What is speed? Well, although many are familiar with the term, the details and realities surrounding this drug are often less understood.

In this blog post, we cover what speed truly is, its effects, and the key risks.

What is Speed?

Speed, also known as amphetamine sulphate, is a synthetic stimulant drug known to boost alertness, concentration, and energy levels significantly.

All amphetamines, including speed, are class b drugs – meaning that they are controlled substances due to their potential for abuse and dependence. If you’re caught with speed or any other drugs that are a class B, it could mean 5 years in prison and/or an unlimited fine, and up to 14 years in prison if you’re caught supplying others.


Is Speed a Prescription Medication?

No, speed is an illicit drug which is not available as a prescription medication in the UK.

However, there are prescription medications that contain amphetamine derivatives. Adderall, for example, is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in the US, but its use is strictly regulated and controlled by healthcare professionals.

Instead, medications containing methylphenidate (e.g., Ritalin and Concerta) are commonly used to manage ADHD symptoms. These medications work differently from speed but still help with focus and attention.


Is Speed Illegal?

Yes – Under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, it’s illegal to use speed because it can be highly unsafe.

It’s particularly dangerous because it’s infamous for being a very impure street drug, often containing a mix of unknown and potentially harmful substances. This increases the risk of severe complications, including a drug overdose.


Is Speed an Amphetamine?

Yes, speed is a type of amphetamine.

Amphetamines are a group of synthetic psychoactive drugs that stimulate the central nervous system. Speed, however, refers specifically to the street form of amphetamine sulfate, which is less pure than pharmaceutical-grade amphetamines, but it acts in a similar way.

This addictive drug increases the release of neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, in the brain, which is why people who have taken speed feel much more alert and energised.

Other types of amphetamines by street name include MDMA, crystal meth and bath salts (synthetic cathinones), which are similar in structure to amphetamines.


How Do You Take Speed?

Speed can be taken in several ways, depending on its form.

The most common form of speed is a powder, which can be either white or slightly off-white. This powder is typically swallowed or snorted. Users may also inject speed or take it in tablet form.

Snorting speed is the most common method because it allows for rapid absorption into the bloodstream through the nasal tissues, which leads to quicker effects. Injecting is the most dangerous method of administration, as it can lead to immediate, intense effects and has a higher risk of overdose, along with the potential for vein damage and infection. Users sharing needles also put themselves at a higher risk of contracting harmful diseases.


Common Signs Someone Has Taken Speed

When someone has taken speed, several noticeable signs and symptoms may appear.

Physically, this can look like:

  • Energetic
  • Alert
  • Restless
  • No appetite
  • Speaking very quickly
  • Dilated pupils
  • Appearing erratic
  • Sweating

Behaviourally, individuals on speed might seem unusually excitable, aggressive, or paranoid. Psychologically, they might experience feelings of euphoria or extreme happiness, which are often followed by significant mood swings and irritability as the effects of the speed drug start to wear off.


How Long Do the Effects of Speed Last?

The full effects of speed can last up to six hours. However, the problem with speed and other stimulant drugs is the withdrawal symptoms and comedown effects, which can last for days after consuming the substance.

The comedown after taking speed can be very difficult to experience, with common feelings including exhaustion, depression, and irritability. It’s when the body is attempting to restore balance after the heightened alertness and energy provided by the drug.

As the effects of speed wear off, individuals may find themselves struggling with sleep disturbances, mood swings, and an overall sense of physical discomfort.

These after-effects can significantly impact day-to-day life and overall mood, lasting anywhere from a few days to a week, depending on the amount of the drug taken and the frequency of use.

Psychological cravings for the drug can also occur, leading to a cycle of repeated use and increasing the risk of dependency.


The Key Risks of Speed

One of the biggest risks is developing speed addiction. All amphetamines, not just speed, have an extremely high potential for abuse and can lead to psychological and physical dependence.

Chronic speed use can also lead to severe mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, and amphetamine psychosis.

From a physical perspective, speed abuse increases our heart rate and causes high blood pressure, which can put a significant strain on the cardiovascular system and potentially lead to heart attacks or strokes.

The risk of overdose is also substantial. This is especially true when the purity of the street drug varies or when it is used in combination with other substances.

Other long-term risks include:

  • Extreme weight loss: Prolonged use of speed can significantly reduce appetite, leading to severe weight loss and malnutrition.
  • Dental problems: Speed can cause dry mouth, which reduces saliva production needed to protect teeth. This can accelerate tooth decay and lead to gum disease and tooth loss.
  • Skin sores: Users often experience increased picking at the skin due to hallucinations of bugs crawling beneath it. This, combined with poor hygiene and decreased immunity, results in persistent skin sores and infections.


Need Help for Addiction? Get In Touch Today

If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, we can help. Our team is dedicated to providing free support to people who need us, helping them access the care and support required to overcome addiction.

We also work exclusively with the best rehabilitation clinics across the UK, ensuring access to only the best care and treatment available. Please get in touch with our team today at 0800 012 6088 for a free, impartial, and confidential chat about the options available to you.


  • [1] All amphetamines, including speed, are class b drugs - https://www.gov.uk/penalties-drug-possession-dealing
  • [2] Under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 - https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1971/38/contents
  • [3] speed is a type of amphetamine - https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/amphetamines#:~:text=Amphetamines%20are%20stimulant%20drugs%2C%20which,is%20crystal%20methamphetamine%20(ice)%20.
  • [4] higher risk of contracting harmful diseases - https://health.ri.gov/disease/prevention/about/notsharingneedles/#:~:text=Blood%20borne%20infections%20are%20commonly,hepatitis%20B%2C%20and%20hepatitis%20C.
  • [5] followed by significant mood swings and irritability - https://www.talktofrank.com/drug/speed#how-it-feels
  • [6] potentially lead to heart attacks or strokes - https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/speed#wrong