Stimulant, any of a group of drugs that excite the central nervous system, increase alertness, and reduce fatigue. Caffeine is perhaps the most socially acceptable and commonly used stimulant. Other stimulants include cocaine and amphetamines, which create intense feelings of euphoria (well-being). Amphetamines, commonly known as pep pills or diet pills, also decrease appetite. Stimulants work by mimicking the fight-or-flight response, in which the hormone epinephrine (also known as adrenaline), is released during stressful situations to produce an increased heart rate and increased blood flow to the muscles. Stimulants produce a similar, but often more powerful, response by increasing levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain.
Stimulants also appear to act on the limbic system, a group of cell structures in the center of the brain that reward behaviors beneficial to the continuation of the species. These behaviors; sexual intercourse, eating, and drinking, are normally accompanied by positive sensations, which may primarily result from increased levels of dopamine in the limbic system. Stimulants produce an even more potent, euphoric sensation by directly increasing dopamine levels in the limbic system.
The appetite-suppressing effect of amphetamines is also thought to derive from the manipulation of this brain reward system: The brain no longer requires food to elevate dopamine levels because the drug has already induced both this elevation and the desired euphoria. For similar reasons, sex drive is often reduced in heavy users of stimulants like cocaine and amphetamine. To achieve these potent feelings of well-being, some stimulants are used for recreational purpose, that is, they are used to produce pleasurable effects rather than for medicinal purposes under a physician’s supervision. But the recreational use of stimulants is dangerous because the drugs can both inspire erratic behavior and produce unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. When the stimulant is eliminated by the body, dopamine levels in the brain fall, producing drug craving, depression, and anxiety. In some cases prolonged use creates a tolerance for the drug, requiring larger and larger doses to produce a comparable effect. And in many instances stimulants are highly addictive.
Cocaine and amphetamines produce closely related biological effects that include excitement, alertness, euphoria, a sense of increased energy, and decreased appetite. Both cocaine and an amphetamine derivative called methamphetamine, commonly known as speed, come in forms that are particularly potent when smoked. They are also highly addictive. Cocaine is sometimes used clinically as a local anesthetic, and amphetamines are commonly prescribed to treat hyperactivity in children, and narcolepsy. Amphetamines were once prescribed as appetite suppressants, but this practice is now discouraged because of negative side effects and the potential for abuse.
Nicotine, a highly addictive stimulant found in tobacco, also directly affects dopamine release in the limbic system. The drug, which is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream from the lungs when smoked, causes muscle relaxation, increased heart rate, and release of epinephrine. Withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, anger, restlessness, and insomnia. The basic mechanisms involved in nicotine addiction are nearly identical to those of cocaine and amphetamine addiction. Caffeine, found in coffee, tea, cola drinks, and chocolate, is a highly popular stimulant. Caffeine produces increased mental alertness and reduced fatigue, and increases the heart rate slightly. Caffeine is relatively nontoxic, but clearly has addictive potential. Withdrawal symptoms in heavy users can include severe headache, fatigue, and difficulty in concentrating. Overuse can lead to insomnia, gastrointestinal disturbances, and hypertension.
Questionnaire Evaluation. I started writing up the questionnaire on my computer. When I finally finished them I printed them out and went to all my friends/mum’s friends to give them a questionnaire to fill in. Most of the people seemed to be very busy, so I had to give it to them and get them back at a later date. When I finally got them back, I read all the answers they put in and wrote their names on a sheet of paper so I can see who answered what.
After reading everything, I’ve found that most of the people who did the questionnaire had the same views and answered most things similarly. The other people had different views on drugs and the questions I wrote down on the questionnaire. I made 20 questionnaire sheets for 20 people to answer. Most of the people I asked were friends, or friends of friends and my mum’s friends. Some of the people I asked were complete strangers in the street (My friend helped me out with asking the strangers the questions).
The questions I have written down are general drug related questions (i.e. what people think of drugs, do they take them, should they be banned etc), the are no in-depth questions which take a lot of time to answer, just quick fire questions used for people who do not have much drug knowledge, but just enough to know what the questions mean. All the questions I wrote were intended to be non-biased, evenly rounded questions.
The questions where not put in any particular order, just questions which can’t think about before they answer them because they don’t know what the next question will be. When I did the questions, I decided to make them non-biased, because non-biased questions answer more then biased ones. Biased questions only show one side of the story and the answers will be for that side. I think that I got some good answers and they are enough to allow me to write up a conclusion about what ordinary people think of drugs.
I personally liked the way I did the questionnaire, I thought that I put the correct questions in the correct slots and that they weren’t too hard to answer. If I got the chance to do It again, I would probably keep all the questions and keep most of their orders. I would also put in more questions and change a few of them around. I would put in some questions with more than just yes or no, something with multiple choice questions and one question which requires at least a sentence worth of an answer.
Case study. Friend of the family who abused an illegal drug. The person who I’m talking about, his name is Juan Rodriguez. He was a very good and close friend of the family. He knew my mother from university and quickly became friends with my grandmother, uncles and their families. Juan was married and had 3 children, he lived close to my mother when she lived in Chile. My mother knew him for 15 years and she had no clue of his cocaine addiction until he died of an overdose. His wife told my mother and my family the whole story after he died 1985.
It seemed that when he went of out university, he became a financial director in one of the biggest law firms in Santiago, Chile. His wife told everyone that he had many pressures put on him….He had to work 15 hours a day, 6 days a week. The stress became too much for him and the only way he could relax was by taking the illegal drug known as Cocaine. He told his wife that it made him feel happy and stress-free. Unfortunately, he took too much one day trying to regain that high he had experienced before. Cocaine addicts need more and more to satisfy their needs for it. The buzz of the drug can only be simulated by taking more as their bodies become tolerant to the drug.
His family, a wife and 3 children, were devastated by the loss of their husband and father. Even to this day, they mourn over Juan’s death. They say that it was a “Tragic waste of life. To lose life because of a drug is just stupid…”. The family, as I heard, had many counselling sessions to cope with the loss. At one point, the wife threatened to kill herself by jumping of the very law firm that Juan used to work for.
The tragic death of Juan Rodriguez proves that my hypothesis is correct. Drug abuse can be fatal. Especially with Cocaine users, who have to use more and more of it to receive the same effects that got before. Many people die because of drug abuse. Drug were never meant to be abused, but obviously they are and it is a major problem in most cities around the world. I think that Juan had a very big problem and the smartest way of resolving it was NOT to abuse drugs. Juan was trying to find a quick escape from his troubles and stress and by taking Cocaine, he did…Temporarily. Unfortunately, the constant use of it probably made him resistant to the drug, that he had to take a very high amount of it to give him what he needed….Or wanted.