Updated on February 6, 2024
4 min read

What is Benzedrine?

What is Benzedrine?

Benzedrine is the brand name of amphetamine sulfate. Also called "bennies," Benzedrine was the first amphetamine prescribed for medical use.

Amphetamine is a powerful stimulant of the central nervous system (CNS). Stimulant medications like amphetamines can increase the following:

  • Heart rate
  • Breathing
  • Blood pressure
  • Energy

The Benzedrine trademark is owned by the pharmaceutical company Smith, Kline, and French, now known as GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). GSK, however, no longer manufactures Benzedrine. 

What is Benzedrine Used For?

A Benzedrine inhaler was used to treat nasal congestion. Benzedrine pills were used to treat:

  • Narcolepsy
  • Depression
  • Chronic fatigue

Its off-label uses included treatment for:

  • Alcoholism
  • Morphine addiction
  • Behavioral disorders
  • Schizophrenia 

Is Benzedrine Still Used Today?

The brand name Benzedrine is no longer available in the U.S. However, amphetamine and other Benzedrine-related chemicals are still used to treat several conditions.

These conditions include:

  • Narcolepsy
  • Binge eating disorder (BED)
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) symptoms

These drugs are sold under the following brand names:

  • Adzenys
  • Dyanavel
  • Evekeo

Although amphetamines and Benzedrine have medicinal uses, they're still classified as Schedule II controlled substances. This is primarily due to the high potential for misuse and other harmful side effects.

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Side Effects & Risks of Benzedrine

As a Schedule II controlled substance, Benzedrine carries harmful side effects and risks. One significant risk of Benzedrine use is addiction. This could lead to amphetamine toxicity and withdrawal symptoms.

The physical side effects associated with Benzedrine include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Bruxism (teeth grinding)
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Dry mouth
  • Epistaxis (nosebleed)
  • Erectile dysfunction (ED)
  • Excessive sweating
  • Hypotension or hypertension (low or high blood pressure)
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nasal congestion
  • Nausea
  • Skin problems (acne, hives, rash)
  • Tachycardia (rapid heart rate)
  • Weight loss
  • Respiratory problems

Behavioral effects of Benzedrine use include:

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Restlessness

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Is Benzedrine Habit-Forming (Addictive)?

Yes, Benzedrine is habit-forming or addictive. Despite being prescribed for therapeutic use, the misuse potential of Benzedrine is very high.

Benzedrine has a stimulatory effect on the central nervous system (CNS), which can make you feel excited or euphoric. It can also give you a sense of superiority over other people. These side effects can drive you to abuse the drug.

Benzedrine can also help you stop overeating or stay awake. If you want to lose weight or avoid sleeping, Benzedrine can be a tempting option. As a result, you can abuse the drug, despite its harmful side effects.

Signs of Benzedrine Abuse & Addiction

Chronic Benzedrine use negatively impacts the central nervous system. It can even cause psychosis.

Signs you may be suffering from Benzedrine abuse and addiction include:

  • Having unusual cravings for Benzedrine
  • Using Benzedrine in larger doses than prescribed
  • Frequently asking for Benzedrine prescription refills
  • Using stimulants even if they are causing problems at work, in school, and with family or friends
  • Placing addiction before all other obligations at home, work, or school
  • Performing poorly at work or in school
  • Losing interest in activities that they used to enjoy doing
  • Using Benzedrine despite being in dangerous situations
  • Higher incidence and severity of side effects
  • Experiencing tolerance or withdrawal symptoms

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Treatment for Benzedrine Abuse & Addiction

There is no FDA-approved medication for amphetamine addiction. However, there are various treatment options available for Benzedrine addiction. including:

  • Inpatient treatment: Involves checking yourself into a rehab facility for 24-hour medical supervision
  • Outpatient treatment: A treatment program where people are allowed to leave the rehab facility
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): A short-term therapy technique that explores the link between thought patterns and addiction
  • Matrix Model: A highly structured treatment framework that combines many addiction treatment methods into a comprehensive program.
  • Medical detox: Medically supervised detox used to avoid harmful withdrawal effects

History of Benzedrine

Lazăr Edeleanu developed the first amphetamine in 1887. By 1932, an American scientist named Gordon Alles rediscovered and patented it to create a drug for nasal congestion. After getting the patent, Alles worked with GSK.

GSK marketed Benzedrine inhalers as decongestants. It was sold over-the-counter (OTC) because there were no drug prescriptions yet. Later, Benzedrine would evolve into a tablet.

By the 1960s, doctors started to notice the dangers of Benzedrine. These include:

  • Psychosis
  • Addiction
  • Overdose

Some deaths occurred when doctors gave the drug to people who wanted to lose weight. Benzedrine production declined when the Controlled Substances Act of 1971 classified it as a Schedule II controlled substance. This required pharmacists and doctors to keep detailed records of how the drug was dispensed.

Other Uses of Benzedrine Throughout History

Throughout several decades, there have been different uses of Benzedrine:

  • In the 1930s, college students used Benzedrine as a study aid.
  • During World War II, American soldiers used Benzedrine to stay awake and focused.
  • In the 1950s and 1960s, housewives used Benzedrine as a mood and diet pill.
  • In the Beatnik period of the 1950s, artists used Benzedrine as an energy booster.

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Updated on February 6, 2024
6 sources cited
Updated on February 6, 2024
  1. "Amphetamines." Better Health Channel.

  2. Reifenstein, Edward C., and Eugene Davidoff. “The Psychological Effects of Benzedrine Sulfate.” The American Journal of Psychology, vol. 52, no. 1, 1939, pp. 56–64. JSTOR.

  3. Kleemeier, Lyla Bechtel, and Robert Watson Kleemeier. “Effects of Benzedrine Sulfate (Amphetamine) on Psychomotor Performance.” The American Journal of Psychology, vol. 60, no. 1, 1947, pp. 89–100. JSTOR.

  4. Rasmussen, Nicolas. "America's First Amphetamine Epidemic 1929-1971," American Journal of Public Health, 2008 June; 98: pp. 974-985.

  5. "Amphetamines." Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

  6. Hicks, Jesse. "Fast Times: The Life, Death, and Rebirth of Amphetamine," Science History Institute, 14 April 2012.

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