We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What are Legal Stimulants?

By D. Nelson
Updated Jan 23, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A stimulant is any drug that is used to sharpen or improve mental or physical function. The legality of stimulants differs from region to region, depending on the laws and policies of respective governments. While it may be difficult to compile a list of universally legal stimulants, there are a number of common stimulants that are legal in many areas and that may also be regulated in terms of who can use them. This includes caffeine, nicotine, and prescription amphetamines, such as methylphenidates, also known as Ritalin®.

Caffeine is a drug that is commonly consumed in coffee, although it may also be found in energy drinks, which are soft drinks that are used to increase alertness and awareness. Tea and yerba mate also contain some caffeine. This stimulant occurs naturally in many plants and may act as a pesticide. The coffee bean, which is actually the coffee plant's seed, is a common source.

Another of the most common legal stimulants is nicotine. This drug is consumed most often through the use of tobacco products, such as cigarettes, cigars, and chewing tobacco. Nicotine is an alkaloid, a kind of chemical compound, that occurs naturally in the tobacco plant. Its effects often include a relaxed feeling, alertness, and increased talkativeness. This drug can be incredibly addictive and is considered by many health specialists to be one of the hardest addictions to break.

Amphetamines — such as methylphenidate and dextroamphetamine, also known as Dexedrine® — are also legal in many regions. It is common for governments that have legalized these stimulants to place restrictions on their use so that they may only be legally consumed by those holding prescriptions from medical or psychiatric professionals. These prescription amphetamines are normally prescribed to individuals who have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), which is often characterized by hyperactivity and difficulty focusing.

While these legal stimulants often lead to hyperactivity in users who do not have ADD, they have the opposite effect in users who do suffer from the disorder. As such, they are sometimes misused by people who don't have ADD. In these instances, the drugs may be snorted so that users can experience immediate intensified effects. Most of these prescription stimulants come in pill or capsule form so that the effects are more measured in those who orally consume the drugs for the purposes of medical or psychiatric treatment.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon997041 — On Nov 08, 2016

The closest thing I've found when I run out of adderall is bronkaid, or primatene, due to the ephedrine in the product. I've read ephedrine is very similar to adderall.

By indemnifyme — On Nov 12, 2011

I think it's so strange how if you give a stimulant to someone with ADD, it calms them down. And yet, if a person without ADD takes the same stimulant, it makes them hyper and gives them a ton of energy. I really don't understand it. It seems so counter-intuitive!

By ceilingcat — On Nov 12, 2011

@starrynight - I remember when they changed the regulations about pseudoephedrine. I don't buy cold medicine very much, and I was really confused one day when they asked me for my ID when all I was buying was some decongestant.

Anyway, I don't think it's such a bad thing for certain substances to be regulated. Stimulants can be harmful if you don't take them correctly.

Although, one stimulant I don't see the United States ever regulating is coffee. We love coffee in this country! If the government tried to regulate it, I think it might spark a revolution!

By starrynight — On Nov 11, 2011

I think a lot of stimulants go in and out of legal availability as information and circumstances change. For example, pseudoephedrine is a legal stimulant. It used to be extremely easy to get over the counter and used in a lot of cold medicines.

However, it can also be used to make meth. Now, pseudoephedrine is a controlled substance. In most states you have to show identification to buy a product with this stuff in it. Other states have made pseudoephedrine only available by prescription.

I actually anticipate that more states might make this stuff only available by prescription. Even with the regulations, people can still get around them and purchase enough of this stuff to make drugs with.

By cloudel — On Nov 10, 2011

My husband got diagnosed with ADD last year, and I was afraid that taking a stimulant to manage the condition would cause him to act like someone on speed. I was surprised by what it did to him.

He seemed more together than ever. He could make plans and keep them, and he could finish a thought without changing the subject.

He focused on a project until it was complete. The only downside to this drug was that it made him obsessive about things. If he started something, he had to finish it, even if that meant working outside after dark.

By seag47 — On Nov 10, 2011

Every morning when I get up, I'm thankful that caffeine is legal. I don't think I could get started without my morning coffee. My coworkers would not like me very much if I showed up without having had it.

If I have to go without it for some reason, I am really irritable. I can't collect my thoughts, and I just want to fall asleep. In a few hours, I will get a headache.

I realize this means I am dependent upon caffeine, but as long as it's legal, I think this is okay. I only drink one strong cup a day, so I'm not doing major harm to my body.

By lighth0se33 — On Nov 09, 2011

@shell4life – My husband recently had to quit smoking so that we could afford to have health insurance. He got a letter in the mail from his insurance company stating that the cost would triple if he continued to smoke.

I have a kidney condition, so being without insurance is not an option for us. He realized this, and he decided that it was time to quit.

He had tried several times before, but he always gave in to the craving. This time, his workplace offered coaching and nicotine patches. That, combined with lollipops to keep his hands and mouth busy, has helped him stay smoke-free for three weeks now.

I agree with you that it seems like cigarettes are on the road to becoming illegal. The government is trying to take care of those who refuse to take care of themselves.

By shell4life — On Nov 08, 2011

Cigarettes may be legal, but there are an increasing number of laws that purposely make life difficult for smokers. The hope is that the laws will give them an incentive to quit.

In my county, you can no longer smoke in restaurants or bars, in public parks, or even on the sidewalk in front of businesses. Pretty soon, I think smoking may be made illegal everywhere but in your own home.

Health insurance companies are charging more than ever to cover smokers these days. Some people quit because they cannot afford the premiums, but others just cancel their policies because they don't want to quit.

By animegal — On Nov 08, 2011

Does anyone know if there are legal amphetamines that you can buy?

I really need something strong that will help me stay up during my exam period and while Adderall is easy to get on campus, I would prefer something more natural and that isn't supposed to have a prescription.

I want to buy legal drugs, preferably over-the-counter so that I can get through a difficult period. I have heard that Profiderall is an alternative to Adderall, but I am not sure what is in it. Does anyone know if it is a legal herb, or something else? I don't want to get caught with anything like party pills.

By wander — On Nov 07, 2011

@popcorn - You could try and take caffeine pills which will give you one of the best natural highs in my opinion. Though they can make you jittery, which is a bit of a downside. As far as other OTC stimulants go you may want to check out some of the online stores that sell herbal highs.

There are plenty of legal herb drugs out there that will give you everything from an energy boost, to an all out hallucinogenic experience. You just need to do some research and find out what works for you. Don't worry too much about the side effects though, most are harmless. As with anything though, make sure you double check the labels so you have the whole story.

By popcorn — On Nov 07, 2011

When you are looking for over the counter stimulants to help keep you awake, what are some good options?

I have heard that some herbal stimulants can have some pretty rough side effects, so I want to find something that will keep me focused without having to rely on drinking a ton of coffee. I really don't like the way coffee tastes, so I prefer not to drink it.

I am open to supplements and foods that will have an effect on my energy levels. Preferably things that are healthy and won't make me sick. I hate having reactions to things.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.