Taylor Hooton Foundation > Hoot’s Corner > General > What are stimulants, and why are they a problem?
November 14, 2014
What are stimulants, and why are they a problem?

In general, stimulants are substances that affect the chemicals that convey messages between your brain and the rest of your body in a way that makes you more alert. But they also increase your heart rate and blood pressure and may cause muscles to contract. In some cases, stimulants can also make you feel euphoric. And some stimulants are more powerful than others. Some stimulants can have therapeutic effects and are used for medical conditions, including obesity, asthma, ADHD, maintaining alertness, and many more. Such pharmaceutical stimulants include amphetamines, methamphetamine, and pseudoephedrine, as well as modafinil and others. Illegal drugs that are stimulants include crystal meth, ecstasy, and cocaine. Most of us consume at least one kind of relatively mild stimulant regularly. The most common one is caffeine, which occurs naturally in coffee, tea, and some other plant sources. Numerous other plant-based substances—whether actually extracted from plant materials or replicated in the laboratory—are found in dietary supplements. Only two that once were permitted in dietary supplements are now illegal: ephedrine (and its alkaloids) and dimethylamylamine (DMAA). They became illegal after it was demonstrated they were dangerous when used in dietary supplements. The dangers of stimulants primarily come from their effects of raising heart rate and blood pressure and, in some cases, being addictive. Even legal stimulants can be dangerous when used under certain conditions and in sufficient quantities, as demonstrated by the recent deaths associated with powdered, pure caffeine. One less severe, but still undesirable, effect is that stimulants can lead to insomnia, which adversely impacts performance and sleep rhythms, even in the short term. In addition, many dietary supplements contain multiple stimulants, and the combined effects are unknown and can be very dangerous. http://hprc-online.org/dietary-supplements/opss/operation-supplement-safety-OPSS/opss-frequently-asked-questions-faqs-1/what-are-stimulants-and-why-are-they-a-problem