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Stimulants, sometimes called “uppers,” temporarily increase alertness and energy. The most commonly used street drugs in this category are cocaine and amphetamines. Prescription stimulants come in tablets or capsules. When abused, they are swallowed, injected in liquid form or crushed and snorted.
Cocaine is powerfully addictive stimulant drug made from the leaves of the coca plant. It increases levels of dopamine in brain circuits that control pleasure and movement. This can produce extreme happiness and energy, mental alertness, hypersensitivity to sight, sound and touch, irritability and paranoia. Some find that cocaine helps them perform simple physical and mental tasks more quickly, although others experience the opposite effect. Large amounts of cocaine can lead to bizarre, unpredictable and violent behavior. People who use cocaine often take it in binges to maintain their high. Cocaine use can lead to severe medical consequences related to the heart and the respiratory, nervous, and digestive systems.
Methamphetamine is a stimulant that can produce feelings of euphoria and alertness. The effects are particularly long-lasting and harmful to the brain. It can also cause high body temperature, possibly leading to serious heart problems and seizures. Regular methamphetamine use significantly changes how the brain functions, including reducing motor skills and impairing verbal learning. It can also affect areas of the brain involved with emotion and memory.
MDMA (Ecstasy, Molly)
MDMA is a synthetic drug that alters mood and perception, producing feelings of increased energy, pleasure, emotional warmth and distorted sensory and time perception. High doses of MDMA can affect the body’s ability to regulate temperature. This can lead to a spike in body temperature that can occasionally result in liver, kidney and heart failure or even death. Because MDMA can promote trust and closeness, its use may encourage unsafe sexual behavior, which increases the risk of HIV/AIDS or hepatitis. The drug is often more commonly call it Ecstasy or Molly (Molly—slang for “molecular”—refers to the “pure” crystalline powder form of Ecstasy).