In the medical and psychological area, the treatments for certain pathologies involve a complex stimulus in the Central Nervous System ( CNS ), which produce the necessary effects for our body.

Part of these mentioned treatments are psychostimulants, which are widely useful for reducing unwanted behaviors or reactions such as fatigue, depression, lack of appetite, etc.

In the following article we will talk about psychostimulants, their characteristics, classification and adverse effects due to excessive consumption.

What are psychostimulants?

When we talk about a psychostimulant, we are not talking about a specific substance, but rather a list of components that have cognitive enhancement actions and neurobiological interactions.

In a psychopharmacology investigation for a report by a scientific group of the World Health Organization (WHO), psychostimulants are defined as a classification of psychotropic drugs that are characterized by increasing alertness, motivation, or both. Effects that usually develop in healthy humans.

Characteristics of psychostimulants

The functionality of psychostimulants are based on some characteristics that allow their applications to improve certain conditions in our body. Below, these will be mentioned for your better understanding and understanding of their applicability.

Increase the level of brain activation

At the University of Wisconsin they carried out an investigation entitled Psychostimulants and cognitive enhancers , where the actions of these substances on the enhancement of cognitive functions and the improvement of various behavioral processes that depend on the frontal cortex of the brain are exposed.

In fact, within its cognitive clinical effects the following capacities can be found:

  • Improvement of attentional capacity.
  • Increased level of self-control.
  • Reduces impulsiveness.
  • Improve response times.
  • Improves short-term memory.

They alter the mood

Psychostimulants are used to stabilize mood in people with mood disorders. They are usually recommended in applications with a quick effect and that do not present possibilities for dependence or withdrawal reactions.

In experiments carried out such as the New psychostimulant drugs , changes that can be linked to 5-HT receptors (serotonin receptor) are evidenced, which in brain regions involve mood regulation, after the application of a psychostimulant treatment. .

alter metabolism

The modifications that occur with respect to metabolism can be seen reflected in the research on Pharmacological treatment and psychostimulants , since it exposes the variations present in our body based on the decrease and inhibition of the metabolism of components such as anticoagulants, anticonvulsants, antidepressants.

They decrease its effects and therefore the intake or administration at the same time is not recommended. It is even recommended to wait until at least two weeks have passed since its suspension.

interact with neurotransmitters

In fact, the interaction they promote with neurotransmitters are those that are capable of manifesting dependence, because they act on neurobiologically based phenomena such as sensitization and tolerance.

In investigations based on the use of Psychostimulants for ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) treatments, they explain how these substances modify the flow of certain neurotransmitters, which would produce neuroadaptation by decreasing the amount of dopamine released.

They are indicated for some health disorders

As we have mentioned and referring to, psychostimulants are used as medical treatments for certain pathologies, among which attention deficit disorder and atypical depression stand out. It also applies to obsessive compulsive disorders.

Can be used for recreational purposes

There are psychostimulants that have psychoactive effects, so there are people who use these substances for mechanisms of action other than medical ones. The most widely used belong to the groups of phenylethylamines and arylamines.

These have the ability to stimulate the CNS in its various activities and therefore produce mechanisms that become positive effects for consumers.

They are further classified into synthetic and natural in search of stimulating effects. This information can be seen in an expanded form in the article from the University of Murcia on the toxicological approach to psychostimulants used for recreational purposes .

They can cause addiction

As they are substances that increase response capacities and produce pleasant sensations when consumed, it is easy to become dependent, especially when their use is purely recreational. Changes occur in nervous circuits, which produce mechanisms of need to continue experiencing these types of sensations and addictive learning.

The addiction given by psychostimulants is considered an anomalous learning due to its neurobiological interaction that is divided into two phases: the induction phase and the consolidation phase, where in the latter permanent changes are produced in the striatum tonsillar cortico-loop (system circuit). motivational).

Types of psychostimulants

Their classification begins from their artificial or natural source, due to the processes to which they are subjected and the dirigibility that is given to them. Next we will mention the main types of psychostimulants.


Dextroamphetamine is a substance that enters into the treatment that is usually applied to control the symptoms of ADHD and narcolepsy. Care must be taken to follow the appropriate dose and treatment and not to interrupt, and the dose is usually gradually reduced when discontinuation of treatment is sought.

Care must be taken not to ingest in excess and if it does, consult a doctor before stopping its consumption. It works as a CNS stimulant and sympathomimetic, which has a mechanism of action that blocks dopamine reuptake and stimulates the release of monoamines .


Methylphenidate is also abbreviated as MFD and also works as part of ADHD symptom control treatment. It is a drug mainly prescribed for children and adolescents, in cases of presenting this disorder or others such as orthostatic tachycardia.

The treatment must be carried out under the prescription and supervision of medical personnel, starting with reduced doses and increasing them weekly. There is a possibility that the symptoms persist or even worsen, so it must be monitored to stop treatment.


