Related Terms: Whizz, Sulph, Paste, Billy, Base, Amphetamine Sulphate, Amphetamine.
What is speed?
Speed is the street name for the Class B drug amphetamine sulphate. Sometimes speed is used to refer to other types of amphetamines.
Speed is a stimulant and people take ‘speed’ to keep them awake, energised and alert.
Other key effects and risks of taking speed are:
Feeling ‘up’, excited and chatty.
People take it because it gives them the energy to do things for hours without getting tired, things like dancing, talking, and going out.
It can make people overactive, agitated or even acutely psychotic (this is a mental state when you see or hear things which aren’t there and have delusions).
The high is generally followed by a long slow comedown, making you feel really irritable and depressed.
Speed puts a strain on your heart and can cause heart problems – some people have died from taking too much speed.
What does speed look like?
Speed is usually an off-white or pinkish powder and can sometimes look like small crystals. The ‘base’ form of speed is usually purer and is a pinkish-grey colour and feels like putty.
How do people take speed?
Speed is either dabbed onto the gums, or is snorted in lines (like cocaine powder). Sometimes it’s rolled up in a cigarette paper and swallowed, this is called ‘bombing’. It can also be injected or mixed into drinks.
The effects of speed kick in within half an hour of swallowing. If you snort or inject speed it will kick in quicker – the effects can last for up to six hours.
Injecting speed, and sharing injecting equipment, runs the risk of the injector catching or spreading a virus such as HIV or hepatitis C. There is also the risk that veins may be damaged and that an abscess or a blood clot will develop.
What are the effects of speed?
Speed makes users feel very up, alert and energised, but can also make them agitated and aggressive. It can also have other effects:
Speed makes people feel wide awake, excited and chatty.
Clubbers take it because it gives them the energy to dance for hours without getting tired.
Amphetamines were once the main ingredient in diet pills because they stop people feeling hungry.
Speed use can lead to agitation, panics or even a psychotic episode (this is a mental state when you see or hear things which aren’t there and have delusions).
What are the risks?
Taking speed does involve risks. Here’s what it could do to you:
Depending on how much you’ve taken, it can be difficult to relax or sleep.
The ‘comedown’, which can last a number of days, can make users feel really lethargic and down, and you can develop difficulty concentrating and with learning.
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.
Mixing speed with anti-depressants or alcohol has been known to kill.
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,
Speed can lead to anxiety, depression, irritability, aggression and paranoia; as well as mental illness, even to acute psychotic episodes (this is a mental state when you see or hear things which aren’t there and have delusions).
Injecting speed is particularly dangerous. It’s much easier to overdose when injecting. Speed is usually very impure, so it’s not just the amphetamine that goes in to your bloodstream.
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/AIDS infections can be spread by users sharing needles, syringes or other injecting equipment.
How pure is speed?
It’s not unusual for drugs to have things added to them to increase the weight and the dealer’s profits. Speed can be cut with other cheaper amphetamines, caffeine, ephedrine, sugars (like glucose), starch powder, laxatives, talcum powder, paracetamol and other drugs with some similar effects.
Some impurities can be added by mistake, as impurities can be formed during the manufacturing process for speed.
Speed is usually a very impure street drug – most of the powder in a wrap only contains 5-15% amphetamine sulphate. Base speed is usually somewhat purer.
Can you get addicted to speed?
Speed is an addictive drug – the more you take, the more you tend to want to take. If you take a lot on a regular basis you build a tolerance to the drug so that you need higher doses just to get the same buzz or just to feel ‘normal’; this increases the risks associated with speed.
With regular use, you may increasingly take speed to avoid unpleasant withdrawals.
Is speed illegal?
Speed is a Class B drug and it’s illegal to have, give away or sell. 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.
Possession can get you up to five years in jail and an unlimited fine.
Supplying someone else, including your friends, can get you up to 14 years and an unlimited fine.
What if you’re caught?
If the police catch you with speed, they’ll always take some action. This could include a formal caution, arrest and prosecution.
A conviction for a drug-related offence could have a serious impact. It can stop you visiting certain countries – for example the United States – and limit the types of jobs you can apply for.
Did you know?
Like drinking and driving, driving while under the influence of drugs is illegal – with some drugs you can still be unfit to drive the day after using. You can get a heavy fine, be disqualified from driving or even go to prison.
Allowing other people to use drugs in your house or any other premises is illegal. If the police catch someone using drugs in a club they can prosecute the landlord, club owner or person holding the party.