Amphetamines are stimulants that speed up the body’s system. Many are legally prescribed and used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Street names include Bennies, Black Beauties, Crank, Ice, Speed and Uppers. Amphetamines can look like pills or powder. Common prescription amphetamines include methylphenidate (Ritalin® or Ritalin SR®), amphetamine and dextroamphetamine (Adderall®) and dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine®).
Amphetamines are generally taken orally or injected. However, the addition of “ice,” the slang name of crystallized methamphetamine hydrochloride, has promoted smoking as another mode of administration. Just as “crack” is smokable cocaine, “ice” is smokable methamphetamine. The effects of amphetamines and methamphetamine are similar to cocaine, but their onset is slower and their duration is longer. In contrast to cocaine, which is quickly removed from the brain and is almost completely metabolized, methamphetamine remains in the central nervous system longer, and a larger percentage of the drug remains unchanged in the body, producing prolonged stimulant effects.
Chronic abuse produces a psychosis that resembles schizophrenia and is characterized by paranoia, picking at the skin, preoccupation with one’s own thoughts as well as auditory and visual hallucinations. Violent and erratic behavior is frequently seen among chronic abusers of amphetamines and methamphetamine. Physical effects of amphetamine use include increased blood pressure and pulse rates, insomnia, loss of appetite and physical exhaustion.
Drugs that cause similar effects include: dexmethylphendiate, phentermine, benzphetamine, phendimetrazine, cocaine, crack, methamphetamine and khat. Overdose effects include agitation, increased body temperature, hallucinations, convulsions and possible death. Amphetamines are Schedule II stimulants, which means that they have a high potential for abuse and limited medical uses. Pharmaceutical products are available only through a prescription that cannot be refilled.
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 sleeping disorders, 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.
(SOURCE: DEA www.getsmartaboutdrugs.com)