Speed and other amphetamines

If you’re being talked AT by someone who’s wired and can’t stand still, the chances are they’re on speed. Here’s everything you need to know about amphetamines… what they're like, the side effects and the dangers.

Young man snorting white powder

Speed can be snorted, taken orally, injected, or put up your bottom

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. Other types include Ritalin, Adderall, Dexamphetamine (which is prescribed to treat ADHD, and, of course, crystal meth.

How do I take speed or other amphetamines?

Amphetamines come as a powder, a paste, or in a pill capsule.

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.

And, erm, you can put it up your bum.

Why do people take amphetamines?

  • You feel happier, euphoric even
  • It increases your confidence 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 more desperate to have sex than usual
  • It squashes your appetite, so has even been used to help lose weight

Are there any bad side effects?


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


  • 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

What about the comedown from amphetamines?

The comedown can be particularly shitty. It can leave you feeling disorientated, tired and unable to concentrate for days.

Is speed addictive?

You can become psychologically addicted and crave the high speed gives all the time. However, the more you take, the more tolerance your body builds up, so you have 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.

Is it OK to mix speed with alcohol?

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

Is it OK to mix speed with other drugs (including prescription drugs)?

No – it’s the whole ‘your heart will go bezerk‘ thing again, (see above).

You need to be careful with prescription drugs too, especially antidepressants that contain monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).

How can I reduce the risks if I take speed?

  • 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 blood stream.
  • 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 our article here.

Next Steps

  • FRANK offers friendly, confidential advice on all things drugs-related. Call now on 0300 123 6600
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Updated on 29-Sep-2015

Photo of boy snorting white powder by Shutterstock