Amphetamine is a stimulant drug which can make you feel alert. It usually looks like a white, off-white or pink powder but can also look like crystals or a paste.

Also known as:

  • Speed
  • Base
  • Billy
  • Paste
  • Sulph
  • Whizz

What does amphetamine look like?

  • White, off-white or pink powder
  • White, off-white or pink crystals 
  • An off-white or brown paste

How is amphetamine taken?

  • Snorting up the nose 
  • Swallowing powder wrapped in a cigarette paper (also called ‘bombing’)
  • Orally by drinking it or rubbing it onto the gums
  • Injecting it*

*Injecting is particularly dangerous and increases risks including infection with Blood Borne Viruses (BBVs) like Hepatitis C or HIV. LINK HERE

How can amphetamine make me feel?

Amphetamine can make you feel:

  • Alert
  • Agitated
  • Energetic 
  • Very awake
  • Panicked 
  • Excited
  • Chatty
  • Aggressive 

Amphetamine can also:

  • Stop you feeling hungry 
  • Cause hallucinations
  • Increase your blood pressure
  • Cause insomnia 
  • Make you very tired

How long do the effects of amphetamine last?

It depends on several factors, including your age, weight and metabolism, what you have already taken, the purity of the drug, and the dose.

Generally speaking, the effects start a few minutes after using if it’s been snorted, or around 20 minutes to an hour if swallowed or taken orally. The effects can last up to six hours. Effects may be much faster if injected and can be extremely harmful.

Wait at least two hours between doses if you can.

What happens to my body if I use amphetamine frequently?

Using amphetamine frequently can:

  • Hallucinations or paranoia
  • Weight loss and malnutrition
  • Regular infections, due to reduced immunity
  • Mood swings, panic attacks, anxiety, depression
  • Heart and kidney problems
  • Increased risk of stroke or heart attack
  • Changes to behaviour

How to reduce harm while using amphetamine

We recognise that some ways of using drugs carry less risk than others, and by providing information which supports people to make informed decisions, we can help people to minimise harm.

Before you start, check:

  • Is now the right time? How you’re feeling when you use amphetamine can impact the effects you may experience, so consider checking in with yourself and thinking about whether now is a good time for you.

  • Do I know what I’m taking? Researching what you’re planning to take, what the effects can be and how to reduce harm can help to keep you safe. 

  • Have I contacted a friend or family member? In case you need help while you’re taking amphetamine, consider telling someone your plans.

While you're using:

Start low, go slow

Strength can vary between batches, even if you take the drug regularly, starting with a small amount and waiting at least two hours before your next dose can help to reduce the risk of overdose.

Go at your own pace

Everyone responds differently to drugs - trying to keep up with others puts you at greater risk of overdosing. 

Plan and measure doses

If you’re going out, only take what you plan to use with you as this makes it easier to set boundaries and stay in control. It’s easier to lose track of time when using drugs, so taking a screenshot of the time or setting a timer each time you have a dose can help you space out your doses.

Try not to use on your own

It's best not to use amphetamine if you’re on your own or if you’re in a position where there is nobody you could call for help. A buddy system - where one person takes their dose first and waits until the peak effects have worn off before the other person uses - makes it more likely that someone can help if anyone overdoses.

Try not to mix

Try to take amphetamine on its own, as mixing with other drugs or alcohol can increase your risk of overdose.

Opt for methods that carry less risk 

It’s less risky to snort, swallow, or orally take amphetamine than it is to inject.

Use your own equipment

Using your own equipment, including straws and measures, can help to prevent the spread of blood-borne viruses (BBVS) like hep B, hep C and HIV.  You can get clean equipment from any drug  service and many pharmacies.

The recovery position

The recovery position helps to prevent someone unconscious from choking on vomit. If someone is unconscious, putting them in the recovery position, getting help if needed, and staying with them will help to reduce the risk of harm.

After using amphetamine:

There’s a good chance you’ll experience a ‘comedown’ when the effects of amphetamine wear off. Comedowns don’t last forever, but they can affect your mood, motivation, energy levels, and your mental health. Some people find comedowns very challenging, and it can sometimes take a few days to fully recover. 

  • Looking after and being kind to yourself is important - get plenty of sleep and rest, and try to avoid taking any other drugs to give your body time to recover

  • Refuelling will help your recovery - this includes drinking plenty of water and eating something nutritious which is soft on your stomach and not too rich

  • If you think you may be at risk of blood-borne viruses (BBVs) like Hep B, Hep C and HIV, you can access free testing from any drug and alcohol service, your GP, or a sexual health centre. You can catch a BBV even if you don’t inject a drug - through unprotected sex or sharing equipment

And always remember - if you’re feeling low and feel you can’t talk to a friend or family member, contact us for help through our webchat or find your local service.

What do I do if I think someone has overdosed on amphetamine?

If someone passes out or falls asleep and you can’t wake them up after using amphetamine, put them in the recovery position and get help fast by calling 999, telling emergency services what you know.

Symptoms of amphetamine overdose include:

  • Increased heartbeat
  • Fits or seizures
  • Falling unconscious or having breathing difficulties
  • Chills or fever
  • Not being able to urinate 
  • Arching of the back or convulsions

If you suspect someone has overdosed, it’s always best to administer naloxone. Naloxone reverses the effects of opioid drugs like heroin, morphine and fentanyl. Drugs bought illicitly can contain a mixture of substances, including opioids, so use naloxone if you have it. If someone hasn’t overdosed on opioids, naloxone won’t harm them. 

You can get a naloxone kit and training on how to use it from your local WithYou service

More information about naloxone, including how to use it.

Amphetamine withdrawal signs, symptoms, and what to do

If your body develops a tolerance to amphetamine, you may feel you need to take more to get the same effects. 

You can become dependent on amphetamine, and regular use can lead to physical withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop or cut back.

Withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Tiredness
  • Anxiety, depression or paranoia
  • Confusion 
  • Changes to behaviour
  • Extreme hunger
  • Aches and pains
  • Issues with sleep

If you’re dependent on amphetamine, we can help you cut down safely, as stopping suddenly can lead to withdrawal complications. 

Find a local service

The law around amphetamine

If purchased illicitly, amphetamine is a Class B drug, which means it's illegal to be found carrying or using it. The legal term for this is possession. The maximum sentence for possession of a Class B drug is up to five years in prison, a fine or both. 

It’s also illegal to give away or sell amphetamine. This is known as supply, and is a more serious offence than possession.  It can be considered supply if you give your friend some or share some with them, and this could get you time in prison, an unlimited fine or both.

Looking for support?

If you’re concerned about your amphetamine use, or if you’re worried about someone you know, we’re WithYou. We provide free, confidential and non-judgemental support and advice. Please don’t hesitate to reach out: