What Is Speed Drug?

May 9, 2024

Unmask 'what is speed drug?' – its effects, risks, and global trends. A comprehensive, sobering dive.

Understanding Speed Drugs

Before delving into the effects and risks of speed drugs, it's crucial to first define what they are and identify their various forms.

Definition of Speed Drugs

Speed is a type of amphetamine, a central nervous system stimulant that alters the way the brain operates and how the body functions. It is a synthetic substance that stimulates the central nervous system (CNS), causing hypertension, tachycardia, increased confidence, sociability, and energy, while suppressing appetite and fatigue [2].

In street terms, speed is also known as base, and whizz, and in the International Non-Proprietary Name (INN), it is referred to as amfetamine. Other chemical names include 1-phenyl-2-aminopropane and phenylisopropylamine. The term "amphetamines" may also encompass methamphetamine and other related substances such as benzphetamine.

Forms of Speed Drugs

Speed is commonly found as an off-white or pinkish powder, sometimes resembling crystals. It can also be found in a paste form that is typically white/grey or brown [3].

Amphetamines are stimulant drugs that speed up the workings of the brain and have various slang names like up, uppers, louee, goey, whiz, and rack. The most potent form is crystal methamphetamine, also known as ice.

Understanding what is speed drug and its different forms is the first step in recognizing its potential risks and effects on both mental and physical health, which will be discussed in the following sections.

Usage and Effects of Speed Drugs

Understanding the effects of speed drugs is crucial to comprehend the potential risks and dangers associated with their use. These effects can be immediate or long-term, and can significantly impact an individual's mental health.

Immediate Effects of Speed Drugs

Amphetamines, such as d-AMPH and methamphetamine, which are constituents of speed, increase extracellular dopamine concentrations in the nucleus accumbens, producing rewarding and reinforcing effects [5]. The effects of speed are felt immediately if the drug is injected or smoked. If snorted or swallowed, the effects can take up to half an hour to appear.

The immediate effects of speed can make individuals feel energetic for hours without getting tired, suppress hunger, and induce feelings of euphoria. However, it can also lead to psychotic and delusional episodes such as seeing or hearing things that aren't real [3]. The effects can last up to 6 hours, depending on the dose.

Long-Term Effects of Speed Drugs

Chronic abuse of speed drugs, such as MDMA, has been linked to myocardial damage and valvular heart disease. People who use speed for long periods can experience a range of mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and psychosis. Long-term speed use can also lead to dependence and addiction.

Regular use of speed can result in a prolonged comedown period where individuals may experience low mood, lethargy, and difficulties with learning and concentration. Addiction to speed can develop, leading to tolerance buildup and increased usage to avoid withdrawal symptoms.

Mental Health Impact

The mental health impact of speed drug use can be severe. High doses and frequent use of speed can lead to amphetamine-induced or stimulant psychosis, which is similar to schizophrenia with symptoms of paranoia, hallucinations, and delusions.

Chronic MDMA abuse has been associated with cognitive dysfunction in humans [5]. Despite compelling evidence for chronic MDMA neurotoxicity in animal models, the physiological consequences of such toxicity in humans remain unclear.

Understanding the effects of speed drugs, both immediate and long-term, is crucial to prevent misuse and addiction. It's important to seek professional help if you or someone you know is struggling with speed drug use.

Risks and Complications

Despite the perceived benefits associated with speed drugs, such as increased energy levels, suppressed hunger, and induced feelings of euphoria, these substances carry a significant risk of adverse effects. These risks and complications can range from immediate physical symptoms to long-term mental health issues.

Overdose Symptoms

It's crucial to understand that speed drugs can lead to an overdose if consumed in high quantities. Overdose symptoms are severe and require immediate medical attention. These symptoms typically include:

  • High body temperature
  • Rapid breathing
  • Increased heart rate
  • Seizures
  • Chest pain
  • Unconsciousness

Moreover, chronic MDMA abuse, a type of speed drug, has been linked to myocardial damage and valvular heart disease, further highlighting the dangers of overdose.

Psychotic Episodes

The use of speed drugs can also lead to psychotic and delusional episodes. Users may start seeing or hearing things that aren't real, leading to confusion and distress. In some cases, high doses and frequent use of speed can lead to amphetamine-induced or stimulant psychosis, which is similar to schizophrenia with symptoms of paranoia, hallucinations, and delusions.

