Stimulants include a wide range of substances that increase activity in the brain and nervous system. There are some medical uses for prescription stimulants such as methylphenidate (Ritalin) and amphetamine salts (Adderall) used in the treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or narcolepsy (1). The misuse or abuse of prescription stimulants or illegal substances such as cocaine and methamphetamine can cause significant problems such as addiction, health problems, and psychological distress (2).

Many people misuse or abuse stimulants for the desired short-term effects. But, there are some negative outcomes that can happen from long-term stimulant use. Some of these include:

Short Term Effects of Stimulants:

-Increase of alertness, energy, and focus

-Decreased fatigue

-Feelings of intense pleasure or euphoria

-Impaired judgement and impulsivity

-Increased blood pressure and heart rate

-Sweating, agitation, and aggression

-Dizziness, tremors, paranoia, and hallucinations

Long Term Effects of Stimulants:

-Increased amounts of drug needed to get desired effect (tolerance)

-Withdrawal when stopping use of drug

-Cardiovascular disease including heart attack and stroke


-Depression and other mood disorders

-Tissue damage and heart failure from snorting and injecting drugs (3,4)

Any use of cocaine or methamphetamine is considered abuse as they have no accepted medical use. Though prescription stimulants may have medical benefit for some people, the following uses of prescription stimulants is considered abuse:

-Using medications not prescribed to you

-Using medications only to get “high”

-Using medications in a way they are not intended such as crushing and snorting or injecting them (2)

One in six people who abuse stimulants will develop a serious medical condition called stimulant use disorder. People with stimulant use disorder have one or all of the following symptoms:

– they cannot control their use of stimulants.

– they continue to use stimulants even though it causes harm to them or their loved ones.

– they spend a lot of time obtaining, using, or recovering from stimulant use.

– they have powerful cravings to use stimulants.

– they need more and more stimulants to get high and have mental distress when they stop stimulant use.

Signs of Overdose:

– Rapid heartbeat or chest pain

– Loss of consciousness

– Rigid or jerking limbs

– Paranoia, extreme anxiety, confusion, psychosis

– Severe headache

If overdose is suspected, immediately dial 911 or go to the nearest emergency department (5)

Behavioral Treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy and contingency management are the best treatments for stimulant use disorder. There are currently no approved pharmacological treatments for stimulant use disorder, but research is ongoing (3).

The Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Care Plan (MCP) covers both individual, residential and group therapy for addictions to residents of Newfoundland and Labrador with a valid MCP card.

There are drop-in support groups for people who experience harms associated with alcohol, other drugs or gambling. Group sessions are free to attend and focus on helping individuals cope with substance use and gambling- related issues. They’re open to anyone in Newfoundland and Labrador who feel they would benefit from the support. These groups are facilitated by Eastern Health’s addictions counselling staff and are currently offered virtually every Tuesday evening from 6:00 – 7:30 pm and every Thursday afternoon from 2:00 – 3:30 pm. To connect to the Virtual support group, contact

Individual counselling and residential treatment at one of the two residential addictions treatment centres in Newfoundland and Labrador may be accessed by contacting the following:

Children and Adolescents – 709-777-2200

Eastern Health

-St. John’s Metro and CBS – Adult Central Intake – 709-752-8888

-Southern Shore – 709-227-3641

-Conception Bay North – 709-945-6513

-Clarenville area – 709-466-5700

-Burin Peninsula – 709-279-7900

-Bonavista area – 709-468-5318

Central Health – Mental Health and Addictions Triage Line – 1-844-353-3330

Western Health

-Burgeo – 709-886-2185

-Corner Brook – 709-634-4506

-Deer Lake – 709-635-7830

-Norris Point (Bonne Bay) – 709-458-2381

-Port aux Basques – 709-695-6250

-Port Saunders – 709-861-9125

-Stephenville -709-643-8740

Labrador-Grenfell Health

-Flower’s Cove – (709) 456-2401 ext. 6247/6242

-Forteau Clinic – (709) 931-2450 Press 2 or enter ext. 9317231

-Happy Valley-Goose Bay – (709) 897-2343

-Labrador City/Wabush – (709) 285-8251

-Makkovik – (709) 923-2207

-Churchill Falls – (709) 925-3732

-Hopedale – (709) 933-3388

-Nain (LG Health) – (709) 922-2912 ext. 212

-Nain (Dept. of Health and Social Development) – (709) 922-2426

-Natuashish – (709) 478-8834

-Port Hope Simpson – (709) 960-0234

-Roddickton-Bide Arm – (709) 457-2215 Press 2 or enter ext. 4577234

-St. Anthony – (709) 454-0326

-Black Tickle/Cartwright – (709) 938-7523

-Mary’s Harbour – (709) 921-6228

-Postville – (709) 923-2207

-Rigolet – (709) 923-2207

-Sheshatshiu – (709) 497-3628

-St. Lewis – (709) 939-2330

Self-help materials can also be found on the website under the “Online Programs” and “Toolbox” drop-down menus

Harm Reduction

It isn’t realistic to expect everyone to not use or to stop using substances. People struggling with addiction face many challenges and may not be ready for full recovery. If someone chooses to use stimulants, it’s important to take steps to be safe. These include:

Not using alone

Taking it slow with low doses,

Snorting or smoking instead of injecting

Using clean supplies. You can get clean supplies and dispose of used supplies by contacting the Safe Works Access Program (SWAP):

Eastern and Central NL – call 709-757-7927 or text 709-765-7927

Western NL – call 709-634-7927 or text 709-660-4800