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Amphetamine, also known as "uppers", "speed", "meth", "crank", "ice", or "crystal", was fist produced in 1887, but was not used medically until 1927. During World War II, amphetamine tablets were used by most armies to counteract fatigue and increase alertness. Amphetamines are generally prescribed today for chronic sleepiness and hyperkenesis -- a childhood disorder characterized by a short attention span and over activity. Amphetamines have also been prescribed for obesity and mild depression, although they are no longer considered to be the drug of choice for treatment of these conditions. Since a cap was put on the prescription use of these drugs, availability is limited to the street market increasing the price from $5 to $10 for 100 tablets in the 1970's to $1 to $5 per tablet in the 1990's.

Amphetamine is a powerful central nervous system stimulant. It comes in a variety of forms such as diet and pep pills, and as a white, crystalline powder known as "crystal meth" for short. Common amphetamines include:
  • Dextroamphetamine
  • Benzamphetamine
  • Methamphetamine
  • Biphetamine
  • In addition, amphetamine-like substances are marketed under such brand names as:
  • Tenuate
  • Fastin
  • Preludin
  • There are many look-a-like drugs containing a combination of caffeine and decongestants that are being passed off as real amphetamines on the street. These drugs may be dangerous since the individual does not know what he or she is taking. Besides central nervous system stimulation, the physiological effects of amphetamines include:
  • increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • suppression of appetite
  • The increase in heart rate and blood pressure can be a substantial strain for someone with heart and circulatory trouble. Most problems associated with amphetamines derive from long-term rather than occasional use of the drug, and result more from the strain placed on the body and mind due to lack of rest and nutrition than from the toxic effects of the drug.

    One of the problems associated with amphetamine use is the development of tolerance to the drug, requiring increasing amounts in order to feel the desired effect. When this occurs, the temptation to inject the drug directly into the bloodstream, or to go on long amphetamine runs or binges may arise.

    Habitual use can lead to:
  • an almost complete loss of appetite
  • chronic insomnia
  • restlessness
  • irritability
  • acute paranoid delusions
  • Physical dependence to amphetamines does not develop, but coming down from a long speed run can be as difficult as narcotic withdrawal; and the psychological dependence that may develop is extremely difficult to overcome.

    While uncommon, it is possible to overdose on amphetamines. A fatal dose varies according to one's tolerance and physical make-up. For more information about amphetamines or other drugs, call HealthWorks Peer Education Program at (814) 863-2500, or stop by room 201 Student Health Center. In addition, Community Help Centre, at 236 South Allen Street can assist those experiencing a bad reaction. You can call Community Help Centre at (814) 237-5855, 24 hours a day, every day.

    Students at campuses other than University Park should consult with their Campus Health Office for local referral information.

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    University Health Services Home Student Affairs Home Updated June 5, 2008