Young People and Life-Threatening Use of Stimulants

party using stimulants

According to national surveys of young people and drug abuse, thousands of young people begin using harshly stimulating drugs every day. What these young people lack is the experience to understand is how these drugs affect the body and how they can threaten one’s very life.

Stimulants include drugs like Ecstasy, cocaine, methamphetamine and amphetamine, the so-called “study drugs” like Ritalin and Adderall, and most of the new synthetics on the market. While there are variations, in general, a stimulant drug increases heart rate and body temperature. At the same time, the arteries constrict severely. The cumulative effect is that there is an enormous strain on the heart and the arteries. The heart is trying very hard to pump blood into arteries that are artificially constricted. The outcome can be a heart attack, cardiac arrest, stroke and a disintegration of the aorta or another major artery.

All this because a young person wants to party.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration reported that in 2012, the following numbers of young American adults start using stimulants every day:

  • 1,200 start using cocaine
  • 174 start using methamphetamine
  • 850 start one of the other stimulants on the illicit market – which could include the abuse of “study drugs”

That’s 2,224 young people who put themselves at risk of death for the first time every day. Or 811,760 every year.

Teenager goes into emergency room.

One of the major stimulants that is attractive to these young people is Ecstasy. This is felt to be a drug that makes a music experience more fun. It makes one feel artificially close to other people. Those using this drug enjoy music and dancing for hours. But this can lead to incredible heat stress. The dancers can easily become dehydrated and overheated. Some people lose their ability to regulate their body temperature. Their bodies can become so overheated that their organs actually begin to break down and death results.

These numbers reveal the importance of explaining to young people just what the dangers of stimulants are. It seems like every major music festival sees one or more drug deaths, usually from one of these stimulants.

In 2010 in Los Angeles, a fifteen-year-old girl died at a music festival, leading to a severe crackdown on drugs at music festivals and a greater restriction on music festivals being held. At least one major festival relocated out of state. Despite this attention on preventing deaths at music festivals, at least four more people died in music festivals in Southern California since 2010.

Having fun at a music festival is a great thing when you are young. These teens and young adults don’t realize that their entire futures are at risk when they seek to increase their fun by using a stimulant drug. The more parents can ensure that their mature children who might run off to a music festival know about the dangers of stimulants, the better.


Sue Birkenshaw

Sue has worked in the addiction field with the Narconon network for three decades. She has developed and administered drug prevention programs worldwide and worked with numerous drug rehabilitation centers over the years. Sue is also a fine artist and painter, who enjoys traveling the world which continues to provide unlimited inspiration for her work. You can follow Sue on Twitter, or connect with her on LinkedIn.