Speed Abuse Guide

According to research, 500,000 people living in the US use speed every week, and 12.3 million people – approximately 5 percent of the population – have taken it at some point in their lives. 

In this guide, we explore what speed is, how it affects the body, and, most importantly of all, how to get help if you (or someone you know) has an addiction.

What is speed or uppers?

Speed – chemical name methamphetamine – is an addictive substance that acts as a stimulant on the central nervous system.

Amphetamines – a controlled substance/prescription used to treat ADHD, depression and narcolepsy

Methamphetamine – An illegal street drug similar to regular amphetamine but tends to produce a more immediate and powerful effect.

Speed is a type of upper – a slang word to describe a group of stimulant drugs also including cocaine, nicotine, and caffeine. These drugs tend to increase a person’s energy level temporarily above baseline. 

Speed usually (but not always) comes in the form of an off-white, bitter powder with a distinct flavor. The drug has been around since the early 1960s and goes by other names, including “chalk” or just simply “meth.”

How do people use it?

People use speed in a variety of ways, including: 

  • Smoking 
  • Swallowing
  • Snorting through the nose
  • Injection

Speed dissolves in water and alcohol as well, so some users occasionally mix it into their drinks. 

Prescriptions used as speed can include:

  • Adderall
  • Dexosyn
  • DextroStat
  • Dexedrine

Types of Speed

Other type of stimulants – Caffeine, cocaine, ice, betel nut, Khat, nicotine, synthetic cathinones.

There are several forms of methamphetamine, categorized by their appearance and alleged purity. 

As mentioned above, off-white powder is one form. It is widely considered as the least potent variety. Users will typically mix it with glucose and then snort, inject or swallow it. In a few cases, distributors or dealers may compress it into pills. 

“Base” is another type of methamphetamine. This is a white, yellow or brown oily substance that has a higher potency than powder. Visually, one type of base can look quite different from another, with some examples resembling wax, while others look more like paste. People typically inject base, although swallowing is also popular. 

In the 1980s, users developed a slightly different form of methamphetamine called “crystal meth” or “ice.” Instead of looking like a white powder, this type of speed has a translucent appearance and is the most potent form of the drug. People typically inject or smoke it. 

Ecstasy – methylenedioxymethamphetamine – is often lumped together with speed. However, the chemical structure is different and so too is the effect on the nervous system so, while it is a stimulant, official bodies classify it slightly differently.

Side Effects of Using Speed

Speed directly affects the central nervous system making an individual feel more alert, active, with an increase in sensory perception and mood as well. While some of the effects of the drug can feel pleasurable, it is typically followed by an intense low.

Short-term effects users may experience:

  • Euphoria and confidence
  • Increased focus
  • Better concentration
  • Increased energy
  • Excitement
  • Increased awareness
  • Reduced appetite
  • Fast heartbeat and breathing

Coming down users may experience:

  • Headaches
  • Restless sleep or fatigue
  • Twitching or muscle aches
  • Irritability, mood swings, anxiety, and depression
  • Paranoia, confusion
  • Fluctuating temperatures

Long-term health risks of speed can include:

  • Depression
  • Paranoia
  • Anorexia
  • Psychosis
  • UTI
  • Brain damage
  • Heart problems
  • Dry mouth
  • Stroke
  • Tolerance and dependence

Meth (methamphetamine) is a commonly abused illegal drug and can be very dangerous. Other long-term effects of meth use are:

  • Skin sores
  • Aggression
  • Insomnia
  • Emotional instability
  • Permanent brain damage
  • Dental issues
  • Vital organ damage
  • Hallucinations
  • Malnutrition

Why do people use speed or uppers?

There are many reasons people use speed. The primary motivation is often to eliminate unwanted feelings or emotions. Speed temporarily removes worries, anxieties, and other psychological pain.

People also take speed to reduce weight. Using methamphetamine over the course of several days without food is sometimes called a “run.” Lack of food combined with elevated body temperature and activity can provoke dramatic weight loss. 

In some cases, people may feel that they need to take speed when studying for an exam or when they require high performance. Speed temporarily improves concentration and alertness for some people. 

Symptoms of Speed Abuse

If you are worried that someone may be abusing speed, a methamphetamine, or stimulant, here are some signs to look out for:

  • Unexplained or rapid weight loss/loss of appetite
  • Unstable emotions or mood swings
  • Heightened energy
  • Loss of interest in once sought after activities
  • Skin sores
  • Restlessness, irritable
  • Dental issues

Detoxing from speed

Speed detox can begin as soon as six hours after the last use. However, the length of withdrawal depends on how long a person has been using methamphetamine, and the quantities that they typically consume. 

During the first few hours of withdrawal, the person may begin to experience cravings – an intense desire for the drug. Over the following one to two days, physical symptoms will peak and then begin to taper off. However, emotional withdrawal may take longer – often several weeks. 

During the detox phase, users typically experience fatigue, problems sleeping and slowed movements and speech. They may also have generalized body aches and pains as well as stomach upset. 

Emotional withdrawal is unpleasant and intense for many users. Detoxing may involve higher levels of irritability, anxiety and depression. People can also experience unusually vivid dreams and challenges functioning socially. 

The most common withdrawal symptom is irritability, with 78 percent of patients experiencing it, followed by depression, at 50 percent. Individual responses to detox vary considerably. 

What to do if someone is abusing speed

There are many dangers that can come from withdrawal from speed – especially methamphetamine. It is vital you seek professional help if someone is suffering from speed addiction.

Our dedicated team at Peaks Recovery Centers is here to answer any of the questions you may have, and thoroughly guide you through the steps of admissions and treatment.

Don’t wait. Get in touch with us today to overcome addiction.