Amphetamine (speed)

All drug use has risks. This page is for information only and does not constitute or replace medical advice. If you have medical concerns about your drug use, please speak to a medical professional.

Amphetamine is a long lasting, synthetic (lab-made) central nervous system stimulant.

Other names

speed, whizz, phet, amphet, base, pep

Appearance

Off-white, yellow or pinkish powder or paste

Drugs Wheel Category

Stimulants

Legality

Misuse of Drugs Act (1971) – Class B.

If prepared for injection amphetamine becomes Class A

Penalties for possession are up to five years in prison and/or an unlimited fine. Penalties for supply are up to 14 years in prison and/or an unlimited fine.

How it’s taken

Most commonly snorted. It can be swallowed in a cigarette paper or capsule (bombed), ‘dabbed’: licking a finger then dabbing it into the substance and licking it off, diluted in juice, or injected. Injecting is almost always the riskiest way of taking drugs and is strongly discouraged.

Dose

The following information on dosage was taken from PsychonautWiki, but this should not be taken as a recommendation: duration and effects of any drug will depend on purity, regularity of use, other medications or drugs you have taken, your body and how it is taken (route of administration). Note: the purity of amphetamine varies widely – if in doubt dose low and go slow!

Snort: 

  • Light: 6-15 milligrams (mg) – this would give 67 to 167 doses from a gram 
  • Common: 15-30 milligrams (mg) – this would give 33 to 67 doses from a gram 
  • Strong: 30-50 milligrams (mg) – this would give 20 to 33 doses from a gram 

Accessed January 2021  

It is essential to use accurate scales – ones that are capable of measuring to 10 milligrams (0.01 of a gram). Knowledge of how to use them and how to ensure they are measuring accurately is important.  

A slight difference in dose can create a different experience or effect. Find out more about reducing the risk from dosing including volumetric dosing.

General information on dosing.

Effects

Effects of speed, when snorted, can take up to 30 minutes to appear and can last for 4-8 hours. After-effects may be felt for up to 12 hours.

Speed may make you feel energetic and confident. It also increases your heart rate and breathing. People taking it may experience a strong urge to re-dose as well as increased alertness, concentration, motivation and sex drive and a decreased appetite and desire to sleep.

Other effects include jaw clenching, restlessness, aggression and paranoia.

Risks

  • People taking amphetamines can feel a need to re-dose often which will lead to increased health damage and increased risk of dependence.
  • May increase over-confidence, aggression, sexual arousal, paranoia, decrease desire for sleep and reduce appetite.
  • Speed can affect your sleeping pattern which can have a huge impact on your mental wellbeing.

Harm reduction

If you choose to take amphetamine then the following steps can help to reduce harm.
  • Remember that you cannot judge content or purity by appearance.
  • There is no standard amount of speed in powder. The amount of a drug contained in a pill or powder can vary, even within batches.
  • You can’t judge an accurate dose just by looking – start low and go slow.
  • Stimulant drugs can reduce your appetite – take time to eat a healthy meal and stay hydrated.
  • Avoid mixing with alcohol, prescription medication or any other drugs, as the effects may be unexpected or harmful and unpleasant, especially with other psychedelics, cannabis or ketamine.
  • Drugs affect people differently and mixing different drugs can lead to unpredictable effects.
  • Like all stimulant drugs, speed can affect your sleeping pattern which can have a huge impact on your mental wellbeing.
  • Amphetamine can cause jaw clenching so have chewing gum handy to keep your mouth moving, you can roll the chewing gum on your tongue to give your jaw a break from chewing. If you have been jaw clenching, rinse your mouth out with salty water. Maintain good dental health and brush your teeth after a session.
  • Comedowns can be unpleasant, plan time to relax or spend time with friends.
  • Stimulant use is linked to an increased risk of Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) which should be not be left untreated.
  • Look after your pals and seek medical help as soon as possible if anyone falls unwell. Be honest about what you know they have taken.
  • Call 999 and ask for an ambulance if you see the signs of an overdose: confusion, unconsciousness (won’t wake with a shout or a shake), severe nausea and vomiting, fitting, hyperthermia (overheating), rapid heart rate/chest pains/heart attack, hallucinations, difficulty breathing, anxiety/fear/panic.

FOR SNORTING 

Over time amphetamine can degrade the septum (the cartilage separating the nostrils). It can also lead to a reduced sense of smell, nosebleeds, pain when swallowing, a runny/blocked nose and recurring nose or throat infections. 

  • Grind it down as fine as possible and divide it into small lines. Ensure the surface is clean – unclean surfaces such as toilets, phones and keys can spread disease. Use an alcohol wipe to disinfect surfaces before use. 
  • Avoid using bank notes as a tool to snort drugs, as they aren’t disposable and can cut the inside of your nose – post-its or paper straws are a good alternative to notes. 
  • Sharing tools can spread infections and blood borne viruses (e.g. hepatitis C, HIV) – only use your own equipment. Get tested regularly for BBVs.
  • Position the tool as high up the nostril as possible and alternate nostrils for each dose.
  • Rinse your nose out with clean water at the end of a session, to prevent the powder causing further damage to the inside of your nose. 
  • Apply a thin layer of vitamin E oil to the inside of the nose after rinsing. 

FOR ORAL ADMINISTRATION 

  • Powder can be put into a capsule, wrapped into a cigarette paper or mixed into a drink and swallowed.  
  • If mixed into a drink, care should be taken to accurately dose and the bottle/cup marked to ensure no one else accidentally drinks it. Never leave your drink unattended and avoid drinking from bottles/cups if you are unsure of what’s in it. 

FOR INJECTING 

There is a higher risk of overdose if amphetamine is injected. Injecting amphetamine also risks damaging veins or the injecting site and can cause life-threatening infections and abscesses. 

  • Only use new, sterile supplies. These are available from injecting equipment providers (IEPs or needle exchanges) or can be bought online.  
  • People who inject stimulant drugs may inject frequently and will therefore need to ensure that they access enough supplies from their IEP. Always ask for extra equipment in case you need more than intended. 
  • Sharing equipment including needles, filters, containers, spoons and water can spread infections and blood borne viruses (e.g. hepatitis C, HIV) – only use your own. Use colour coded equipment to avoid confusion and get tested regularly for BBVs.
  • Follow good hygiene practice and wash your hands and injection sites (before and after).
  • Citric acid, vitamin C and heat aren’t needed to dissolve amphetamine powder and their use can increase harms. Amphetamine can be dissolved in water. 
  • Once dissolved in water, it is important to use a sterile filter to remove non-soluble substances which can cause harms if injected. 
  • Use the smallest needle you can without it becoming blocked or breaking.  
  • Keep the needle sterile and avoid licking the needle as this can transfer bacteria from the mouth into the skin and cause infections.
  • Use a new needle each time – needles become blunt after one use. 
  • Rotate injection sites but try to avoid injecting in high-risk areas such as the neck and groin. 
  • Dispose of equipment responsibly. It can be returned to an IEP.  
  • Seek medical help if the injecting site is painful, tender or hot, or there is swelling for more than a few days.  

Detection time

People taking amphetamine have reported the following detection time, but this cannot be taken as a recommendation; detection of any drug will depend on purity, regularity of use, other medications or drugs you have taken, your body and how it’s taken.
  • 1 – 4 days in urine