How Do Stimulants Affect the Brain
How Do Stimulants Affect the Brain? | Coffee | AToN Center

How Do Stimulants Affect the Brain

Stimulants are drugs that are used to enhance a person’s mood and create an increase in alertness. Many people may ask, “what do stimulants do to your body?” The way that stimulants work is by making changes in the brain. These changes vary from person to person, depending on the type of stimulant, how often they are using the stimulant, and for how long of a time period. Some stimulants are medically necessary and are taken as medications, but most are used for recreational purposes. Most individuals use stimulants as a “pick me up” or to increase energy and wakefulness.

What are Stimulants?

Stimulants are a type of drug that temporarily increases the functioning of your body’s nervous system and brain. Some stimulants are medically prescribed for certain health conditions such as ADHD or narcolepsy. Ever since the drug, Adderall became available as a treatment option for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in 1996, stimulant use has been on the rise.

When stimulants are taken, a person will experience an increase in pleasure due to the rise in dopamine levels. This increase in dopamine helps boost your mood and enhances your concentration. These feel good sensations often can lead to addiction or substance abuse, because the person will continue to crave it after discontinuing use. It perpetuates the continued use of stimulants and exposes you to a variety of serious health risks.

Types of Stimulants:


Caffeine is one of the most commonly used drugs in the world and can be found in things like coffee, soda, tea, or chocolate. Often, people start their day with a cup of coffee in order to help enhance their mood and give them more energy. If used to excess, the effects of the drug can cause insomnia or anxiety.


Methamphetamines and amphetamines are a type of drug that are sometimes used as medications to treat certain health disorders. Methamphetamine can cause intense effects in the brain and because of this the drug can cause addiction or abuse in people who use it. Methamphetamine has four common forms that include a crystal like formation, powder or tablet. As such, methamphetamine is the drug “‘meth” and the powder form of “meth” is “speed” and the crystal form of meth is “ice.” Methamphetamine ranges in color from almost clear in its crystal form to pink, yellow, white, blue, green, orange or brown.


Cocaine is an illegal psychoactive drug that is derived from the coca plant and causes an individual to feel more talkative, euphoric, mentally alert and more sensitive to certain sensations of touch, sight, and sounds. It can also cause an increase in heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature.


Nicotine is considered one of the three most used stimulants in the world, despite the fact that it is never medically necessary to use it and can cause adverse health effects. Nicotine is one of the primary ingredients in cigarettes, and tobacco use is one of the most preventable leading causes of death in America.

Effects of Stimulant Drugs

How Do Stimulants Affect the Brain? | Mind | AToN Center

Using stimulant drugs can lead to many health effects that can result in changes to both your heart and your brain, for a long-term period of time. The short and long-term effects of the drug on the body and brain will depend on many factors including what type of drug is being used, the length of time, dosage and the overall health condition of the person using.

Short and Long-Term Effects

Using a stimulant does cause both a short-term and long-term effect to occur in the body. Below are the most common effects in the brain.

The short-term effects of stimulant use include:

  • Intense feelings of happiness
  • Suppressed appetite
  • Increased sexual desire and performance
  • Increased energy/sociability and self-esteem
  • Opened breathing passages/easier breathing
  • Improved attention

The long-term physical effects of stimulant abuse include:

  • Extreme weight loss
  • Headaches
  • Seizure
  • Reduced sexual functioning
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Muscle deterioration
  • Stroke
  • Cerebral hemorrhage
  • Chronic exhaustion
  • Cardiovascular damage
  • Breathing problems

Withdrawal from Stimulants

The effects of withdrawal from stimulants can be characterized by a severe change in mood—feeling unhappy—and the presence of two or more of the following symptoms and side effects.

The following withdrawal symptoms are related to the use of stimulants:

  • Jittery reactions
  • FatigueChills
  • Dehydration
  • Dulled senses
  • Paranoia
  • Loss of interest
  • Hallucinations
  • Slow heart rate
  • Irritability
  • Slowed movements
  • Slowed speech
  • Anxiety

Mixing Stimulants with Other Drugs

It can be dangerous to mix a stimulant with other drugs, and even be life-threatening depending on the drugs that are taken. The effects of taking a stimulant with a depressant can be fatal, if the right precautions are not taken. For example, the potential consequences of mixing stimulants and depressants could be extremely dangerous because the body’s reaction is unpredictable. The two types of drugs send contradicting messages to you; as a result the body’s function is greatly impaired.

Addiction to Stimulants

Like other drugs, it is possible to develop an addiction to stimulant drugs. The way the drug makes you feel, along with the potential for dependence both play a role in the chances of becoming addicted. Once your body starts to withdraw from a stimulant it will result in intense cravings and a demand for the drug.

Some signs that you are becoming addicted include:

  • Withdrawal symptoms upon quitting the drug
  • Avoiding negative consequences of drug use
  • Intense cravings and thoughts about the drug
  • Lack of involvement in hobbies that the person used to like
  • Engaging in dangerous behaviors to get the substance

Treatment at AToN Center

It is possible to get help for addiction and substance abuse at AToN Center in San Diego, California. Our treatment center offers a full variety of addiction or substance abuse treatment services to treat all types of drugs including a stimulant or other drugs that affect the brain. We work hard to help each person that walks into our facility, and we want them to get to a point where they achieve lifelong recovery.

At our treatment center we understand the multitude that addiction takes on a person’s life, and we want to be there to help you through the process. Addiction does not need to take control of the rest of your life, and we want you to get to a point where you can move into recovery, and become free from drugs or alcohol. Addiction and substance abuse is a disease that affects not only the person going through it, but their family. This is why we offer many forms of counseling including family counseling so that we can help and include everyone involved.

If you or someone you love is suffering from any type of addiction, please contact AToN Center for additional information on our treatment programs and services.

AToN Center Logo - San Diego Luxury Rehab Center

Get in Touch

Don’t feel like chatting on the phone? Text this number:  619-648-1954

Now in Network with

Anthem Blue Cross Insurance Logo: Designated Blue Disctinction Center, Substance Use Treatment and Recovery. AToN Center is designated as Blue Distinction Center for Substance Use Treatment and Recovery by Anthem Blue Cross, an independent licensee of Blue Cross Association. Check Local Plan for Coverage.

We ALso Accept Most PPO Plans

compass icon

Southern California luxury rehab