Perhaps the most dangerous drugs are the ones that are mildly hallucinatory, highly addictive, or at least somewhat socially acceptable. Benzedrine abuse fits into all three categories.
How Does Benzedrine Affect Your Mind and Body?
“Bennies,” the first pharmaceutical drugs to contain amphetamines, initially appeared on American store shelves in 1933. Smith, Klein & French, which is today part of GlaxoSmithKline, marketed the drug as a decongestant. Three years later, the company introduced Benzedrine sulfate. It touted this new drug as a cure for a wide range of conditions, including obesity, chronic pain, and hypotension (low blood pressure).
As it turns out, neither of these two drugs were particularly effective against any of these health conditions. The Benzedrine effects just made people feel “good”.
The drug’s use quickly expanded into off-label medical uses. In Europe, World War II commanders gave Benzedrine inhalers or pills to many of their combat troops. In America, doctors routinely prescribed the drug to wake up lethargic patients and for other similar purposes.
After the war, the “beatnik” culture embraced Benzedrine abuse. Jack Kerouac mentioned the drug frequently in his novels. Later incorporations into pop culture include:
- Novelist Ian Fleming had master spy James Bond take Benzedrine pills to stay awake before a key confrontation in The Spy Who Loved Me.
- Elton John’s song Bennie and the Jets is a reference to Benzedrine and amphetamines.
- Twenty Dollar Nose Bleed, a song on Fall Out Boy’s fourth album, pertains to recreational use of the drug.
- Cain, the Robocop 2 villain, uses Benzedrine while he develops a new illegal narcotic.
Benzedrine is certainly not the only prescription drug that’s abused, but it is one of the more notable ones.
Is Benzedrine Still Legal?
Today, the Drug Enforcement Administration classifies Benzedrine as a Schedule II narcotic, which means that it has some medicinal uses, is highly addictive, and has some serious side-effects. Although the 1930s claims were debunked decades ago, doctors prescribed it as a weight loss drug beginning in the 1960s. Benzedrine was still available as a weight loss drug of last resort until the DEA declared it to be a controlled substance.
Nevertheless, Benzedrine, or a chemical substitute, is still widely available. The new amphetamine sulfate is sold under the trade name Adderall. Doctors initially prescribed it to combat what was then called Minimal Brain Dysfunction (MDS) in young children. MDS is now called either Attention Deficit Disorder or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD and ADHD), conditions that may occur in both children and adults. Moreover, doctors still prescribe Benzedrine inhalers for patients who have certain breathing problems.
As explored below, Benzedrine delivers a rather mild high that calms the mind and allows ADD/ADHD patients to stay on task for longer periods of time. It has a similar calming effect for people with breathing problems.
This drug’s availability and acceptability greatly contribute to Benzedrine addiction problems.
Benzedrine Abuse Side-Effects
At Northpoint Washington, we deal with many individuals and families harmed by Benzedrine addiction. We are extremely proud of our world-class facility and the lives that our team has helped to change. But the best program in the world will have no effect on Benzedrine addiction unless the patient wants to get better. The drug is simply too powerful. So, there must be some groundwork.
Step one in this process usually takes place at home. It’s important for friends and loved ones to understand the social and chemical nature of a Benzedrine inhaler high. Shaming the patient may be emotionally gratifying in the short term, but it generally isolates the patient and makes recovery much more difficult.
In step two, which also takes place at home, the patient must understand the harmful effects of a dangerous drug like Benzedrine. This knowledge often triggers a slight desire to end the habit. Very often, that tiny opening is all our team needs to produce results.
Statistically, young adults between 18 to 25 are the most likely age group to abuse narcotics and other drugs. Many of these individuals believe that addictive recreational drugs are simply not very dangerous. Therefore, since Benzedrine is highly available, many people are tempted to try it. Only a tiny minority of these individuals — less than 10 percent, according to some estimates — develop a Benzedrine dependency. Even though that number seems low, it translates to hundreds of thousands of families that are directly affected by addiction.
As in many other contexts, the best way to counter the Benzedrine addiction myths is with the facts. And the facts about this drug’s harmful effects are truly sobering.
- Impaired Judgement: Back to the aforementioned World War II example. Supposedly, the Royal Air Force gave their pilots so much Benzedrine during the war that “Methedrine won the Battle of Britain,” according to one source. But the RAF soon stopped providing the drug, because the pilots took too many risks and crashed too many aircraft.
