As the name implies, these drugs stimulate the user. A trucker might use stimulants to drive a cargo cross country without rest. A soldier might use them to perform strenuous action that would otherwise be impossible. Stimulants frequently achieve such ends by drawing upon a person's reserves of stamina and energy. Occasional use in that way can help accomplish tasks, and if a person is able to rest and recuperate afterward, perhaps no harm is done. Abusing powerful stimulants, however, is like burning a candle at both ends to produce more light. The quick burst of energy may be followed by collapse.
Not all stimulants are powerful. Some are so mild that they are readily available in certain foods such as caffeine in coffee, tea, and soda. A person taking a few ounces of such a beverage will likely need no recuperation at all from the stimulative action. Nonetheless, multiple doses of caffeine can produce a strong effect, and some natural products can be massaged to increase the dose. Caffeine is far less powerful than cocaine, but a person using a lot of caffeine can become as jittery and hyperactive as a person using a little cocaine. A mild drug can be abused.
Using potent pharmaceutical stimulants is a way to improve feelings of well-being because increased energy can improve self-confidence regardless of any other effects on body chemistry. Such a mental state can make current problems seem less troublesome. They may not go away, but worries about them can decline. That effect of stimulants can be seductive. Moreover, if that is the reason someone uses stimulants, stopping the drug can be doubly difficult. Not only are feelings of self-confidence and energy replaced by self-doubt and exhaustion, but problems that never went away will probably seem all the worse. And indeed they may really be worse if the stimulant user has taken no effective action to deal with them.
For information about specific stimulants not otherwise classified below, see the entries on: caffeine, modafinil, pemoline, and yohimbe.
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