Around 3 million American adults abused a stimulant drug in the 30 days before the 2014 NSDUH, including illegal drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine, and prescription stimulant drugs like those that are prescribed to treat ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), which contain amphetamine/dextroamphetamine (Adderall) or methylphenidate (Ritalin and Concerta). Cocaine comes from the coca plant, mostly found in South America, while meth (short for methamphetamine) is typically manufactured in illicit laboratories for street distribution. Prescription stimulants are classified under Schedule II of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).
Cocaine and meth may be marketed in either powder to be snorted, smoked, ingested, or injected, or in rock (“crack cocaine”) or crystal (“crystal meth”) formulations that are typically smoked. Prescription stimulants may be taken as “study drugs” by those who don’t have a legitimate prescription for them in order to help a person focus or stay awake longer, although this kind of misuse can be highly risky. College students are a high-risk population for misusing these medications, and CNN reports that as many as 30 percent may be misusing prescription stimulants.
Stimulant drugs increase energy and alertness levels while creating an intense high. Heart rate, body temperature, and blood pressure are all increased by stimulant use. These drugs are considered to be highly addictive.
Methamphetamine is another stimulant drug that is also highly addictive, and prescription stimulants like those used to treat ADHD, such as Ritalin (methylphenidate) and Adderall (amphetamine/dextroamphetamine), can also lead to dependence and addiction. Meth is usually manufactured in illicit laboratories as an illegal drug of abuse while prescription stimulants may be diverted and used as “study drugs,” combined with alcohol and used as “party drugs,” or used as appetite suppressants. The NSDUH reports that nearly 1.5 million people in the United States abused methamphetamine and stimulant drugs (not counting cocaine) in 2014. Close to one-third of college students have potentially abused a prescription stimulant at some point, USA Today publishes.