Stimulants: epidemiology and impact on mental health

by Professor Fabrizio Schifano and Dr Antonio Albanese


Last updated: May 2015


In the second half of the 1990s, a global trend of escalating stimulant misuse was observed across a number of EU countries (stimulants such as cocaine, amphetamine, methamphetamine, methylenedioxymethamphetamine/ MDMA, cathinone derivatives, benzylpiperazine/BZP).


When reorganising statutory and non-statutory services to cope with this increasingly widespread clinical issue, the epidemiological approach is of paramount importance, and a clear appreciation of the levels of stimulant misuse is necessary in order to allocate the appropriate levels of resources.


Stimulant misuse is typically associated with an imbalance of neurotransmitters, especially dopamine. Therefore, practising psychiatrists need to be aware of the psychopathological consequences related to substance misuse in order to refine their own diagnostic and clinical management skills.


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