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Amphetamine-2D-skeletal.svgAmphetamine is Schedule II in the United States. This means it is illegal to sell without a DEA license and illegal to buy or possess without a license or prescription.

Addictive Potential: Medium

Emergency Room Visits Yearly: Unknown

Mandatory Minimum Sentence: Not more than 20 years in prison

Mechanism of Action: Increases the Neurotransmitters Noreponephine, Dopamine, and Serotonin


Amphetamine, also known as beta-phenyl-isopropylamine and benzedrine, is a prescription stimulant commonly used to treat Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in adults and children. It is also used to treat symptoms of traumatic brain injury and the daytime drowsiness symptoms of narcolepsy and chronic fatigue syndrome. Initially it was more popularly used to diminish the appetite and to control weight. Brand names of the drugs that contain Amphetamine include Adderall, and Dexedrine. The drug is also used illegally as a recreational club drug and as a performance enhancer. The term “Amphetamine” may also refer to the class of compounds derived from Amphetamine, often referred to as the Substituted Amphetamines.

Amphetamine was first synthesized in 1887 by Lazar Edeleanu at the University of Berlin. He called the compound “phenylisopropylamine”. It was one of a series of compounds related to the plant derivative Ephedrine, which had been purified two years previously by Nagayoshi Nagai. No medical use was found for amphetamine until the 1900s, when it was introduced in most of the world in the form of the pharmaceutical Benzedrine. This drug was used by the militaries of several nations, especially the air forces, to fight fatigue and increase alertness among servicemen. After decades of reports of abuse, the FDA banned Benzedrine inhalers, and limited amphetamines to prescription use in 1959, but illegal use became common.

The related compound methamphetamine was first synthesized from ephedrine in Japan in 1893 by chemist Nagayoshi Nagai. In 1919, crystallized methamphetamine was synthesized by Akira Ogata via reduction of ephedrine using red phosphorus and iodine. The German military was notorious for their use of methamphetamine in World War Two. The German pharmaceutical Previtin is an oral pill of 3mg which became available in 1938, by mid-1941 it became a controlled substance because of the amount of time needed for a soldier to recover/rest after use. The military Doctors were then given guidelines on when they should issue it.

In 1997 and 1998, researchers at Texas A&M University reported finding amphetamine and methamphetamine in the foliage of two Acacia species native to Texas, A. berlandieri and A. rigidula. Previously, both of these compounds had been thought to be human inventions.

Amphetamine, both as d-amphetamine (dextroamphetamine) and l-amphetamine (or a racemic mixture of the two isomers), is believed to exert its effects by binding to the monoamine transporters and increasing extracellular levels of the biogenic amines dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. It is hypothesized that d-amphetamine acts primarily on the dopaminergic systems, while l-amphetamine is comparatively norepinephrinergic. The primary reinforcing and behavioral-stimulant effects of amphetamine, however, are linked to enhanced dopaminergic activity, primarily in the mesolimbic DA system. Amphetamine binds to the dopamine transporter (DAT) and blocks the transporter’s ability to clear DA from the synaptic space. In addition, amphetamine is transported into the cell which leads to dopamine efflux (DA is transported out of the cell and into the synaptic space via reverse transport of the DAT).

Potential for Addiction. Any amphetamine can be habit-forming, this includes prescription medications and illegal amphetamines.

Substance Identification:

     Mandelin Reagent          Marquis Reagent       
d-Amphetamine HCl Moderate bluish green Strong reddish orange

(Info provided by DOJ, 2014)


Amphetamine: Literature Review of a Synthetic Sympathomimetic

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