Stimulants

Cocaine:  While 0.9% of teens aged 12-17 have tried cocaine in their lifetime, 11.1% of surveyed adults aged 18-25 have tried cocaine at least once.

Amphetamines:  Adults over 26 are the highest abusers of meth, with 5.7% of Americans admitting to having abused meth, with 3.7% of young adults aged 12-25 having tried it.

Stimulants are used to increase alertness, relieve fatigue, feel stronger and more decisive and are used to experience euphoric effects. They can result in increased heart rates, elevated blood pressure, loss of coordination, dizziness, hallucinations, convulsions and many other side-effects. Includes substances such as cocaine and amphetamines.

Cocaine/Crack

OTHER NAMES

Coke; Snow; Blow; Toot; Nose Candy; Flake; The Lady; Big C; White; Dust

HOW USED

  • Cocaine: white crystalline powder snorted or dissolved in water and injected
  • Crack: off-white chunky material usually smoked

CATEGORY

Stimulant

GENERAL INFORMATION

HClCocaine is extracted from the leaves of the Erythroxylon coca plant found in South America. It is an intensely strong stimulant affecting the brain and nervous system. In the early 1900's it became the main ingredient in "tonics" and "elixirs" that were developed to treat a wide variety of illnesses. The 1920 Dangerous Drugs Act banned its use. Currently, it can be administered by a doctor for legitimate medical uses, such as a local anesthetic for some eye, ear, and throat surgeries.

There are basically two chemical forms of cocaine – hydrochloride salt and "freebase." Hydrochloride salt, or the powdered form of cocaine, dissolves in water and when abused, either injected or snorted. "Freebase" refers to the process and product resulting from "cooking" the hydrochloride salt with a flammable non-acidic substance (such as ether). This is a time consuming and dangerous process and results in a pure freebase form of cocaine that is smokable.

Using baking soda in the process to remove the hydrochloride results in a substance people call crack. Crack is a less pure form of freebase cocaine and gets its name from the crackling sound it makes when smoked.

Depending on the individual, cocaine is used in different ways. Snorting is the process of inhaling cocaine powder through the nostrils where it's absorbed into the bloodstream through nasal tissues. Injecting releases the drug directly into the bloodstream and heightens the intensity of its effect. Smoking the substance results in absorption into the bloodstream as rapidly as injecting it.

Cocaine's effects appear almost immediately after a single dose and disappear within a few minutes or hours. Taken in small amounts (less than 100 mg) cocaine will make the user feel euphoric, energetic, talkative, and mentally alert, especially to the sensations of sight, sound and touch. It temporarily decreases the need for food and sleep. As these feelings wear off, the user quickly becomes depressed and edgy

The duration of the euphoric effects depends on the route of administration. The faster cocaine is absorbed (i.e. injecting or smoking) the more intense the high and the shorter the duration.

Larger doses intensifies the user's high but also lead to bizarre, erratic and violent behavior. Users may experience tremors, vertigo, muscle twitches, paranoia, or with repeated doses a toxic reaction closely resembling amphetamine poisoning. Some users report feeling restlessness, irritability, and anxiety. In some instances sudden death can occur on even the first use as a result of cardiac arrest or seizures followed by respiratory arrest.

Cocaine is the second most commonly used illicit drug in the United States. It is a highly addictive stimulant that directly affects the brain. Dependency on cocaine and crack is so strong that it dominates all aspects of the user's life, destroying physical and mental health, draining financial resources, ruining careers, and jeopardizing relationships with friends and family.

IMMEDIATE SYMPTOMS

  • Dilated pupils Constricted blood vessels
  • Energetic and talkative Restlessness
  • Insomnia Loss of appetite
  • Elevated blood pressure, heart rate, breathing, and body temperature
  • Smoking crack can produce a particularly aggressive paranoid behavior

LONG-TERM RISKS/POSSIBLE DAMAGE

  • Physical tolerance Disturbed heart rhythms
  • Respiratory failure Increased blood pressure
  • Loss of sense of smell Nosebleeds
  • Difficulty swallowing Hoarseness
  • Irritation of nasal septum Stroke or seizures
  • Gastrointestinal complications Auditory hallucinations
  • High risk for HIV, AIDS, and Hepatitis B and/or C

INDICATIONS OF USE

  • Cocaine: White powder, Razor blades, Mirror, Small baggies, Increased spending
  • Crack: Off-white chunky substance, Pipe, Plastic vials, Increased spending

Amphetamines

OTHER NAMES

Speed; Uppers; Ups; Hearts; Whiz; Black beauties; Pep pills; Copilots; Bumble bees; Footballs; Benzies;

HOW USED

Orally; injected, smoked, or snorted

CATEGORY

Stimulant

GENERAL INFORMATION

Amphetamines are synthetic (man-made) drugs that have a bitter taste and are usually distributed as a white, grayish white, pale pink, or yellow powder or sometimes as brightly colored tablets.  This drug can be snorted, swallowed, injected, smoked, or dissolved in a drink.  Substances classified as Amphetamines include Dextroamphetamine, Benzedrine, and Methylphenidate (Ritalin).

Amphetamines are drugs that stimulate the body by speeding up the function of the brain and central nervous system.  They induce exhilarating feelings of power, strength, energy, self-assertion, focus and enhanced motivation. The need to sleep or eat is diminished.   Feelings are intensified. The user may feel he/she can take on the world.   However, this euphoric feeling doesn't last.  There follows an intense mental depression and fatigue. 

To avoid the "crash," it isn't uncommon for amphetamine abusers to continually inject themselves, attempting to hang on to the initial feeling of exhilaration.  This "run" may last for several days.  However, by the second to third day there is no more rush and the high feeling is replaced by agitation.  Once the supply is diminished, the abuser will sleep, sometimes for 48 hours or more.  Upon waking they experience intense feelings of grogginess, depression, dehydration, and hunger.

The most common form of the drug is amphetamine sulphate, widely known as "speed."  The purity is usually about 5% to 10%, as it is mixed with other white powders ranging from talcum powder to baking soda.  The uncertainty of the potency of the drug and what it may be mixed with puts users at risk of unpleasant or harmful effects, including lethal overdose.   More than any other illegal drug, "speed" is associated with violent and anti-social behavior.

IMMEDIATE SYMPTOMS

  • Sweating Tremors
  • Dry mouth High blood pressure
  • Rapid and/or irregular heartbeat Rapid breathing
  • Increased mental alertness Reduced appetite
  • Hallucinations High energy
  • LONG-TERM RISKS/POSSIBLE DAMAGE:
  • Weight loss Loss of coordination
  • Irritability Anxiousness
  • Restlessness Delirium
  • Panic Paranoia
  • Impulsive behavior Aggressiveness
  • Increased tolerance Heart failure

INDICATIONS OF USE

  • Bright colored pills Hypodermic needles
  • White, grayish white, pale pink, or yellow powder

Learn more about how to talk to your kids about drugs and alcohol.