Stimulants produce many different effects beyond the brain. We discuss the effects of cocaine and amphetamines together, because in practice their measurable effects are identical. Although people taking these drugs claim that there are considerable differences between stimulants, in the laboratory, even experienced drug users cannot distinguish between cocaine and amphetamines or methylphenidates.
Stimulants are a classic example of sympathomomic drugs. This means that they stimulate the activity of the sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system, or imitate such activity. So, they produce the same physiological effects that accompany the usual emotional uplift: heartbeat, breathing increase, blood pressure rises, sweating increases. Meanwhile, the blood drains from the viscera and flows to large groups of muscles and the brain. Finally, the body temperature rises and the pupils dilate.
Cocaine and amphetamines also have an anorexic action (that is, they suppress appetite). After taking these drugs, people simply do not want to eat. Because of these properties, amphetamines and phenmetrazine (Preludin) have been prescribed to people on a diet. Patients actually ate noticeably less and lost weight, but in order to maintain this achievement, they had to increase the doses, and when people stopped using the drug, they, as a rule, became stout again. Thus, the benefits of these drugs were outweighed by the risk of drug dependence and side effects, which called into question their use for the treatment of obesity.
Moderate doses of cocaine and amphetamines cause mood elevation. People become more sociable and talkative. Emotional rise and vigor lead to a state of insomnia. These drugs improve physical endurance and strength. For example, a person shows the best results when running or swimming. The results do not increase much, but the athlete gets a significant advantage. Figure 6-2 shows the effects of methamphetamine on cycling. A control injection has little effect on fatigue and a decrease in driving speed, but an injection of methamphetamine (Methedrine), administered three hours after the start of the test, gives a significant improvement in the result, lasting several hours. Although there is no such data on the action of cocaine, it is safe to assume that it has the same effect, but it is less durable. Improving physical characteristics is one of the reasons that cocaine has recently been so common among athletes. When former coach of the Maryland basketball team Lefty Drizel noted this at a conference in June 1987 devoted to drugs, condemnations rained down on him from all sides. He actually advocated testing athletes for drugs, because if they give even the slightest advantage, the athlete will be tempted to take them.
Since stimulants increase the body’s resistance to fatigue, they are often used in the learning process. A person can learn during the whole night. This use of stimulants poses several problems. Information learned under the influence of a drug is easier to remember after taking the same drug. This is the phenomenon of dependence of learning outcomes on the state of the body, which is also observed in cases with other drugs. Recovering information in a sober form is difficult, so do not resort to this method of learning material. In addition, research data suggests that stimulants gradually deteriorate the ability to memorize. Figure 6-3 shows the increase in memorization errors after taking cocaine. Notice that the effect depends on the dose of the drug and the time it is taken, and that a 32 mg injection is much stronger than 96 mg given through the nose. Separate evidence suggests that stimulants reduce the ability to solve complex problems. Here is the case of William Halstead. Halstead’s discoveries at the beginning of our century make it possible to call him the father of modern surgery. But when he studied the anesthetic properties of cocaine, he was probably the first American to become addicted to this drug.
At this time, he published an article in the New York Medical Journal that began:
“Despite the fact that it can be explained in different ways, although at a loss on the possible misunderstanding of why modern hospitals, and, moreover, many, with a certain distrust expressed almost no interest in such a thing as local anesthesia, and with complete confidence Under these circumstances, I do not think that it is worth trying to defend the reputation of surgery instead of trying to win over others, and this prompted me a few months ago to write on this subject most of something like a scrapping article that poor health prevented me from finishing. ”
Cocaine undoubtedly influenced Halstead’s style, and it’s terrible to think about how this surgeon even operated! Thus, the statement that About cocaine improves mental ability – a myth. Another largely misguided notion of cocaine and amphetamines is their ability to increase sexual potential. This question is far from complete. But according to the available data, it is clear that although some people talk about sexual arousal and increased potency when taking stimulants, the majority do not experience anything like this. Many men who take stimulants, on the contrary, develop impotence, and women have a lack of interest in sex, but stimulants do not have such an effect on most people.
“He is necessary for me, he is simply necessary for me. You can’t even imagine this close to yourself.”
Actor John Belushi about cocaine.