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Racing hearts and sleepless nights: the story of amphetamines

Debate the fundamental question of why mankind chooses to self-medicate, and learn the history of amphetamines use – from housewives to Hells Angels.

Our history is fundamentally rooted in and interwoven with the story of mind-altering substances. From distant generations to contemporary society, drug use has been, and remains, a biological and cultural fact of life for millions of people worldwide. Amphetamine is the most widely used drug of all time, and its story is the most frightening and fascinating of all. Join John as he reflects on the fundamental question of why people take amphetamine (or any drug for that matter) and looks at how occasional use can develop into chronic and devastating addiction. Hear about the origins of the drug and its synthesis and enthusiastic early medical application, together with detailed and shocking accounts of how users were affected. After delivering a colourful account of amphetamine’s pivotal role in British urban life in the 1950s and 1960s, John will chart the recent global rise of amphetamine use, focusing on the vast epidemic in Asia and America, fuelled by illicit production by organised criminal gangs and drug warlords. The amphetamine journey will be completed with an account of scientific advances in our understanding of the problem, and sober reflections on the future of synthetic drugs and the landscape of the drug problem for the next generation.


Dr John Marsden | talks


Date and Time:

4 April 2005 at 7:00 pm


1 hour 30 minutes



The Royal Institution of Great Britain
21 Albemarle Street
020 7409 2992

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Tickets cost £8, £5 for Ri Members and concessions

Available from:

www.rigb.org or Ri events, 020 7409 2992

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