Stimulants (amphetamines, cocaine, crack, methamphetamine, caffeine, MDMA)
Stimulants, sometimes called “uppers,” temporarily increase alertness and energy. There are legal amphetamines such as Adderall, caffeine, nicotine and illegal amphetamines such as cocaine and MDMA. Prescription stimulants come in tablets or capsules. When abused, they are swallowed, injected in liquid form or crushed and snorted.
Amphetamines are a potent central nervous system (CNS) stimulant that is used in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), narcolepsy, and obesity. They include Adderall, Ritalin, Concerta, Vyvanse. At therapeutic doses, amphetamine causes emotional and cognitive effects such as euphoria, change in desire for sex, increased wakefulness, and improved cognitive control. It induces physical effects such as decreased reaction time, fatigue resistance, and increased muscle strength. Larger doses of amphetamine may impair cognitive function and induce rapid muscle breakdown. Drug addiction is a serious risk with large recreational doses.
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Caffeine is the most commonly ingested stimulant. Caffeine is found naturally in coffee, tea, and chocolate. Some soft drinks as well as tablets and capsule form can be bought without a prescription. Over-the counter caffeine brands include No Doz, Overtime, Pep-Back, Quick Pep, Caffedrine, and Vivarin. Some pain relievers, medicines for migraine headaches, and antihistamines also contain caffeine.
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Cocaine is a Schedule II drug, which means that it has high potential for abuse but can be administered by a doctor for legitimate medical uses, such as local anesthesia for some eye, ear, and throat surgeries. As a street drug, cocaine appears as a fine, white, crystalline powder and is also known as Coke, C, Snow, Powder, or Blow.
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Crack is a street term to identify cocaine that is smoked, and the term crack, which is the street name given to freebase cocaine, refers to the crackling sound heard when the mixture is smoked. The Manual of Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment calls it the most “addictive” (effective) form of cocaine.
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Methamphetamine is a powerful, highly addictive stimulant that affects the central nervous system. Also known as meth, chalk, ice, and crystal, among many other terms, it takes the form of a white, odorless, bitter-tasting crystalline powder that easily dissolves in water or alcohol.
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MDMA is a synthetic drug that acts as a stimulant and hallucinogen. It produces an energizing effect, distortions in time and perception, and enhanced enjoyment from sensory experiences. It has also been described as an entactogen—a drug that can increase self-awareness and empathy. Ecstasy is often used to refer to MDMA in the tablet or capsule form, which is the most common way people take the drug. Researchers have determined that many ecstasy tablets contain not only MDMA at different concentrations, but also a number of other drugs or drug combinations that can be harmful. Adulterants found in ecstasy tablets purchased on the street have included methamphetamine, the anesthetic ketamine, caffeine, the diet drug ephedrine, the over-the-counter cough suppressant dextromethorphan, heroin, phencyclidine (PCP), and cocaine.
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