Speed, also known as amphetamine sulphate, is a highly addictive class B drug. It is a central nervous system stimulant that people take to feel alert, excited and most importantly, to experience a rush of energy. Speed releases high levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which stimulates brain cells, enhancing mood and body movement. Common effects of the drug that are apparent to another person are a fast breathing rate, increased alertness and dilated pupils.
However, of course there are dangerous consequences to a person’s health when taking speed. Hallucinations can be experienced as the person becomes delusional and psychotic, as well as overactive and agitated. Furthermore, the post effects involve a ‘slow comedown’ whereby the person becomes tired, anxious and is overcome by a state of depression. This stage can last several days and results in a difficulty with learning and concentrating. Taking a lot of speed can lead to trouble with sleeping, damaging the immune system so a person is more prone to colds and flus and at worst it can put a strain on the heart, which causes death for those with high blood pressure or heart problems. Death can also result from hyperthermia, convulsions and cardiovascular collapse due to the taking of speed.
Other adverse health effects that may occur due to speed abuse include memory loss and severe dental problems.
Furthermore, users that choose to inject speed are more liable to the dangerous effects. By injection, a user is more prone to overdose which can result in death. Speed is also impure because as a street drug, dealers may add amphetamines such as starch powder and caffeine to increase weight and thus profit – most of the powder in a wrap only contains 5-15% amphetamine sulphate. Therefore, after an injection it’s not just the amphetamine that goes in to your bloodstream. Veins and arteries can also be damaged so a person can get ulcers or even gangrene. It is also common knowledge that the sharing of needles can lead to a person being infected with HIV.
The majority of speed addicts are young, or started taking speed at an early age. This is because it tends to be introduced in a social environment such as a nightclub to prevent tiredness at late times.
The 2010 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse estimated that the number of current new users of speed among persons aged 12 or older was 105,000 in 2010, which was similar to the 2009 estimate (154,000), but a reduction compared with the 2002 to 2007 estimates (ranging from 157,000 to 318,000). The average age of new speed users aged 12 to 49 in 2010 was 18.8 years.
Therefore, peer pressure is a great cause for use of speed. A key point in dealing with peer pressure is the understanding of the need to walk away at the times you feel uncomfortable as well as grasping the concept that friends should understand if you do refuse drugs. Possession of speed can result in up to 5 years in jail, and dealing the drug can lead a possible sentence of 14 years.