.

anon142660
Post 4

Those articles were great! Thanks for the advice!

LittleMan
Post 3

My best friend's dad used to take a lot of stimulants when he was in med school so that he could stay awake to do all of the studying (and partying, I'm sure) that he needed to do, and now, forty years down the road, he's still experiencing side effects.

For instance, he can almost never sleep through the night, since he would stay awake for so long when he was younger that his sleep cycles were permanently damaged, and he just can't sleep normally anymore.

He's also prone to be irritable, and really worries about random things, which he wasn't like when he was younger, according to his buddies, who also like to tell us about their crazy stories from college.

That, the long term effects of stimulants, if anything else, just put me off the whole idea of stimulant abuse. Never mind the better clarity and staying awake for days on end -- I want to be able to sleep through the night when I'm older!

closerfan12
Post 2

Great article! I was preparing a lesson on the negative effects of stimulants, and this was such a help.

Do you think that you could tell me a little more about the effects of cocaine and the effects of amphetamines? That would really help me round out my presentation.

It's for fourteen year old kids, by the way, so if you could keep any information on that learning level, that would be great.

Thanks!

rallenwriter
Post 1

I love reading articles about stuff like this, because so many people in the world are addicted to stimulants -- and I'm not even talking about the illegal ones.

I mean, you've got people dosing up on caffeine every day and getting grumpy if they miss their three o'clock Coke break, not to mention having that all important first jolt in the morning.

However, even though I am a huge fan of coffee, and am one of those people who you seriously can't even talk to before I've had my first cup, I think that some drinks are taking it too far.

I mean, look at all the crazy energy drinks with hundreds of milligrams of caffeine in them. What with all the side effects of stimulants, intaking that much at any one time is simply dangerous. And many of the people drinking them are children, which makes it even more of a shock to their system.

If people were as concerned about the effects of caffeine as they are the effects of nicotine, believe me; you'd have age restrictions on those energy drinks in a heartbeat.

What do you all think about it -- are the long term effects of stimulants like caffeine as dangerous as those like nicotine, or not?

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