- Cardiovascular Effects: This drug, and other amphetamines speed up heart and respiration rates, which is one reason many people abuse Benzedrine. But as the user develops a Benzedrine toleration and the dosage goes up, these effects get worse and may become permanent.
- Impotency: Emerging evidence connects Benzedrine with erectile dysfunction. Based on previous studies, researchers speculate that the drug affects the portions of the brain that control these functions.
Benzedrine “runs” have their own set of additional side-effects. After just two days, many such users experience uncontrollable agitation, nightmarish visions, and perhaps even violent psychoses. Afterwards, there is almost always a very hard crash that causes prolonged depression and suicidal thoughts.
Is Benzedrine Abuse Still a Problem?
These side effects have been well-documented for decades. Recreational use of Benzedrine was and is popular largely because users can get high and remain almost fully functional. Back in the 1930s, Benzedrine was popular among the creative crowd because it fit in with the culture of the time and people believed that it helped them be more creative. Today, many users see Benzedrine and its chemical cousins as a way to temporarily escape the problems associated with everyday life.
Technically, people need a prescription to experience that high. But Benzedrine pills are still widely available. An estimated three million people use this drug for recreational purposes. Unscrupulous doctors often write prescriptions with no questions asked. Furthermore, individual Adderall or Benzedrine pills are readily available on the dark web or on dark street corners. Friends, neighbors, and loved ones of people who struggle with addiction know all too well that if there is a drug available, these individuals will find a way to acquire it.
The Benzedrine High
Most Schedule II drugs are prescription painkillers, like fentanyl, OxyContin, and Percocet. These drugs are especially dangerous for people with rather low levels of pain. These individuals only feel the opioid high, and that high is extremely addictive.
In many ways, Benzedrine effects are very much the same. If people with ADD or breathing problems use Benzedrine pills or inhalers, the medicine has a calming effect and a mild high. But if the individuals have no adverse health issues, the high is the only effect.
There are some important differences as well. Most significantly, users very quickly develop a tolerance to Benzedrine. Therefore, they use larger doses of the drug, and use it more frequently, to get the same high. Very quickly, this tolerance creates a downward spiral. The aforementioned side-effects, especially the Benzedrine “run” side-effects, get worse, the users become depressed over these effects and use the drug even more, and the descent continues.
Although Benzedrine is very addictive, people do not become dependent on it after one pill or puff. Addiction is a complex medical and psychological issue that occurs over time and due to many factors. So, at Northpoint, we use a comprehensive approach to drug treatment.
Because it is readily available, socially acceptable, and moderately intoxicating, Benzedrine addicts are often in denial, even more prominently than some of our other abuse patients. Therefore, recovery often starts with an addiction quiz that allows both users and their loved ones to accurately determine if addiction is a problem.
Overcoming denial is not enough. Even after this hurdle is cleared, many patients are extremely wary of drug treatment facilities, for various reasons. We offer professional intervention services to help friends and loved ones convince addicts who know they have a problem that they also need professional help. These trained counselors keep the meeting on point and make sure that everyone, including the addict, is heard. After the meeting is over, the counselor can usually arrange for an expedited admission so that our onsite counselors can use the momentum to speed up the recovery process.
Since every Benzedrine addiction case is different, our counselors use a variety of therapies, including:
- Individual Therapy: Most people turn to substances like Benzedrine because of underlying issues in their lives, such as depression, anxiety, or a sudden traumatic event like the death of a loved one. Our counselors help patients deal with these issues, thus removing the need for the substance altogether.
- Group Therapy: Many people believe that group therapy sessions are designed to wear them down until they achieve a “breakthrough.” But in addition to a therapeutic element, these encounters help patients bond with other addicts. They’ll need that support to remain sober.
- Physical Fitness: Sweat detoxifies the body. Moreover, the activity releases endorphins. This natural morphine can essentially replace the need for Benzedrine or another chemical substance.
Northpoint patients also benefit from nutritional therapy, meditation therapy, and other approaches on both an inpatient and outpatient basis.
Benzedrine addictions come on very suddenly and are almost impossible to overcome without effective and compassionate outside assistance. At Northpoint Washington, we provide both these things. Please reach out to us today, and let us help heal your family.