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Amphetamines

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Also known as

  • Amphetamines: Speed, Whizz, Amphetamine Sulphate, Sulph, Billy, Phet.
  • Methamphetamines: Crystal Meth Ice, Glass, Shard, Meth, Crank, Yaba, T, Tina.
  • Base amphetamines: Base, Base Speed, Dexies, Dex.

About

  • Amphetamines are a group of psychoactive drugs which act as a stimulant on the human body.
  • The collective group includes amphetamine, dextroamphetamine and methamphetamine.
  • Some amphetamines are legally prescribed by doctors for the treatment of various medical and psychological disorders, including ADHD and narcolepsy.
  • Amphetamines provide various effects including alertness, increased confidence and energy, as well as a reduced appetite.
  • Unwanted effects include increased irritability, anxiety, insomnia and aggression.
  • The high is usually followed by a comedown which can last for several days and can cause irritability and low mood.

Appearance

  • Amphetamine is usually an off-white or pinkish powder. It is mostly sold by weight in small rectangular wraps of paper.
  • The base form of speed is usually purer and looks like a grey paste, similar in consistency to putty.
  • Methamphetamine comes in various forms including a white powder, clear crystals, or in tablet form.

Method of use

  • Amphetamine in powder form can be snorted in lines or dabbed onto the gums. It may also be wrapped in paper and swallowed, (known as ‘bombing’), or injected.
  • Methamphetamine is usually smoked, although some people choose to inject it.
  • Base speed is usually swallowed or can be smoked.

Risks

  • Amphetamine overdose is potentially fatal.
  • You increase the risk to yourself if you combine alcohol with amphetamines or other substances that cause a high.
  • Some users have reported sharp chest pains, palpitations and irregular heartbeat.
  • Amphetamine use can cause anxiety, depression, aggression and paranoia.
  • Heavy use may induce a psychotic state with symptoms similar to some forms of schizophrenia.
  • The comedown sometimes lasts for days after and can often make people feel depressed and run down.
  • Long-term use can lead to poor nutrition and sleep disturbances.
  • Sharing injecting or snorting equipment risks infection with Hepatitis C and B viruses, as well as HIV.
  • Snorting amphetamines can cause nasal damage.
  • Injecting is particularly dangerous as it is much easier to overdose.

Keeping safe

  • If you choose to use amphetamines, then use in a safe environment and in the company of someone you trust. Ideally, this person will not have used the substance themselves and will be in a position to get help if things go wrong.
  • Take small amounts first to test strength and effects; start low and go slow.
  • The use of amphetamines with alcohol or other substances should be avoided.
  • Amphetamines can be psychologically addictive and tolerance can quickly build up. Don’t use too frequently and take regular breaks.
  • Avoid using if you have a history of depression, heart problems or circulatory problems.
  • Avoid using other drugs to deal with the comedown. Stay healthy by eating regular meals, sleeping well and getting plenty of rest.
  • Do not share injecting or snorting equipment. If you choose to inject then get safer injecting advice either from us, your local drug agency or nearest needle exchange.
  • If snorting, alternate nostrils and clean your nostrils with warm water to minimise damage.

Legal status

  • Most amphetamines are controlled as a Class B drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, unless prepared for injection when they become Class A.
  • Possession of amphetamines could result in a prison sentence of up to five years and/or an unlimited fine.
  • Supplying amphetamines to someone else could result in a prison sentence of up to 14 years and/or an unlimited fine.
  • In 2007, methamphetamine was reclassified as a Class A drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.
  • Sentences are tougher for possession or supply of Class A drugs.
  • Some amphetamines are controlled under the Medicines Act. This means that doctors can prescribe them for patients, but it is an offence to be in possession of amphetamines without a prescription.