Dextroamphetamine: Composition, Therapeutic use, Treatment. Dextroamphetamine effects. Reactions with other drugs.

Last modified: Saturday, 30. May 2009 - 3:13 pm

Official names: Dextroamphetamine, D-amphetamine, dextroamphetamine sulfate (Dexedrine)
Street names: Speed, uppers, bennies, beans, dexies, black beauties, go pills, LA, turnarounds, West Coast turnarounds, pep pills
Drug classifications: Schedule II, stimulant


Key terms

AMPHETAMINE PSYCHOSIS: A delusional state of mind caused by severe amphetamine abuse. Paranoia, hallucinations, and unfounded feelings of persecution are common features.
ATTENTION DEFICIT HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER (ADHD): A mental disorder characterized by persistent impulsive behavior, difficulty concentrating, and hyperactivity that causes lowered social, academic, or occupational functioning.
CATAPLEXY: An abrupt, total loss of muscle control spurred by an emotional event. Cataplexy frequently occurs along with narcolepsy.
METHAMPHETAMINE (CRYSTAL): An amine derivative of amphetamine, used in the form of its crystalline hydrochloride as a central nervous system stimulant. It is often illicitly produced in secret labs.
METHYLPHENIDATE: Ritalin; a stimulant drug choice for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
NARCOLEPSY: Arare, chronic sleep disorder characterized by constant daytime fatigue and sudden attacks of sleep.
TIC: A repetitive, involuntary spasm that increases in severity when it is purposefully surpressed. Tics may be motor (such as muscle contractions or eye blinking) or vocal.
TOURETTE’S SYNDROME: A chronic tic disorder involving multiple motor and/or vocal tics that cause distress or significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.



Dextroamphetamines are a part of the amphetamine class of drugs, central nervous system (CNS) stimulants that are used in the treatment of certain brain-based disorders. Because of their long-lasting and potent stimulant effects, they are also highly physically and psychologically addictive and have a high rate of abuse.
Amphetamines were first synthesized in 1887 by the German chemist L. Edeleano. However, they were not generally used until 1932, when pharmaceutical manufacturer Smith, Kline and French introduced Benzedrine, an over-the-counter inhaler for relieving nasal congestion. By the late ’30s, the drug was available in tablet form for the treatment of several neurological disorders, including narcolepsy (a sleeping disorder), Parkinson’s disease, and minimal brain dysfunction (now called attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD).
During World War II, dextroamphetamines and methamphetamines were widely distributed among Allied, German, and Japanese soldiers to keep them awake and alert on the battlefield. Beyond the front, civilians who worked in factories manufacturing goods for the war effort were also using the drug to boost productivity. After the war, use escalated abroad. Abuse of amphetamines became a widespread problem in Japan, until legislation known as the “Amphetamine Control Law” was passed in 1951.
In 1952, Smith, Kline and French introduced the stimulant Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine sulfate) for narcolepsy in the United States. It was manufactured as a Spansule, the first time-release capsule, which gradually released the drug over a period of time.
In the United States, amphetamines were prescribed for many reasons, from the treatment of depression to weight loss. The drug was being used by long-distance truckers, who dubbed the drug “West Coast turnaround” because of its ability to help them stay awake during long-haul and coast-to-coast runs. Athletes used the stimulant to enhance performance, and the military continued its use through the Korean conflict and into Vietnam.
In the 1960s the abuse of the drug became more widespread. A new method of using — injecting liquid methampetamine — gained popularity after doctors in San Francisco began prescribing the treatment for heroin addicts. As massive prescription fraud and drug abuse mounted, calls for stricter legislation of amphetamines were becoming louder.
Senate testimony given in the late 60s in support of passage of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) reported that 50% of the amphetamines being produced annually in the U.S. were ending up in the illegal drug market. In order to stop rising abuse, the amphetamines were changed to a Schedule II drug with passage of the CSA in 1970. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), over two billion units of amphetamine and methamphetamine were legally manufactured in the United States in 1970, enough for ten doses for every person in the United States at the time. Stricter limits would be established to slow production of the drug.
Stimulants like amphetamines may look attractive to athletes for their ability to slow appetite and raise energy levels and mood. They may be attracted to amphetamine use by the belief that a lower weight will improve athletic performance. However, the negative side effects experienced from long-term abuse of amphetamines are greater than any temporary gains in ability. Amphetamines are considered a banned substance by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), and a number of other national and international sporting authorities. Amphetamines are also banned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA); however, the NCAA does make exceptions for players with a documented medical need for stimulant drugs (i.e., ADHD).

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