Rx stimulants and meth are both classified as stimulant drugs. This is because they increase the activity of the brain chemicals dopamine (which makes you want to take the drug again and again) and norepinephrine (which gets your brain and body ready for action). By altering these chemicals, you begin to feel an increase in alertness, attention, and energy; however, there are detrimental side-effects when misused or used illegally.

Definition of Rx Stimulants: Medicines generally used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy.
Some common types are Dexedrine®, Adderall®, Ritalin®, and Concerta®

Definition of Meth: Methamphetamine (meth), which comes in a medication form, Desoxyn®, is a stimulant used to treat obesity and ADHD. There is an illegal altered version known as crystal meth that is cooked over the stove using over-the-counter drugs.

Understanding “Study Drugs”

Adderall, Ritalin, Focalin, and Concerta are also commonly known as “study drugs” and very prevalent on college campuses. However, these prescription stimulants do not increase an individual’s ability to study and are classified as highly addictive substances that should be dispensed sparingly. The US National Institute on Drug Abuse also shares that when these drugs are used as “study drugs” they can produce symptoms such as malnutrition, high blood pressure, feelings of anxiety, addiction, heart problems, psychosis, and increase the likelihood of experiencing a stroke. In addition, a recent study shows that the effect of taking Adderall or Vyvanse can double the increased risk of developing psychosis compared to Ritalin or Concerta.

Video on how your brain responds to Methamphetamines

Understanding how the brain reacts to methamphetamine, as mentioned in the video above, is important to understand since Rx stimulant prescriptions and the illicit forms of meth affect the brain in the same manner. They both alter dopamine and norepinephrine chemicals, meaning if an individual forms a dependency or misuses a stimulant prescription, it can lead to a substance use disorder. In some cases, to manage a substance use disorder, individuals turn to illicit drug use since they create the same effect as an Rx stimulant prescription.

Methamphetamine During Pregnancy

  • Methamphetamine use during pregnancy is associated with many fetal side-effects. It can shorten the gestational age and lower birth weight, especially if methamphetamines are used continuously during pregnancy. Stopping methamphetamine use at any time during pregnancy can greatly improve birth outcomes.
  • It is very important to direct pregnant females to resources that can provide treatment and prenatal care as they are always considered a priority population and screened immediately.

CDC Facts

  • More than 10,000 Americans have died from an overdoes involving psychostimulants with abuse potential in 2017, which was a 37% increase from the previous year.
  • The overall rate was highest in the West.

National Institue on Drug Abuse

The report below shows that psychostimulant overdose deaths have risen from 547 in 1999 to 12,676 in 2018.

Contact PACT

If you or someone you know is experiencing substance misuse, please contact us for more information, as PACT Coalition partners are treatment providers.

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