Parents Understanding Drugs


What is it?

Amphetamines are very addictive stimulants that accelerate functions in the brain and body. They come in pills or tablets. Prescription diet pills also fall into this category of drugs.

white circular amphetamine tablets are readily available to users

Speed is an off-white or pinkish powder and can sometimes look like small crystals. However, there are other types of speed:

  • The 'base' form of speed is usually purer and is a pinkish-grey colour and feels like putty
  • Crystal meth (methylamphetamine or methamphetamine) is a very strong, addictive and dangerous form of speed that comes in crystals
  • 4-methylamphetamine has been reported as looking like damp paste or putty
  • Amphetamines that are used as medicines, such as dexamphetamine, are usually small white pills. Doctors use them to treat conditions like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Amphetamines can be sold as tablets in a range of shapes and colours.

it ia also Known as whizz, sulph, base, speed, uppers, dexies, bennies, hearts, and truck drivers.

It is categorised as a stimulant.

How it's taken

Amphetamines come as powder or pills so can be smoked, sniffed, injected, or swallowed

Amphetamines are swallowed, smoked, snorted, or injected.

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 a 'speedbomb'. 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.

For 3 to 4 hours users feel animated, over-confident, and full of energy. Appetite and ability to sleep are adversely affected. Speed use can lead to agitation, panics or even a psychotic episode.

No matter how a person takes amphetamines, these drugs hit with a fast high, making the user feel powerful, alert, and energized.

These "uppers" pump up heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure, and can also cause sweating, shaking, headaches, sleeplessness, and blurred vision.

Prolonged use may cause hallucinations and intense paranoia.

Even after users stop taking amphetamines, they may still have problems such as aggression, anxiety, and strong cravings for the drugs.

amphetamines can be bought as a white powder for sniffing or injecting


Short term: Some users may feel tense and anxious while using and afterwards many feel very tired and depressed. 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. The drug can cause sudden death from heart attack or stroke.

Long term: Frequent high doses can cause panic, hallucination and weight loss. Heavy long-term use places strain on the heart and can cause mental illness. Amphetamines are addictive. Mixing speed with anti-depressants or alcohol has been known to kill. 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.

Legal Status

Amphetamines are a Class B drug meaning it's illegal to have, give away or sell. Possession of amphetamines can get you up to five years in jail or an unlimited fine or both. Supplying amphetamines to someone else, including friends, can get you up to 14 years in prison or an unlimited fine or both.

When amphetamines are prepared for injection they become a Class A and can get you tougher sentencing if you're caught possessing or selling. Possession of a Class A can get you up to seven years in jail or an unlimited fine or both. Supplying a Class A to someone else, including your friends, could lead to life imprisonment or an unlimited fine or both.

amphetamines are frequently sold in bulk as brown crystals

Drugs in the News

Nobel Peace Prize: Santos calls for 'rethink' of war on drugs

a nobel peace prize winner urges a rethink on the war on drugs

The President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, has used his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech to call for the world to "rethink" the war on drugs.

He said the zero-tolerance policy might be "even more harmful" than all the other wars being fought worldwide.Drugs workers fear a "bad batch of heroin" could have led to the deaths of at least seven drug users in recent weeks in the Gwent Police force area.

BBC News, 8 December 2016

Heroin deaths prompt 'fix room'

a safe place for herion uses to safeguard against a bad batch

Drugs workers fear a "bad batch of heroin" could have led to the deaths of at least seven drug users in recent weeks in the Gwent Police force area.

BBC News, 26 November 2016

The babies starting life in rehab

babies born to addicts can be addicts from birth

According to NHS figures, 1,087 babies in England were affected by maternal use of drugs in 2014-15, while in Scotland 987 babies were affected.

BBC News, 25 November 2016

GHB: The killer drug

an increasing number of people are dying from GHB

The Metropolitan Police has said it will examine 58 GHB-related deaths, following the conviction of serial killer Stephen Port.

BBC News, 25 November 2016

Club drug testing 'may be useful'

anonymous drug testing at events can save lives

A leading police chief says recreational drug testing "may be very useful". Commander Bray is in discussion with the government about it.

Newsbeat, 24 November 2016

MPs call for cannabis legalisation

more mps in the UK call for the legalisation of cannabis

Britain should follow America's lead and legalise cannabis, and rake in £1 billion a year in tax revenues

Metro, 21 November 2016

Pharma's fight to block marijuana

the pharmaceutical industry is opposed to the legalisation of cannabis

Marijuana legalization will unleash misery on Arizona, according to a wave of television ads that started rolling out across the state last month.

Guardian, 22 October 2016

10 years for cannabis for cancer

people are sent to prison for providing cannabis for medical treatment

Police in Denmark have arrested a man and woman on suspicion of providing cannabis to cancer patients and people with other serious illnesses.

Independent, 5 October 2016

UK National Drugs helpline: 0300 123 6600

The National Drugs Helpline is a 24-hour, 7-days a week, free and confidential telephone service that offers advice and information for anyone.

