There are a lot of societal conceptions and negative connotations surrounding the subject of stimulants. This is understandable enough. Many items falling under this category are illegal, illicit, and dangerous. If you’re a sports fan, you have probably seen the phrase connected to performance enhancers and banned drugs. In many circles, these “uppers” are the source of problematic habits and irresponsible behavior. To be sure, there are many stimulant side effects that can be concerning and alarming. But there is also a lot of cloudy understanding when it comes to the topic. Though the word may strike a certain feeling, not all stimulants are scary. In fact, you might consume them on a daily basis without even realizing it.
The definition of a stimulant is “a substance that raises levels of physiological or nervous activity in the body.” That’s a broad descriptor that can encompass many different things. You may be familiar with the more prominent drugs of abuse. Cocaine is, of course, among the most common and troubling. Amphetamines are another stimulant regularly connected to abuse, although they also have many helpful functions for certain individuals. When you look at properties like these, the risk and potential for stimulant side effects is very high. Because of this, there is strict control over their production and distribution, in the USA and elsewhere.
Common and Legal Stimulants
OK, so we know that many stimulants are generally bad. But there are plenty that can be relatively harmless, and are in fact prominent in everyday use. Chief among them is caffeine. It ranks as the world’s most widely used psychoactive drug, which also ties to the fact that it’s also the least regulated. You don’t need to go through back-alley channels to get caffeine. All you need to do is stop by your local coffee shop or grab an energy drink at the convenience store. While this substance does provide a stimulating effect on the central nervous system (CNS) it’s quite mild in nature. In fact, it’s a lift that many of rely upon to get going in the morning.
Another stimulant that you might either consume, or see people consume, each day? Nicotine. Consuming this tobacco constituent — usually via inhalation — causes a kick to the adrenal glands and discharge of adrenaline. That feelings is what draws many people to cigarettes, and also contributes to their highly addictive nature. This brings us to the core subject for today: a high-level look at stimulant side effects.
Stimulant Side Effects
This is a bit of a broad issue to tackle. While the label of stimulants covers a wide variety of drugs and substances, the term usually applies to prescription stimulant drugs. These include ADHD and narcolepsy pills, most notably. In such instances, stimulant side effects can include loss of appetite, sleep disruption, nervous tics and more.
However, in more general terms, there are simply the outcomes you might expect from jolting your CNS. Anxiety, headaches and jitters are common, with everything from illegal stimulant drugs to a strong cup of coffee. Taking too much of anything in this category carries the risk of altering heart beat or raising body temperatures to dangerous levels.
And, one to look out for in all cases is addiction. We all probably fully understand this component of nicotine. If you or someone you know has ever tried to drop the cigarette habit, you recognize how powerful this stimulant side effect can be. Even caffeine, for its relatively innocuous status within the category, has addictive qualities. You may know what caffeine withdrawal is like if you take a few days away from it after regular use. For this reason, you might want to try some safer alternatives to caffeine for that necessary energy boost.
The bottom line is this: not all stimulants are bad, but many of them have a lot of risks. And in all cases, it is wise to exercise moderation and responsibility.