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List Of Stimulant Drugs Abused In The United States

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Ted Bender, Ph.D., LCDC

January 24, 2019

Some of the most commonly abused drugs in the United States are stimulants. This list of stimulants contains not only illicit drugs, but over the counter and prescription medications as well.

Stimulants are some of the most commonly abused drugs in the United States. The drug class of stimulants includes illicit drugs (those sold illegally on the streets), as well as prescription and over-the-counter drugs, such as ADHD and cold and allergy medications.

Our brains contain natural chemicals, including “happy” chemicals like dopamine and norepinephrine. The National Institute On Drug Abuse (NIDA) explains, “stimulants enhance the effects of these chemicals in the brain.”

People who abuse stimulants will experience certain immediate side effects: increased heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature, decrease in appetite, nausea, and pupil dilation. With time, and with certain stimulants (such as cocaine or methamphetamine), you may also experience some adverse side effects, like hallucinations, violent or erratic behavior, or even psychosis.

The following is a list of stimulants in the United States.

Cocaine

Cocaine is a commonly abused stimulant derived from the coca plant. Popular street names for the drug include blow, coke, crack, rock, and snow. Methods for abusing the drug include snorting, smoking (by way of a rock crystal, called freebase cocaine), injecting as a solution, or rubbing the powder on the gums.

Cocaine produces an immediate, intense “high,” of stimulating effects. For this reason, many who abuse the drug take several consecutive doses, one after another, to maintain a continuous high. Abusing cocaine in this way increases the risk of both developing addiction and the risk of overdose.

While cocaine produces a rush of pleasurable effects right away, it also comes with a number of adverse side effects following the “high.” These can include paranoia, irritability, hypersensitivity to light, sound, and other stimulation, and a false sense of mental alertness.

Amphetamines

Amphetamines are prescription stimulant medications most commonly prescribed to treat Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Amphetamines help people hone attention and increase focus, increase alertness, and suppress appetite.

Because amphetamines can work well in helping focus attention and increasing alertness, the drugs are commonly abused. Some people may not realize they are abusing the drugs, as they are prescribed by a doctor.

Abuse of prescription stimulant drugs like amphetamines includes increasing dosage without consulting your doctor, changing administration methods (such as crushing and snorting the pill or injecting the liquid for faster effects), or changing the frequency of dosage (taking the medication more often than prescribed).

Much like cocaine, amphetamines may increase heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature, and decrease sleep and appetite. However, abuse of amphetamines may lead to malnutrition and other consequences, including the risk of overdose.

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Ecstasy

Ecstasy (also called MDMA, Molly, X, or other names) is a synthetic drug that alters your mood and perception of surroundings. It’s grouped here with stimulants but is chemically similar to both stimulants and hallucinogens, which produce hallucinations.

Ecstasy is largely sold on the street in tablet form, but may also be crushed and snorted, or taken as a liquid. One large risk of abusing Ecstasy is that it can produce an increased sense of closeness or trust with others, which can lead to risky sexual decisions. This, in turn, increases your risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases.

Ecstasy abuse is dangerous because high doses of the drug can cause your body temperature to increase to dangerous levels. A spike in body temperature without ceasing can cause failure of several different types of organs, including the liver, kidneys, and heart.

Methamphetamine

Methamphetamine, or Meth, is a powerful and highly addictive stimulant drug. As with other stimulants, Meth causes an immediate rush of pleasurable feelings.

However, the U.S. National Library Of Medicine explains that after this rush, people who abuse meth may “feel edgy, overly excited, angry, or afraid.

This can lead to violent or erratic behavior or even risky activity. Like Ecstasy, Meth can cause body temperatures so high you may pass out, and can also lead to severe body itching, or thinking and emotional problems. Prolonged abuse of drugs can also lead to psychosis, memory loss, mood disturbances, changes in behavior, and meth mouth (severe dental problems).

Prescription Stimulants

Prescription stimulants of abuse include medications prescribed to treat ADHD, as well as some cold or allergy medications, or nasal decongestants. Side effects from abusing these drugs range from malnutrition (ADHD medications), to increased cold or allergy symptoms (nasal sprays), and more, depending on the drug of abuse.

Commonly abused ADHD prescription stimulants:

Short-acting:

  • Adderall (amphetamine)
  • Adderall XR (dextroamphetamine)
  • Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine)
  • Focalin (dexmethylphenidate)
  • Methylin (methylphenidate)
  • Procentra (dextroamphetamine)
  • Ritalin (methylphenidate)
  • Zenzedi (dextroamphetamine)

Intermediate-acting:

  • Evekeo (amphetamine sulfate)
  • Metadate CD (methylphenidate)
  • Metadate ER (methylphenidate)
  • Methylin ER (methylphenidate)
  • Ritalin LA (methylphenidate)
  • Ritalin SR (methylphenidate)

Long-acting:

  • Adderall XR (dextroamphetamine)
  • Adzenys XR-ODT (amphetamine)
  • Aptensio XR (methylphenidate)
  • Concerta (methylphenidate)
  • Cotempla XR-ODT (methylphenidate)
  • Daytrana (methylphenidate)
  • Dyanavel XR (amphetamine)
  • Focalin XR (dexmethylphenidate)
  • Mydayis
  • Quillichew ER (methylphenidate)
  • Quillivant XR (methylphenidate)
  • Strattera (atomoxetine)
  • Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine)

Commonly abused cold/allergy and nasal spray prescription stimulants:

  • Afrin (oxymetazoline)
  • Dristan (oxymetazoline)
  • Sudafed (pseudoephedrine)
  • Sudafed PE (phenylephrine)
  • Suphedrin PE (phenylephrine)
  • Suphedrin (pseudoephedrine)
  • Silfedrine (pseudoephedrine)
  • Vicks Sinex (oxymetazoline)

What To Do If Someone You Know Is Abusing Stimulants

Abuse of stimulants can be dangerous for a number of reasons, depending on the drug of abuse. Some stimulants are more potent, especially in high doses, like meth or ecstasy. Others may not be as potent, and, largely, for this reason, are abused in combination with other drugs.

For example, cocaine is commonly abused with heroin, a combination known as a “speedball.” Mixing stimulants with other drugs greatly increase the risk of overdose.

While stimulant prescription abuse may not seem as dangerous, it can be a great concern for your health. Abuse of stimulant medications can increase your tolerance to the drug, meaning you may take more of it to get the same effects. This increases your risk of developing an addiction, but also your risk of overdose. Even if you don’t feel the effects of the drug, your body can only process so much of the substance in a given period of time.

If you or someone you know is abusing stimulant drugs, it’s best to seek help right away. Whether they are in the beginning stages of abuse or have developed an addiction, getting the right treatment can help the person overcome abuse and fight relapse.

The best rehab centers will work with your loved one to conquer addiction and the symptoms and circumstances that lead to it. Addiction recovery for stimulant abuse includes a comprehensive treatment program that integrates a number of healing modalities.

Find Help For Stimulant Abuse And Addiction

If someone you know is struggling with stimulant abuse or addiction, contact us today. We’ll help you find the right addiction recovery program and a rehab center that will treat his or her individual needs.

National Institute On Drug Abuse - How Do Stimulants Affect the Brain and Body?

U.S. National Library Of Medicine - Methamphetamine Abuse

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