It is run by the government agency, known as FRANK, created to provide drug support and advice for the public.

If you need emergency help, are worried about a friend or relative's drug use or want support coping with your own, contact FRANK on-line contact or by phone.

Australia's use of stimulants such as meth second only to Slovakia

Australians use a large amount of illegal stimulants compared to alcohol

The first national study of drug use through analysis of sewage has found that, while Australians are big users of illegal stimulants compared with Europeans, their alcohol intake is "relatively low".

Consumption of stimulants in Australia, driven by use of methylamphetamine or "ice", ranked second only to Slovakia, according to the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission report.

Guardian, 26 March 2017

Ice increasing cause of addiction among Sydney drug users

addiction to amphetamines is a big problem in Sydney Australia

Amphetamine addiction has become the leading problem for Sydney residents seeking treatment for drug and alcohol dependence, figures suggest.

Australia's largest rehabilitation service, Odyssey House, revealed on Monday in its annual report that 49% of its clients in the city cited amphetamine-type stimulants, such as ice, as their main reason for seeking treatment.

Guardian, 19 December 2016

High Hitler: how Nazi drug abuse steered the course of history

Hitler used illegal drugs like cocaine, heroin, morphine, and methamphetamines

The book, The Total Rush, reveals the astonishing and largely untold story of the Third Reich's relationship with drugs, including cocaine, heroin, morphine and, above all, methamphetamines (aka crystal meth), and of their effect not only on Hitler's final days - the Fuhrer, by Ohler's account, was an absolute junkie with ruined veins by the time he retreated to the last of his bunkers - but on the Wehrmacht's successful invasion of France in 1940.

Guardian, 25 September 2016

Amphetamines: Not Just for Kids Anymore

Ritalin is an amphetamine and now taking for recreation

If you thought Ritalin was invented in the early 00s - when every hyperactive American kid popped a few mills with his Cap'n Crunch and zipped off to 4th grade homeroom - you wouldn't be alone. But methylphenidate has been around as a treatment for hyperactivity since at least the 60s. Then, as now, doctors were quick to give kids this legal meth when deeper emotional issues were desperately seeking diagnosis.

Huffington, 30 June 2016

The United States of Adderall

addiction to adderall is widespread among students in the US

Amber was out of control. She knew she should stop. But her intense lows made her feel like she was being slowly crushed by a truck. And the promise of her highs was so great that it didn't matter how many times she'd told herself she was done for good. Sitting at her dorm-room desk yet again, she placed three round pills on a fresh piece of white computer paper. She used the flat bottom of a lighter to smash them into a candy-blue powder.

Huffington, 18 January 2016

Isis fighters use amphetamine pills - Turkey just seized 11 million of them

ISIS fighters use amphetamines widely to help them stay awake and function

Turkish authorities this weekend seized 11 million Captagon pills - the amphetamine drug that is used in huge amounts by Isis fighters to keep them alert and full of energy.

The stimulant drug has been dubbed as the drug fuelling Syria's civil war, as its production provides incomes for all factions in the war and keeps fighters awake over long periods of time.

Independent, 22 November 2015

One in three gym users take drugs or supplements to lose weight

gym users use illegal drugs to lose weight

More than 30% of gym-goers in the UK use some form of drug or dietary supplement to lose weight, a study has found, amid fears body image anxiety fuels a rise in the use of performance and image-enhancing drugs.

More than 5% of people who regularly attend gyms have gone further by using the illegal stimulant amphetamine for this purpose, according to researchers from the University of Hertfordshire.

Guardian, 27 October 2015

Saudi prince held after seizure of two tonnes of amphetamines at airport

lebanon stopped a saudi prince from smuggling amphetamines out the country

A Lebanese official says Beirut airport authorities have foiled 1 of the country's largest drug smuggling attempts, seizing 2 tonnes of the amphetamine fenethylline before they were loaded on to the private plane of a Saudi prince.

The official said the prince and four others had been detained on Monday. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to give official statements.

Guardian, 26 October 2015

Toxic batch of amphetamines behind violence, police claim

a bad batch of amphetamines caused the users to behave violently

Lancashire police issued a warning after having to sedate some speed users and finding others climbing trees and buildings.

A toxic batch of amphetamines is causing users to behave violently, with a number of men being taken to hospital as a result. There had been four recent incidents in which officers in Blackburn took aggressive men to hospital after they consumed what is thought to be contaminated amphetamines (speed).

Guardian, 1 October 2015

Workers Seeking Productivity in a Pill Are Abusing A.D.H.D. Drugs

people are using drugs for adhd to help focus at work

Fading fast at 11 p.m., Elizabeth texted her dealer and waited just 30 minutes for him to reach her New York apartment. She handed him a wad of twenties and fifties, received a tattered envelope of pills, and returned to her computer.

