Drug tampering for fun and profit

New Scientist has put an article online about drug-tampering – the practice of messing with prescription medication so it can be used to get a high or gives a stronger effect.

Stimulant drugs such as Ritalin are being crushed and snorted, and users on internet sites discuss how to take other drugs in similarly non-standard ways.

New Scientist suggests that this is a ‘growing health hazard’ but prescription drug-tampering is as old as prescription medication itself.

In fact, prescriptions were introduced in many countries to try and control the problem of medicines being used recreationally.


Benzedrine is the classic example. The nasal decongestant was widely abused as its main active ingredient was amphetamine.

It was so widely abused to become part of culture and featured in songs and literature as a result. Even clean-cut James Bond pops the occasional Benzedrine to keep him sharp in the original Ian Fleming novels.

The Addiction Research Unit at Buffalo University have collected many more examples of now prohibited drugs which were widely available over the counter, and similarly abused for their recreational kick.

Link to New Scientist article.
Link to Buffalo University online pre-prohibition drugs museum.

5 thoughts on “Drug tampering for fun and profit”

  1. While the article gives unintended usage a bad spin, it’s also worth noting that “recreational” use of drugs is at the same time being hyped by the UK Chief Scientific Adviser:
    The main difference I can make out between “good” recreational use and “bad” is the level of productivity you can achieve with it.
    The drugs don’t work. Work is drugs.

  2. Your article on “Drug Tampering” is pretty interesting. As a Health care professional with a strong background in pharmaceuticals, pharmacology, management and administration of medications, both prescription and OTC, it is apparent that many individuals like to play around with their medications to get “high”. However, the drug tampering I am most familiar with is the type carried out by health care “professionals” in order to manipulate certain behaviors and/or symptomolgy in specific patients.
    I have seen and have been aware of MDs “TAMPERING” with patient’s prescribed treatment and treatment plans in order to cause them to decompensate for purposes of justifying other abusive, intrusive, and human rights violating procedures against individuals they deem social misfits and/or undesireables.
    Psychiatrists utilize withholding or changing prescriptive treatment in order to cause some patients to decompensate in order that they can then commit them to involuntary treatment and/or detention facilities.
    An example of this is what happens in “FORENSIC” Psychiatry when a suspect is shackeled to a bed in a jail or medical facility attached to a jail and then treatment is withheld while Sheriff’s Deputies and/or other employees psychologically torture the decompensated and untreated suspect with threats, and isolation, then threats again.
    I’ve seen it and complained when I was being used to create the appearance of compliance with County Jail Regulations or Policy, and had to sit and watch a decompensated schizophrenic patient in manacles, who was unmedicated, be tortured by two Sheriff’s Deputies who said; “But you don’t understand. He raped and murdered an 11 year old girl…”
    My response was, he walked into a police station hallucinating his butt off and confessed to an unsolved crime he may or may not have committed. In his highly suggestible and paranoid decompensated state he may just “Think” he committed that crime. He has not even been arraigned and is hallucinating, has no idea where he is, is terrified and manacled to his bunk while you threaten to “arrange a hanging” when I, as the responsible medical person, go on my lunch break???
    I complained. Nothing was done and I was set up by County Hospital personnel to be forced out of my job.
    I’ve seen many, many such cases since I was an Aide at San Mateo County Hospital in 1982 and 1983. Since that time I have worked in Medical Surgical, Orthopedic, Geriatric, Emergency, Recreational, Occupational, Skilled Nursing/Community Nursing Management, Psychiatry, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and have been a Director of Consumer Affairs for a large State Department of Mental Health. I have designed and developed outpatient programs and services as well as having served as a cabinet level advisor/administrator managing both inpatient and outpatient services, redesigning entire State Mental Health Systems, and redesigning Medicaid Services at the State level.
    I am tired of dealin with the brain dead and dying. Which you all apparently are. No one is fit to exist who uses medicine and tampers with the treatment of persons who are ill for purposes of incarceration, eliciting “CONFESSIONS”, forcing an individual to be destroyed socially, psychologically, financially, and then locked away for the remainder of their miserable existences, just because the SYSTEM thinks and individual may GET AWAY with something by virtue of being MEDICALLY ILL. SO THEY DESTROY THEM WITH TREATMENT AND/OR OTHERWISE ENTRAP THEM TO RENDER THEM NON-PERSONS.
    This does not just happen to suspects in crimes. It happens to just about anybody society, family, friends, OR THEIR COMMUNITY DECIDE TO DO THIS TO.

  3. It is worth noting that today’s nasal inhalers (yes, you can still get them, Vick’s brand at any grocery or drugstore) in fact contain amphetamine. It is, however, the wrong stereoisomer (mirror image – this no links thing is getting really annoying; isn’t this the point of comment moderation?). Amphetamine as we refer to it colloquially is D-amphetamine or “Dextroamphetamine.” This is where the name “dexedrine” comes from. The inhalers contain L-amphetamine or “levoamphetamine.” Interestingly, the inhalers (presumably to avoid abuse by eager-beavers) bastardize the spelling as “levoamfetamine” or something of the like. L-amphetamine has some pressor/sympathomimetic effects (which pseudoephedrine/phenylephrine/ephedrine all have, this vasoconstrictor type effect is responsible for the relief of rhinitis) but virtually no psychoactive effects; D-amphetamine has both in spades.

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