Alcohol & Drugs
A picture of Amphetamines

What’s the deal with amphetamines?

Amphetamines are stimulants. They speed up the transfer rate of chemical impulses as they travel between the brain and the body. Basically it's like your nervous system is next level multi-tasking or Beyonce. It's acheiving a hell of a lot in a short space of time. You can find amphetamine in a variety of forms including:

SPEED

Looks like a powder and will vary in colour from white to pink through to a muddy brown. Most speed is manufactured on an ad hoc basis so consistency in the quality and strength will vary. Speed is made by adding cutters to an original base so you never quite know what you're going to get with this one.

BASE

This is literally the base form from which speed is manufactured. Base is much, much stronger than the powdered version of amphetamine known as speed. Base is an oily, sticky paste with a bitter, astringent after taste.

ICE

Tina, shard, crystal, gear, rock. This drug has more names than you can poke a stick at. It is also the most potent form in which amphetamine is found in. Highly addictive, ice or crystal methamphetamine resembles an opaque chunk of crystalline powder.

How does it work?

Amphetamine is swallowed, shelved, injected, smoked and snorted. You name the method of consumption and it's probably been done. This is largely due to the varying forms that the drug can be found in.

Amphetamine-based medications like Ritalin, Adderall or Concerta which are used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Narcolepsy (think River Phoenix circa 1991: My Own Private Idaho) are used recreationally also, producing a bodily effect similar to their older, somewhat more illicit cousin crystal methamphetamine. 

Effects

There is no such thing as a safe level of drug use. Substance use carries risk. It’s important to be careful when taking any drug. If injected, the effect of amphetamine can be felt almost immediately. Smoking, snorting or swallowing the drug may vary the length of time it takes to come on. Effects vary depending on:

  • A person’s body weight
  • General state of health
  • Regular use of substance
  • If taken in combination with other drugs including prescription medication
  • The amount that is consumed
  • Quality of the drug (this varies from batch to batch for most illicit drugs)

Short Term Effects

It's important to note that snorting amphetamine can damage the nasal passage and lead to nose bleeds, even after a single dose. Short term use of amphetamine may result in any of the following:

  • Increased confidence and motivation
  • Feelings of euphoria
  • Reduced inhibitions
  • Dilated pupils
  • A dry or pasty mouth
  • Increase in heart rate
  • A reduced appetite
  • Excess sweating
  • Increase in libido

Long Term Effects

Like any substance, regularly use can result in a number of chronic health issues arsing. Long term amphetamine use may cause the following:

  • A reduced appetite
  • Extreme weight loss
  • Restless sleep patterns
  • Ongoing dental problems
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Respiratory issues
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Anxiety and paranoia
  • Depression
  • Reduced kidney and liver function
  • An increased risk of stroke
  • Drug Dependency

Coming Down

In effect, amphetamines overstimulate the brain's chemical functions. To the point where certain structures in the brain start to weaken from overuse. When this happens, dosage levels must be increased in order for users to experience the same high as they had previously. Rinse and repeat. This my friend is exactly how the cycle of drug dependency begins.

Safety

If you're going to use any form of drug, go about it safely. You make the choices that determine what substances you put into your body. Whatever your choice, it's important to remember that being safe and responsible (that's with yourself and with others) is the golden rule. We've got some helpful tips to consider.

  • Set limits for yourself, and stick to them
  • Don’t let other people pressure you into drinking more than you want

Safer Injecting

If you're injecting it’s important to always use a clean fit. Avoid sharing equipment if you can and this includes any swabs, filters or spoons that may be used in the process. Blood borne viruses such as Hepatitis B, C and HIV can be transmitted when rigs are shared.

Be aware of the places where blood ends up. Everyone knows about the obvious places like on or in the actual needle but traces of blood may find its way onto the back of your hand or the top of the table so don’t assume that just because you can’t see it, that it's not there. Wash your hands and clean the area where you've prepped to inject. Sharing rigs may increase your risk of:

  • Vein damage and permanent scarring
  • Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Tetanus and HIV transmission
  • Deep vein thrombosis and clots – this may result in the loss of limbs, damage to organs, stroke and possibly even death

Overdose

AMPHETAMINE PSYCHOSIS

Baby needs to get some sleep. High doses or frequent heavy use may lead to an episode referred to as amphetamine psychosis. It’s not fun and it’s consists of things like paranoid delusions, hallucinations and potentially, aggressive or violent behaviour. Symptoms will generally disappear if you can manage a few days without using and get some shut eye.

