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Things to know about speed

The down side of speed

Common side effects of the drug are:

  • an increased heartbeat
  • sweating
  • teeth grinding
  • jaw clenching
  • being unable to sleep.

After using speed you can feel depressed, anxious and tired.

Long-term use

You can become dependent on the drug, with larger doses needed to get the same effect and withdrawal symptoms if you stop.

Withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • exhaustion
  • insomnia
  • depression
  • feeling irritable.

Long-term use of speed can cause:

  • damage to the heart, liver, kidneys and lungs
  • premature ageing of skin and heart
  • aggression
  • ‘speed psychosis’, which can include violent behaviour, paranoia and hallucinations.

Useful to know

Swallowing the drug wrapped in a cigarette paper (a speed bomb) or mixing it with water is less harmful than snorting, which can damage the nose. Though it’s always a good idea to know what, and how much, you’re swallowing.

When snorting there’s less damage to the nose if:

  • the powder’s fine, so make sure to chop it well
  • you alternate nostrils
  • you rinse your nostrils out after snorting.

Always use your own snorting equipment as hep C can be passed on from tiny particles of infected blood. If you’re with a group of friends who are all snorting, tag your stuff with a Post-it note with your name on it.

Injecting is best avoided as this is more likely to lead to addiction. Also, speed deaths are linked to taking the drug this way, and it can cause skin abscesses, damaged veins, blood poisoning and heart infections.

Sharing injecting equipment can pass on HIV and hepatitis B and C. Find out more about minimising risks when injecting.

Speed should be avoided by people with high blood pressure or heart conditions.

Mixing drugs

HIV drugs

Protease inhibitors, particularly ritonavir, can cause a big increase in the amount of speed in the body, leading to overdose.

Cocaine, crystal meth, Ecstasy, MDMA, poppers

Mixing these drugs with speed risks a dangerous strain on the heart.


Taking speed when on these drugs can cause a life-threatening rise in blood pressure.


Speed masks the effects of booze, leading people to drink more without realising how drunk or over the limit they are.

Viagra-type drugs

Speed causes loss of erections, but taking Viagra etc puts even more stress on the heart.

The law

Speed is a Class B drug. Possession can mean up to five years in prison and/or an unlimited fine.

Intending to supply it including giving it to mates, can mean up to 14 years in prison and/or an unlimited fine.

If it’s prepared for injecting, it becomes a Class A drug. Possession can mean up to seven years in prison and/or an unlimited fine.

Last review: 24/08/2018
Next review: 24/08/2021