Psychological and Psychiatric Consequences of Amphetamines

  • Stephen A. Wyatt
  • Douglas Ziedonis


“Speed Freak,” a name for chronic and high-dose amphetamine abusers made popular in the late 1960s was a result of the bizarre behavior they often displayed. The amphetamine abuser may develop symptoms of anxiety, hypervigilance, impaired judgment, and psychosis. Psychotic behavior resulting from chronic amphetamine use has been examined in the scientific literature for decades. In 1938, the first of these reports discussed the link between psychotic behavior and the use of amphetamines in the treatment of narcolepsy (Young & Scoville, 1938). “Speed kills,” a phrase that originated in the early 1970s, refers to the lethal physical maladies or bizarrely morbid behavior associated with excessive and repeated use of amphetamines. This behavior was characterized by profound persecutory delusions, ideas of reference, and hallucinatory effects. It was during this time that the intravenous administration of large doses of amphetamines became increasingly prevalent. Similar behavior continues to be seen in association with both intravenous and the increasing popular inhaled misuse of this drug.


Attention Deficit Disorder Psychiatric Consequence Persecutive Delusion Magnesium Pemoline Primary Mental Illness 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen A. Wyatt
    • 1
  • Douglas Ziedonis
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryYale University School of MedicineNew HavenUSA

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