The Truth About Pharmaceutical Stimulants

Man and woman feel pain and side effects of stimulants drugs.

The list of subjects that have as much false data on them as drugs and alcohol would be a short one indeed. The subject of drugs and alcohol is a subject that few people understand very well. And that is not helped by the fact that there is also a lot of misinformation on the subject.

It is easy enough to see that drug and alcohol addiction is a subject that carries with it a great deal of misinformation. The bottom line is, not a lot of people really know the truth about drugs and alcohol. Not a lot of people know just how dangerous and risky these substances are.

Because there is so much peer pressure to use drugs and alcohol, it’s easy to see how misconceptions and false ideas about prescription stimulants would become such a common thing. When peer pressure occurs, those who deliver such peer pressure to others around them to misuse drugs and alcohol usually tell lies or gross exaggerations about drugs and how “great” they are. But it is common knowledge that drugs and alcohol are not great, not by a long shot. Yet here we have the perfect display of how the strength and suggestive force of peer pressure is powerful, to say the least. Such persons are actually able to convince others that misusing drugs is a good idea, as wild as that might seem.

Prescription Drugs, Peer Pressure, and Misinformation

Peer pressure connected to drug use and the nation’s overall drug problem has been around for decades. However, peer pressure and misinformation now wear different faces than they once did. Because now, the U.S. is immersed in a prescription drug addiction nightmare, a crisis the likes of which this country has never seen before.

Now, Americans are just as likely if not more likely (as in the case of young adults) to experiment with prescription drugs than to do the same with illegal narcotics. And herein we have an entirely new and concerning problem of misinformation. People are very likely to believe that prescription drugs are “okay” or “safe” to misuse because after all, the drugs are legal.

This is a slippery slope, to say the least. When people start getting the idea that prescription drugs are safe, they start justifying their misuse and this sets them on very dangerous path. It’s a dangerous path because prescription drugs are anything but safe.

The Truth About Prescription Stimulant Drugs

Let’s talk about prescription stimulants. First of all, what is a prescription stimulant drug? In a direct quote from the National Institute on Drug Abuse:

“… dependence and addiction are still potential risks when taking prescription stimulants. These risks increase when these drugs are misused. Taking someone else's prescription drugs or taking the drugs to get “high” can have serious health risks.”
“Prescription stimulants increase or “stimulate” activities and processes in the body. This increased activity can boost alertness, attention, and energy. It also can raise your blood pressure and make your heart beat faster. When prescribed by a doctor for a specific health condition, they can be relatively safe and effective. However, dependence and addiction are still potential risks when taking prescription stimulants. These risks increase when these drugs are misused. Taking someone else's prescription drugs or taking the drugs to get “high” can have serious health risks.”
Overdosed person on the floor.

This is a very concise but very spot on explanation of these drugs. The most common prescription stimulants in use today are Adderall and Ritalin. Historically, stimulants by other names were used to help patients with physical health problems like asthma, other respiratory problems, obesity, problems in the nervous system, etc.

Now, however, our medical industry has experienced a change in how we utilize these drugs. Now, stimulants have been altered to create modern Adderall and Ritalin, and they are used to address supposed mental disorders and supposed attention problems. Such a change was likely a mistake.

How Prescription Stimulants can be Addictive

The primary problem with prescription stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin are that these drugs carry with them a mind-altering component, and that component itself makes the drug addictive. When people take prescription stimulants without a prescription for them, they bring on a great degree of risk for a habit, for dependency, and for the other types of problems that come along with taking a drug that one is not prescribed.

But it gets worse than that even. Prescription stimulants can be addictive even for those who are legitimately prescribed them! So in reality, no one is safe from a fair degree of addiction risk with these substances. And there is something very wrong with that picture. Americans should not have to take drugs that have such a risk for addiction, even for the patients who supposedly “need” them.

Your Brain on Prescription Stimulants

Brain burning on stimulants.

The brain is a bustling center of nerve cells, cells that transmit messages to each other at rapid speed. The cells send these messages by releasing chemicals called neurotransmitters. Prescription stimulants are essentially made up of a synthesized hybrid version of the very neurotransmitters that the brain produces. Pharmaceutical stimulants carry synthetic dopamine and norepinephrine, which are similar to the natural dopamine and norepinephrine that the brain makes.

When a person takes stimulant pills, the chemicals in those pills release into the bloodstream and assail the brain. What happens next does not seem entirely pleasant. The synthetic dopamine and norepinephrine attaches to and combines with their natural counterparts in the brain cells. This causes the brain to “overload” so to speak, effectively making the brain work harder and faster than it is accustomed to. When this happens, it can set off a chain reaction of other problems in the person’s body and mind. If a person takes the drugs enough, it is likely that they will become addicted to the stuff.

Prescription Stimulants as “Study Aids”

Woman taking study-aids drugs

As is the wont of the drug scene and the peer pressure abounding it, many young people have gotten the idea that, since prescription stimulants supposedly “stimulate” the brain, these drugs must be helpful and beneficial for increasing brain activity and overall intelligence. That’s a pretty far stretch, and it’s not true either. People also get the idea that taking these substances can make them perform better on tests, learn more in classes, and assimilate information better in general. This is an even farther stretch, and it is also very much so not true.

But what this kind of misinformation has resulted in is a generation of youth that feels strongly that if they take a certain substance enough and “explore their own minds” with prescription drugs, they will become smarter and will perform better in school or college as a result. This couldn’t be further from the truth. If people experiment with prescription drugs, the only result they are going to get is an addiction and possibly even an overdose.

Why Prescription Stimulants Should be Avoided

There is absolutely no value and absolutely nothing to be gained in misusing prescription stimulants. A road through prescription stimulant use is a dangerous one to walk indeed, a course of action that only threatens to create addiction and chemical dependency.

Even for those who are told that they need prescription stimulant drugs for a legitimate mental or spiritual crisis, such individuals should explore holistic and alternative methods of mental relief before touching prescription stimulants. The truth about prescription stimulants is that they carry a fair degree of risk, and anything that is risky should be avoided when there are clear and safe alternatives.




After working in addiction treatment for several years, Ren now travels the country, studying drug trends and writing about addiction in our society. Ren is focused on using his skill as an author and counselor to promote recovery and effective solutions to the drug crisis. Connect with Ren on LinkedIn.