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Amphetamines - "Meth"
Effects and Hazards
Laevoamphetamine (Benzedrine), dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine), and methamphetamine (Methedrine) are collectively referred to as amphetamines.

The amphetamines are potent psychomotor stimulants. Their use causes a release of the excitatory neurotransmitters dopamine and noradrenaline (norepinephrine) from storage vesicles in the central nervous system. Amphetamines may be sniffed, swallowed, snorted or injected. They induce exhilarating feelings of power, strength, energy, self-assertion, focus and enhanced motivation. The need to sleep or eat is diminished. The release of dopamine typically induces a sense of aroused euphoria which may last several hours: unlike cocaine, amphetamine is not readily broken down by the body. Feelings are intensified. The user may feel he can take on the world.

The euphoria doesn't last. There follows an intense mental depression and fatigue. Amphetamine depletes the neuronal stores of dopamine in the mesolimbic pleasure centers of the brain.

More than any other illegal drug, speed is associated with violence and anti-social behavior. Occasional light and infrequent use is probably relatively harmless; but heavy chronic use can lead to erratic behavior, depressive disorders, "meth bugs" akin to cocaine-induced delusional parasitosis, strain on the cardiovascular system, increasing behavioral disintegration, and outright "amphetamine psychosis".

'Ice' is recrystalised methamphetamine hydrochloride, a potent stimulant. Ice will dissolve in water and break down to smaller particles. It generally takes the form of clear crystallised chunks. Ice induces a profound sense of euphoria in the user by blocking the reuptake, and stimulating the release, of dopamine and noradrenaline in the central nervous system. Ice is a "power drug". Methamphetamine use is typically followed by prolonged depression and fatigue. In contrast to base cocaine, smoking meth will extend its effects for up to 24 hours per ingestion. Smoked in a base form, meth is unappetisingly known on the street as SNOT. It can only be smoked. SNOT gets its name on account of its resemblance to the natural product of the same name. It is very addictive.
The effects of using amphetamines may include:Withdrawal symptoms may include:
  • extreme elation
  • wakefulness
  • alertness
  • enhanced self-confidence
  • aggression
  • talkativeness
  • loss of appetite
  • increased intiative
  • increased physical activity
  • severe craving
  • deep depression
  • psychosis
  • fatigue
  • inertia
  • paranoia
Amphetamine is structurally related to ephedrine, a natural stimulant found in plants of the genus Ephedra. It is also structurally related to adrenaline, the body's "fight or flight" hormone. Amphetamine was first synthesised by Edeleano in Germany in 1887, but it only entered clinical medicine in the late 1920s when its psychostimulant effect was recognised. The US medical and pharmaceutical establishment was worried that supplies of ephedra in faraway China would be exhausted. Amphetamine promised a cheap and synthetic substitute. Like ephedrine, amphetamine dilates the bronchial small sacs of the lungs, a great blessing for sufferers from breathing disorders. So in 1932, Smith, Kline and French introduced the famous Benzedrine Inhaler.

Amphetamine sulphate was aggressively marketed for asthmatics, hay-fever sufferers and anyone with a cold. Amphetamine was soon available in pill form too. "Pep pills" were sold over the counter for all manner of ailments. Doctors prescribed amphetamine for depression, Parkinson's disease, epilepsy, travel-sickness, night-blindness, hyperactive disorders of children, obesity, narcolepsy, impotence, and apathy in old age.

Soldiers on both sides in World War II consumed millions of amphetamine tablets. This practice sometimes caused states of quasi-psychotic aggression in the combatants.

From 1942, Hitler received daily methamphetamine injections from his quack doctor Morell. This corrupted his judgement, undermined his health and probably changed the course of the War.
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