What is Speed?

Speed is the street name for Amphetamines. A powerful synthetic stimulant drug that activates chemical processes in the body, speeding up the body and brain, leaving the user feeling awake and alert.

Speed was first introduced medically in the 1930s and was marketed over the counter as an inhaler for nasal congestion. Up until 1956, you were able to buy amphetamine-based drugs without a prescription. This “super drug” was being used amongst housewives, people who felt low and needed an energy boost, and those who wanted to lose weight. Soldiers even used it in WW2 because of its ability to keep people awake and alert.

Today the speed available from dealers has around 10% - 15% purity, with the rest of the 'speed' being made up of things like laxatives, caffeine tablets and paracetamol.


This blog post will outline some key facts on speed. So if you decide to use it in the future, you will be more aware of its effects and the tell-tale signs of overdose.


Nicknames/Street names

Amphet, Billy, Sulph, Whizz, Uppers, Base, Phet


How is it used?

(Photo credit – knowthescore.info)

Speed is often cut up into short lines and then sniffed up the nose through a rolled-up banknote or straw.


Less common ways of taking speed are:

  • To bomb it (wrap in cigarette paper and swallow)

  • Rubbed onto the gums or dabbing your finger into the speed and licking it off

  • Mixed in a drink

  • Mixed with water and injected. Injecting speed is more powerful high, but it is the riskiest way of using it.

Remember, speed is more often than not an impure drug, so it’s not just the speed going into your body – it's everything else it’s been cut with too.


The Effects and Risks

The effects of speed, when snorted, can take about 30 minutes to appear and can last 4 – 8 hours, but after-effects can last up to 12 hours. Speed will cause a short-term high resulting in it being binged on with people using it when out partying, taking frequent doses to maintain the high.

Speed might make you feel confident, full of energy, and awake, but like any drug, it can have some pretty unpleasant negative effects:


  • Insomnia and tiredness

  • Loss of appetite

  • Sweating

  • Teeth grinding and jaw clenching

  • Depression and anxiety

  • Agitated or aggressive

  • Panicky


The Comedown

The after-effects or comedown from using speed can last for several days, so keep in mind if you’re taking speed, you might feel rotten for a few days afterwards.

Comedowns will differ from person to person, and the symptoms can be both physical and emotional.

A speed comedown can leave you with feelings of:

  • Tiredness

  • Low energy

  • Low mood

  • Confusion

  • Lack of appetite

It is always good to remember that a comedown won’t last forever. It’s just the drugs leaving your system, so try and look after yourself and (if possible) hang out with people that make you feel good. Eat a healthy, balanced diet, drink plenty of fluids, and try and relax.


Harm Reduction

  1. Start low and go slow. Remember, there is no standard amount of speed in powder. Purity can vary, and you can’t judge it by appearance.

  2. Avoid mixing with alcohol or other drugs. Mixing drugs might give you an effect you aren’t expecting.

  3. Cut up your lines carefully and don’t share equipment. This helps minimize the risk of cutting your nose and blood born viruses (BBV)

  4. Eat well and keep hydrated before using speed. Speed is known to affect appetite and the ability to sleep.

  5. Chewing gum might help with teeth grinding and jaw clenching, so keep a packet of chewing gum on you just in case.


Overdose signs and Symptoms

Overdosing on speed could happen to anyone, and it could be fatal.

Some signs to look out for:

  • Rapid heart rate and rapid pulse.

  • Irregular breathing or difficulty breathing.

  • Uncontrollable anxiety.

  • Loss of coordination or confusion.

  • Tremors or excessive shaking.


Useful links and further reading

Below are some useful websites with further information if you’re concerned about someone’s use or would like to find out more about speed.


Speed | Effects of Speed | FRANK (talktofrank.com)

Speed – Friday/Monday

Amphetamine – DrugWise

Amphetamine (speed) (crew.scot)

Amphetamines - Know the Score

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