Incentive Addiction and Abuse – Performance Enhancers


Understanding stimulants

Stimulants work by acting on the central nervous system to increase alertness and cognitive function. Stimulants can be prescription drugs or illegal substances such as cocaine. Stimulants can be taken orally, snorted, or injected. If you have a stimulant addiction, seek help today.

This class of drugs is considered central nervous system stimulants. They work by increasing the amounts of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. The increase in these brain chemicals improves concentration and decreases the fatigue that is common in people with ADHD. However, they can also cause serious negative effects and addiction.

Prescription stimulant brands

The most common prescription stimulants are amphetamines, methylphenidates, and dextroamphetamines.

Prescription stimulants are used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), narcolepsy, and sometimes obesity. These drugs increase attention, alertness, energy and concentration.

While there is a molecular distinction between amphetamines (such as Adderall) and methylphenidates (such as Ritalin), the effects of misuse of these stimulants are essentially the same. Patients are prescribed either amphetamines or methylphenidates, depending on the potency and duration needed. Some of the most famous prescription stimulants are:

  • Adderall

    Adderall, approved in 1960, is currently the most popular medication for the treatment of ADHD and the most commonly prescribed amphetamine in the United States.

  • Dexedrine

    Dexedrine, also called Dextroamphetamine, is a powerful central nervous system stimulant and amphetamine. In the market for American consumers since 1976, Dexedrine is most commonly used to treat ADHD. The drug was used by military air, tank, and special forces as a ‘go-pill’ during fatigue-inducing missions such as night bombing or extensive combat operations from World War II to the Gulf War.

  • Ritalin

    This drug was approved in 1955 for the treatment of hyperactive children. Ritalin differs from Dexedrine and Adderall in that it is a methylphenidate. It works in the same way as amphetamines; however, it is milder than amphetamine-based drugs.

  • Concerta

    Approved in 2000, Concerta is a relatively new drug used to treat ADHD. Concerta is an extended release version of Ritalin.

  • Desoxyn

    Desoxyn is a prescription methamphetamine. It was introduced in 1947 and was the first drug prescribed for obesity. It’s also used to treat ADHD.

  • Ephedrine

    Ephedrine is most commonly used as an appetite suppressant and bronchodilator for people with asthma, but it has similar effects to other stimulants. Ephedrine is also used for temporary relief from shortness of breath, chest tightness, and wheezing due to bronchial asthma. It is also used to prevent low blood pressure and to treat obesity. It is often over-the-counter and often used as an ingredient in clandestine meth labs.

  • Illegal stimulants

    The class of stimulants would not be complete without stating cocaine, crack and crystal meth. These drugs all produce effects similar to prescription stimulants. While prescription stimulants are designed as time-release drugs, illegal stimulants produce a shorter and more intense high.

Incentive Effects and Abuse

Prescription stimulants are classified as a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substances Act because they have a high potential for abuse and addiction. About 900,000 Americans abuse prescription stimulants every month.

Many people abuse prescription stimulants to improve their performance instead of getting high. In fact, athletes and college students have a long history of misusing prescription stimulants to outperform their peers.

The effects of stimulants include:

  • Euphoria
  • Decreased appetite
  • Vigilance
  • Talkative
  • Energy
  • Increased concentration
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Nervousness
  • Increased pulse and blood pressure

Stimulants produce an abundance of dopamine, the pleasure-inducing chemical in the brain. After continued abuse of stimulants, the brain no longer produces normal amounts of dopamine because it has been conditioned to receive it by taking the drug. When the individual stops taking the medication, they experience withdrawal symptoms. This creates physical dependence on the drug and requires the individual to keep taking the drug to feel normal. Over time, this can develop into an addiction.

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Addiction to stimulants

For those addicted to prescription or illegal stimulants, these substances are the number one priority in their lives. An addict often ignores negative consequences, both personal and health-related. Stimulants flood the brain with the pleasure-inducing chemical dopamine, which is why many people use it again. Stimulant addiction can have immediate and long-lasting effects on a person’s health.

Understanding the symptoms of a stimulant addiction can help you determine if you or someone you know has a problem. There are 11 criteria for addiction, as outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Read more about the symptoms of addiction.

Getting Help During COVID-19

With just 30 days in a rehab center, you can get clean and sober, start therapy, join a support group, and learn ways to manage your cravings.

Incentive Abuse Statistics

The number of emergency room visits for stimulants has steadily increased over the years, from 2,303 in 2004 to 17,272 in 2011.



In 2012, there were an estimated 1.2 million non-medical users (ages 12 and older) of prescription stimulants in the United States.


per cent

In 2011, alcohol was present in 38 percent of emergency room visits that also involved stimulants.


under treatment

In 2012, nearly 360,000 people received treatment for stimulant addiction.

Get help for your stimulant addiction

If you are addicted to stimulants and are ready to get help, you have taken the most important step towards recovery. The beginning of the recovery process can be scary, but there are tons of people available to give you the support you need. You are not alone on your journey – seek help today.

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