People from all walks of life, classes, and backgrounds can form addictions to stimulant drugs like amphetamines (aka speed). These stimulant pills are used by professionals, students, housewives, laborers, and street-level addicts alike for a number of reasons. The occasional use of speed stimulants can give a person more energy, help suppress an appetite, and increase focus. Because of these perceived positive human benefits, amphetamines are used widely around the world.

On the surface, speed can appear to benefit the user, without them seeing any of the harmful effects of the drug. But there is a downside to overuse of speed — the drug can cause both physical and psychological addictions. This dependence on speed can start to control the person, develop a physical dependence, and lead to a loss of jobs, families, and homes.

What is Speed?

Speed is a common street drug, made synthetically in manufacturing facilities or ‘super labs’ around the world and sold under a wide variety of legal and illegal means. Some of the street names for amphetamine include meth, ice, crystal meth, and crank.

Speed impacts chemical processes in the brain (impacting dopamine and norepinephrine) and neurotransmitter chemicals that play a key role in regulating a person’s central nervous system. In other words, taking speed essentially ‘cranks up’ the level of dopamine in a person. Dopamine is the pleasurable chemical created in the brain when a person enjoys good sex, eats good food, and drinks alcoholic beverages.

By taking the drug and speeding up the dopamine levels, the user experiences euphoric feelings that can last anywhere from 15-30 minutes or even up to several hours. Speed also promotes a loss of appetite, leading people to think it’s an effective weight loss solution. But taking amphetamines and not eating for 12 hours can be just as destructive to a human body as eating too much.

But all this stimulating the brain comes at a price: the brain starts to change structurally as a result of the drug’s high-impact stimulation. This damage eventually is seen in abnormal behavior, which is often seen as a sign of speed addiction.

Speed’s Addictive Effects

Short term use of speed offers a user excitable feelings and a revved-up intensity of thoughts, clarity, focus, and speech patterns. But long-term amphetamine use can seriously damages a person’s brain and body.  Every time the drug is used, the user’s brain suffers further strain.

Long-term use of the drug can result in depression and memory loss. Other physical side effects of speed include:

  • Psychotic delusions.
  • Very high body temperatures.
  • Destruction of the cardiovascular system.
  • Headaches and nausea.
  • Paranoia, shakes, and sweating.

These effects can later morph into psychosis. Without emergency drug treatment from an addiction treatment center, a person may develop permanent brain damage from chronic amphetamine usage.

Crystal Meth

Another manufactured form of speed is crystal meth. This drug is a crystallized synthetic drug that is produced in a variety of substances and resembles shiny rocks or pieces of glass. Meth can be found in powder form, liquid form, pill form, and sometimes even in a form for physical insertion.

Use of the drug initially gives the user a stimulating blast of energy, libido, concentration, and pleasure. However, further use can result in nausea, paranoia, and other debilitating effects.

The increased dosages and pill-popping frequency over-stimulate the brain. Eventually, the brain looks to the amphetamine to provide the dopamine stimulation. At this stage, certain withdrawal symptoms can affect the user, including anger, restlessness, confused thinking, sweating, and shaking.

Treatment for Speed Addiction

The first step of treatment for an amphetamine addiction is detox. But once the drug is taken away, the addict may experience severe withdrawal from the psychological and physical dependence on the stimulant. He or she will feel the loss of the enhanced energy from the drug.

If you or a loved one has developed a dependence on speed, amphetamine detox can be your first step towards recovery. Reach out to us to learn more about how our treatment program can be tailored to fit your needs.


“World Drug Report 2016” United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. June 2016. Accessed September 24, 2016.

“How is methamphetamine manufactured?” National Institute on Drug Abuse. September 2013. Accessed September 25, 2016.[…]etamine-manufactured

Brannan, Amy. “The Negative Side Effects of Speed Are Numerous” Exploring Life’s Mysteries. January 15, 2016. Accessed September 25, 2016.[…]de-effects-of-speed/

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.