It is one of the most widely used amphetamine psychostimulant preparations, along with chlorphentermine and methamphetamine. It is very well absorbed in the intestinal tract and its effects usually appear within the first half hour and disappear between eight and twenty-four hours after consumption.

They present few therapeutic indications, due to their high incidence in the development of addictions, but it is applied for narcolepsy, ADHD, especially in childhood where there is better control over the doses supplied. They present appetite suppression and the euphoric effect is precisely what produces a risk for its abuse.


Cocaine is an alkaloid that is extracted from the leaves of the coca bush. It inhibits the reuptake of dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin. It causes an increase in neurotransmitters and due to its previously mentioned inhibitory action, it happens that this action is prolonged.

Cocaine dependence is quite frequent and for the same reason no medication has been approved containing this component within its structure, although in natural medicine the use of this alkaloid is strictly pharmacological.

Its indiscriminate use produces changes in behavior, behavioral sensitization and clearly addiction. It is important to mention that the effect that leads to the reinforcement of its consumption is the increase in the concentration of dopamine that it produces in the organism.


Caffeine is the psychoactive ingredient in coffee and the main methylxanthine consumed to improve mood and reduce fatigue. It is considered capable of blocking adenosine receptors and therefore leads to an excitation of the Central Nervous System.

Research on the Neurobiology of psychostimulant addiction talks about the effect of caffeine that “produces increased alertness, decreased sleep, tiredness and fatigue, and can increase the ability to perform certain tasks. In larger doses it produces excitement, anxiety and insomnia.


Another of the psychostimulants used is nicotine, which produces an increase in the activity of neurotransmitters and increases the excitability of neurons. In low doses it is considered a psychostimulant drug since it improves concentration, but in high quantities it is considered a depressant due to its sedative effect.

Effects of psychostimulants on the body

The consumption of these substances is motivated by the reactions they produce in our body and how their effects favor or satisfy certain needs. Next we will talk about those effects of psychostimulants in our body.

feeling of euphoria

In an article published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse , he explains that substances that are stimulants are classified that way. They increase the activity of the substances dopamine and norepinephrine as we have mentioned before, which is the producer of the feeling of euphoria that we mentioned.

increased heart rate

One of the symptoms or reactions that occur in the short term after the consumption of psychostimulants is increased heart rate and increased blood pressure, which go hand in hand.

This is due to variations that occur in the body with the dose consumed and care should be taken with consumption outside the dose, since poisoning of this type can even cause heart block.

Increased respiratory rate

The respiratory frequency is altered as a secondary effect, since it stimulates the functionalities of the organism. It is for a short period of time, but adverse effects must be prevented with cardiovascular examinations prior to the indication of treatments of this nature.

Increased blood sugar

The consumption of these substances affects the production of glucose in the liver, which is why we see altered blood sugar levels. In addition to the fact that they also affect the pancreas, which fulfills similar functions in our body, controlling sugar levels in the bloodstream, and when it is affected, the values ​​will be altered.

Effects of excessive consumption of psychostimulants

The excessive consumption of stimulants, due to the development of an addiction or a prolonged treatment and with doses outside the stipulated, will bring consequences and adverse effects that will be mentioned below.

Heart failure

Acute coronary syndrome (ACS), cardiomyopathy, electrocardiographic changes, left ventricular hypertrophy, arrhythmias, and sudden death are part of the heart problems that can occur with excessive consumption of psychostimulants, due to the way they act within our body. .

It produces changes in the arterial structure, vascular reactivity and even aortic stiffness. The consumption of alcohol in parallel to the consumption of psychostimulants, prolongs and alters the cardiovascular effects of these substances in our body.


High doses of psychostimulants can dangerously raise our body temperatures and cause seizures, since the CNS is altered. Thanks to the local anesthetic action that these substances have, excessive amounts or high doses influence conditions with arrhythmia, respiratory depression and seizures that lead to death in minutes.

psychosis and paranoia

It is part of the symptoms due to the development of a withdrawal syndrome or poisoning when consuming amounts greater than those prescribed. The body produces pictures of psychosis and paranoia, delusions and illusions.


Due to the aforementioned of presenting pictures with illusions and paranoia, aggressiveness is another of the effects produced as an adverse consequence. The attention and concentration of the individual is difficult and almost unconsciously uncontrollable aggressive circumstances can develop.

High fever

Excessively high fever is part of the effects of psychostimulant poisoning. It manifests with discomfort and complications, tremors, insomnia and even confusion.

Digestive problems

For the digestion of these drugs, the digestive tract is often irritated due to its components. They also present anorexia as consequent symptoms, nausea, vomiting and hemorrhagic complications, although the cases are very small.

muscle pain and weakness

It occurs primarily as a symptom of withdrawal syndrome. Many athletes usually consume this type of substance to increase their energetic potential, but as a consequence these secondary symptoms are among the risk factors.


Overdose or collapses of the organism that present convulsions and induce coma. Furthermore, the risk involved in the use of these drugs for the treatment of infants with ADHD syndrome should not be underestimated, which in some cases can lead to sudden death that seems to have some connection.

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