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The amphetamines are indirect acting sympathomimetic amines and powerful central nervous system stimulants which are used in the therapy of attention deficit disorder, hyperactivity and narcolepsy. Amphetamines also have a potential for abuse and illicit forms of amphetamines constitute some of the most dangerous, but widely used drugs of abuse.

Mechanism of action of Amphetamines

The amphetamines (am fet' a meens) are potent central nervous system (CNS) stimulants that are believed to act by causing release of norepinephrine at CNS nerve terminals promoting neurotransmission.

Clinical use

Oral therapy with amphetamine has been shown to increase cognitive abilities and improve psychological functioning and performance in children and adults with suspected attention deficit disorders. The amphetamines often have a paradoxical calming action in children with hyperactivity. Amphetamines are also used in the therapy of narcolepsy and formerly for the treatment of obesity. Several forms of amphetamine have been approved for use in the United States.

Dosage forms

Amphetamine is available in multiple forms for oral administration including capsules, tablets, oral solutions, and as extended-release and long-acting forms in concentrations varying from 2.5 to 54 mg in generic forms and under several brand names, including Adderall, (dextroamphetamine and amphetamine), Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine), Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine), Desoxyn (methamphetamine), and Benzedrine (amphetamine). Transdermal formulations are also available. The usual dose in adults is 10 mg two or three times daily and average maintenance dosage is 40 to 60 mg daily. The dosage in children varies by formulation. Amphetamine is a controlled substance (Schedule II) and has major abuse potential.

Side effects

Common side effects include headache, insomnia, irritability, elation, agitation, confusion, palpitations, tachycardia, nasal stuffiness, and decreased appetite.

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