Stimulants Fact Sheet


  Stimulants Fact Sheet

Coast to Forest Resources

Thank you for exploring our fact sheet series. To learn more about substance use and mental health, check out our other fact sheets. To find local resources, check out the Coast to Forest County-Specific Resource Guides. For a variety of national and state-focused resources, please visit our Helplines & Practical Tools page.

What are Stimulants?

Stimulants (sometimes called psychostimulants) are a class of drugs that increase central nervous system activity.1 Stimulants may be prescribed by a healthcare provider for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), narcolepsy, asthma, obesity, or nasal and sinus congestion. Some stimulants are controlled substances in the U.S., meaning that they are regulated by the government and have varying potential to be misused.2 Examples of stimulants include: 

  • Amphetamines: Adderall® and Dexedrine®2 

  • Caffeine2 

  • Cocaine2 

  • Diet aids: Didrex®, Bontril®, Preludin®, Fastin®, Adipex P®, Ionomin®, and Meridia®2 

  • Khat6 

  • Methamphetamine2 

  • Methcathinone2 

  • Methylphenidate: Ritalin® and Concerta®2 

  • Nicotine

  • Synthetic cathinones2 

Stimulants are increasingly being contaminated with a synthetic opioid known as fentanyl.9 This is dangerous as people may be unaware that the stimulants they consume are contaminated. For more information about fentanyl, please check out our Fentanyl Fact Sheet.

Facts and Statistics


  • Between 1999 and 2020, overdose deaths involving stimulants increased from 547 to 23,837. These deaths were largely attributed to methamphetamine.9  

  • In 2019, the rate of stimulant-related overdose deaths was 1.4 times higher in rural counties compared to urban counties.10 


  • From 2019-2020 Oregon had the highest rate of methamphetamine use in the United States.11 

  • In Oregon, methamphetamine is involved in 49% of overdose deaths.12 

Common Names

Bennies, Black Beauties, Blue Pill, Cat, Coke, Crank, Crystal, Dexies, Flake, Ice, Lid Poppers, Pellets, Pep Pills, R-Ball, Red Dexies, Red Pep, Rids, Ritties, R Pop, Skippy, Smarties, Snow, Speed, Study Buddies, Uppers, Truck Drivers, Vitamin R, Wake-Ups2-3  


  • Tablets, pills, capsules1 

  • Powder, chunks, or crystals ranging in color from white to brownish6 

  • Liquid that may be consumed orally, via injection or suppository

How Stimulants Work

Stimulants work by increasing dopamine and norepinephrine activity in the brain.3 An increase in dopamine can create a feeling of pleasure or euphoria, which can reinforce drug use.5 An increase in norepinephrine can cause blood vessels to constrict and lead to an increase in blood pressure, heart rate, and blood glucose.7 

Short Term Health Effects

  • Feeling of euphoria or excitement

  • Sense of alertness5 

  • Increase in motor activity5 

  • Reduction in appetite5 

  • Insomnia5 

  • Increase in blood pressure and heart rate4 

  • Increase in breathing

  • Decrease in blood flow4 

  • Increase in blood sugar4 

  • Overdose2 

Long Term Health Effects

  • Overdose2 

  • Paranoia5 

  • Psychosis5 

  • Depression5 

  • Suicidal ideation5 

  • Tolerance, dependence, and stimulant use disorder (StUD): 

    • Tolerance: Reduced response to a substance with repeated use, meaning that larger amounts of a substance is needed to create the same effect.5 

    • Dependence: Adaptation to a substance that produces symptoms of withdrawal when the substance use is halted.5 

    • Stimulant use disorder: A type of substance use disorder characterized by a pattern of stimulant use that results in significant impairment.5 


  • Symptoms: 

    • Fatigue, depression, suicidal ideation, irritability, hallucinations, mood swings, brain fog, sleep disturbances, decreased libido, and sexual dysfunction8 

  • Given the symptoms of withdrawal, a person may need medical supervision to ensure their safety during the process.14 

Overdose and Overamping

  • Overamping is a term used to describe the equivalent of a stimulant overdose.

  • Symptoms: 

    • Physical: abnormal blood pressure (high or low), fever, heart attack, irregular heartbeat, muscle pains, nausea, overactive reflexes, rapid breathing, restlessness, seizures, tremors, and weakness4 

    • Psychological: altered perception of reality, confusion, hallucinations, paranoia, protective behaviors (hypervigilance, fear of persecution, etc.), psychosis4, 8 

  • In the event of a suspected stimulant overdose/overamping:  

    • Call 911 

    • Administer naloxone 

      • Given the increasing amount of fentanyl in the stimulant supply, administering naloxone can be an important step.13 Please note that administering naloxone can only help and will not harm a person if they did not consume fentanyl or another opioid.  

    • Administer CPR if breathing has stopped8  

Stimulant Use Disorder Treatment

  • Therapeutic interventions:  

    • Cognitive behavioral therapy

    • Contingency management5 

    • Community reinforcement approach5 

    • Motivational interviewing5 

  • Currently there are no medications specifically designed for the treatment of stimulant use disorder, but such medications are in development.5  


SAMHSA National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP 

  • SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders 

Alcohol and Drug Helpline: 800-923-4357 

  • A free, confidential 24/7 information and resources helpline. Text service is available Monday-Friday 2-6 pm PST, simply text “RecoveryNow” to 839863. 

County-Specific Resources in Oregon


  1. Stimulants  

  2. Stimulants - Drug Fact Sheet  

  3. Tips for Teens: The Truth About Stimulants  

  4. Prescription Stimulants DrugFacts  

  5. Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) 33: Treatment for Stimulant Use Disorders  

  6. What are stimulants?  

  7. Misuse of Prescription Drugs Research Report: What classes of prescription drugs are commonly misused?  

  8. Stimulants 101  

  9. Drug Overdose Death Rates  

  10. Urban–Rural Differences in Drug Overdose Death Rates, 1999–2019  

  11. 2019-2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Model-Based Prevalence Estimates (50 States and the District of Columbia)  

  12. Unintentional Drug Overdose in Oregon: The Current and Potential Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic  

  13. Lifesaving Naloxone  

  14. What is withdrawal?  


This fact sheet was developed by the Oregon State University Coast to Forest team, a collaboration of the College of Health, OSU Center for Health Innovation and OSU Extension Service Family & Community Health program. We would like to thank the H 310 Health Field Experience students for their contributions.

For more information and to explore local resources, check out the Coast to Forest County-Specific Resource Guides.