Students vs stimulants

Anna Ludvigsen, Staff Writer

From caffeine to cocaine, most Americans don’t realize they are consuming stimulants every day. According to anesthesiologist Doctor Jesse Noboa, there are many different kinds of stimulants for a variety of specific uses.

“Ones like Adderall are mainly for people with ADHD,” Noboa said. “Some times they are used for weight loss or headaches, but nicotine doesn’t really have any uses other than smoking cessation.”

Kate George ’20 said she experiences a stimulant that is much less strong, since she drinks one to five cups of coffee every day depending on how much she feels she needs.

“Coffee makes me feel more alert in the morning and I have always liked the taste of coffee,” George said. “It has become part of my morning routine at this point since I have adapted to drinking it everyday.”

According to Noboa, how the body responds depends on the stimulant, but all the neurotransmitter levels of each drug affects the brain in different ways.

“These different neurotransmitters stimulate different parts of the brain,” Noboa said. “For example, cocaine would stimulate some of the reward pathways of the brain giving a euphoric feeling and becoming addictive. You don’t get the same feeling with other stimulants like caffeine or Adderall that you get with cocaine because of this.” 

George said if she drinks too much coffee in one day, it will cause her to feel jittery and sometimes light headed, causing her to feel like she is about to faint.

“At one point, coffee definitely became bad for my health because I noticed that I was feeling anxious whenever I started drinking greater amounts of coffee than I usually would,” George said.

According to Noboa, some people try to snort Adderall to try to get the cocaine-like effect, but they are different kinds of stimulants.

“Cocaine prevents reuptake of dopamine in the synaptic gap, increasing levels of dopamine available to interact with receptors, while Adderall increases levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain,” Noboa said. “Dopamine plays a role in memory reward and pleasure and norepinephrine increases energy and attentiveness.”

Gray Rahm ‘20 takes Adderall every morning, an ADHD medication that enhances her attentiveness, and it allows her to be more focused in everything she does.

“I think for a lot of people, Adderall just helps with school, but it helps with everything like driving, sports and basic conversations,” Rahm said. “I remember taking it the first time freshman year and thinking, ‘oh my god, this is how normal people think.”

According to Noboa, there’s not a lot of health benefits or positive effects of stimulants for people, and they mainly lead to negative outcomes.

“People are mainly taking them to stay awake or taking them to concentrate or to get high,” Noboa said. “That’s essentially the effect, but there’s not gonna be a health benefit or longevity benefit or any kind of disease treatment.”

Rahm said that Adderall can have negative effects like eating at irregular times of the day, having less energy and not functioning as well without it.

“Going through the day is much more frustrating without Adderall,” Rahm said. “I get more anxious and feel like I am being annoying. When I’m off them, I can get worked up over small things and then have trouble calming myself down.”

According to Noboa, stimulants are mainly causing more problems even though the temporary effect seems like it’s beneficial. 

“Stimulants are increasing heart rate, increasing blood pressure, causing dehydration and putting a strain on the heart,” Noboa said. “The brain develops a lot of tolerance to these stimulants, so over time, people have to progressively increase the dose to get the same effect.”

Rahm added the fact that many people can recognize when she is not on Adderall, and she is told that she has a much better sense of humor when she is on her medication.

“It’s probably the worst feeling when someone tells be I am not as funny when I haven’t taken Adderall,” Rahm said. “It’s like when someone with curly hair straightens their hair for one day and people tell them they look so much better with straight hair. I don’t like the feeling of being off my meds.” 

Noboa said she doesn’t recommend stimulants for everyone and they usually should only be taken for a short term objective.

“When you are tired you take your caffeine, but your not going to be taking caffeine around the clock, or if it’s for weight loss, you take it to lose weight and then you get off of the stimulant,” Noboa said. “If its Adderall, your going to take that to study for your exam or to pay attention in class, but you really shouldn’t be taking that when your watching TV on a Saturday.” 

Dr. Noboa suggests that all these stimulants should just be used sparingly for whatever purpose they are intended for. 

“The long term risks outweigh any benefits and those risks become more problematic as people get older, as their hearts and bodies cant take all the stimulation that a younger person can,” Noboa said.