Stimulant Medications

Central nervous system (CNS) stimulants, given at therapeutic doses, can enhance cognition and cause wakefulness, affect one’s mood, and suppress the appetite. They also increase the heart rate and blood pressure and alter the level of physical activity. Stimulants include drugs that are used therapeutically and drugs abused for nontherapeutic purposes. Different stimulants vary in their potency for different actions (e.g., at equivalent therapeutic doses, dextroamphetamine causes more appetite suppression than methylphenidate). The main therapeutic use of stimulants is the treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Stimulants are sometimes also used to treat excessive daytime sleepiness (narcolepsy) and as an effective appetite suppressant. This entry examines stimulant use and abuse and how stimulants work, with a specific focus on how stimulants are used to treat ADHD.

Stimulant ...

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