CNS Stimulants : Classification, Uses, Side Effects, & Contraindications

CNS Stimulants : Definition, Classification, Example, Mechanism of Action, Uses, Side Effects, Contraindications, & Interactions


  • CNS Stimulants are drugs whose primary action is to stimulate the CNS globally or to improve specific brain functions.
  • The CNS stimulants mostly produce a generalized action which may, at high doses, result in convulsions.
  • As a group, the CNS stimulants have diverse clinical uses and are important as drugs of abuse, as are the CNS depressants.


1. Psychomotor Stimulants : Psychomotor stimulants have predominant cortical action; their psychic effects are more important than those on medullary vital centres. They cause excitement and euphoria, decrease feelings of fatigue, and increase motor activity.


  • Amphetamine
  • Armodafinil
  • Atomoxetine
  • Cocaine
  • Caffeine
  • Dexmethylphenidate
  • Dextroamphetamine
  • Lisdexamfetamine
  • Methamphetamine
  • Methylphenidate
  • Modafinil
  • Nicotine
  • Theophylline
  • Varenicline
  • Pemoline

2. Convulsants


  • Strychnine
  • Picrotoxin
  • Bicuculline
  • Pentylenetetrazol (PTZ)/ Metrazol/ Leptazol

3. Analeptics (Respiratory stimulants) : These are drugs which stimulate respiration and can have resuscitative value in coma or fainting. They do stimulate respiration in subconvulsive doses, but margin of safety is narrow; the patient may get convulsions while still in coma.

The role of analeptics in therapeutics is very limited.


  • Doxapram

For detailed query about Uses, Side Effects, Contraindications, Interactions of CNS stimulant drugs, refer to individual drugs.

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