AKA: amphetamine, uppers, sulphate or whizz
Speed is the street name for amphetamine sulphate, a stimulant drug.
Although it might come as a pill, speed usually comes as a white-ish powder, often cut with other things such as caffeine or talc.
It makes the brain release its ‘feel good’ chemicals, dopamine and serotonin, and the stress hormone norepinephrine.
There are several ways of taking speed. It can be:
- snorted through a straw or rolled up banknote
- put on the tongue
- rubbed on the gums
- mixed in a drink
- wrapped in cigarette paper then swallowed (bombing)
- smoked from a pipe or foil or mixed with water then injected.
Effects of speed can last from three to six hours.
Highs and lows of speed
Speed can lower your inhibitions and raise your mood making you feel energetic, confident, alert, talkative and sociable. It can allow you to go without sleep or food.
Common side effects of speed are:
- an increased heartbeat
- teeth grinding
- jaw clenching
- being unable to sleep.
After using speed you can feel depressed, anxious and tired.
Sex on speed
Speed often causes problems getting erections. It can make the dick feel less sensitive and make it harder to come.
You can become dependent on the drug, with larger doses needed to get the same effect and withdrawal symptoms if you stop.
Withdrawal symptoms can include:
- feeling irritable.
Long-term use of speed can cause:
- damage to the heart, liver, kidneys and lungs
- premature ageing of skin and heart
- ‘speed psychosis’, which can include violent behaviour, paranoia and hallucinations.
Speed with other drugs
Protease inhibitors, particularly ritonavir, can cause a big increase in the amount of speed in the body, leading to overdose.
Cocaine, crystal meth, Ecstasy, MDMA, poppers
Mixing these drugs with speed risks a dangerous strain on the heart.
Taking speed when on these drugs can cause a life-threatening rise in blood pressure.
Speed masks the effects of booze, leading people to drink more without realising how drunk or over the limit they are.
Speed causes loss of erections, but taking Viagra etc puts even more stress on the heart.
Useful to know
Swallowing the drug wrapped in a cigarette paper (a speed bomb) or mixing it with water is less harmful than snorting which can damage the nose. Though it’s always a good idea to know what, and how much you are swallowing.
When snorting there’s less damage to the nose if:
- the powder’s fine, so make sure to chop it well
- you alternate nostrils
- you rinse your nostrils out after snorting.
Always use your own snorting equipment as hep C can be passed on from tiny particles of infected blood. If you’re with a group of friends who are all snorting, tag your stuff with a Post-it note with your name on it.
Injecting is best avoided as this is more likely to lead to addiction. Also, speed deaths are linked to taking the drug this way, and it can cause skin abscesses, damaged veins, blood poisoning and heart infections.
Sharing injecting equipment can pass on HIV and hepatitis B and C. Find out more about minimising risks when injecting.
Speed should be avoided by people with high blood pressure or heart conditions.
Speed and the law
Speed is a Class B drug. Possession can mean up to five years in prison and/or an unlimited fine.
Intending to supply speed, including giving it to mates, can mean up to 14 years in prison and/or an unlimited fine.
If it’s prepared for injecting, speed is a Class A drug. Possession can mean up to seven years in prison and/or an unlimited fine.
Next review: 20/08/2021