While wandering through a bookshop the other day I picked up a new book by pharmacologist Professor Leslie Iversen called Speed, Ecstasy, Ritalin: The Science of Amphetamines and have been thoroughly hooked [insert your own joke here] ever since.
It covers the history, chemistry, culture, safety and neuropsychology of a huge range of amphetamines and related compounds.
Included are the common ‘street’ amphetamines like speed and meth, pharmaceutical amphetamines like Ritalin and dexamphetamine, and the substituted amphetamines of the ecstasy family.
Oxford Unversity Press are usually good at putting excerpts of their books online (usually the introduction or first chapter) but sadly, there doesn’t seem to be anything similar online for this publication (OUP if you’re listening, now’s the time!)
You won’t find a more comprehensive guide to these fascinating drugs, and the book has the advantage of being written at a engaging pace without skipping over any of the in-depth science. It is not intended to be a ‘popular science’ book but is much more accessible than the majority of academic texts, even for non-specialists.
Even today, over-the-counter inhalers containing amphetamine-like drugs are still available as decongestants, although the compounds now used are ones that act solely on the norepinephrine system in the peripheral sympathetic nervous system and are devoid of psychostimulant properties or abuse potential.
A little known fact is that the popular ‘Vick inhaler’ contains 50mg of methamphetamine (described on the label by the synonym deoxyephedrine) in free base oil form; however, it is not the psychoactive D-isomer of the drug but L-methamphetamine [or levmetamfetamine], which has no psychostimulant properties but retains some sympathomimetic activity. Innocent users of the Vick inhaler to treat the symptoms of the common cold can get into trouble with the law if subjected to a drugs test, as this will indicate the presence of methamphetamine unless the test is sufficiently sophisticated to tell the difference between the L- and D-isomers of the drug! [p31]
Link to details of book Speed, Ecstasy, Ritalin.