Speed and other amphetamines

Have you ever heard of someone talking really fast and just going on and on. Like just talking your ear off about the fact that Kim K’s arse isn’t natural and did you know that Billie Eilish is only 19, oh and by the way dogs are better than cats. Well, odds are they’re on an amphetamine like speed. To find out more about them and what they can do to your body, read on.

A young man is sitting at his laptop. He has his hand on his face. He is researching amphetamines. This is a close-up image.

What drug is speed?

Speed belongs to a category of drugs called amphetamines and is most commonly found in pill or powder form.

What are amphetamines? 

Amphetamines are stimulant drugs that make you feel more awake and energised. Speed is the most common type taken in the UK. Others include Ritalin, Adderall, Dexamphetamine (which is prescribed to treat ADHD), and, of course, crystal meth.

They work as a central nervous stimulant. This means that they speed up the messages from the brain to the body and vice versa. So while you’re on speed, you’re basically wired the entire time. It’s literally impossible for your brain to switch off. Unless you take too much, of course. 

Read more about the risks of overdosing here.

How do I take speed or other amphetamines? 

There are a couple of ways to take these substances. Generally speaking, amphetamines come as a powder, a paste, or in a pill capsule. This means that you can simply swallow it, parachute it – when you wrap the powder in a tissue to take it like a pill – or snort it. Some people inject speed, but it’s very dangerous; you could contract HIV from unclean needles, there’s a higher chance of overdosing, and you could damage your veins and arteries. Plus you don’t know what it’s been mixed with, so you could be injecting all kinds of crap. Even if you try to test the purity of the drug, it’s not always accurate. To find out more, you can read our article on DIY drug testing here

Oh, and, erm, you can put it up your bum.

The effects of speed

There are a lot of reasons why people want the rush of speed and other amphetamines. Here are a few of the most common effects of speed: 

  • You feel happier, euphoric even
  • It increases your confidence. So much so that you are, in fact, awesome
  • It gives you a tonne of energy, so you’re really motivated to get things DONE
  • You’re more alert and able to concentrate
  • You talk CONSTANTLY which might annoy the people around you, but you don’t care – you’re awesome
  • It makes you hornier than usual
  • It squashes your appetite. Some people even use it to lose weight. Personally, we don’t recommend this as it’ll probably just lead to more problems. 

Are there any bad side effects of speed

Is the sky blue? Whenever something can give you that much energy, there’s always gonna be a crash. Here’s what to expect:

Short-term side effects of speed

  • You can become aggressive, or feel agitated. This makes it difficult to relax or sleep
  • Your heart beats faster and more irregular
  • Your mouth’s drier than the Sahara desert
  • It causes headaches, dizziness and blurry vision
  • You’re prone to clumsiness
  • Your temperature rises, so you could feel hot and feverish
  • It can cause diarrhoea or constipation
  • The speed of your breathing increases
  • It makes you grind your teeth
  • You can get nose bleeds from snorting it

Long-term side effects of speed

  • It affects your immune system, so you’re more likely to get colds and the flu
  • You could lose lots of weight and stop getting all of the nutrients you need
  • Speed can make your skin dry, itchy or spotty
  • Taking lots of speed frequently can cause brain damage
  • If you take too much, or you use speed too often, you could develop psychosis

How long does speed last? 

The buzz can be between 3-6 hours, so you’ll have enough time for a twilight marathon (we can imagine that Edward glittering in the sunshine would be quite a sight while you’re tripping). The comedown can be particularly shitty. It can leave you feeling disorientated, tired and unable to concentrate for days.

Read our article on coping with comedowns.

Are amphetamines like speed addictive? 

You can become psychologically addicted and constantly crave the high speed gives. However, the more you take, the more tolerance your body builds up. So you end up having to take more speed each time to feel the effect.

If you’re taking amphetamines regularly and suddenly stop, you could get withdrawal symptoms, like tiredness, depression and intense hunger. How long this lasts varies. Taking more speed to avoid these symptoms can cause an addictive spiral. So we highly caution against it. If you wanna come off drugs safely, a good starting point is our article on how to stop taking drugs.

Is it OK to mix amphetamines with other substances?

No, it’s dangerous, like killing people kinda dangerous. It’s pretty basic. Speed puts pressure on your heart, and so does alcohol, so doubling up can be fatal.

You shouldn’t mix it with other drugs either, even the prescription ones. It’s the whole ‘your heart will go bezerk‘ thing again, (see above). Special mention goes to antidepressants that contain monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). You should avoid those like the plague.

Read about mixing drugs.

How can I reduce the risks if I take speed?  

The thing we say all the time is that the easiest way to reduce the risks is to avoid it altogether. But we know you’re not gonna do that, so here’s some real advice: 

  • Sip water regularly as speed can dehydrate you.
  • If you’re not feeling the effects of speed, don’t immediately take some more. It can take around 20 minutes to kick in.
  • Don’t take speed if you have a heart or blood condition, as it can cause high blood pressure.
  • Don’t inject. It makes an overdose more likely, and because it’s mixed with so much crap you could be injecting potentially fatal nasties right into your bloodstream.
  • Speed can make you horny, so don’t forget your condoms folks.

What if I get caught with speed?  

Speed is a class B drug, so the maximum sentence is five years or a fine, or both.

For more information about being caught with drugs, read this.

Next Steps

  • FRANK offers friendly, confidential advice on all things drugs-related. Call now on 0300 123 6600
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.


drugs a-z

By Nishika Melwani

Updated on 21-Sep-2021