Red Ice Membership

2005 04 03

National Drug & Safety League

Stimulants such as nicotine, found in tobacco products, and caffeine are the two most widely used stimulants. Stimulants are often referred to as “uppers.” The category of stimulants also covers several groups of drugs that tend to increase alertness, energy, and physical activity. They produce what is often called a “rush,” by stimulating the central nervous system. Over 80% of stimulants prescribed are for weight loss, such as Preludin.â Stimulants such as Ritalinâ are prescribed for childhood hyper-kinesis, MBD (minimal brain dysfunction), and narcolepsy (a rare sleep attack disorder.) Some people use stimulants to counteract the drowsiness or “crash” feeling caused by sleeping pills or alcohol. This up/down cycle is extremely hard on the body and dangerous. Amphetamines, cocaine, nicotine, and caffeine are all stimulants.

Are coffee, diet pills, and cigarettes really stimulants?
Yes. The active ingredients in them are very addictive. Coffee, tea, bottled beverages, and chocolate all contain caffeine. Cigarettes, along with other tobacco products, also contain nicotine. Like other stimulants, these tend to relieve fatigue and increase alertness. Many users begin to depend on this drug to function and soon are addicted. Some stimulants contain ephedrine and phenylpropanolamine. These, along with caffeine, are available over-the-counter in the form of diet pills and decongestants. The availability of these stimulants should be a concern, especially for young people or those who normally don’t abuse drugs. Once young people begin using one of these, they become potentially susceptible to try or experiment with other drugs. As the addiction builds up a tolerance, users tend to begin increasing the dosage.

How are stimulants abused?
Amphetamines are found in tablet and capsule form. In pure form, amphetamines look like yellowish crystals. Some abusers sniff the crystals or make a solution and inject it. Most Preludinâ and Ritalinâ abuse involves injection of tablets that contain insoluble materials that have been dissolved in water, that may block small blood vessels and can cause serious injury.

Amphetamine users face various physical effects as well as a feeling of restlessness, anxiety, and moodiness. Higher doses intensify the effects, and the user can become excited and talkative and have a false sense of self-confidence and power. People, who use large amounts of amphetamines, over a long period of time, can also develop an amphetamine psychosis.

Amphetamines (pep pills) are the most widely abused stimulants available. They are available in a variety of shapes and sizes and, combined with their ability to increase alertness, they are the most popular and dangerous. The increase in endurance (usage) often covers up the fatigue. One of the more common ways of abusing amphetamines is, using a pep pill to stay alert while studying for an exam, finishing a project or driving.

What about stimulant dependency?
Some people report a psychological dependence, a feeling that the drug is essential to their normal functioning. These users frequently continue to use amphetamines to avoid the “down” or “crash” mood they get when the drug’s effects wear off.

What is the difference between “look-alike” and “act-alike” stimulants?
“Look-alike” stimulants are drugs manufactured to look like real amphetamines and mimic their effects. The drugs usually contain varying amounts of caffeine, ephedrine, and phenylpropanolamine. These three legal substances are weak stimulants often found in over-the-counter preparations. Diet pills and decongestants are considered “look-alike” stimulants. More recently, new drugs called “act-alikes” have been manufactured to avoid new state laws that prohibit “look-alikes.”

“Act-alikes” contain the same ingredients as the “look-alikes”, but don’t chemically match any prescription or over-the-counter drugs. “Look-alikes” and “act-alikes” are sold on the street as “speed” and “uppers.” These drugs are expensive, even though they are not as strong. Young people who buy these drugs are told they are legal, safe, and harmless. This misconception is why “act-alikes” are being increasingly abused.

One of the most dangerous effects of these drugs is that often “look-alike” drug overdose cases are misidentified by physicians and poison control centers, delaying proper treatment. These drugs are also extremely dangerous for people who deliberately or accidentally take the same amount of real amphetamines as they would take of the “look-alikes.” People who have abused amphetamines may underestimate the potency of the “look-alike” drugs and take excessive amounts, resulting in a toxic reaction.

What are some other hazards?
For those who use needles as a means of using stimulants, there are the same dangers as with any intravenous drug use, the fear of AIDS as well as other infectious diseases. Those who smoke crystal or “ice,” add the unknown risks of exposing lung tissue to drug vapors. Crystal erases feelings of fatigue and hunger so well that users are able to continue being “wired” for long periods of time, inducting physical stress, which is immediately followed by exertion. This means that a crystal user, as well as someone who uses almost any other drug, is able to push their body beyond the limits of physical expectation, but fail to allow their body to get the proper rest and recuperation needed to regain strength. Long-time stimulant users develop pattern acne that resembles a rash as well as having trouble with their teeth, gums, and nails and their hair becomes dry and lifeless. Stimulants are designed to stay in the system longer so the chemical breakdown is slow. A stimulant user can go for days or weeks without food or rest and may push themselves past their physical and mental limits of endurance, ultimately destroying the body and brain. It is no wonder you don’t see any long-time crystal users on the streets today. They never live long enough.

What are Anorectic Drugs?
New appetite suppressants are now being developed that are less addictive. These drugs, known as anorectic drugs, work like amphetamines but are less potent and addictive.

How does ‘Crank’ fit into the picture?
‘Crank’ is one of the most common street names for street speed and for pharmaceutical methamphetamine. Usually ‘crank’ is taken orally, although it can be used in any form. The effects of taking stimulants orally isn’t thought to be as dangerous as smoking or injecting stimulants because the user has a smaller risk of lung damage or contaminated equipment, as well as a lower risk of overdose. However, any use of amphetamines is extremely dangerous. In fact, smoking amphetamines like ‘crank’ or ‘ice’ delivers the drug to the brain within seconds for a powerful punch that is too much for the body to handle. Inhaling vapors in this way puts the body in an over-worked state and will eventually destroy it.

What about Cocaine?
Cocaine is ultimately the drug of choice for people from almost any socioeconomic group. Crack has grown greatly in popularity because of its quick, intense effects although many users first turned to crack because they could not afford cocaine. Cocaine and crack cause rapid dependency because of their extraordinary impact on the user. Many users become dependent from their first use and most people addicted to cocaine center their lives on being able to find any pay for their cocaine. They will sell appliances, jewelry, cars, and even homes to cover the cost of their habit. There have even been instances of some cocaine addicts selling their own children or using them as prostitutes to help pay for their addiction. Because of its’ stimulating effects, there is not “safe dose” of cocaine.

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