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Benzedrine in Mrs. Murphy’s Ovaltine?

Posted Jun 16 2012 12:00am

With all the fuss in the headlines recently about stimulant abuse, you’d think that medications for ADHD had caused the phenomenon. But it’s not true.  As long as humans have had access to substances, there has been abuse. Stimulants have been abused at least since 1928 and perhaps earlier. But for all we know, many cases of “abuse” were simply people with ADHD finding benefit from the stimulant. Today, however, there is no question that millions benefit from responsible ADHD treatment using stimulants.

The New York Times seems to be hyperfocused on shamefully boosting its website’s traffic by publishing irresponsible screeds about all aspects of ADHD that only compound public confusion and stigma. (I refuse to link to the stories, because that only encourages the trend.) The ADHD diagnosis and the legitimate medications used to treat it, however, haven’t caused these abuse problems.

If you’re too young to have heard the song, “Who Put the Benzedrine in Mrs. Murphy’s Ovaltine,” I’ve provided the video above. (Lyrics at the end of this post.) In my book , I write briefly about the history of neurostimulants , including the accidental discovery with Benzedrine that led to stimulants being developed as a treatment for ADHD.

Meanwhile, here is information adapted from Wikipedia on Benzedrine ‘s history:

Benzedrine is the trade name of the racemic mixture of amphetamine (dl-amphetamine). The drug was often referred to as “bennies” by users and in literature. It was marketed under this brand name in the USA by Smith, Kline & French in the form of inhalers, starting in 1928. Benzedrine was used to enlarge nasal and bronchial passages and it is closely related to other stimulants produced later, such as dextroamphetamine (d-amphetamine) and methamphetamine.

While the drug was initially used for medical purposes, as a bronchodilator, early users of the Benzedrine inhaler discovered that it had a euphoric stimulant effect, resulting in its being one of the earliest synthetic stimulants to be widely used for recreational (i.e., non-medical) purposes.

Even though this drug was intended for inhalation, some people used Benzedrine recreationally by cracking the container open and swallowing the paper strip inside, which was covered in Benzedrine. The strips were often rolled into small balls and swallowed, or taken with coffee or alcohol. Because of the stimulant side effect, physicians discovered that amphetamine could also be used to treat narcolepsy. This led to the production of Benzedrine in tablet form. Benzedrine was also used by doctors to perk up lethargic patients before breakfast.

In 1937, the effects of Benzedrine, and thus stimulant use, was studied in children with behavior and neurological disorders.

In the 1940s and 1950s, reports began to emerge about the recreational use of Benzedrine inhalers, and in 1949, doctors began to move away from prescribing Benzedrine as a bronchodilator and appetite suppressant. In 1959, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made it a prescription drug. Benzedrine and derived amphetamines were used as a stimulant for armed forces in World War II and Vietnam.

Who Put The Benzedrine In Mrs. Murphy’s Ovaltine?

Lyrics by Harry “The Hipster” Gibson

Mrs. Murphy couldn’t sleep
Her nerves were slightly off the bean
Until she solved her problem
With a can of Ovaltine
She drank a cupful most every night
And ooh how she would dream
Until something rough got in the stuff
And made her neighbors scream. OW!
Who put the Benzedrine, in Mrs. Murphy’s Ovaltine?
Sure was a shame, don’t know who’s to blame
Cause the old lady didn’t even get his name
Where did she get that stuff?
Now she just can’t get enough
It might have been the man who wasn’t there
Now Jack, that guy’s a square
She never ever wants to go to sleep
She says that everything is solid all reet
Now Mr. Murphy don’t know what it’s all about
Cause she went and threw the old man out, Clout
Who put the Benzedrine, in Mrs. Murphy’s Ovaltine?
Now she wants to swing, the Highland Fling
She says that Benzedrine’s the thing that makes her spring.

This is the second chorus you know
The name of this chorus is called, “Who put the Nembutals in Mr. Murphy’s overalls?
I don’t know

She bought a can of Ovaltine, most every week or so
And she always kept an extra can on hand
Just in case that she’d run low
She never never been so happy, since she left old Ireland
‘Till some one prowled her pantry, and tampered with her can. Wham!
Who put the Benzedrine, in Mrs. Murphy’s Ovaltine?
Sure was a shame, don’t know who’s to blame
Cause the old lady didn’t even get his name
Where did she get that stuff
Now she just can’t get enough
It might have been the man who wasn’t there
Now Jack, that guy’s a square
She stays up nights making all the rounds
They say she lost about 69 pounds
Now Mr. Murphy claims she’s getting awful thin
And all she says is, “Give me some skin.” Mop!
Who put the Benzedrine, in Mrs. Murphy’s Ovaltine?
Now she wants to swing the Highland Fling
She says that Benzedrine’s the thing that makes her spring.

Spring it now, Gibson

Note: This song is Harry’s adaptation of the old Irish folk song “Who put the
overalls in Mrs. Murphy’s Chowder.”

 

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