Benzedrine is a trade name for amphetamine.
The Council of Europe says it first appeared in sport at the Berlin Olympics in 1936. It was produced in 1887 and the derivative, Benzedrine, was isolated in the USA in 1934. Its perceived effects gave it the street name “speed”.
British troops used 72 million amphetamine tablets in the Second World War and the RAF got through so many that “Methedrine won the Battle of Britain” according to one report.
The problem was that amphetamine leads to a lack of judgement and a willingness to take risks, which in sport could lead to better performances but in fighters and bombers led to more crash landings than the RAF could tolerate. The drug was withdrawn but large stocks remained on the black market. Amphetamine was also used legally as an aid to slimming.
Amphetamines and Methamphetamine. Amphetamines includes precription drugs such as Dexedrine, Desoxyn, and Ritalin, which go by street names such as speed, bennies, black beauties, uppers, eye-openers, white crosses, double crosses, and cartwheels. Prescribing of the legal forms of amphetamine (schedule II) is highly regulated, but it is often prescribed for obesity, narcolepsy, Attention Deficit Disorder, or Medial Brain Dysfunction.
The illicit forms, such as Methamphetamine, are legally classified as Schedule I drugs, meaning that they have a high potential for abuse and little or no legitimate medical use. The illicit forms are commonly known by the names Crank, Meth, and Crystal.
These drugs are central nervous system stimulants. Common forms include white crystalline powder which is soluble in water and slightly soluble in alcohol. Methamphetamine is freely soluble in both alcohol and water. The powder form sometimes comes in chunks or crystals that are white or off-white. The prescription varieties are available in a variety of capsules and tablets of different colors. The routes of administration can include “snorting” the powder, injecting a solution into the bloodstream, or swallowing a capsule or tablet. They can even be smoked.
Sometimes these drugs are mixed with other drugs to form a “cocktail”, such as mixing amphetamine/methamphetamine with barbituates which is known as a “goofball”. The drugs can also be mixed with heroin for a “speedball”. Sometimes they are also mixed with LSD or PCP.
After injecting these drugs, users can experience a rush of pleasure similar to orgasm or electric shock. Appetite is reduced. There is increased alertness, euphoria, excitement, creativity, and power. Sex drive can be altered. Users may experience restlessness, dizziness, confusion, depression, or irritability. There is also the possibility of paranoia, distorted perceptions, and hallucinations.
Physical effects can include:
increased heart rate
increased breathing rate
foul taste in mouth
retraction of gum tissue
increased urine output
A methamphetamine “run” of three to five days can produce euphoria which is replaced by agitation on the second day, along with frightening visual images and exhaustion. An amphetamine “run” may produce psychosis which can bring on uncontrollable violent behavior similar to paranoid schizophrenia. This type of psychosis can be very difficult to differentiate from schizophrenia and often a urine test is required to confirm the diagnosis.
Users can experience a “crash” after long periods of usage. The crash can result in depression and suicidal ideation.
Are You Dependent?
Do you use speed regularly?
Do you think about how and when you’re going to use speed again?
Is your work or school performance affected by your drug use?
Are you having problems with family and friends?
Do you spend more on speed than you can afford?
Do you use drugs in addition to amphetamines?
Fact: Speed users reach a plateau where no pleasure is possible.
The most potent form of speed available — with or without a prescription — is methamphetamine, A.K.A. crystal, crank, tweak, go-fast, and dozens of other names.
In medicine, it comes in tablet form, as the prescription drug, Desoxyn®.
More often, though, it’s cooked in makeshift labs and sold on the street as a powder, which is injected, snorted, or swallowed. A smokeable form of crystal, called “ice,” is also used.
Widely available in the 1960’s, crystal faded in the ’70s, as controls were tightened on legal production, which reduced its diversion onto the black market.
But in the early ’90s, crystal made an amazing comeback. And it’s been back in a big way ever since.
The result? Crystal became a hot new high to a new generation of users too young to know firsthand — or to have heard secondhand — the downside of uppers.
And what a downside they have. Risks are so extreme because the drug works so well at overamping the central nervous system and zapping feelings of hunger and fatigue.
But instead of giving the old body/mind a chance to chill between use, crystal users extend speed “runs” for days or weeks, without food or rest, putting impossible demands on their bodies and brains.
For needle users, add in the hazards that come with injecting any drug. And for ice smokers, multiply it all by the still largely-unknown risk factor of exposing lung tissue to vaporized meth crystals.
That’s why it’s not a big mystery that you don’t run into many old speed freaks in the real world.
They don’t live long enough to get old.
Know the big difference between crystal and crank?
“Crystal” has seven letters, “crank” only has five.
A term once used mostly to distinguish down-and-dirty bootleg meth from its crystal-clean sibling, “crank” has become a generic nickname for all forms of speed. And that includes the tablets and capsules that find their way out of the local pharmacy and onto the street.
At this point, we’ll add other speedy drugs to the mix, including non-amphetamine prescription stimulants (like Ritalin® and phentermine), and such non-crystal forms of street speed as “white cross,” and “black beauties.”
Effects match up, in most ways, to the effects of crystal. Dangers are similar, too, although oral use carries fewer short-term risks, since the risk of lung or injection-site damage and overdose is reduced or eliminated.
Still, a speed habit of any kind is a hazardous hobby for a lot of reasons, including simple wear and tear on the body and mind.
In a lot of ways, the human body is like a Timex watch — built to take a licking and keep on ticking. Still, we aren’t exactly indestructible. And speed, more than any other drug group, pushes the mind and body faster and further than either was meant to go.
The long-term physical toll can be massive, including any or all of the following:
Vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
Lowered resistance to disease.
Organ damage (particularly to the lungs, liver, and kidneys) after long-term use.
And as if the physical hazards aren’t bad enough, there’s a ton of mind-and-mood problems that speed can bring on, or worsen. Examples:
Anxiety, depression, and chronic fatigue.
Delusions. (Thinking you’re being watched by enemies or police, for example — unless you are being watched by the police, which is even worse.)
Toxic psychosis after prolonged, heavy use.
And that’s still only part of the story, because amphetamines also cause a serious form of dependency, which means that giving up speed can be a difficult process.
One reason why is that ex-users get depressed. Life without Mr. Crystal/Crank/Tweak/Go-Fast goosing up the juice in the brain can seem dull, indeed, to a suddenly-straight ex-speed freak.
..Other speedy stuff
Because of their risks, you might think that amphetamines would have disappeared as medical drugs by now. But you’d be wrong.
Because prescription speed is back on the medical beat big time, and getting bigger all the time.
Dexedrine® (dextroamphetamine) and Ritalin® (methylphenidate) are used by millions of American kids and adults every day to treat attention-deficit disorder.
Others take a prescription stimulant, phentermine, which used to be half of the diet-drug duo, “fen-phen.” (The other half, fenfluramine, was pulled off the market in 1997, due to health hazards linked to it.) Now phentermine’s a solo act again.
Taken at prescribed doses, Ritalin, Dexedrine, and phentermine usually aren’t dangerous. Still, they’re real forms of speed, too, and deserve all the respect you can give them.
And don’t forget lookalikes and herbal ecstasy, which look and act (vaguely) like amphetamines and ecstasy, but contain only legal stimulants.
Still, just because the drugs are legal doesn’t mean they’re safe. They’re not — not always, anyway.
Most contain giga-jolts of caffeine and ephedrine, which can cause problems (even stroke or cardiac arrest) when overused, or when used at all by people who are hypersensitive to individual ingredients.