|Amphetamines are drugs such as dextroamphetamine and benzedrine. Amphetamines were originally developed to treat asthma, sleep disorders (narcolepsy) and hyperactivity. In 1920, a drug called "ephedrine" was used to treat asthma. In China, the ma huang plant (Ephedra vulgaris) had been used for centuries to treat people with asthma. It is no wonder that the plant worked...the ma huang plant contains ephedrine. In 1932, synthetic ephedrine was sold "over-the-counter" and was available without a prescription until 1954. During World War II, amphetamines were given to soldiers and pilots to keep them alert and to fight off fatigue.|
Amphetamine Effects on the Nervous SystemAmphetamines are stimulants of the central nervous system and sympathetic division of the peripheral nervous system. It appears that the main action of amphetamines is to increase the synaptic activity of the dopamine and norepinephrine neurotransmitter systems. Amphetamines can:
All of these actions result in more dopamine in the synaptic cleft where it can act on receptors.
Many of the effects of amphetamines are similar to cocaine. Addiction to and withdrawal from amphetamines are both possible. Amphetamine use also causes tolerance to its effects. This means that more and more amphetamine must be used to get "high." Amphetamine withdrawal is characterized by severe depression and fatigue. Users will go to extreme measures to avoid the "downer" that comes when the effect of amphetamines wears off.
Short-term effects of amphetamine use include:
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