Home » Drugs of Abuse » Stimulants (Uppers) – Understanding Addiction

Stimulants (Uppers) – Understanding Addiction

  • Stimulants are substances that cause the user to feel pleasant effects such as an increase in energy, due to the ability of the drug’s release of dopamine.
    • Stimulants increase alertness, excitation, and euphoria, and are referred to as uppers.
  • Cocaine
    • Cocaine can be traced back to coca, which has been used as a stimulant for thousands of years.
    • Natives of the Andes mountains chewed coca leafs into balls and held them in their mouths.  This gave them energy to run and carry large weights long  istances over hard terrain.

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    • The coca leaf is an important part of the culture and civilization in 16th Century Peru.  Coca was treated as money even by invaders of the country.
    • Angelo Mariani was a French chemist who used extracts from coca in multiple products.  It was wine that made him rich.
    • Then Dr. W.S. Halsted experimented with cocaine as a local anesthesia.   He became known as “the father of modern surgery”.
    • Sigmund Freud saw cocaine’s potential for treatment of a variety of complaints.  For many years he sang the praises of cocaine.  He helped one of his friends through a cocaine psychosis that Freud had prescribed him into.
    • Even with so much positive force behind cocaine from 1887 to 1914, 46 states passed laws to regulate cocaine.
    • With unverified facts, articles were written stating that cocaine was used at very high rates by blacks in the south, and that they had “homicidal” tendency because of this.  It explained that cocaine made black men unaffected by .32 caliber guns.  Many of these articles in the press and in medical journals were a major influence on the passage of the Harrison Act.
    • Coca paste is coca leaves that have been mixed with an organic solvent, soaked, mixed, mashed and had all the excess liquid filtered out.  The paste is made into cocaine hydrochloride that is snorted or injected.
    • Freebase is cocaine that is converted into a volatile organic solvent, heated and then the vapors inhaled.  This is very dangerous and flammable.
    • Crack
    • Crack is cocaine mixed with baking soda and water, then dried.
    • At the end of the 1960’s cocaine use began to increase again due to the cost of amphetamines.
    • Psychiatrist Peter Bourne sounded like Sigmund Freud when he made a case for legalizing cocaine.  Many plugged the benefits of cocaine, from doctors to celebrities.   It was these doctors and celebrities, along with others with auxiliary income, who could afford the drug due to its high cost.
    • Then an inexpensive ($5 to $10 a hit) form of cocaine that could be smoked became available.  Again, history repeated itself with the media and politicians going after a certain race of urbanites who used the drug.
    • The Anti-drug Abuse act of 1986 targeted high-level crack dealers.
    • It lowered the amount of drug you need to be caught due to the potency of crack.
    • The Anti-drug abuse act of 1988 added tougher penalties for first time users.  After these two laws passed, there was an increase in the number of black Americans in jail and thus concerns about racial profiling was raised.
    • The chemical structure of cocaine does not tell us how or why it works.
    • Cocaine blocks reuptake many neurotransmitters at one time.
    • Chewing or sucking on the leaves allows small amounts to slowly enter the system.
    • With snorting the absorption is fast as is the effect on the body.
    • Intravenous offers a fast, but short, lasting effect.
    • Smoking crack is becoming the preferred way to use cocaine due to the fact that no needles are needed and the high happens fast as well.
    • In 1860 the anesthetic properties of cocaine were developed but not used medically until 1884.
    • It is stilled used in surgery in the nasal and laryngeal regions.
    • Acute toxicity of cocaine or the lethal dose is hard to estimate.
    • The route of admission can change the LD as can the form of the drug.
    • Chronic toxicity of cocaine is found in problems with the nasal septum and the heart.
    • Dependence of cocaine is most likely in those who inject or smoke the drug.
    • Lab animals, when given the chance, will administer the drug to themselves until the die.  This shows that even without deadly withdraw symptoms, cocaine is additive.
    • Cocaine is easy to obtain in most major cities and is around 75% pure.  Most of it comes in from South America countries; the majority of that from Peru.
    • Due to pressure on the water/land routes, more then half of cocaine is smuggled in at the US- Mexico border.
  • Amphetamines
    • Amphetamines, patented in 1932, are potent synthetic stimulant capable of causing dependence.
    • They were first used as replacement for ephedrine to treat asthma.
    • Then it was used as a treatment for narcolepsy due to it being a stimulant.
    • American soldiers in WWII used amphetamines to fight fatigue.
    • Truck drivers and students use amphetamines to help them stay awake for long periods of time.
    • One of several side effects was that people taking amphetamines were not hungry.  This became a major use for amphetamines.
    • Speed, which is an illegal methamphetamine, is a common and highly used amphetamine.
    • Until the 1960 the problems with amphetamines were with legally manufactured and prescribed ones.
    • Amphetamines are often used with other combinations of drugs called speedballs.
    • An approach to using amphetamines is smoking ice or crystal meth, which induces a rush, followed by a 4-16 hour high.
    • Synthesized drugs that mimic the psychoactive effects of amphetamines are called “designer” amphetamines.  MDMA (Ecstacy) is the most popular designer amphetamine.
    • Amphetamines are consumed in a verity of ways including orally, intranasally, intravenously and smoked.
    • When taking amphetamines orally, effects are felt about 1.5 hours after ingesting them.  This differs from intranasal peak effects that come 15 to 30 minutes after taking the drug.
    • During intoxication, behavioral toxicity can cause the user harm.  With large doses over long periods of time paranoia and panic can be problems, as can violence and aggression.
    • Compulsive and repetitive actions are yet another development of chronic toxicity of amphetamines.
    • Withdraw effects are small and more annoying then dangerous.
    • Psychological dependence is a concern with amphetamines.
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