(alpha-methyl-beta-phenyl-ethyl-amine) A colorless, liquid drug, C6H5CH2CH(NH2)CH3, that acts as a stimulant of the central nervous system by causing the release of the neurotransmitters noradrenaline and dopamine from the nerve endings. The class "amphetamines" is used to describe amphetamine and any of its derivatives.
First synthesized in Germany
in 1887, nothing was done with the drug until the late 1920's, when its medicinal uses began to be investigated. In 1927, it was found to raise blood pressure
, enlarge nasal
al passages and, in 1932, began to be marketed as Benzedrine
in a non-prescription inhaler
to treat nasal
congestion. In 1935, it was successfully used in treating narcolepsy
. In 1937, amphetamine was found to calm hyperactive children
, improving their concentration
. During World War II
, large amounts of amphetamines were given to soldiers to keep them alert and awake. In the Vietnam War
, amphetamines were widely used by America
n forces. Use of amphetamine has been sanctioned by some components of the United States Air Force
since 1960 and was used by the tactical air forces until the practice was proscribed in 1991.
It is used today, usually in its crystalline sulfate or phosphate form, as a medicine to treat narcolepsy, depression, obesity, Parkinson's disease, and "attention deficit disorder." Because of the risk of addiction, it is prescribed only rarely. It is often used nonmedically to produce a feeling of alertness and wellbeing, to increase muscular activity, and to reduce fatigue and appetite.
Possible side effects include cardiac
irregularities and gastric
disturbances. Chronic use can result in insomnia
, and aggression
. Prolonged use can result in psychosis
from overexhaustion or cardiac arrest. Amphetamine-induced psychosis often mimics schizophrenia
, with paranoia
In the United States, amphetamines are a non-narcotic Schedule II controlled substance.