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Amphetamine (α-methylphenethylamine) is a synthetic drug originally developed (and still used) as a diet suppressant. Today it is officially admitted for treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. Amphetamine and its derivatives (amphetamines) are part of a broader class of compounds called phenethylamines.

Table of contents
1 Overview
2 Chemistry
3 Effects
4 Medical use
5 Performance enhancing use
6 The law
7 External links


Amphetamine is a synthetic substance used to suppress appetite, control weight, treat narcolepsy and also ADHD. It is a commonly abused drug, usually bought on the street very impure or mixed with other drugs. Amphetamine can be snorted, taken orally, smoked, or injected.

When the drug is snorted, smoked or injected, the effects can be felt within a few minutes, but the duration is usually lessened compared to oral administration. When taken orally, the effects of the drug tend to feel "smoother" and are generally longer-lasting.

Amphetamine was introduced in most of the world in the form of the pharmaceutical Benzedrine from the late 1920s. It was banned except for prescribed use in the late 1950s.

It is also used recreationally and for performance enhancement. These uses are illegal in most countries.

Chronic amphetamine use can cause severe psychological dependence. Long-term use can result in extreme exhaustion and malnutrition.


Amphetamine has the chemical formula C9H13N, and has a molecular weight of 135.2084 amu. Its IUPAC name is α-methylphenethylamine.


Amphetamine's behavioral effects come from its action on the
monoamine transporter DAT (dopamine transporter) which leads to an increase in the amount of dopamine in the synaptic cleft.

Positive effects

Increased alertness, euphoria. A feeling of understanding and clarity. A sense of increased energy and concentration, so much so that mundane tasks (e.g. ironing) will be performed as a way of expending this energy. People diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) report a calming effect and increased concentration also.

Neutral effects

Rapid talking, decreased hunger and weight loss, hallucinations - these symptoms occur mainly with abuse. For people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, these effects have not been observed within the recommended doses.

Negative effects

Changed sleep patterns, loss of REM sleep (dreaming), involuntary bodily movements, hyperactivity, nausea, itchy, blotchy and greasy skin, delusions of power, aggressiveness, irritability, and addiction. These symptoms occur mainly with abuse. When snorted, amphetamine can attack the delicate lining of the nostrils.

Longterm negative effects

Lowered immune system effectiveness, heart problems, psychological damage, stroke, damage to liver, kidney and lung disorders, death. These symptoms occur mainly with abuse.

Binging or chronic use can can lead to amphetamine psychosis which causes delusions and paranoia.

Medical use

Like Ritalin, amphetamine is one of the standard treatments of ADHD. Its effects on ADHD is improved impulse control, improved concentration, decreased sensory overstimulation and decreased irritability. This results in an overall calming effect.

When used within the recommended doses, side effects like loss of appetite appear only initially.

Amphetamines are also a standard treatment for narcolepsy.

Medical use for weight loss is still approved in some countries, but is regarded as obsolete in the United States.

Performance enhancing use

Amphetamine is usually not used by athletes whose sport involves extreme cardiovascular workout, as methamphetamine and amphetamine put a great deal of stress on the heart.

The United States Air Force uses amphetamines (Adderall) as stimulants for pilots, calling them "go pills".

The law

Amphetamine and methamphetamine are Schedule II control drugs, classified as a CNS (Central Nervous System) Stimulant, in the United States. A Schedule II drug is classified as one that: has a high potential for abuse, has a currently accepted medical use and is used under severe restrictions, and has a high possibility of severe psychological and physiological dependence.

In the United Kingdom, amphetamines are regarded as Class B drugs. The maximum penalty for possession is three months imprisonment and a 2,500 fine.

External links