On Speed: The Many Lives of Amphetamine

On Speed: The Many Lives of Amphetamine

On Speed: The Many Lives of Amphetamine

On Speed: The Many Lives of Amphetamine

Synopsis

'Rasmussen documents America's eighty year love affair with amphetamine and its various permutations. Monumental in scope and research, the book traces the history of this seductive drug's uses for a myriad of ?illnesses? when the true sickness may be inherent to our unique American society. Given our current extraordinary use of this drug, On Speed is an urgent and necessary read.' -Lawrence Diller, M. D., author of Running on Ritalin ?I've been waiting for a book on amphetamines for years and On Speed delivers. Crammed full of eye-popping detail, it brings the history of this extraordinary group of drugs and their effect on American culture vividly to life.' -David Healy, author of Let Them Eat Prozac Uppers. Crank. Bennies. Dexies. Greenies. Black Beauties. Purple Hearts. Crystal. Ice. And, of course, Speed. Whatever their street names at the moment, amphetamines have been an insistent force in American life since they were marketed as the original antidepressants in the 1930s. On Speed tells the remarkable story of their rise, their fall, and their surprising resurgence. Along the way, it discusses the influence of pharmaceutical marketing on medicine, the evolving scientific understanding of how the human brain works, the role of drugs in maintaining the social order, and the centrality of pills in American life. Above all, however, this is a highly readable ?biography? of a very popular drug. And it is a riveting story. Incorporating extensive new research, On Speed describes the ups and downs (fittingly, there are mostly ups) in the history of amphetamines, and their remarkable pervasiveness. For example, at the same time that amphetamines were becoming part of the diet of many GIs in World War II, an amphetamine-abusing counterculture began to flourish among civilians. In the 1950s, psychiatrists and family doctors alike prescribed amphetamines for a wide variety of ailments, from mental disorders to obesity to emotional distress. By the late 1960s, speed had become a fixture in everyday life: up to ten percent of Americans were thought to be using amphetamines at least occasionally. Although their use was regulated in the 1970s, it didn't take long for amphetamines to make a major comeback, with the discovery of Attention Deficit Disorder and the role that one drug in the amphetamine family-Ritalin-could play in treating it. Today's most popular diet-assistance drugs differ little from the ?diet pills? of years gone by, still speed at their core. And some of our most popular recreational drugs-including the supposedly ?mellow? drug, Ecstasy-are also amphetamines. Whether we want to admit it or not, writes Rasmussen, we're still a nation on speed.
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