Extent and Pattern of Abuse

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Sympathomimetic stimulant drugs have very high abuse potential. They are typically used repeatedly for a short period during which time the user escalates the dose to greater and greater levels to attain the desired degree of euphoria. Extended uninterrupted use of stimulants for 24 to 72 hours is often referred to as a run and usually ends in a crash (24-36 hours of sleep) once the individual is exhausted physically. Besides illicit sources of stimulants, approximately 5 billion doses of these drugs are prescribed per year, and there appears to be a significant degree of abuse via prescription diversion.

While some stimulants, such as amphetamine and methylphenidate, are taken orally, others are either volatilized for inhalation or snorted as the solid (nasal insufflation). It is necessary to convert cocaine and methamphetamine to their free base so that they can be volatilized. Methamphetamine and cocaine are also abused via the intravenous route.

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