Pharmacological Aspects

Most of the sympathomimetic stimulants exhibit similar pharmacological properties, differing primarily in the magnitude of their effects. Acute drug administration produces feelings of euphoria, elation, and alertness. Intravenous injections of cocaine and amphetamine can produce a very intense rush of sensations that resemble sexual orgasm. At small doses cognition increases and mood is elevated. As the dose of drug escalates during a run, the overall activity of the individual changes from task performance to one generally characterized by stereotypical movements. The person starts performing certain behaviors repeatedly. Some grind or gnash their teeth. Many continuously touch or pick at their face or extremities. At this stage the individual becomes suspicious and may develop anxiety or paranoia. Acute toxic paranoid psychosis can develop, but it usually requires a longer period of abuse than a single acute session.

Besides stimulating the CNS, these drugs activate the autonomic nervous system. Individuals have tachycardia, hypertension, and possibly arrhythmias. Auto-nomic hyperactivity is also expressed as hyperthermia and mydriasis. More serious effects include the possibility of myocardial infarction, cerebrovascular hemorrhage, seizure, and death.

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