What are amphetamines?
Amphetamines are psychostimulant drugs, which speed up messages travelling between the brain and body.1, 2
Some types of amphetamines are prescribed by doctors to treat conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, narcolepsy (where a person has an uncontrollable urge to sleep) and Parkinson’s disease.3, 4 Other types of amphetamines, such as speed, are produced and sold illegally and have been taken as performance enhancement drugs. The most potent form is crystal methamphetamine (ice).
What do they look like?
The appearance of amphetamines varies from a powder and tablet form to, crystals and capsules. They may be packaged in ‘foils’ (aluminum foil), plastic bags or small balloons when sold illegally.6
Amphetamine powder ranges in color from white through to brown, and sometimes it has traces of grey or pink. It smells strong and tastes bitter. Amphetamine capsules and tablets vary considerably in size and colour.7 Illegally produced amphetamines can be a mix of drugs, binding agents, caffeine and sugar. New psychoactive substances may also be added.
How are amphetamines used?
Amphetamines are generally swallowed, injected or smoked. They are also snorted.
Effects of amphetamines
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.
Amphetamines affect everyone differently, based on:
- size, weight and health
- whether the person is used to taking it
- whether other drugs are taken around the same time
- the amount taken
- the strength of the drug (this varies from batch to batch with illegally produced drugs).
You might feel the effects of amphetamines immediately (if injected or smoked) or within 30 minutes (if snorted or swallowed). You might experience:
- happiness and confidence
- talking more and feeling energetic
- large pupils and dry mouth
- fast heartbeat and breathing
- teeth grinding
- reduced appetite
- increased sex drive.
Research has found an association between amphetamine use and increased violent behaviour.9
Snorting amphetamines can damage the nasal passage and cause nose bleeds.
If injecting drugs, there is an increased risk of:
- vein damage and blood clots.
If sharing needles, there is an increased risk of:
- hepatitis B.
- hepatitis C.
- HIV and AIDS.
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