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Drugs Explained


Speed is a type of amphetamine. It is a central nervous system stimulant which causes high levels of dopamine to be released.

Speed, is produced and sold illegally. Other forms of illicit amphetamine are base and crystal meth (ice) — the most potent form.  It is also known as up, uppers, louee, goey, whiz and rack.  Speed powder can range in colour from white to brown and may contain traces of grey or pink. It has a strong smell and bitter taste. It can also come as pills. It can be swallowed, injected, smoked or snorted.

People can become dependent on speed, meaning they spend a lot of time and energy thinking about it and trying to get it. Over time you can become tolerant to speed, meaning people need more of the drug to achieve the same effects.

What may you experience

The effects of speed 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, confusion, increased appetite, aches and pains, exhaustion, vivid dreams and nightmares, anxiety, hallucinations or paranoia or depression while you’re coming down.

Speed can affect people differently based on:

What can go wrong with speed?

Overdose on speed occurs if you use a large amount or take a strong dose which are different for every user. The signs of an overdose are:

An overdose can lead to stroke, heart attack or death. If you think someone has overdosed on speed, call triple zero (000) for an ambulance. Ambulance officers don’t have to call the police.

Speed binges are also linked to reckless and aggressive behaviour.

High doses and frequent use of speed can create amphetamine or speed psychosis. It’s very similar to paranoid schizophrenia, with symptoms of hallucinations, and out-of-character violent and aggressive behaviour. 

There are lots of mental health issues linked to using speed. Most of them are associated with coming down after taking speed, or long-term use. They include:

Can speed cause long-term problems?

People who take speed for long periods can lose weight, get heart and kidney problems, 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.

As well as physical and mental health issues, users risk social, work and financial problems. Regular use of speed can be expensive, and have a negative impact on work and relationships.

What if I use other drugs or alcohol together with speed?

Taking speed with alcohol can increase heart rate and blood pressure. Taking with it opioids or antidepressants can cause an irregular heartbeat or seizures.

Can I become dependent on speed?

Kicking the habit can be difficult, but most withdrawal symptoms settle down after a week then gradually disappear. During this time people might:

There are different types of amphetamines. Some are prescribed by doctors to treat medical conditions such as narcolepsy (an uncontrollable urge to sleep) or ADHD.

Get Help

If you or someone you know are finding it difficult to manage issues as a result of drug use, you can find help on the Drug free Australia website or by calling the National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline on 1800 250 015.

If symptoms are unmanageable call 000 or present at an Emergency Department.

The Law