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Because dextroamphetamine can so be very effective (and addicting) it became widely popular in the middle of the last century.

Dextroamphetamine is an Amphetamine

Dextroamphetamine is a stimulant drug known to increase wakefulness and focus, decrease fatigue and eliminate the desire to eat.

Drug Enforcement Administration, Department Of Justice: Schedule II Controlled Substance

Generic names for the drug include:

  • d-amphetamine
  • dexamphetamine
  • dexamfetamine
  • dextroamphetamine
  • dextro-amphetamine
  • (S)-(+)-amphetamine

All the following brand-names contain dextroamphetamine:

Dextroamphetamine can be very effective: Are the benefits worth the side- and after-effects?

History of Dextroamphetamine

Because dextroamphetamine can so be very effective (and addicting) it became widely popular in the middle of the last century. The psychiatric drug became famous as “uppers” and diet pills as drug-makers advertised the addictive chemical as a wonder-drug while disregarding its dangerous side-effects.

  • “New life for the living... Dexedrine's uniquely 'smooth' antidepressant effect restores mental altertness and optimism, induces feeling of energy and well-being... Dexedrine has the happy effect of bringing back life for the living.” (1950)
  • “For these lethargic overweight patients, Dexedrine offers two important benefits: 1. effective appetite control, 2. a renewed level of energy.” (1966)
  • “Does more than curb appetite...also relieves the tensions of dieting.” (1959)
  • “Probably the basic antidepressant... Dexedrine helps provide rapid symptomatic relief. The patient is more alert, responds more favorably to her environment.” (1950s)
ABOVE: “Dexedrine's uniquely 'smooth' antidepressant effect restores mental altertness and optimism, induces feeling of energy and well-being... Dexedrine has the happy effect of bringing back life for the living.” (Magazine advertisement circa 1950, Smith Kline & French; GlaxoSmithKline.)
ABOVE: “Victims of overeating and underactivity: for these lethargic overweight patients, Dexedrine... offers two important benefits: 1. effective appetite control and 2. a renewed level of energy.” (Magazine advertisement circa 1966, Smith Kline & French; GlaxoSmithKline.)
ABOVE: “Probably the basic antidepressant... Dexedrine helps provide rapid symptomatic relief. The patient is more alert, responds more favorably to her environment.” (Magazine advertisement circa 1950s, Smith Kline & French; GlaxoSmithKline.)
ABOVE: “Does more than curb appetite...also relieves the tensions of dieting.” (Magazine advertisement circa 1959, Wallace Laboratories.)

As use of the addictive chemical spread, so did its abuse, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in a 2005 report. Referring to dextroamphetamine, methamphetamine, and all the amphetamines, the DEA states:

In the 1960s, amphetamines became a perceived remedy for helping truckers to complete their long routes without falling asleep, for weight control, for helping athletes to perform better and train longer, and for treating mild depression. ... With experience, it became evident that the dangers of abuse of these drugs outweighed most of their therapeutic uses.

Increased control measures were initiated in 1965 with amendments to the federal food and drug laws... Many pharmaceutical amphetamine products were removed from the market including all injectable formulations, and doctors prescribed those that remained less freely. Recent increases in medical use of these drugs can be attributed to their use in the treatment of ADHD.

How Dextroamphetamine Works

When we are stressed or under threat, the central nervous system prepares us for physical action by creating particular physiological changes. Amphetamines prompt the brain to initiate this 'fight or flight' response. These changes include:

  • The release of adrenalin and other stress hormones
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Redirected blood flow into the muscles and away from the gut

In small doses amphetamines can banish tiredness and make the user feel alert and refreshed. However, this drug-induced burst of energy and focus comes at a price: a “speed crash” always follows the high and may leave the person feeling nauseous, irritable, depressed and extremely exhausted.

The effects of amphetamines and methamphetamine are similar to cocaine, but their onset is slower and their duration is longer.—U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) fact sheet

ABOVE: Drug Enforcement Administration, US Department of Justice. “Drug Fact Sheet: Amphetamines,” undated, retrieved January 15, 2013 www.justice.gov/dea/druginfo/drug_data_sheets/Amphetamines.pdf.

