What Drugs Speed Up The Central Nervous System?

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Drugs that speed up the central nervous system (CNS) are called stimulants. These drugs increase energy and wakefulness, and many are highly addictive. Substances that speed CNS activity include legitimate prescriptions, illicit drugs, and over-the-counter medicines.

What Drugs Speed Up The Central Nervous System?

The central nervous system (CNS) consists of the brain and spinal cord. Drugs that slow the CNS are called depressants, while drugs that speed it up are called stimulants.

Here you’ll find a guide to the most common types of CNS stimulants, including both legitimate medications and illicit drugs.

Types Of CNS Stimulants And How They Work

Stimulants work by increasing the brain’s access to dopamine and norepinephrine, two neurotransmitters.

Some stimulants prompt the brain to produce more of these chemicals.

Others are reuptake inhibitors, much like certain serotonin-based antidepressants. They keep these chemicals available so that the brain’s receptors may use them for longer periods of time.

Illicit Stimulant Drugs

Some stimulants are illegal under most or all circumstances, having few or no FDA-approved medical uses.

These drugs are especially dangerous because of their potency and the fact that they are unregulated.

Street stimulants are often mixed with other drugs, such as the opioid drug fentanyl, which increases the risk of adverse effects, overdose, and death.

The most common illicit stimulant drugs include:

Prescription Stimulant Medication

Some CNS stimulants are legitimate prescription medications meant to increase focus, decrease sleepiness, and provide other medical benefits.

Common examples include:

  • amphetamines and dextroamphetamines (Adderall)
  • methylphenidate (Ritalin and Concerta)
  • lisdexamfetamine dimesylate (Vyvanse)
  • modafinil (Provigil)

These medications are often prescribed for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), narcolepsy, obesity, and obstructive sleep apnea.

When people who have these disorders take prescription stimulants under doctor supervision, these medications are appropriate and provide symptom relief.

However, prescription stimulants are also sometimes used illicitly by people who do not have these disorders. When used inappropriately, prescription stimulants are highly addictive.

Over-The-Counter Stimulants

Some over-the-counter (OTC) medications and substances have stimulant effects.

These effects are milder than the effects of prescription and illicit stimulants, but they can still be abused, and they can still cause unwanted side effects.

Always consult a healthcare provider before taking any new medication, including OTC medications. Your doctor can help you decide if these medications are right for you.

Some examples of OTC stimulants include:

  • caffeine
  • certain nasal decongestants
  • nicotine

What Are The Effects Of Stimulants?

Stimulants produce both desirable effects as well as undesirable and even dangerous side effects. When taken illicitly, stimulants produce a euphoric high.

What Are The Effects Of Stimulants?

  • increased alertness
  • sleeplessness
  • dry mouth
  • increased body temperature
  • high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • blood vessel constriction
  • increased heart rate
  • other cardiovascular concerns
  • loss of appetite
  • weight loss and malnutrition
  • stimulant withdrawal symptoms after long-term use
  • mental health difficulties such as anxiety
  • psychosis

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