Dependency and Addiction

One of the most significant risks associated with speed drugs is the potential for dependency and addiction. Over time, users may find themselves unable to function without the drug, leading to a cycle of increased usage and addiction. This dependency can have severe consequences, including both physical and mental health issues.

Chronic MDMA abuse, for instance, has been associated with cognitive dysfunction in humans. This can include memory loss, difficulty concentrating, and impaired problem-solving skills.

Understanding these risks and complications is a vital part of comprehending what speed drugs are and their potential impact. While they may provide temporary feelings of euphoria and energy, the long-term effects can be dangerous and life-altering. It's crucial to approach these substances with an understanding of the potential risks and to seek help if you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse.

Legal Status and Regulations

Understanding the legal status and regulations surrounding the use of speed drugs is critical due to the severe penalties associated with their illicit use. This section provides an overview of the classification of speed drugs and highlights the penalties for possession and distribution.

Classification of Speed Drugs

Speed drugs, also known as amphetamines, are classified as stimulant drugs that speed up the workings of the brain. They are often referred to by several slang names such as speed, up, uppers, louee, goey, whiz, and rack. The most potent form of this drug is crystal methamphetamine, commonly known as ice.

Speed drugs are typically classified as Class B drugs, making it illegal to possess, distribute, or sell them. Legal amphetamines, on the other hand, may be prescribed by a medical doctor for certain health conditions such as narcolepsy, ADHD, and Parkinson's disease. However, the non-medical use of amphetamine medications is illegal, and illegally produced amphetamines can be a mix of drugs, binding agents, caffeine, and sugar.

Penalties for Possession and Distribution

Given the classification of speed drugs, the penalties for their illicit use are severe. According to Talk to Frank, possession of speed drugs can lead to up to 5 years in prison, while supplying them can result in up to 14 years of imprisonment. Furthermore, mixing speed with other substances is considered risky, and driving under its influence is illegal.

In Australia, the use of amphetamines is heavily restricted and can only be prescribed by a medical doctor for certain health conditions. Penalties under federal and state laws apply to anyone who makes, sells, possesses, or uses amphetamines illegally.

In summary, while there are legitimate uses for amphetamines in the medical field, their non-medical use is illegal and heavily penalized. It is crucial to be aware of these regulations and penalties, especially for those seeking to understand what speed drugs are and their implications.

Trends and Statistics

A crucial part of understanding the scope of speed drug use is examining the trends and statistics related to its usage. This information can provide a clear picture of the prevalence of speed drug use globally and nationally.

Global Usage Trends

Globally, the use of speed drugs exhibits varying trends. For instance, according to the 2019 National Drug Strategy Household Survey, meth/amphetamine use in Australia has significantly declined since 2001. In 2019, 1.3% of Australians had used meth/amphetamine in the past 12 months. Among users, 'ice' is the most common form.

Year Percentage of Australians Using Meth/Amphetamines
2001 3.4%
2019 1.3%

The type of speed drugs used also shows a shift in preference. Specifically, powder (speed) use among people who use meth/amphetamine has declined from 51% in 2010 to 19.9% in 2019 in Australia [4].

Year Percentage of Meth/Amphetamines Users Using Powder (Speed)
2010 51%
2019 19.9%

National Data on Speed Drug Use

In the United States, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides insight into the national trends of drug use. In 2020, the SAMHSA National Helpline received 833,598 calls, which was a 27 percent increase from 2019 when they received a total of 656,953 calls for the year. Although these calls are not exclusively related to speed drugs, they indicate a rising trend in individuals seeking help for substance abuse.

Year Number of Calls to SAMHSA National Helpline
2019 656,953
2020 833,598

These statistics provide a glimpse into the issue of speed drug use. However, it's important to note that these numbers likely underestimate the true prevalence of speed drug use, as many individuals do not seek help or report their usage.


[1]: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/speed

[2]: https://www.emcdda.europa.eu/publications/drug-profiles/amphetamine_en

[3]: https://www.talktofrank.com/drug/speed

[4]: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/amphetamines

[5]: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4497800/

[6]: https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline