What Are Amphetamines
- Amphetamines belong to a group of drugs called stimulants. Amphetamines have a similar effect to cocaine as it speeds up the messages going between the brain and the body. 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). But in general amphetamines whose street name among addicts is called speed are used illegally as form of drug to get high. Amphetamines are sometimes produced in backyard laboratories and mixed with other substances that can have severe harmful effects.
- Amphetamines can 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 color 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 color. They can be a mix of drugs, binding agents, caffeine and sugar. Crystal methamphetamine, a potent form of amphetamine generally comes in large sheet-like crystals or as a crystalline powder.
- Amphetamines are generally swallowed, injected or smoked. They are also snorted. People use amphetamines for different reasons. Some use the drugs to get ‘high’ and dance all night. Others use them to reduce tiredness, increase endurance, help stay awake, improve performance in sport or at work, or boost their self-confidence.
- The effects of mixing amphetamines with other drugs, including alcohol, prescription medications and over-the-counter medicines, are often unpredictable. Mixing amphetamines with other stimulant drugs (such as cocaine or ecstasy) increases the stimulant effects and places enormous pressure on the heart and body, which can lead to stroke. Combining amphetamines with depressant drugs such as alcohol, cannabis, heroin or benzodiazepines also places the body under great stress and can have sever health consequences.
- People who use amphetamines regularly can develop the disease of addiction. If an amphetamine addict tries to reduce or stop suddenly, they may experience severe withdrawal symptoms. Some of the withdrawal symptoms that may be experienced include: poor concentration decreased energy, apathy, irritability, depression, anxiety, panic, paranoia, extreme fatigue, exhaustion, general aches and pains, hunger, increased appetite, disturbed and restless sleep.
Effects & Risks of Amphetamines
- The effects of any drug (including amphetamines) vary from person to person. How amphetamines affect a person depends on many things including their size, weight and health, also whether the person is addicted to them. The effects of amphetamines, as with any drug, also depends on the amount and length of time taken.
- Depending on how amphetamines are taken, the effects may be felt immediately (through injecting or smoking) or within 30 minutes (if snorted or swallowed). The effects of taking amphetamine by mouth last around half an hour. If injected the effects are felt quicker and can last for up to six hours. The high is generally followed by a long slow comedown.