Neuroscience and Brian Chemistry of Addictions


Stimulants are either natural, refined or synthetic. They can be legal or illegal. Stimulants are drugs which can increase mental alertness, inflate physical energy, influences brain chemicals (cause excitement) and brings about euphoria. They stimulate the central nervous system. Some of the medicinal stimulants include amphetamines and methylphenidate, and they are mostly prescribed to both kids and adults diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Sedative/hypnotic drugs are commonly called depressants. They slow down brain activity. Some of the sedative/hypnotic drugs are barbiturates and benzodiazepines. Alcohol is also a depressant but not used for medicinal purposes. Benzodiazepines are usually used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders while barbiturates treat seizures and also used for anesthesia during surgery.

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Why are these prescription stimulants so commonly abused?

Research by S. National Library of Medicine. (2015) shows that some young adults and teenagers abuse prescription stimulants to improve their performance in studies in an attempt to boost their grades in school and is widely believed these drugs improve one’s ability to learn.

Prescription stimulants also promote wakefulness and increase focus and attention, but research shows it only improves thinking ability when taken just by people with ADHD.

Since they may cause euphoria, prescription stimulants are also mostly abused for recreational purposes (hallucinations). The euphoria from these stimulants is produced when pills are crushed, mixed with water and then injected or snorted.

They are also abused when one wants to lose weight or to enhance performance as they stimulate activities and processes in the body. Increased activity boosts alertness, energy as well as attention.

Research has also shown that prescribed stimulants are used to increase sexual desire, mostly by teenagers and young adults who are energetic and sexually active.

The following are some of the concerns associated with over-the-counter stimulants.

These are drugs which are of light doses than prescribed medicines as they do not require to be approved by a doctor to be purchased. They are much cheaper than prescription medication. They are also stocked and found in large quantities, and the purposes which they are taken are not as severe as those requiring doctors input. Over-the-counter stimulants have been made readily available to the general public with the understanding that people will use them responsibly without any need for supervision by the healthcare professional which has not been the case. Also, there is a concern that over-the-counter stimulant drugs have their industry progressing. A study was done by National Institute on Drug Abuse (2014) also shows that in more than one in five parents feels that over-the-counter drugs are much safer to abuse than street drugs and they do not discuss with their children about the risks of abusing over-the-counter stimulants.


National Institute on Drug Abuse (2014). What are stimulants? Joseph and Sons Print Press.S.

National Library of Medicine. (2015) Methamphetamine overdose, Oxford University Press.

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