Amphetamines are stimulant drugs, which means they speed up the messages travelling between the brain and the body.
Some types of amphetamines are legally prescribed by doctors to treat conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy (where a person has an uncontrollable urge to sleep). Amphetamines have also been used to treat Parkinson’s disease. Other types of amphetamines such as speed are produced and sold illegally. The more potent form is crystal methamphetamine (ice).
The appearance of amphetamines varies. These drugs may be in the form of a powder, tablets, crystals and capsules. They may be packaged in ‘foils’ (aluminium foil), plastic bags or small balloons when sold illegally.
Amphetamine powder can range in colour from white through to brown, sometimes it may have traces of grey or pink. It has a strong smell and bitter taste. Amphetamine capsules and tablets vary considerably in size and colour.
Illegally produced amphetamines can be a mix of drugs, binding agents, caffeine and sugar. new psychoactive substances may also be added.
Speed, fast, up, uppers, louee, goey, whiz.
How are they used?
Amphetamines are generally swallowed, injected or smoked. They are also snorted.
Effects of amphetamines
There is no safe level of drug use. Use of any drug always carries some risk. It’s important to be careful when taking any type of drug.
Amphetamines affect everyone differently, based on:
size, weight and health
whether the person is used to taking it
whether other drugs are taken around the same time
the amount taken
the strength of the drug (varies from batch to batch with illegally produced drugs).
You might feel the effects of amphetamines immediately (if injected or smoked) or within 30 minutes (if snorted or swallowed).
You might experience:
happiness and confidence
talking more and feeling energetic
large pupils and dry mouth
fast heart beat and breathing
increased sex drive.
Snorting amphetamines can damage the nasal passage and cause nose bleeds.
If injecting drugs there is an increased risk of:
If sharing needles there is an increased risk of:
HIV and AIDS.
If you take a large amount or have a strong batch, you could overdose. Call an ambulance straight away by dialling triple zero (000) if you have any of the following symptoms (ambulance officers don’t need to involve the police):
passing out or breathing difficulties
chills or fever
no urine output
arching of the back/convulsions
stroke, heart attack and death.
In the 2 to 4 days after amphetamine use, you may be experience:
restless sleep and exhaustion
paranoia, hallucinations and confusion
twitching and muscle aches
irritability, mood swings and depression.
Using a depressant drug such as alcohol, benzodiazepines or cannabis to help with the come down effects may result in a cycle of dependence on both types of drugs.
High doses and frequent heavy use can also create an ‘amphetamine psychosis’, characterised by paranoid delusions, hallucinations and out of character aggressive or violent behaviour. These symptoms usually disappear a few days after the person stops using amphetamines.1,2
Mixing amphetamines with other drugs
The effects of taking amphetamines with other drugs − including over-the-counter or prescribed medications − can be unpredictable and dangerous, and could cause:
Amphetamines + some antidepressants: elevated blood pressure, which can lead to irregular heartbeat, heart failure and stroke.4
Amphetamines +alcohol,cannabisorbenzodiazepines: the body is placed under a high degree of stress as it attempts to deal with the conflicting effects of both types of drugs, which can lead to an overdose.6
Giving up amphetamines after using them for a long time is challenging because the body has to get used to functioning without them. Withdrawal symptoms should settle down after a week and will mostly disappear after a month. Symptoms include: