The Progression of Amphetamine Usage

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Eric Sorenson
Chem 461
The Progression of Amphetamine Usage
Introduction
Amphetamine and other related stimulants stimulants such as methylphenidate are common drugs used to combat physical and mental fatigue. Originally developed for their nasal decongestant abilities these stimulants become a major component in child and adolescent medicine. Why have we seen, in the last two decades, this street drug known as “speed” become increasingly more prevalent in the younger developing generations? As a schedule II drug the medicinal use of amphetamine and substituted amphetamines is limited but, curiously, has emulated a variety of seemingly legitimate uses in our society throughout the last century. We know the risks, dangers and consequences of the use of this drug in both clinical and recreational setting but American Pharmaceutical companies continue to manufacture 88% of the world’s legal stimulants. This paper will examine the history of use of amphetamine and some important derivatives throughout our society and then look at drugs such as Vyvanse, which is one attempt to diminish the abuse liability and possibly enhance therapeutic quality. History and Cultural Significance

During the late nineteenth century, the Romanian chemist L. Edeleando was the first to synthesize amphetamine, and note its similarity to the natural product ephedrine, although its nasal decongestion and stimulant effects were not observed until the 1920s10. In 1937 the drug became available in tablet form and entered the lives of Americans. Marketed as Benzedrine Sulfate this drug was sought after as a medication to treat narcolepsy, depression, obesity, alcoholism, cocaine addiction and certain psychological and mood disorders such as Minimum Brain Deficiency (MBD), which was, renamed Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) in 198010. At the present day, the name of this disorder has been redefined as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) to refer broadly to ADD and ADHD. Benzedrine was commonly given to stay at home mothers who needed extra motivation to get through her busy day of chores and cleaning. This drug quickly adopted the names “Momma’s Little Yella Pills” or “Momma’s Little Helper.” It was also reported that Benzedrine was taken by the physicians themselves to treat their own fatigue. Methamphetamine, a more powerful and addicting form of amphetamine, was brought on the market in North America, Germany and other parts of Europe that was named Methedrine and Pervitin in 1940. The true power of these stimulants was seen during WWII where these amphetamines were ubiquitous among the allied and axis forces. Soldiers of all types on all fronts consumed amphetamine and methamphetamine. Pilots on 16-20 hour long flights benefited from the increased wakefulness these drugs seemed to induce. The United States Air Force to this day continues to support and defend the use of amphetamines. There was such a large amount of Pervitin consumed by German soldiers that the Blitzkrieg style warfare adopted by the Germans at this time is often referred to as “Blitzcrank.” It was also known that during the war Adolf Hitler was receiving methamphetamine, among other things, through daily intravenous injection. Stimulated from large war profits of Benzedrine and Methedrine pharmaceutical companies continued to manufacture even more of these chemicals that promoted widespread use into the 50s and 60s. Benzedrine, racemic amphetamine, along with Dexedrine, pure D amphetamine, was supplied to American soldiers during the Vietnam War in even larger amounts than WWII. During the same time these drugs became increasingly more popular among adolescent and college student as performance-enhancing and recreational drugs. These were consumed in both legal i.e. clinical and illegal i.e. street formulations. At the onset of the 90s and into the 2000s our national dependence becomes apparent. The use of these stimulants to treat ADHD was originally intended...
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