top of page



Stimulant drugs are a class of psychoactive drug that speed up messages traveling between the brain and body. They can make a person feel more awake, alert, confident or energetic. Stimulants provides temporary improvements in physical or mental functioning, thus elevating mood and increasing feelings of wellbeing, energy and alertness.

Often called, "uppers." Stimulants include caffeine, nicotine, amphetamines and cocaine. Large doses can cause over-stimulation, resulting in anxiety, panic, seizures, headaches, stomach cramps, aggression and paranoia. Long-term use of strong stimulants can have adverse effects.

Stimulants are widely used as both recreational and prescription drugs. Note that amphetamines, a common stimulant drug, are prescribed and produced, and sold illegally. A healthcare provider may prescribe a stimulant drug to treat narcolepsy, promote weight loss, or treat ADHD and clinical depression. Over time, stimulant drug abuse disrupts the functioning of the brain’s dopamine system and eventually dampens the user's ability to feel any pleasure at all.


Short-term effects

  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature
  • Cardiovascular irregularities that may include heart attack or complete heart failure
  • Hyperactivity
  • Weight loss
  • Cravings
  • Nausea
  • Muscle spasms

Long-term effects

  • Addiction
  • Severe dental problems
  • Delusions
  • Visual and auditory hallucinations
  • Anorexia
  • Problems thinking
  • Aggression
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis

Other effects

Repeated misuse of prescription stimulants, even within a short period, can cause psychosis, anger, or paranoia. If the drug is injected, it is important to note that sharing drug injection equipment and having impaired judgment from drug misuse can increase the risk of contracting infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis.


  • In 2020, 94,000 people aged 18+ received treatment for a stimulant addiction.
  • In 2019, 5.2 million people used cocaine, 2.5 million people used methamphetamine, and 5.1 million people
    misused prescription stimulants.
  • Among people aged 12 or older in 2020, an estimated 0.2% (or about 691,000 people) had a heroin use disorder in the past 12 months. §
  • In 2020, approximately 13,165 people died from an overdose involving heroin. §
  • The greatest increase in heroin use is seen in young adults aged 18-25. §


NIDA. 2018, June 6. Prescription Stimulants DrugFacts. Retrieved from on 2022, December 28

NIDA. 2018, April 16. Five million American adults misusing prescription stimulants. Retrieved from on 2022, December 28,treatment%20for%20a%20stimulant%20addiction.

2020 National Survey of Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) Releases

Monitoring The Future Survey

CDC Wonder Database
bottom of page