Chapter 11.0: Stimulants


The next class of substances to explore is the large, diverse group that produce central nervous system (CNS) stimulant effects. While you might expect to read about amphetamines (including methamphetamine), you might not have been expecting cocaine, caffeine, and tobacco to be presented here. These are included because they also produce stimulant effects and all of these substances have some degree of addictive potential—in other words, can be objects of substance misuse. There exists considerable controversy among substance misuse/addiction treatment professionals as to whether any of these substances (including coffee and cigarettes) support or interfere with recovery from substance use disorders (SUDs), even those SUDs that do not involve stimulants. As your review the contents from this chapter, consider (or reconsider) your own perspective on this issue. Content presented in this chapter informs and was informed by Begun, A.L. (2020). Introduction to psychoactive substances. In A.L. Begun & M.M. Murray, (Eds.), The Routledge handbook of social work and addictive behaviors. NY: Routledge.

Reading Objectives

After engaging with these reading materials and learning resources, you should be able to:

  • Describe what stimulant substances are and their effects on humans (amphetamines, methamphetamine, cocaine, caffeine, and tobacco/e-cigarettes);
  • Identify epidemiological patterns related to the use/misuse of different stimulant substances;
  • Discuss the potential risks associated polydrug use mixing stimulants with other substances (particularly with alcohol);
  • Define key terms and concepts related to the use of stimulant substances.


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Introduction to Substance Use Disorders by Patricia Stoddard Dare and Audrey Begun is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.