En español
NIDA

Menu

Prescription Drug Abuse

What are stimulants?

Graph: Source of Prescription Narcotics among Those Who Used in the Past-Year, 12th GradeGraph: Greater Lifetime Use of Illicit Drugs among Prescription Opiate Abusers

As the name suggests, stimulants increase alertness, attention, and energy, as well as elevate blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration. Stimulants historically were used to treat asthma and other respiratory problems, obesity, neurological disorders, and a variety of other ailments. But as their potential for abuse and addiction became apparent, the medical use of stimulants began to wane. Now, stimulants are prescribed to treat only a few health conditions, including ADHD, narcolepsy, and occasionally depression—in those who have not responded to other treatments.

This page was last updated October 2011

Get this Publication

Cite this article

APA style citation

National Institute on Drug Abuse (2011). What are stimulants?. In Prescription Drug Abuse. Retrieved from http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/prescription-drugs/stimulants/what-are-stimulants

press ctrl+c to copy

​Research Reports

This series of reports simplifies the science of research findings for the educated lay public, legislators, educational groups, and practitioners. The series reports on research findings of national interest.