What does it look like?
Speed is the street name for amphetamine sulphate, although it’s sometimes used to refer to other amphetamines.
It’s usually an off-white or pinkish powder and can sometimes look like crystals.
It’s also available in a paste form which is usually white/grey or brown in colour, and can be damp and gritty.
What does it taste/smell like?
Speed tastes bitter and unpleasant.
- Some people crush it up and snort it
- Some people dab it onto their gums
- Some people roll it up in a cigarette paper and swallow it like a capsule, this is called ‘bombing’
- It can also be injected (which is particularly dangerous as speed is usually very impure)
- Some people mix it into their drinks
How does it make you feel?
Taking speed can make you feel:
- wide awake
Some people take it because it gives them the energy to do things for hours without getting tired – like dancing and talking.
Speed stops you feeling hungry too, and amphetamines like speed were once the main ingredient in diet pills.
Speed can also make users feel:
Some people have become psychotic and delusional when on speed, which means seeing or hearing things that aren't there.
How does it make people behave?
Some people get very:
while others become:
There have also been cases of people becoming psychotic and experiencing delusions – which means seeing and hearing things that aren’t there.
How long the effects last and the drug stays in your system depends on how much you’ve taken, your size, whether you’ve eaten and what other drugs you may have also taken.
To kick in
Speed takes a few minutes to kick in when snorted. Used orally, it takes between 20 minutes to an hour.
How long it lasts
The buzz can last between 3 and 6 hours.
People can feel down and low in mood for a few days after using speed.
How long will it be detectable?
Speed can be detected in your urine for 1 to 5 days after using.
How long a drug can be detected for depends on how much is taken and which testing kit is used. This is only a general guide.
Physical health risks
- Speed puts a strain on your heart, so it's definitely not advisable for people with high blood pressure or a heart condition – users have died from taking too much.
- Taking a lot of speed, alongside its effects on diet and sleep, can give your immune system a battering – so you could get more colds, flu and sore throats.
- Depending on how much you’ve taken, it can be difficult to relax or sleep.
- Injecting speed is particularly dangerous, and it's much easier to overdose when injecting. Speed is usually very impure, so it’s not just the amphetamine that goes into your bloodstream, but everything else that it’s been cut with.
- Injecting can also cause damage to veins and arteries, and may cause ulcers and even gangrene (that’s when bits of the body start to die).
- Viral hepatitis and HIV can be spread by users sharing needles, syringes or other injecting equipment.
Mental health risks
The comedown from speed can last several days, and users often say they feel lethargic and sad after taking it.
Regular use of speed can also lead to problems with learning and concentration too.
Speed can lead to:
- mental illness
- acute psychotic episodes (this is a mental state when you see or hear things which aren't there and have delusions)
What is speed cut with?
Speed is usually a very impure street drug – base speed is usually purer. It’s not unusual for drugs like speed to be cut with cheaper substances to increase the weight of the drug and the dealer’s profits.
Speed is sometimes cut with caffeine, ephedrine, sugars (like glucose), laxatives, talcum powder, paracetamol and other drugs.
Some impurities can also be added by mistake, as impurities can be formed during the manufacturing process.
Can you get addicted?
Yes, speed is an addictive drug.
If you take a lot on a regular basis you can build up a tolerance to the drug so that you need higher doses just to get the same buzz or feel 'normal'.
Regular users can increasingly take speed to avoid unpleasant withdrawals.
This is a Class B drug, which means it’s illegal to have for yourself, give away or sell.
Possession can get you up to 5 years in prison, an unlimited fine or both.
Supplying someone else, even your friends, can get you up to 14 years in prison, an unlimited fine or both.
Like drink-driving, driving when high is dangerous and illegal. If you’re caught driving under the influence, you may receive a heavy fine, driving ban, or prison sentence.
If the police catch people supplying illegal drugs in a home, club, bar or hostel, they can potentially prosecute the landlord, club owner or any other person concerned in the management of the premises.
Additional law details
Speed that has been prepared for injection becomes a Class A drug and can get you tougher sentencing if you're caught with it or selling it.