Prescription Stimulants | Drug Abuse & Addiction In Ohio
There are several types of prescription stimulants, but they work similarly in the brain. They improve concentration, give you energy, and can produce euphoria. Prescription stimulants are addictive, so they should only be taken with guidance from a medical professional.
Prescription stimulants treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy (difficulty staying awake). Some doctors use it off-label for obesity, as weight loss is a common side effect.
Many people abuse prescription stimulants and become addicted to them. What begins as an occasional energy boost can turn into a debilitating addiction.
Types Of Prescription Stimulants
There are several types of prescription stimulants. Most are made with some form of amphetamine. But methylphenidate is also a popular stimulant that works similarly.
Types of prescription stimulants include:
- dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine)
- dextroamphetamine and amphetamine (Adderall)
- lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse)
- methamphetamine (Desoxyn)
- methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta)
- dexmethylphenidate (Focalin)
The type of stimulant your doctor prescribes depends on your unique situation. Each drug is formulated a little differently and may work better for some people than others. This is one reason that you should always have a prescription if you use stimulant medication.
Effects Of Stimulants
Stimulant drugs increase the activity of the central nervous system (stimulating it). They inhibit receptors in the brain to allow a spike in dopamine and norepinephrine—brain chemicals that make you feel good and give you energy.
Dopamine is a hormone and neurotransmitter (chemical messenger) that rewards behavior. When you get a dopamine rush from prescription stimulant use, it reinforces drug-taking behavior, making it more likely that you’ll continue using the drug.
Norepinephrine is also a hormone and neurotransmitter, but its effect is more physical. It constricts blood vessels and raises blood pressure, heart rate, blood sugar, and breathing rate.
In people with ADHD, stimulants help the brain focus. By stimulating brain activity, the drugs make it harder to be distracted by outside stimulation.
If you don’t have ADHD but take a prescription stimulant, you may feel euphoric and energized. These short-term effects lead some people to substance abuse.
Prescription Stimulant Side Effects
Prescription stimulants can cause side effects, even if you use them as directed. Side effects are more likely to occur at high doses and with prescription drug abuse.
Side effects of prescription stimulants include:
- high blood pressure
- high body temperature that causes sweating
- irregular heartbeat
- rapid speech
- dry mouth
- weight loss
Many people who abuse stimulants start because the drugs make it easier for them to focus. But that can backfire—over time, unneeded substance use involving stimulants can cause difficulty concentrating and restlessness.
Some individuals use stimulants for weight loss, too. While doctors occasionally prescribe stimulants for obesity, they aren’t the first-line treatment because of other risks, such as malnutrition. This practice is illegal in many states, such as Ohio.
Prescription Stimulant Abuse
Adolescents and young adults often misuse prescription stimulants, taking them for purposes other than medical use.
Some high school and college students use drugs like Adderall and Ritalin to concentrate on big projects or cram for tests. Because of this abuse, ADHD medications are often called “study drugs.”
People who abuse stimulants may begin taking on more than it seems they could handle, boosted by the extra energy from use of stimulants. But your body can only take so much. Stimulant abuse can quickly lead to exhaustion and depression.
Long-term stimulant drug use (without the approval of your healthcare provider) can cause physical and mental health problems, such as heart failure, a heart attack, or psychosis.
Can You Overdose On Prescription Stimulants?
You can overdose on prescription stimulants if you take a high dose or too many overlapping doses (preventing your body from processing the drugs).
Overdose symptoms will be an intensified effect of stimulation, as the drugs speed up your central nervous system. You’re likely to experience rapid breathing and heart rate.
Other symptoms of a prescription stimulant overdose may include:
- overactive reflexes
- muscle pain
- high fever
- stomach cramps
- high or low blood pressure
Overdosing on a prescription stimulant can be fatal. Irregular heartbeat and heart attack are not uncommon with a stimulant overdose. Seizure, coma, and death are also possible.
To avoid overdose, follow your doctor’s prescription and don’t combine stimulant drugs. Don’t take illicit drugs or other medications unless advised by your healthcare provider.
Even alcohol can mess with the effects of stimulants. Since it’s a depressant, it can counteract the effects of a stimulant. Someone with a substance use disorder may take more stimulants to feel energy and euphoria, then more alcohol for relaxation—and overdose on one or both.
Prescription Stimulants In Ohio
A 2019 study found that nearly 8.5 percent of Ohio college students used non-prescription Adderall, the most commonly abused prescription stimulant in the country.
Early in 2022, two Ohio State students died after taking Adderall they didn’t know was laced with fentanyl, a potent opioid linked to the majority of drug overdose deaths today.
Young people in Ohio also abuse Ritalin, Vyvanse, and other prescription medications. These drugs are addictive and may also be adulterated. If you don’t get a prescription medication directly from a licensed pharmacist, you don’t know what’s in it.
Street Drugs & Adulterants
Prescription drugs sold on the street in Ohio may contain baby powder, laundry detergent, methamphetamine, or cocaine.
Toxic chemicals and other drugs stretch a dealer’s supply without changing the flavor or effect too much. Home pill presses allow dealers to cut stimulants and make them into pills that look legitimate.
Signs Of Prescription Stimulant Addiction
Knowing the signs of prescription stimulant addiction can help you save a life, whether it’s your own or someone else’s. Addiction is a mental disease that slowly takes over a person’s life, becoming harder and harder to hide.
Someone with a prescription stimulant addiction may:
- have more energy than before
- have difficulty sleeping
- suffer from jitters
- display nervousness
- be restless
- take on excessive obligations
- be exhausted
- have unmarked pill bottles
- have pill bottles with someone else’s name on them
- multiple stimulant prescriptions from different doctors
- lose interest in hobbies
- lose control over drug use
- borrow or steal money for drugs
- spend time with people who do drugs (especially if it’s new)
- have withdrawal symptoms if they stop taking stimulants
Any of these signs can be a red flag on their own, but the more signs you see together, the more sure you can be that something is wrong. Don’t wait to ask for help or to reach out to your loved one who is struggling with addiction.
At Ohio Recovery Center, we offer comprehensive inpatient rehab programs for stimulant addiction. Our personalized care ensures you have the best chance at a full recovery and don’t waste time with treatment methods that don’t fit your needs. Call us today to learn more.
- CBS News — Ohio State University warns of fake Adderall pills after two students died in one week https://www.cbsnews.com/news/ohio-state-university-students-dead-fake-adderall-pills/
- Heads Up: Real News About Drugs and Your Body — Prescription Stimulants https://headsup.scholastic.com/students/prescription-stimulants/
- Heads Up: Real News About Drugs and Your Body — Prescription Stimulants National Institute on Drug Abuse — Prescription Stimulants DrugFacts https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/prescription-stimulants
- National Library of Medicine: DailyMed — Label: Adderall… https://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/drugInfo.cfm?setid=f22635fe-821d-4cde-aa12-419f8b53db81
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration — Tips for Teens: Prescription Stimulants https://store.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/SAMHSA_Digital_Download/TipsforTeens_PrescriptionStimulants_508.pdf