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Drug Spotlight: Amphetamines

Amphetamines are stimulants that speed up the body’s system. Many are legally prescribed and used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).WhAt is thEiR oRiGin?Amphetamine was first marketed in the 1930s as Benzedrine® in an over-the-counter inhaler to treat nasal congestion. By 1937 amphetamine was available by prescription in tablet form and was used in the treatment of the sleeping disorder, narcolepsy, and ADHD. Over the years, the use and abuse of clandestinely produced amphetamines have spread. Today, clandestine laboratory production of amphetamines has mushroomed, and the abuse of the drug has increased dramatically. Amphetamines can be in pill or powder form.

Common Street Names Include:

Bennies, Addies, Black Beauties, Crank, ice, Speed, and Uppers

Common Amphetamine Prescriptions:

  • methylphenidate. (Ritalin®..or.Ritalin.SR®)
  • amphetamine, dextroamphetamine (Adderall®)
  • dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine®)

Amphetamine Abuse

Amphetamines are most often injected or ingested orally. Crystallized methamphetamine has risen in popularity, which is generally smoked. Just as “crack” is smokable cocaine, “ice” or “crystal” is smokable methamphetamine.

Effects on the Mind

The effects of amphetamines/methamphetamine are similar to cocaine. However, the onset is slower and longer in duration. In contrast to cocaine, which is quickly removed from the brain and is almost completely metabolized, methamphetamine remains in the central nervous system longer. Chronic abuse creates a psychosis which resembles schizophrenia. This psychosis can be characterized.by:

  • Paranoia, skin-picking, hallucinations
  • Violent/erractic behavior among chronic users

Effects on the Body

Increased blood pressure and pulse rates, insomnia, loss of appetite, and physical exhaustion. The effects of overdosing includes: agitation, increased body temperature, hallucinations, convulsions, and possible death.

Amphetamines are Schedule II stimulants. This means they have a high potential for abuse and limited medical uses. The DEA defines Schedule II drugs as, “substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with a high potential for abuse, less abuse potential than Schedule I drugs, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence. These drugs are also considered dangerous.”


Source: DEA (http://www.justice.gov/dea/pr/multimedia-library/publications/drug_of_abuse.pdf#page=44)

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