Ephedrine Category: Stimulants
How it’s used
Ephedrine and pseudoephedrine are chemically similar and have similar effects but they are different drugs. Ephedrine is a central nervous system stimulant (‘upper’). It is used to treat breathing problems and nasal congestion. You can buy it in tablet, liquid and nasal form in over-the-counter medicines such ascough bottles and flu remedies. You can also use ephedrine as a weight loss aid and to increase energy and alertness when body building. In the US it is prescribed for seasickness. It is also found in some ‘head shop’ products which contain sida cordifolia.
Short term effects
- Reduces appetite
- Speeds up energy levels
- Controls seasickness
- Large doses may cause nervousness, insomnia, headache and sweating
- Your heart rate and blood pressure go up
Long terms effects
- May lead to mental health problems such as psychosis or mania
- Weight loss
- You risk overdose if you take more than you are prescribed
- Do not use if you are taking a type of antidepressant called SNRI's (serotonin-nor epinephrine re-uptake inhibitors). This increases your risk of symptoms.
If you are pregnant
Do not use if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Ephedrine acts on the dopamine and serotonin receptors in your brain and so you can become dependent on it. You may develop tolerance so you need to take more to get the same effect.
What help is available?
- Self-help support such as Narcotics Anonymous
- Counselling or psychotherapy
- Complementary therapies, such as acupuncture
- Your doctor
- Residential treatment programmes (clinics)
- One to one or group family support
- Contact the Drugs Helpline 1800 459 459 to find out about options in your area