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Amphetamine Usage Patterns & Administration

Amphetamine Usage Patterns & Administration
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  • 0:01 Amphetamine Use Patterns
  • 1:40 Amphetamine Abuse Patterns
  • 4:08 Illegal Amphetamine Abuse
  • 5:44 Amphetamine Withdrawal…
  • 7:17 Lesson Summary
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Instructor: Ashley Dugger

Ashley is an attorney. She has taught and written various introductory law courses.

There are different patterns of usage for amphetamines, as well as forms of administration for the various types of amphetamine. This lesson briefly discusses amphetamine use, abuse, tolerance, dependence, withdrawal, and overdose.

Amphetamine Use Patterns

Did you know that the developers of amphetamine did not even realize the drug was a stimulant? Today, it is one of the most used, and abused, stimulant drugs available in the U.S.

Amphetamine is a central nervous system stimulant drug, meaning it energizes the user's nerves and brain. Stimulant drugs, in general, produce extra brain activity, increase alertness, improve energy and promote a sense of well-being.

Amphetamine was first developed in the late 1800s, but it was the 1920s before experts noticed that amphetamine helps dilate breathing passages. Various over-the-counter cold and allergy remedies containing amphetamine soon hit the market, such as the popular Benzedrine nasal inhaler introduced in the early 1930s.

Amphetamine in pill form was known as benzedrine sulfate. It was prescribed generously, starting in the late 1930s, in order to treat all kinds of ailments, including:

  • Low blood pressure
  • Depression
  • Asthma
  • Hay fever
  • Opiate addiction

Today, amphetamine is administered almost exclusively in pill or tablet form. It is mostly only prescribed to address:

  • Attention deficit activity disorder, or ADHD
  • Narcolepsy
  • Obesity
  • Depression that is not responding to antidepressant medications

Amphetamine Abuse Patterns

The easy accessibility to amphetamine products in the 1930s led many consumers into drug abuse. People were overusing and misusing the medications. For example, people were known to remove the amphetamine-laced strips from the inhalers and chew on them or place them in their coffee. Because there were few regulations on amphetamine, most consumers didn't appreciate the risks. The U.S. experienced a wave of amphetamine-related stimulant use disorders as a result.

Stimulant use disorder is a broad term used to describe stimulant abuse, stimulant addiction, stimulant dependency and any other disorder caused by the recurrent use of stimulant drugs. This wave of stimulant abuse lasted for around 30 years because amphetamine remained common and popular. In the 1940s, World War II servicemen were issued amphetamine pills to keep them alert and focused. Amphetamine pill prescriptions were routine in the 1950s and 60s, most especially among women, for weight loss and depression. The Food and Drug Administration reported that, by the early 1960s, there were likely over 200 million amphetamine pills in circulation in the U.S.

This excessive use led to many cases of stimulant tolerance. Tolerance means a user must take larger amounts of the stimulant drug in order to achieve the desired effect. Repeated use of amphetamine can also lead to stimulant dependence. Dependence generally means a user is reliant on the stimulant drug and may be physically addicted to the drug. Both tolerance and dependence are linked to bingeing. Users binge on amphetamine, or overindulge, in an effort to achieve desired results for an extended period of time.

Low doses, such as those used for weight loss, weren't typically associated with tolerance or dependence. These abuse issues were more often related to those using amphetamine to achieve euphoric effects, which means extreme feelings of happiness and delight.

Illegal Amphetamine Abuse

Amphetamine abuse was considered widespread by the 60s, but the government was fairly quick to act. By 1965, all amphetamine was reclassified to be legally available only by prescription. Then, in 1970, the Controlled Substances Act, or CSA, established five classes, known as 'schedules,' for regulating drugs according to their medicinal value and potential for abuse. Under the new schedules, amphetamine was eventually categorized into Schedule II, which contains drugs with a high potential for abuse and use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence. This class of drugs is heavily regulated and is considered to be the second most dangerous group of drugs.

These measures worked, as amphetamine use abruptly dropped. However, amphetamine abuse re-emerged during the mid-80s, in a different form. The newer generation of abusers is linked to illegal amphetamine drugs produced in clandestine laboratories. Clandestine labs are sites where illegal drugs are secretly manufactured, usually using improvised materials and crude methods. These drugs include methamphetamine, which is also known as meth, crank and ice. Meth is a potent form of amphetamine that can be ingested, injected, snorted or smoked.

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