Abuse

Abuse of dextroamphetamine drugs has many serious potential side effects, including psychotic behavior, depression, anxiety, fatigue, paranoia, aggression, violent behavior, confusion, insomnia, auditory hallucinations, mood disturbances and delusions.

Violent and erratic behavior is frequently seen among chronic abusers of amphetamines, especially methamphetamine.

According to the DEA the effects of amphetamines are similar to cocaine but the onset is slower and the duration is longer. Chronic abuse produces a psychosis that resembles schizophrenia and is characterized by paranoia, picking at the skin, preoccupation with one’s own thoughts, and auditory and visual hallucinations. These psychotic symptoms can persist for months and even years after use of these drugs has ceased, and may be related to their neurotoxic effects.

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  • SOURCES:
  • Drug Enforcement Administration, US Department of Justice. “Amphetamines,” Drugs of Abuse Publication. National Drug Intelligence Center, 2005 ed.
  • Drug Enforcement Administration, US Department of Justice. “Drug Fact Sheet: Amphetamines,” undated, retrieved January 15, 2013 www.justice.gov/dea/druginfo/drug_data_sheets/Amphetamines.pdf.
  • National Institute of Mental Health. Medications. Bethesda, MD: National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, US Department of Health and Human Services; NIH Publication No. 02-3929, 2007 ed. www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/medications/medications.pdf.
  • Gorman, Jack M. The Essential Guide to Psychiatric Drugs. New York, NY: St. Martin's Press, 1992.
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ProCentra: Liquid “Dexedrine”

ProCentra is a new name for what used to be a popular diet drug, Dexedrine. Now sold for children in bubblegum-flavored liquid and advertised as “easier to swallow.” [More]

How Safe is Ritalin?

Many think methylphenidate (Ritalin) is safe, or mild, because so many children use it. However, the government classifies the psychoactive drug with cocaine and morphine because it is highly addictive. [More]

Do psycho-stimulants impair creativity?

Stimulant drugs may have subtle impacts on cognitive and intellectual processes. Both parents and researchers have noticed that children taking Ritalin sometimes answer questions in ways that seem overly compliant or narrow, suggesting the drug might restrict creative thinking. One study found hyperactive children taking Ritalin offered less varied answers to open-ended questions.

How much do the “neuro-enhancing” drugs really help? And there's the question of what we mean by “smarter.”

The psycho-stimulants help students bear down on their work, but with odd effects. One college student says he spends “too much time researching a paper rather than actually writing it.” Another student looked back at papers he'd written while on Adderall and found them verbose: “I'd produce two pages on something that could be said in a couple of sentences.”

Could enhancing one kind of thinking exact a toll on others?

All these questions need proper scientific answers, but for now much of the discussion is taking place furtively, among an increasing number of Americans who are performing daily experiments on their own brains (or their children's brains).

ABOVE: Diller, L.H. Running on Ritalin: A Physician Reflects on Children, Society, and Performance in a Pill; Bantam Doubleday Dell Pub. Group, Inc. (1998); citing Feidler, N.L., et al., "The effects of stimulant drugs on curiosity behaviors of hyperactive boys," Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 11:193-206 (1983). Talbot, M. "Brain Gain: The underground world of 'neuroenhancing' drugs," The New Yorker, 4/2009.

What do Amphetamines Include?

BRAND NAME GENERIC NAME
Adderall amphetamine plus dextroamphetamine
[instant release]
Adderall XR amphetamine plus dextroamphetamine
[extended release]
Benzedrine amphetamine
[instant release]
Biphetamine amphetamine plus dextroamphetamine
Desoxyn methamphetamine
[instant release]
Desoxyn Gradumet methamphetamine
[extended release]
Dexedrine dextroamphetamine
[instant release]
Dexedrine SR dextroamphetamine
[extended release]
Dexedrine Spansule dextroamphetamine
[extended release]
Dextrostat dextroamphetamine
[instant release]
ProCentra dextroamphetamine
[immediate release, bubblegum flavor]
Vyvanse dextroamphetamine
with lysine (lisdexamfetamine)
[extended release]
  • ALTERNATE NAMES:
  • amphetamine = amfetamine = dl-amphetamine
  • dextroamphetamine = dexamfetamine
    = dexamphetamine = d-amphetamine
  • methamphetamine = d-methamphetamine
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