Stimulants stimulate the central nervous system. They generally cause an increase in blood pressure. As a result the stimulation will lead to sleeplessness or restlessness, which is a good thing actually if someone has narcolepsy and they fall asleep. Stimulants will decrease appetite but the caution for this is no matter what you hear about the newer products out there: Research says that the full effectiveness is for 6 weeks and then it doesn’t work anymore. A person needs to come off of the stimulant for at least a month for it to work again.
Stimulants counteract depressant agents, such as benzodiazepines, barbiturates, phenothiazines, and alcohol. With that said, it’s very important to understand that stimulants do NOT work for treating clinical depression just because they counteract depressant agents. We already talked about biochemical depression and the antidepressant drugs for therapy.
There’s a psychosocial effect where people feel really good and really happy (euphoria). This is where the potential for abuse comes in because they also have increased self confidence and decreased fatigue. So when an individual initially takes it for weight loss, they may want to keep taking it because they like the increased self confidence even though it’s not doing anything for their weight anymore.
A person can and will become addicted to a stimulant. All stimulants are controlled substances, most being schedule 2 and some being schedule 3.
Withdrawal: When a person becomes addicted, their withdrawal symptoms can have fatigue, depression, suicidal, paranoia.
Toxicities: There can be very serious toxicities since the entire body is being stimulated. If the brain is stimulated too much, seizures can occur. If the heart is stimulated too much, arrhythmias. Combine the two: coma.
Therapeutic uses for stimulants
- Weight loss (only for 6 weeks)
- Treatment of narcolepsy (This works in the long term, not limited for 6 weeks)
- Enuresis (bed-wetting)
Example of an Amphetamine: Dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine) – p.o.