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Alcohol and Substance Abuse - Central Nervous System Stimulants

Mark Dombeck, Ph.D.

Member Drugs: (Brand Names) [Street Names]

  • Cocaine [Crack, Blow, Nose, Snow, Toot, White, Rock, Flake]
  • Amphetamine, Methamphetamine (Ritalin) [Meth, Uppers, Bennies, Crank, Crystal]
  • Caffeine [Coffee]

What The Drugs Looks Like:

  • Both Cocaine and illegal methamphetamine come in the form of a white powder, and in a 'crystal' rock-like form.
  • Commercial amphetamines (such as the Ritalin used for ADHD treatment) come in pill and liquid form.

Most Typical Routes Of Administration:

  • Nose (snorting powered form)
  • Lungs (inhaling pipe smoke)
  • Mouth (swallowing pills, drinking coffee)

What These Drugs Do (Symptoms Typical Of Intoxication):

  • Short term effects:
    • Low doses may cause a sense of well being, wakefulness, alertness, increased energy, restlessness, dizziness, euphoria, confusion, reduced appetite, increased talkativeness, increased breathing and heart rate, elevated blood pressure
    • At higher doses the effects are greater and may also include feelings of grandiosity, impulsiveness, increased strength and mental capacity, headache, blurred vision, fever, sweating, and irregular heart beat, loss of coordination, irritability, panic attacks, seizures, violent behavior, stroke, heart attack and coma
    • Intoxication is followed by a 'crash' period, during which the user feels exhausted and wants to sleep.
  • Long term effects:
    • Malnutrition, fatigue, sleeplessness
    • Severe anxiety, tension, high blood pressure
    • Lowered resistance to disease
    • Long term users may also exhibit bizarre or violent behavior
    • Amphetamine Psychosis may develop in long term heavy users. This condition is similar to paranoid schizophrenia and includes symptoms such as hallucinations, paranoid delusions and compulsive behavior. It usually (but not always) disappears when the user stops taking the drug

Pattern of Withdrawal Symptoms:

  • Depression
  • Guilt feelings
  • Body complaints
  • Irritability
  • Skin-picking
  • Insomnia
  • Anorexia (loss of appetite)
  • Anhedonia (loss of pleasure)
  • Cravings

Most Significant Problems:

  • High possibility of a potentially fatal overdose
  • Highly addictive
  • Strong withdrawal symptoms
  • Causes or prolongs existing depressions and anxiety symptoms
  • Using while pregnant can cause severe, permanent damage to the developing fetus.

How Tested For:

  • Cocaine: Urine Test (remains positive for 3+ days after last dose. For heavy users, 6+ days)
  • Amphetamine: Urine Test (remains positive for 2 days after last dose)


Reader Comments

There is always hope! - - Oct 20th 2009

This is for the 46 year old who has tried everything.  Don't give up, but go to the only source that can truly heal you.  The Lord Jesus Christ.  Please go to or and give it a try.  I'm praying for you.

Response to question about your son's actions - Christina - Oct 4th 2008

I was the same age as your son when I started using meth. I am 25 now and am finally beating my addiction by myself. The past 5 years I have not only me using but selling; so I have been around a lot of users and have a lot of knowledge about the drug it self, and the actions of the user.

I want to help you as much as I can. I am very close to my parents, especially my mom, and when I started using I became very distant and short with them.  I always had my door locked, would be gone all night, and when I started selling I moved out because I didn't want my family around that.  For the year I was in my apartment I rarely had family interactions. Moving back home was the best thing for me and after 3 years of using it wasn't until this point that I realized the hurt I had put on my parents. I can only imagine the worry they had and the stress of not knowing what to do.

In your question, you mentioned that your son and his car have a strong odor of car urine. Users lose sense of time and the the majority of them will go without showering for days.  Your skin is your bigest organ and when the chemicals are constantly being put in your body, without showing daily, will build up to a very displeasing stench, like cat urine.

Unfortunatily, I have a positive feeling your son got mixed up with meth.  I will answer any questions you have. Feel free to email me any time . One piece of advice for parents of users, is to be there for them. I know it's frustrating, but tell your son that you love him and do what ever you need to to not argue with him about, TALK.  Because arguing will drive his "need" for drugs. My parents unconditional love I knew I had, no matter how high I was, was always in the back of my mind.  My biggest fear was for them to get a phone call saying their daughter was in jail, and because of this I can honestly say is what saved me.


hope this helps - fireryaries - Aug 21st 2008

your son has a strong cat piss smell on him is it the same smell in the car if so i think your son maybe cooking or helping someone cook look at his hands are they very dry. also look in his trunk he may have a lab or chemicals in there. i'm unfortinily a person who has battled with drugs and alcahol since i was 10 i'm am now 46 and i've done them all i've been in inpatient once and out patient 3 times  i still use and i want you to know that and probably will till i die but i figure maybe i can help someone understand and then able to address it a little differently becasue one way may be better than another. addiction comes in all forms and we all are unigue people we just have a addiction

what is going on with my son - DC - Jul 23rd 2008
From what you've described, I'm 100% convinced your son is using Methamphetamine. Try to find out what support there is for you as a parent in your area. You will never fully understand why he is using, but learning about Meth and stimulants on the web might prove useful. Good luck. DC - London 

your son - - Apr 18th 2008
I have learned from experience that when a user is using and they don't want anyone to know they disappear on a bing until they are tired for a short period before they disappear again.  I would advise you to pray because he is probably using and it will get worse with time.

what is going on with my son - - Apr 5th 2008

My 21 yr old has disappeared again. He does not call or answer phone,

when he has been home lately it has been brief and he does not spend time talking to us. I think he goes to work. I am never sure where he spends leisure time and always smell something like cat urine on his person. I rode in his car the other day and it was overpowering in there. He forgets or blows off any promises he's made.