If you or someone you know is having a rough time after taking something call for an ambulance immediately. You do this by dialling triple zero (000). Ambulance officers are not obliged to involve the police so it's better to be safe than sorry. No one is getting in to trouble if you call the Ambos.

Mixing with Other Drugs

The effect of taking amphetamines in combination with other drugs including over-the-counter or prescribed medication is unpredictable and dangerous. Here are some of the known interactions between amphetamine and other drugs including prescription medication:

Amphetamines + Antidepressants or Alcohol/Cannabis/Benzos: Woah! Because amphetamine speeds up the body when it’s combined with depressants it may increase your risk of heart attack or stroke. The use of uppers and downers at the same time places the body under a high degree of stress. As your body attempts to deal with the conflicting chemical messages produced by different drugs, you significantly increase the negative side effects and this could result in overdose.

Living with HIV

Let's be frank, recreational drug use (whether it's legal or not) is likely to interact or even interfere with the treatment regime of a person living with HIV. Changes in the concentration of ARV's is a result of two or more drugs interacting. These changes in concentration are known to be the very thing which ultimatley leads to treatment failure and toxicity.  

If you're HIV+ and a recreational user, check in regularly with your GP or an experienced HIV medical practitioner. Know your limits, know your body and be aware of the impact that other substances may have on your treatment.

Interactions with HIV Medications

If you take full dose Ritonavir or low dose Ritonavir to boost other protease inhibitors then using has the potential to increase amphetamine levels in the blood by 2 to 3 times your actual dosage. What this means is that the negative side effects associated with popping a dexy will dramatically increase the potential for stroke, kidney and liver disease and possibly even death. Elvitegravir and Cobicistat are also proven to have interactions with HIV treatment schedules and may increase amphetamine levels in the bloodstream.

We've worked with the Australian Drug Foundation to bring you up-to-date information on known drug interactions. If you want to check for yourself against any prescription medication a good resource is the aptly titled drugs.com

Taking Hormones

For trans, gender diverse or intersex people who are taking some form of hormone therapy, it's important to be aware and informed of how your body processes these treatments.

Currently, there is limited information into the interactions and cross interactions of hormone therapy and recreational drug use but that doesn't mean we'll stop asking for it. Whether your hormones are prescribed by a doctor or you've sourced them yourself from the internet, make it a priority to get regular health checks. Sometimes, a change in dosage or preparation of hormones is needed and a qualified medical practitioner is the person best placed to advise you of this.

If you're not comfortable talking about your gender, gender identity or bodily difference with your doctor, get in touch and we can make recommendations for a service that is best placed to support your needs.

Interactions with Hormones

We're currently unaware of any interactions or cross interaction between amphetamine and hormones treatments. This however does not mean that it's not interacting with any of the medications that you're taking. For example, you may also be taking an SSRI or similar medication. These have known interactions with amphetamine so know what potential side effects you could be facing when mixing any form of drug.

Check out what possible drug interactions may be occuring with what you're currently on both recreationally and otherwise at drugs.com

Treatment

Been going a little too hard lately? If your amphetamine use has begun to have a negative impact on your overall health or your relationships with family and friends, your ability to focus on work or study or perhaps even the bottom line on your bank account - it's time to TouchBase with somebody who can help.

There are a number of treatment options and support services available for you, for your family or friends if they need it.

Whatever your recovery goals are, if it is to control, reduce or stop amphetamine use, reach out for some support.

Withdrawal & Rehab

Giving uppers the flick after consistent long term use may be challenging a task. Your body will need to adjust to functioning without it. It'll take a week or more for symptoms to pass and from that point on ‘til the end of one month you could experience any of the following side effects:

  • Drug cravings
  • An increased appetite
  • Confusion and irritability
  • Body aches and pain
  • Exhaustion
  • Restless sleep and nightmares
  • Anxiety, depression and paranoia
Important notice

Please note: The information given on this page is not medical advice and should not be relied upon in that way. Individuals wanting medical advice about Amphetamines should consult a health professional.