Her PowerPoint needed another four hours. Investors in her health-technology start-up wanted re-crunched numbers, a presentation begged for bullet points and emails from global developers would keep arriving well past midnight.

New York Times, 18 April 2015

Amphetamine gets the job done

workers work fast and hard by taking amphetamines

A new study has found that amphetamines are often used by men with physically strenuous jobs on the margins of the labour market.

"I love working. Amphetamine use is about working harder and keeping the tempo up", a painter explained. Several of his colleagues also used the drug. They snorted amphetamine in the morning before work and during their lunch break at noon, to be effective and work as quickly as possible.

Science Nordic, 12 January 2015

Stan's Story - amphetamines addiction

a former addict struggles to stay off drugs and rebuild his life

Most of my life I've been in some sort of addiction. From twelve, I used to steal money from my mother. I left school, got involved in crime, started sniffing glue, and then doing amphetamines. I stopped doing amphetamines for a while, settled down with a girlfriend, had my first child with her at 21. My girlfriend became pregnant again a year-and-a-half later, by then I'd started doing amphetamines again; slowly my relationship was breaking down, it came to an end and I just started hitting the clubs and drinking.

The Basement Project, 1 July 2014

Adderall: America's Favourite Amphetamine

US students buy and take Adderall on the illegal market to stay awake and study

Sheri is a junior in college. In the mornings, she has class, and in the afternoons, she has work. Sheri has ADD, and without her medication, has a hard time getting out of bed. Her medication is Adderall, but Sheri doesn't have health insurance and can't afford the $300 a month for the prescription. But Sheri is lucky, because she knows Dan, who sells Adderall to college students for $5 to $15. Dan does good business, as Adderall is America's favourite amphetamine, especially among college students trying to maintain focus.

Huffington Post, 23 January 2014

Captagon: the amphetamine fuelling Syria's civil war

amphetamines are being used widely in Syria among fighters

As Syria sinks ever deeper into civil war, evidence is starting to emerge that a brutal and bloody conflict is now also being fuelled by both the export and consumption of rapidly increasing quantities of illegal drugs.

Separate investigations have found that the growing trade in Syrian-made Captagon - an amphetamine widely consumed in the Middle East but almost unknown elsewhere - generated revenues of millions of dollars.

Guardian, 13 January 2014

Mount Everest, amphetamines, and the ethics of experiment

is it ethical to use amphetamines to achieve endurance feats

John Hunt, the leader of the 1953 British Mount Everest expedition, was an exceptional strategist. When the Swiss attempts to climb Everest in 1952 failed, he used their experience to design a new plan for the British team.

One key change was the route to the top; while the Swiss climbed the Geneva Spur, the British headed for the Lhotse Face. A longer climb overall, the Lhotse route is stepped, so intermediate camps can be established.

Guardian, 15 May 2013

Drowned in a Stream of Prescriptions

a young man becomes an addict after he is wrongly diagnosed and prescribed adderall

Every morning on her way to work, Kathy Fee holds her breath as she drives past the squat brick building that houses Dominion Psychiatric Associates.

It was there that her son, Richard, visited a doctor and received prescriptions for Adderall, an amphetamine-based medication for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. It was in the parking lot that she insisted that he did not have ADHD, and that he was getting dangerously addicted to the medication.

New York Times, 2 February 2013

Amphetamine stimulant 'had role' in runner's fatal heart attack

performance enhancers have led to the death of users

The death of Claire Squires, a fit and healthy 30-year-old, 1 mile from the end of the London marathon last year, caught the country's imagination.

On Wednesday a coroner ruled that the most likely cause off her death was a single dose of Jack3d, a performance-enhancing supplement that at the time was legal to buy, possess and use. That supplement, with its amphetamine-type effects, was to be banned four months later by the Regulatory Agency.

Guardian, 30 January 2013

Risky Rise of the Good-Grade Pill

amphetamines are taken by students to help with tests and exams

He steered into the high school parking lot, and clicked off the ignition. On the passenger seat, a rumpled SAT practice book whose owner had been told since fourth grade he was headed to the Ivy League. Pencils up in 20 minutes.

The boy exhaled. Before opening the car door, he recalled recently, he twisted open a capsule of orange powder and arranged it in a neat line on the armrest. He leaned over, closed one nostril and snorted it.

New York Times, 9 June 2012

Fast Times: The Life, Death, and Rebirth of Amphetamine

amphetamines were discovered in the search for a new asthma drug

Amphetamines don't cure anything, but they do make you feel better. Chemist Gordon Alles faced this paradox after patenting his discovery in 1932.

Alles was trying to improve on the blockbuster asthma treatment ephedrine. He didn't know his drug had been first synthesized in 1887 by Romanian Lazar Edeleanu. For 40 years chemists considered it valueless, but Alles was to prove them wrong, discovering the first psychoactive prescription drug.

Chemical Heritage Foundation, Spring 2012

Parents Understanding Drugs