Any writer looking for a shortcut knows well the story of how Ayn Rand finished The Fountainhead. The tale goes something like this: It was the 1940s, Rand was in New York writing and working in an architectural office to gather material to create her protagonist Howard Roark. The Fountainhead's book deal was initially signed with Knopf, which gave her a year to finish the book. Rand worked long hours and struggled to meet the deadline, and after another year's extension she was dropped by Knopf. At that point, Rand started taking Benzedrine, an amphetamine, to extend her writing hours to finish the book—which comes in at over 700 pages and 300,000 words. The Fountainhead became her second-best-selling book.
As stimulants that increase energy and concentration by accumulating dopamine in the brain, amphetamines are a natural drug for workaholics. Other famous users, who took them to work longer hours, include Graham Greene, Jean-Paul Sartre, and W.H. Auden. Even Hitler has in recent years been revealed to be an amphetamine user, and it's estimated that German troops used 35 million amphetamine tablets during World War II. In colleges, they're considered a "smart drug" taken for intellectual performance enhancement. But they're also addictive, and long-term use can cause brain damage and paranoid disorders.