Stimulants and depressants

Drugs are types of chemicals that change the normal working of the body. They are classified into depressants, hallucinogens, painkillers, performance enhancers and stimulants. Effects on the drug depend on psychological, genetic, and physical make up, current physical and psychological state and method of use (Ksir & Hart, 2012). Source, quantity, quality, and strength of the drugs are determinants of side effects. Some users may eat a lot, get extremely hungry, or laugh excessively after using the drugs. Others may have excess sleep, quietness, and paranoid.

Stimulants and depressants change the normal functioning of the brain and the nervous system. They affect people’s actions and feelings such as heart rates and alertness. They take the form of prescription medicines, illicit drugs, and food components. Most of them are addictive and cause harmful side effects. Prolonged use of stimulants and depressants leads to tolerance, physical dependence, and addiction (Ksir & Hart, 2012).

Tolerance stages demand that the person use more drugs to achieve similar effects. As a result, the person is forced to regularly use the drug to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Thus, tolerance and dependence leads to addiction stimulated by abuse of prescribed and illicit drugs. Combining depressants and stimulants with alcohol and other drugs causes effects such as hallucinations, depression, problems of sleep and appetite, paranoia, panic attacks and hostile behavior.


Depressants slow down the activity of the brain and nervous system thus slowing down their communication. Example alcohol, solvents, temazepam, heroin, morphine, codeine, methadone, kapanol, dilaudid, and MS Contin. They inhibit the neighboring neuron from sending impulses by binding to receptor molecules required to respond to transmitter molecules.

Medically they calm nerves, solve sleeping disorders such as insomnia, and relax muscles. They control anxiety, seizures, slow blood pressure, reduce rates of breathing, and heart rates.


Alcohol is depressants found in alcoholic drinks such as spirits, beers, and wines and referred as ethanol. It slows the signals in the brain and nerves (Ksir & Hart, 2012).  Legal limits are put on drivers and pilots since use of alcohol impairs their ability to control the automobiles as required. Blood and breath tests check those who have exceeded the limit.

Short-term effects

Alcohol causes slurred speeches, sleep, and dizziness, loss of muscle and balance as well as impaired judgment. They appear red since blood flows more on the skin. Most have blurred vision. Increased use of alcohol over long periods damages the liver and the brain (Ksir & Hart, 2012). Although alcohol is removed from the blood stream by the liver through various enzymes, the products involved in the reactions are extremely toxic thus damaging the liver and casing cirrhosis.


Stimulants increase the activity of the brain, example nicotine, caffeine, coffee, ecstasy, and cocaine, inhalants such as amyl and nitrites and crack. In addition, stimulants include base, ice, methamphetamine, and speed. They enable neurotransmitter molecules to diffuse through synapse thus increasing the speed of communication between the brain and the central nervous system. As a result, there is increased physical activity and alertness. They elevate moods and add energy. Some expand airways in the lungs, which improves breathing. Doctors use them to treat deficiencies in attention, hyperactivity disorders, and narcolepsy (a chronic disorder causing excess sleep during the day).

In addition, stimulants treat of obesity and asthma. Chemical structures in dextroamphetamine and Ritalin are brain transmitters known as monoamines. Stimulants increase these chemical levels in the brain, which increases blood pressure, constriction of vessels, level of blood glucose and heart rates


More than 114,000 people die in each year from cigarette smoking illnesses. Studies done on cigarettes sold in US states that each cigarette contains have a stun warning on effects of consuming cigarettes. Tobacco is smoked in cigarettes causing harmful effects in the body such as cancers, heart diseases, and lung diseases (Ksir & Hart, 2012). Smoke in cigarettes has harmful chemicals that damage the windpipe, bronchi and bronchioles. Epithelial cells have hair like cilia on the surface, which is tiny and thus easily damaged and accumulating mucus, which lead to consistent coughs among smokers.


Nicotine substance is found in tobacco and addictive. It makes smokers dependent on it since it travels within twenty seconds to the brain. As a result, smokers suffer from withdrawal symptoms if they attempt stopping the use of drugs such as tobacco.

Carbon monoxide

Carbon monoxide combines with hemoglobin found in red blood cells thus reducing the capability of the drug to carry oxygen. The circulatory system strains further in its functions and may lead to strokes and other heart diseases; smoking in pregnancy reduces oxygen for growing fetus leading to underweight babies.


Carcinogens cause cancer and are found in tobacco. Among carcinogens is tar, which increases cancers of the mouth, lung, esophagus, and throat.

Side effects of stimulants and depressants

Stimulants and depressants cause excess swelling with chills, loss of consciousness and seizures, difficulties in breathing accompanied by swelling of the tongue and throat as well as short breath. In addition users experience chest pain, faints, and dizziness and believe or hearing unrealistic things (Ksir & Hart, 2012).


Treatment of individuals using stimulants and depressants include behavioral therapies to treat addiction. These include slow reduction of drug use in treatment of withdrawal symptoms. In addition, cognitive behavioral therapies and recovery support groups are helpful.














Ksir,  C.,  & Hart, C. (2012).Drugs society and human behavior.15th Edition. McGraw-Hill Education.

All Rights Reserved,