Drugs of Abuse: Sympathomimetics

Crit Care Clin. 2021 Jul;37(3):487-499. doi: 10.1016/j.ccc.2021.03.002.


Sympathomimetic drugs comprise a broad category of substances including both illicit and prescribed drugs that have deleterious effects when ingested or abused. The clinical syndromes that result from overstimulation of the sympathetic nervous system by reuptake inhibition of biogenic amines, such as norepinephrine and dopamine, carry significant morbidity. Recognition and awareness of the appropriate supportive measures are required to mitigate life-threatening complications of multiple organ systems. The sympathomimetic toxidrome is recognized by a constellation of symptoms including agitation, hyperthermia, tachycardia, and hypertension, and the primary treatment involves supportive care, including the liberal use of benzodiazepines.

Keywords: Amphetamine; Cathinone; Cocaine; MDMA; Methamphetamine; Sympathomimetic; Toxidrome.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Benzodiazepines
  • Humans
  • Hypertension* / drug therapy
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations*
  • Sympathomimetics / adverse effects


  • Pharmaceutical Preparations
  • Sympathomimetics
  • Benzodiazepines