Amphetamines are stimulant drugs, which means they speed up the messages travelling between the brain and the body.
The appearance of amphetamines varies. They may be in the form of a powder, tablets, capsules or crystals. They may be packaged in 'foils' (aluminium foil), plastic bags or small balloons when sold illegally.
Amphetamine powder can range in colour from white through to brown; sometimes it may be orange or dark purple. It has a strong smell and bitter taste.
Amphetamine capsules and tablets vary considerably in colour. They can be a mix of drugs, binding agents, caffeine and sugar.
Crystal methamphetamine (also known as ice) is a potent form of amphetamine, which generally comes in large, sheet-like crystals, or as a crystalline powder.
Some types of amphetamines are legally prescribed by doctors to treat conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy (where a person has an uncontrollable urge to sleep).
Speed, fast, up, uppers, louee, goey, whiz.
How are they used?
Amphetamines are generally swallowed, injected or smoked. They are also snorted.
There is no safe level of drug use. Use of any drug always carries some risk. It's important to be careful when taking any type of drug.
The effects of amphetamines may be felt immediately (if injected or smoked) or within 30 minutes (if snorted or swallowed).
Amphetamines affect everyone differently, but effects may include:
If a large amount or a strong batch is taken, it could also cause:
High doses and frequent heavy use can also create an 'amphetamine psychosis', characterised by paranoid delusions, hallucinations and bizarre, aggressive or violent behaviour. These symptoms usually disappear a few days after the person stops using amphetamines.
The following effects may be experienced for 4 to 6 days following use:
With regular use, amphetamines may eventually cause:
Mixing amphetamines with other drugs
The effects of taking amphetamines with other drugs − including over-the-counter or prescribed medications − can be unpredictable and dangerous, and could cause:
Amphetamines + ecstasy: enormous strain on the heart and other parts of the body, which can lead to stroke.
Amphetamines + alcohol, cannabis or benzodiazepines: enormous strain on the body, and more likely to overdose.
Giving up amphetamines after using them for a long time is challenging because the body has to get used to functioning without it. Withdrawal symptoms should settle down after a week and will mostly disappear after a month. Symptoms include:
Reducing the risks
Last updated: 3 June 2014
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