• Marina Victoria Pascual

Amphetamines, Technology and a Speeding Society

Amphetamines are a central nervous system stimulant. This stimulant is used to treat attention deficit and hyperactivity disorders, such as ADD and ADHD. Since the creation of amphetamines during the 1930s, the use of Adderall, Ritalin and other amphetamines among non-ADD and non-ADHD users has given rise to a new perspective on the use of drugs, especially in the field of education. College students, athletes and many others, take amphetamines in order to enhance their intellectual capacities and maximize their productivity to the point where individuals feel they have to take this type of drugs in order to keep up with society’s speed and rising competition.

Similarly, there has been a significantly fast development in technology in the last century. Technological developments allow us to work faster and to speed up many processes and tasks which for many years, humans had to do without the aid of machines. Hence, a series of technological developments during the last century has accustomed us to a faster rate of living, which may be helpful in terms of scientific discoveries, but detrimental in terms of some of our life habits. Furthermore, technological development facilitates capitalism’s strive for success and productivity, therefore, intensifying the competitiveness between individuals.

I find it very interesting that the growing use of amphetamines and society’s closeness to technology are happening at the same time. Thus, I want to explore the relation between technological development and the use of stimulants in the United States. Furthermore, I am particularly interested in the education field in the United States and why college students feel such a great urge to take performance-enhancing drugs. This brings me to the question which I will study: to what extent has technological development triggered a higher intake of amphetamines among college students in the United States?

In order to explore this question, I will use a variety of sources, including articles, books and documentaries. Regarding the history of amphetamines and their medical use, I will use The Handbook of Drugs and Society, by Henry H. Brownstein, as my main source, and Making The First Anti-Depressant: Amphetamine in American History 1929-1950, by Nicolas Rasmussen. In terms of the drug use in education, I will refer to the Netflix documentary ‘Take Your Pills’ as well as articles such as ‘Cocaine Use Among Adults and Students’ by Reginald Smart, Carolyn Libal and Geoff Brown, and Arwa Mahdawi’s ‘Speed in the City: Meet the Adderall-addled Adults of New York.’ As to the effect of technology in society I will make reference to class readings such as David S. Landes’ ‘Clocks and the Wealth of Nations’ and James W. Carrey’s ‘Technology and Ideology: The Case of the Telegraph.’

Overall, I will focus my research on the correlation between technological development and the use of amphetamine drugs in the United States within the last century. In order to do this, I will first explain the history of the use of amphetamines in the United States. Then, I will continue by discussing why students are taking these drugs, which will lead me to technological developments during the last century.  However, I am having difficulties finding articles which directly relate technological development to drug use in the United States, which might cause me to slightly change my research question or focus it on a different direction.