Speed is a drug that targets your brain’s ‘reward system’ to produce a positive sensation that can become addictive. Using speed can lead to health, social and financial problems.
What is speed?
Speed is classed as a ‘stimulant’ because it speeds up the messages going to and from your brain. It is part of the amphetamine family of drugs, which includes the more potent crystal meth (ice).
Some amphetamines are prescribed by doctors to treat medical conditions such as narcolepsy (an uncontrollable urge to sleep) or ADHD. Others, including speed, are produced and sold illegally.
Speed powder can range in colour from white to brown and may contain traces of grey or pink. Its ingredients can vary so you don’t really know how strong each dose is, or even what’s in it.
Speed has a strong smell and bitter taste. It can be swallowed, injected, smoked or snorted. It’s also known as whizz, gogo, pure and gas.
Speed has a lot of physical effects. For example, it increases your heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure, and can stop you from feeling hungry and increase your sex drive.
You might take speed to feel ‘pumped’ and happy, to get an energy boost and to feel more alert.
The effects are felt immediately if the drug is injected or smoked, or within half an hour if snorted or swallowed. They last up to 6 hours, depending on the dose. Coming down can take days. You might experience poor sleep and exhaustion, headaches, dizziness, hallucinations or paranoia or depression while you’re coming down.
People who take speed often sweat, grind their teeth and overheat.
People who take speed for long periods can lose weight, get heart and kidney problems, become dependent on it, develop dental problems, have a stroke and increase their risk of contracting HIV and hepatitis infections. Sometimes heavy users develop psychosis that usually goes away when they stop taking the drug.
Taking speed with alcohol, over-the-counter drugs and prescribed tranquilisers (for example Xanax or Valium) can cause unpredictable, dangerous effects.
Last reviewed: March 2017