Speed is also known as amphetamine, uppers, sulphate or whizz. Speed is the street name for amphetamine, a stimulant drug. Although it might come as a pill, speed usually comes as a white-ish powder, often cut with other things like caffeine or talc. It makes the brain release its ‘feel good’ chemicals dopamine and serotonin and the stress hormone norepinephrine.
Speed can be snorted through a straw or rolled up bank note, put on the tongue, rubbed on the gums, mixed in a drink or wrapped in cigarette paper then swallowed. Sometimes it’s smoked from a pipe or foil – or mixed with water then injected. Effects last from three to six hours.
Speed can lower your inhibitions, raise your mood, making you feel energetic, confident, alert, talkative and sociable. It can allow you to go without sleep or food. An increased heartbeat, sweating, teeth grinding, jaw clenching and being unable to sleep are common side effects. After using speed you can feel depressed, anxious and tired.
Speed often causes problems getting erections. It can make the dick feel less sensitive and make it harder to come. This can lead to longer, rougher fucking sessions and sore or bleeding dicks and arses, with a greater risk of HIV, hepatitis C and other STIs being passed on.
You can become dependent on the drug, with larger doses needed to get the same effect and withdrawal symptoms if you stop. These can include exhaustion, insomnia, depression and feeling irritable. Long-term use of speed can damage the heart, liver, kidneys and lungs, causing aggression and ‘speed psychosis’ which can include violent behaviour, paranoia and hallucinations.
HIV drugs – protease inhibitors, particularly Ritonavir, can cause a big increase in the amount of speed in the body, leading to overdose.
Anti-depressants – taking speed when on these drugs can cause a life-threatening rise in blood pressure.
Alcohol – speed masks the effects of booze, leading people to drink more without realising how drunk/over the limit they are.
Viagra-type drugs - speed causes loss of erections, but taking Viagra etc. puts even more stress on the heart.
Swallowing the drug wrapped in a cigarette paper (a speed bomb) or mixing it with water is less harmful than snorting which can damage the nose. When snorting there’s less damage to the nose if the powder’s fine, if you alternate nostrils and rinse them out after. Injecting is best avoided as this is more likely to lead to addiction. Also, speed deaths are linked to taking the drug this way, and it can cause skin abscesses, damaged veins, blood poisoning and heart infections. Sharing injecting equipment can pass on HIV and hepatitis B and C. Speed should be avoided by people with high blood pressure or heart conditions.
Speed is a Class B drug. Possession can mean up to five years in prison and/or an unlimited fine. Intending to supply speed, including giving it to mates, can mean up to 14 years in prison and/or an unlimited fine. If it is prepared for injecting, speed is a Class A drug. Possession can mean up to seven years in prison and/or an unlimited fine. Intending to supply, including giving it to mates, can mean up to life in prison and/or an unlimited fine.
Read our page on Drugs and the police for advice if you’re arrested.
This article was last reviewed on: 28/10/11
Date due for next review: 28/10/13