Stimulants are a class of drugs that elevate mood, increase feelings of well-being, and increase energy and alertness.
Examples include cocaine, methamphetamine, amphetamines, methylphenidate, nicotine, and MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine), better known as “Ecstasy.”
Cocaine comes in two forms. Powder cocaine is a hydrochloride salt, made from the leaf of the coca plant. “Crack” is a smokeable form of cocaine that is processed with ammonia or baking soda and water, and heated to remove the hydrochloride.
Methamphetamine is a powerful stimulant, originally derived from amphetamine. It comes in clear crystals or powder and easily dissolves in water or alcohol. Although most of the methamphetamine used in the United States comes from “superlabs,” it is also made in small laboratories using inexpensive over-the-counter and often toxic ingredients (such as drain cleaner, battery acid, and antifreeze).
Amphetamines, such as Adderall, are stimulants that often come in pill form and are sometimes prescribed by doctors for medical problems, most commonly attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Amphetamines can also be abused—that is, used in a way or for a purpose other than as prescribed (e.g., crushed and snorted, "to get high") or used by someone without a prescription.
Methylphenidate, such as Concerta or Ritalin, is another medication prescribed for people with ADHD. As seen with amphetamines, including Adderall, numerous studies have shown its effectiveness when used as prescribed. When it is abused, however, methylphenidate can lead to many of the same problems seen with other stimulants. Find out more about prescription drug abuse.